Editor’s note: this is a guest post by Dave at TechRadar.com, one of our favourite sources for tech news and reviews. Here’s his thoughts on the best solid state drives around today.
The world of storage had been lagging behind the performance increases we’ve become used to from processor development to the latest graphics card releases. Now with solid state drives though storage performance is increasing all the time.
But where do we spend our money and who can we rely on to bring us the best SSDs for our machines? What SSD is right for you?
We’ve recently looked at the latest advances in SSD technology in our Best SSD Buying Guide and have reviewed the contenders for the best SSD around right now.
So here’s eight of the top next-generation solid state drives available to buy.
8. Plextor M2S 128GB – 3½ stars
Unusually for a modern, performance SSD the Plextor drive is not using a SandForce controller. Instead it’s using the same Marvell SATA 6Gbps controller you’ll find in the Intel 510 Series drives.
Intel has played with its firmware though and makes for a faster drive than Plextor has managed with this SSD.
Read the full Plextor M2S review.
7. Intel 510 Series 120GB – 3½ stars
The tweaked firmware of the Intel drive means that its sequential performance numbers are impressive, and if you’re just moving large files around it’s a decent choice.
Unfortunately for Intel though the latest SandForce-based drives just offer better performance numbers overall.
Read the full Intel 5 Series review.
6. Corsair Force 3 120GB – 4 stars
Corsair’s Force 3 drives are good, SATA 6Gbps devices. What the Force 3 isn’t is perfect. For starters, Corsair has gone for cheaper asynchronous NAND, limiting absolute bandwidth (not taking into account data compression) to 50MB/s channel or 400MB/s total.
Just like the OCZ Agility 3, which also uses asynchronous NAND, the Force 3’s claimed sequential performance is likely to drop significantly when handling incompressible data like video and music files.
Read the full Corsair Force 3 review.
5. Crucial M4 256GB – 4 stars
Again the Crucial M4 is one of them Marvell-powered SSDs. When it comes to shunting incompressible data around, like music and video, the Crucial M4 takes much less of a performance hit. It’s 50MB/s faster with incompressible writes than the mighty OCZ Vertex 3.
It’s also a little larger at 256GB rather than 240GB. All of which makes for a pretty interesting alternative to the default OCZ Vertex 3 option with its SandForce controller.
Read the full Crucial M4 review.
4. OCZ Agility 3 240GB – 4 stars
Just what separates this OCZ Agility 3 drive from its seemingly identical Vertex 3 sibling? Not a lot, as it happens. But there is one difference; the Agility 3 makes do with the cheaper asynchronous rather than synchronous NAND memory.
Of course, it’s attractively priced for a 240GB drive with the latest SandForce controller technology. But then the OCZ Vertex 3 only costs an extra 10 per cent and tops the performance tables across the board. In the end, that discount just isn’t enough.
Read the full OCZ Agility 3 review.
3. OCZ Vertex 3 240GB – 4½ stars
To say that the 240GB Vertex 3 is an impressive drive is to do it a disservice; it is a pretty amazing drive with performance you could only dream about even as recently as last year. In the space of just one generation OCZ has brought out a drive with sequential performance that threatens to overwhelm the SATA 6Gbps interface.
SandForce’s SF-2000 range of controllers provide stunning sequential read /write performance and shows where the future of SSD’s is to be heading.
Read the full OCZ Vertex 3 review.
2. Patriot Wildfire 120GB – 4½ stars
The Patriot Wildfire is a speedy, solid little SSD, and we’ve been impressed by the package it’s put together. The drive keeps pace with the big boys of the SSD market and in some places actually manages to outshine them.
While it can’t quite keep up with the two quickest drives on the market in compressible, uncompressible and 4K random reads, the plucky Patriot Wildfire consistently impresses with write performances across all these areas and offers pretty good value for money.
Read the full Patriot Wildfire review.
1. A-Data S511 240GB – 4½ stars
The big one for the A-Data S511 is the relatively high 4K read and write speeds. It’s this impressive performance that makes for speedy operations within the Windows environment more than any other. As well as some impressive performance chops the S511 is also one of the cheaper SandForce 240GB drives out there.
The A-Data S511 is cheaper than the equivalent OCZ Vertex 3, and for that you get a healthy, reliable and – in many ways – faster SSD.
Read the A-Data S511 full review.
For a full list of drives we’ve looked at on TechRadar.com check out our constantly updated SSD reviews.
Dave James is the Components Editor for TechRadar.com and as such is a massive PC geek of the highest order. What he hasn’t destroyed through benchmarking, overclocking or general tweakery isn’t worth looking at.