The Best SSDs (Solid State Drives) For Your Money: Holidays 2014

| December 6, 2014 | (0)
The Crucial MX100, the SSD that offers the lowest price per GB at the 128GB, 256GB and 512GB capacity points.

The Crucial MX100, the SSD that offers the lowest price per GB at the 128GB, 256GB and 512GB capacity points.

The previous format article has been split in two parts:

This is the Best Solid State Drives (SSDs) For Your Money article.

The Best Hard Drives (HDD) For Your Money article has been published two days ago.

SSD FAQ:

If you wondering “Who are SSDs for?”, if you want a quick recap on what a SSD is and why you want one, I invite you to read our SSD FAQ.

If you have the time to do research… but who does in this busy world?

I do realize that not everyone has the time to read detailed SSD (Solid State Drive) reviews.

This is why I write this guide for you: To help you save your time, sanity and money by letting you know what are the best SSDs and the best hard drives at various price points.

Recommended based on:
Hardware Revolution recommendations for 2.5″ SSDs:
Model, Storage capacity, Price: USA / International Shipping
Value
Value + Perf.
Low Power
#1 Performer
Crucial MX100 128GB: - $62.99 (Amazon) / - $69.93 (B&H)
Samsung 840 EVO 120GB: – $72.99 (Amazon) / – $85.00 (B&H)
ADATA SP610 128GB: $69.99 (Amazon)
Samsung 850 Pro 128GB: - $104.99 (Amazon) / – $109.99 (B&H)
Only Value
Value + Perf.
Low Power
#1 Performer
#2 Performer
Crucial MX100 256GB: - $109.99 (Amazon) / – $109.99 (B&H)
Samsung 840 EVO 250GB: – $124.97 (Amazon) / – $114.00 (B&H)
ADATA SP610 256GB: $119.99 (Amazon)
Samsung 850 Pro 256GB: – $174.99 (Amazon) / – $179.99 (B&H)
Sandisk Extreme Pro 240GB: – $149.99 (Amazon) / – $159.48 (BH)
Only Value
Value + Perf.
Low Power
#1 Performer
Crucial MX100 512GB: - $199.99 (Amazon) / – $199.99 (B&H)
Samsung 840 EVO 500GB: – $209.00 (Amazon) / – $209.00 (B&H)
ADATA SP610 512GB: $239.99 (Amazon)
Samsung 850 Pro 512GB: – $339.00 (Amazon) / – $339.00 (B&H)
Value
Value + Perf.
Low Power
#1 Performer
#2 Performer
Sandisk Ultra II 960GB: - $385.62(Amazon) / – $385.62(B&H)
Samsung 840 EVO 1000GB: – $439.99 (Amazon) / – $414.00 (B&H)
ADATA SP610 1TB: $469.99 (Amazon)
Samsung 850 Pro 1024GB – $629.99 (Amazon) / – $629.00 (B&H)
Sandisk Extreme Pro 960GB: – $499.00 (Amazon) / – $499.00 (BH)

How do I pick my recommendations?

Value:
Basically the lowest price per GB, or the lowest price for a set storage capacity. I recommend the drives that offer the best combination of reliabilitylow-price and performance at a given storage capacity point, in that order.

Value + Performance:
Low price per GB, with higher performance than the value-only recommendations.

Low Power:
The lowest power usage during idle and heavy workloads, in that order of priority. Ideal for laptops where power consumption matters for battery life.

#1 and #2 Performer:
The highest performance at a given storage capacity. #1 is the fastest, with the highest price. #2 is also a high-end SSD, just not as fast as #1, but it’s also priced lower. 

mSATA alternatives: See the rest of the article below
Alternatives based on the mSATA form factor are suggested below as well.

What storage capacity (GB) should I get for my SSD?

Keep this in mind when you pick your SSD storage capacity:

- Performance scales up with storage capacity within the same model:
A 500GB Samsung 840 EVO offers higher performance than its 250GB variant. The difference in performance between the 120GB and 250GB models is larger than the difference in performance between the 250GB and 500GB models, even more so than the difference in performance between the 500GB and 1TB models.
- I recommend leaving 10-15% of your SSD capactity unused, to keep it running at its peak performance.

Ask yourself:

1. Is this your only drive?
If it is, you’ll definitely need more storage space than if you have other drives to store your data on. Especially in a laptop where upgrading your SSD would mean some downtime.

2. Do you mind clearing out files that you don’t need?
If you like to use your PC without worrying about doing clean-ups to clear some space on your drive, get a SSD with a larger capacity then. If you don’t mind taking time to clean up your drive now and then, you might be able to get by with a smaller SSD.

3. Are you likely to be using your SSD for many years?
Your storage needs may increase, so think about getting a SSD that’s large enough to store your data for as long as you plan on using it. Remember that files are always getting larger: Programs, games, music, video and photo files take more and more space as years go by.

Common sizes are:

  • 120/128GB: Good for the OS and some programs/games with a bit of music. Another drive for additional storage is usually a must.
  • 250/256GB: Good choice for the OS, some programs, some games, some music and some TV shows/movies. Another drive for additional storage is highly recommended, especially if you have a lot of media, even more so in HD.
  • 500/512GB: Great for many programs, games, your music collection and some TV shows/movies. Another drive for additional storage can be useful if you have a lot of music, pictures, video and/or games.
  • 1TB: Best option if your SSD is your only drive and have many programs, games, a music collection and HD TV shows/movies. Another drive for additional storage isn’t necessary, unless you have a vast collection of HD content.

Save space:
Note that you can save some space by moving Windows libraries (Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos) default location to another drive. One of our forums members, mwhals, posted a great tutorial on how to do so on the Hardware Revolution forums.

My storage capacity recommendations:
- In the end, I’d say that 256GB would be the minimum that I’d recommend if you intend to use the SSD as your main drive and have a secondary drive to put other files on it.
512GB is a better choice, you won’t have to worry nearly as much about running out of space, nor requiring a secondary drive and you’ll get higher performance.
- 1TB is ideal, if you can afford it and it will ensure that most users won’t run out of space, even in many years.

Performance:

If you’re coming from a computer with a hard drive, any SSD will offer performance that will be much better. However, saying that all SSDs are equal would be a lie.

While peak transfer rates for most SSDs is limited by the SATA III interface, the keywords here are peak performance. Higher-end models will offer much higher sustained performance, meaning that they don’t slow down as much when under a heavy workload. They’ll complete the workload faster.

The average gamer will be best served by an entry-level SSD. If you use your PC for work and/or you can use or want every bit of performance, aim for a higher-end SSD.

Of course, reliability is what matters the most. Losing data is no joke and it doesn’t matter how quick your SSD is if it fails on you and that you lose your data.

SSD Failure Rates:

From Marc Prieur, of hardware.fr, here are the SSDs failures rates according to a French e-tailer as of November 2014:

- Samsung 0.24%
- Intel 0.27%
- Sandisk 0.29%
- Crucial 0.57%
- Kingston 0.63%
- Corsair 0.87%

The failure rates are based on parts sold between October 1st 2013 and April 1st 2014, for returns before October 2014, which represents 6 months to one year of usage. The statistics per brand are based on a sample of at least 500 sales.

Do note that although these numbers don’t paint the complete picture of world wide failure rates, but they are still an interesting sample to look at. Failure % for SSDs are dropping, so that’s good news for you!

2.5″ to 3.5″ adapter:
For desktop PCs, if your case doesn’t natively support 2.5″ drives (SSDs are 2.5″ drives), make sure to get a 2.5″ to 3.5″ adapter. Most SSDs don’t include one.

Keep in mind:

1. This list is based on the best prices from B&H, NewEgg and/or Amazon that I’ve seen on December 6th 2014. Prices and availability change all the time. While I can’t keep up with ever changing prices, I can suggest to you great drives that you won’t regret buying.
2. All prices are based on new drives prices, no used/open box drives are listed; they might be a good deal but come with trade offs such as limited return policy, limited warranty, etc.

The Best 120 and 128GB SSDs:

Best Value:
Crucial MX100 128GB SATA III 2.5″

- $62.99 at Amazon
- $69.93 at B&H (International Shipping)

  • Price: $62.99
  • Capacity: 128GB
  • Price per GB: $0.49/GB
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter? No.

At $63, this is the least expensive SSD that I recommend.

Despite its low price, it is a very reliable SSD that also offers good performance for an entry-level SSD, trading blows with the more expensive Samsung 840 EVO.

AES 256-bit, TCG Opal 2.0 & IEEE-1667 are all supported for hardware encryption.

Recommended if you want a reliable 128GB SSD with good performance at the lowest price.

Good value with higher performance and low power:
Samsung 840 EVO 120GB

$72.99 (Amazon)
$85.00 (B&H – International Shipping)

If you have an extra $10 to spare, the Samsung 840 EVO 120GB offers better performance than the Crucial MX100, as well as lower power consumption, which is ideal for laptops to get a longer battery life. AES 256-bit, TCG Opal 2.0 & IEEE-1667 are supported as well.

Versus the Crucial MX100 128GB, you lose 8GB of storage capacity though.

The MX100 is less expensive, consumes more power and offers 128GB vs the higher performance and more expensive 120GB Samsung 840 EVO. Pick what you prefer, both are highly reliable.

Lowest power consumption:

If you want every minute of battery life from your laptop, the ADATA SP610 128GB: $69.99 (Amazon) is the way to go. Its performance is a bit lower than the MX100 and 840 EVO, but it’s no slouch either.

The Samsung 840 EVO offers better performance, at the cost of slightly higher battery life. The ADATA SP610 offers lower power consumption but also slightly lower performance.

#1 Highest Performance for a 2.5″ SSD:
Samsung 850 Pro 128GB

$104.99 (Amazon)
$109.99 (B&H)

  1. Highest performance for 2.5″ SATA SSDs
  2. Low power consumption
  3. 10 years warranty
  4. AES 256-bit, TCG Opal 2.0 & IEEE-1667 support

Want the best 2.5″ SSD available on the market? Then you want the Samsung 850 Pro. Ideal for workstations, high-end gaming PCs, any demanding workload, any environment where reliability, performance, endurance and/or a long warranty matters.

mSATA alternative:
Samsung 840 EVO 120GB mSATA

If you want a reliable SSD with good performance in the mSATA form factor, the Samsung 840 EVO is the best choice in my opinion. Good performance, reliable and available in capacities up to 1TB.

$86.48 (Amazon)
- $86.48 (B&H - International Shipping)

The Best 250GB and 256GB SSDs:

Best Value:
Crucial MX100 256GB

- $109.99 at Amazon
- $109.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

  • Price: $109.99
  • Capacity: 256GB
  • Price per GB: $0.43/GB
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter? No.

At $109.99, this is the least expensive 256GB SSD that I recommend, at only $0.43 per GB.

Recommended if you want a reliable 256GB SSD with good performance (for a SSD, far better than a hard drive) at a very low price.

Good value with higher performance and low power:
Samsung 840 EVO 250GB

- $124.97 (Amazon)
- $114.00 (B&H)

If you have an extra $15 to spare, the Samsung 840 EVO offers better performance than the Crucial MX100, as well as lower power consumption, which is ideal for laptops to get a longer battery life. AES 256-bit, TCG Opal 2.0 & IEEE-1667 are supported as well.

Versus the Crucial MX100 256GB, you lose 6GB of storage capacity though.

The MX100 is less expensive, consumes more power and offers 256GB vs the higher performance and more expensive 250GB Samsung 840 EVO. Pick what you prefer, both are highly reliable.

Lowest power consumption:

If you want every minute of battery life from your laptop, the ADATA SP610 256GB: $119.99 (Amazon) is the way to go. Its performance is a bit lower than the MX100 and 840 EVO, but it’s no slouch either.

The Samsung 840 EVO offers better performance, at the cost of slightly higher battery life. The ADATA SP610 offers lower power consumption but also slightly lower performance.

#1 Highest Performance for a 2.5″ SSD:
Samsung 850 Pro 256GB

- $174.99 (Amazon)
- $179.99 (B&H)

  1. Highest performance for 2.5″ SATA SSDs
  2. Low power consumption
  3. 10 years warranty
  4. AES 256-bit, TCG Opal 2.0 & IEEE-1667 support

Want the best 2.5″ SSD available on the market? Then you want the Samsung 850 Pro. Ideal for workstations, high-end PCs, any demanding workload, any environment where reliability, performance, endurance and a long warranty matters.

#2 Highest Performance for a 2.5″ SSD:
Sandisk Extreme Pro 240GB:

$149.99 (Amazon)
- $159.48 (BH)

The Sandisk Extreme Pro doesn’t quite match the Samsung 850 Pro in performance, but it is nonetheless a high-end SSD that’s available for a lower price than the Samsung 850 Pro. You also get a 10 years warranty.

mSATA alternative:
Samsung 840 EVO 250GB mSATA

If you want a reliable SSD with good performance in the mSATA form factor, the Samsung 840 EVO is the best choice in my opinion. Good performance, reliable and available in capacities up to 1TB.
- $129.92 (Amazon)
- $129.92 (B&H – International Shipping)

The Best 500GB and 512GB SSDs:

Best Value:
Crucial MX100 512GB

- $199.99 at Amazon
- $199.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

  • Price: $199.99
  • Capacity: 512GB
  • Price per GB: $0.39/GB
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter? No.

At $199.99, this is the least expensive 512GB SSD that I recommend, at only $0.39 per GB!

Recommended if you want a reliable 512GB SSD with good performance (for a SSD, far better than a hard drive) at a very low price.

Good value with higher performance and low power:
Samsung 840 EVO 500GB

$209.00 (Amazon)
- $209.00 (B&H)

If you have an extra $10 to spare, the Samsung 840 EVO offers better performance than the Crucial MX100, as well as lower power consumption, which is ideal for laptops to get a longer battery life. AES 256-bit, TCG Opal 2.0 & IEEE-1667 are supported as well.

Versus the Crucial MX100 512GB, you lose 12GB of storage capacity though.

The MX100 is less expensive, consumes more power and offers 512GB vs the higher performance and more expensive 500GB Samsung 840 EVO. Pick what you prefer, both are highly reliable.

Lowest power consumption:

If you want every minute of battery life from your laptop, the ADATA SP610 512GB: ADATA SP610 512GB: $239.99 (Amazon) is the way to go. Its performance is a bit lower than the MX100 and 840 EVO, but it’s no slouch either.

The Samsung 840 EVO offers better performance, at the cost of slightly higher battery life. The ADATA SP610 offers lower power consumption but also slightly lower performance.

#1 Highest Performance for a 2.5″ SSD:
Samsung 850 Pro 512GB

- $339.00 (Amazon)
- $339.00 (B&H)

  1. Highest performance for 2.5″ SATA SSDs
  2. Low power consumption
  3. 10 years warranty
  4. AES 256-bit, TCG Opal 2.0 & IEEE-1667 support

Want the best 2.5″ SSD available on the market? Then you want the Samsung 850 Pro. Ideal for workstations, high-end PCs, any demanding workload, any environment where reliability, performance, endurance and a long warranty matters.

The Sandisk Extreme Pro 480GB is priced too closely to the Samsung 850 Pro 512GB to be worth recommending.

mSATA alternative:
Samsung 840 EVO 500GB mSATA

If you want a reliable SSD with good performance in the mSATA form factor, the Samsung 840 EVO is the best choice in my opinion. Good performance, reliable and available in capacities up to 1TB.

- $243.23 (Amazon)
- $241.91 (B&H - International Shipping)

The Best 960GB, 1000GB and 1024GB (1TB) SSDs:

Best Value:
Sandisk Ultra II

- $385.62 (Amazon)
- $385.62 (B&H – International Shipping)

  • Price: $385.62
  • Capacity: 960GB
  • Price per GB: $0.40/GB
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Includes a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket adapter? No.

At $385.62, this is the least expensive ~1TB SSD that I recommend, at only $0.40 per GB.

Recommended if you want a reliable, good value 1TB SSD, with low power consumption and good performance at a low price.

Good value with higher performance and low power:
Samsung 840 EVO 1TB (1000GB)

Samsung 840 EVO 1000GB: – $439.99 (Amazon)
- $414.00 (B&H)

If you have an extra $55 to spare, the Samsung 840 EVO offers slightly better peak performance than the Ultra II.

AES 256-bit, TCG Opal 2.0 & IEEE-1667 are supported by the Samsung 840 EVO, unlike the Sandisk Ultra II.

Versus the Sandisk Ultra II 960GB, you gain 40GB of storage capacity too.

Lowest power consumption:

If you want every minute of battery life from your laptop, the ADATA SP610 1TB: $469.99 (Amazon) is the way to go. Its performance is a bit lower than the 840 EVO, but it’s no slouch either.

The Samsung 840 EVO offers better performance, at the cost of slightly higher battery life. The ADATA SP610 offers lower power consumption but also slightly lower performance.

#1 Highest Performance for a 2.5″ SSD:
Samsung 850 Pro 1TB (1024GB)

- $629.99 (Amazon)
- $629.00 (B&H)

  1. Highest performance for 2.5″ SATA SSDs
  2. Low power consumption
  3. 10 years warranty
  4. AES 256-bit, TCG Opal 2.0 & IEEE-1667 support

Want the best 2.5″ SSD available on the market? Then you want the Samsung 850 Pro. Ideal for workstations, high-end PCs, any demanding workload, any environment where reliability, performance, endurance and a long warranty matters.

#2 Highest Performance for a 2.5″ SSD:
Sandisk Extreme Pro 960GB:

- $499.00 (Amazon)
- $499.00 (BH)

The Sandisk Extreme Pro doesn’t quite match the Samsung 850 Pro in performance, but it is nonetheless a high-end SSD that’s available for a lower price than the Samsung 850 Pro. You also get a 10 years warranty. You do lose 64GB (960GB vs 1024GB) of storage capacity though.

mSATA alternative:
Samsung 840 EVO 1TB mSATA

If you want a reliable SSD with good performance in the mSATA form factor, the Samsung 840 EVO is the best choice in my opinion. Good performance, reliable and available in capacities up to 1TB.

- $419.99 (Amazon)
- $431.99 (B&H - International Shipping)

Updating the SSD firmware

Recommended to get the latest bug fixes and the best performance possible out of your SSD.

The Samsung 840 EVO has had a firmware update launched recently, to fix a bug that affected read performance. Your data is not at risk. The firmware can be applied without destroying any data.

Samsung calls it the “Samsung SSD 840 EVO Performance Restoration Software”. You can download it and read the instructions from this page on Samsung’s website. It’s a simple but slightly lengthy process.

When you start using your SSD
I strongly urge you to double-check for an update to the SSD’s firmware, in order to get the latest bug fixes and the best performance. Make sure to read the instructions available on each update page, in order to understand how to properly update the firmware.

Some SSDs have newer firmware available than the one that they are shipped with, so make sure to double-check your SSD’s firmware version and to update it if’s not the latest.

If you update your SSD’s firmware after starting to use it, make sure to backup your data beforehand, as something could go wrong during the update process and you could lose the data on the SSD.

If you have questions regarding firmware updates, contact the manufacturer or visit their support forums.

To find the latest firmware for your SSD, simply visit the manufacturer’s website, find your SSD and look for the latest firmware. Instructions on how to update the firmware should be found on the same page, or in a link to a .pdf file.

Category: The Best Computer Parts For Your Money

About Mathieu Bourgie: HR Founder - Computer expert with over 14 years of experience in building, fixing and modifying PCs. Over the years, I’ve developed a passion for PC hardware and now I enjoy helping others build their own PCs! In April 2008, I launched Hardware Revolution and ... Read more at my about page .