SSD State of the Union

Anand from tweeted this – Pick a drive from Intel, Crucial or Samsung and avoid nearly everything else. I would personally add Kingston to the list to buy.

Firstly, I think the 64GB drive size has been really popular as it is the first tier you can get that really gives you a reasonable amount of space to work with. Basically, those vendors fall out like this (the first three are notable because they largely use controllers they engineer themselves or source from those making Enterprise drives):

Intel: Reliability is tops, performance and features are second, and they want fat margins (admittedly) and so they make you pay more per GB.

Crucial: Performance and features are of equal importance as reliability, pricing is fairly to very competitive. They want into the market.

Samsung: Reliability is tops, performance and features are second, and they really do most of their sales to OEMs like Apple so their NewEgg type pricing isn’t too competitive outside of their 64GB drives.

Kingston: Price is tops, followed by reliability, followed by performance. They are maybe 50% (or less) as fast as others on random IO writes (not a large part of normal workloads…) but they are reliable and the pricing cannot be beat if you can deal with large rebates.


For example, my SSD usage has looked like this: I have a 40GB Intel SSD in my main PC for my C: drive. I bought it on a great sale for ~$70 when the only other real options were Intel 80GB for ~$200 and the OCZ crap using Indilix and the freshly minted Sandforce controllers that are seemingly notorious for having issues and constant beta fixes rolling out. I had to move things like my page file and Windows 7 User Profile folders to a secondary drive. That said, despite the paltry write speed it is incredibly responsive and holds my 7 install plus all my productivity apps like Office with ~30%+ free space. I would be really comfortable on a 64GB drive.

On Kristin’s PC I wanted her to not have to monkey with moving things around and folder redirection and so bought here a 96GB Kingston 100V+ drive.  The plus indicates slightly better performance than the vanilla 100V line and the size should allow her to use the drive exclusively with a secondary 7200RPM drive for things like Steam, Guild Wars and Starcraft 2 and pagefile.  This drive came in at $95 after a whopper of a $50 mail in rebate which came very quickly.

My Dad’s PC has an awesome storage subsystem with a Sata 3 (the latest and greatest SATA standard) 64 GB Crucial M4 as a cache drive with a 1TB Western Digital Sata 3 Black Drive.  The SSD cost about $115 and has been on brief sales in the ~$90 range.  The great thing about this approach is that my Dad can deal with a simple and spacious 1TB C: drive while enjoying the speed of a SSD 90% of the time.  For those that follow storage performance on a larger scale, 64GB of fast SSD for a terabyte of SATA is a nice spot to be, the vast majority of the time what you want will be cached.  The trade of is that 10% of the time (which is an edcuated guess) you are going all the way to the SATA to get what you want, so the first time you access a file and maybe sometime later you will have the performance of the slower spinning disk versus what you’ve come to expect of your SSD.

I’ve used SSD drives from Kingston and ADATA in other builds with good results – I think we are nearing the time when any ~$500+ build is going to include an SSD versus a pricey processor as having nice system drive does so much for general usage of the PC versus new CPU for anyone that already has a dual core or better.


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