Solid state drives are slowly becoming a cheaper storage method, although they are still not as cheap as a hard disk drive. For example, a 1 TB HDD can be purchased for £50, while a SSD with the same capacity cost close to two grand. As a quick recap for those not in the know, a SSD uses a memory chip and has no moving physical parts. This is different to a HDD which stores data on a rotating platter which is then accessed by a read and write head that floats above it. The lack of these mechanical components means that a SSD is 30% faster than a HDD in opening files and there is also a reduced chance of failure.
TechRadar brought ten of the best recent SSDs together and compared them, benchmarking things like sequential write performance (incompressible and compressible data), burst read performance and random write performance. They found that the best SSD from their tests was the OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB. This was preferred for the Marvell based controller chipset and synchronous NAND flash memory with 512 MB of cache. It comes at a decent price and with a five year warranty. The only problem they had with the drive is that the ZIP file decompression is not as impressive as it should be.
A drive that came a close second was the Samsung 840 250 GB. Samsung created its own flash memory, controller chipset and DRAM for the drive. It was the first drive to feature TLC memory. This gives the drive an ability to store three bits per cell, a 50 percent increase over standard MLC flash memory. However, TechRadar found that TLC memory is slower and less robust, not being able to cope with the same amount of write and erase cycles as MLC memory. However, the drive gives good performance in other areas, despite the dodgy sequential write performance at times.
Other drives they looked at include the KingSpec Challenge 240 GB. This drive comes in a 7mm format which is perfect for thin notebooks and also gives great performance at good price. However, the fact that there is no fitting kit or drive bay convertor, plus only a two year warranty, lost the drive points. Another drive choice was the Intel 330 Series 180 GB, which makes use of the SandForce controller. Coming from Intel it should be a reliable drive, but in tests it was found to handle incompressible data poorly and the drive is of lower capacity to the rest in show.
Although SSDs are still not the most popular method of storage, they are gradually increasing in capacity and decreasing in price. It is assumed that eventually HDDs will become redundant and SSDs will become the main choice of drive. If you have a lot of data then it isn’t suitable to use one as your primary storage device due to the costs, but if you are looking for a decent SSD then the OCZ Vertex 4 and Samsung 840 would be good choices. Of course, it is entirely dependable on your needs, so be sure to research what specifications will suit your system.
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