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Top Five SSDs for the first half of 2014

With the price of solid-state drives continuing to fall, the time is right to finally make the jump. But, what characteristics should a consumer consider?

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As the price of Solid State Drives continues to fall, now is the time to consider removing that old platter drive HDD and replacing it with a brand new, lightning fast SSD. A new SSD will make your PC faster, quieter, and much more efficient over even the best mechanical drives out today.

The key to finding the right SSD is to consider the characteristics that make one SSD significant better than another: Speed, technology support, reliability, and price. Here is what to look for in each.

  • Quick read/write speeds - This is the big reason for switching from an old Hard Disk Drive to the Solid-State Drive. Look for the best transfer speeds you can find. Anything above 400MB/sec read and 300MB/sec write will be a good choice. Try to find the best balance, as these speeds are just a target and a little higher or a little lower will make a negligible difference.
  • SATA III support - You wanted the fasted drive for your gaming computer, so you need to have the best pipe for that data to get to the CPU. SATA III allows for 6gps transfer speeds, which is 4.5gbs faster than the old SATA I. Make sure that your motherboard can support SATA III for the best possible performance, but know that all SATA connections are backward compatible.
  • A history of reliability - This is the most time consuming for a new product type. Research any drive you are considering to see what the general consensus is. While there is a high ratio of misinformation on the web these days, consumer reporting site and places like Amazon will have a large cross section of established product information. Spending a little extra time researching your drive model can help avoid the frustration of dealing with a dead hard drive.
  • Price - This point is a no-brainer. You want the best drive for your gaming system, but money is not grown on trees. As the technology behind SSDs becomes more reliable and the larger drive manufactures begin to expand the offerings, many more low-cost options will be made available. Try to keep the cost under one-dollar per GB.

To make this process easier for you, we have selected what we believe to be the best available SSDs for the early part of 2014. These five choices are in no particular order and represent a small fraction of the available options to consumers. As with any new purchase, be sure to consider the existing technology in your PC and the benefits a new purchase might provide you.

OCZ Vertex

The OCZ Vertex is a significant upgrade over any standard HDD, and is an outstanding entry in the SSD market. The Vertex features the Indilinx Everest 2 controller, native TRIM support, and is available in a wide variety of capacities. These drives also compare favorably to all other SSDs on the market in terms of read and write times.

  • Pros: Low power consumptions and industry leading read and write times
  • Cons: Lacking capacity options

Specifications

  • Available Capacities (GB): 64, 128, 256, 512
  • Controller: Indilinx Everest 2
  • Onboard Cache: Up to 1GB
  • TRIM Support: Yes
  • Sequential Read: Up to 560 MBps
  • Sequential Write: Up to 510 MBps
  • Random Write (4KB): Up to 120,000 IOPS
  • Seek Time (milliseconds): <0.1
  • Mean Time Between Failure (Hours): 2 million
  • Form Factor (Inches): 2.5
  • Height (mm): 9.3
  • Weight (g): 101
  • Warranty (years): 5

SanDisk Extreme

The SanDisk Extreme is the jack-of-all-trades in the SSD market. The Extreme performs well in all aspects of key SSD characteristics, while SanDisk provides an excellent in-house controller and outstanding support for their products. The SanDisk Extreme is only held back by its limited capacity offerings.

  • Pros: Easy and painless option as an upgrade and excellent support
  • Cons: Limited capacity options and low random write speeds

Specifications

  • Available Capacities (GB): 60, 120, 240, 480
  • Controller: SandForce
  • Onboard Cache: N/A
  • TRIM Support: Yes
  • Sequential Read: Up to 550 MBps
  • Sequential Write: Up to 520 MBps
  • Random Write (4KB): Up to 83,000 IOPS
  • Seek Time (Milliseconds): 0.1
  • Mean Time Between Failure (Hours): 1.4 to 2 million
  • Form Factor (Inches): 2.5
  • Height (mm): 9.5
  • Weight (g): 76
  • Warranty (years): 3

Corsair Force Series GS

The Corsair Force Series GS is an all-around performer in the SSD market. The drive has excellent speeds in both read and write times as well as a quick seek time, which makes the Corsair force Series GS and outstanding choice. The multiple capacity choices more than make up for the heavy weight and limited support options.

  • Pros: Excellent capacity options available as well as lifespan
  • Cons: Heavy for size and limited support availability

Specifications

  • Available Capacities (GB): 128, 180, 240, 360, 480
  • Controller: SandForce
  • Onboard Cache: N/A
  • TRIM Support: Yes
  • Sequential Read: Up to 560 MBps
  • Sequential Write: Up to 535 MBps
  • Random Write (4KB): Up to 92,000 IOPS
  • Seek Time (Milliseconds): 0.1
  • Mean Time Between Failure (Hours): 2 million
  • Form Factor (Inches): 2.5
  • Height (mm): 7
  • Weight (g): 100
  • Warranty (years): 3

Kingston HyperX

The Kingston HyperX is an excellent SSD choice for PC users who are looking for a drive with lightning fast read and write speeds. The SandForce controller is easy to integrate and provides reliable performance. While the lower-than-average life expectancy and heavy weight of the drive may be a hindrance to some, the benefits of Kingston HyperX far outweigh the negatives.

  • Pros: Excellent read and write speeds
  • Cons: Heavy, limited capacity selection, and low life expectancy

Specifications

  • Available Capacities (GB): 120, 240, 480
  • Controller: SandForce
  • Onboard Cache: N/A
  • TRIM Support: Yes
  • Sequential Read: Up to 555 MBps
  • Sequential Write: Up to 515 MBps
  • Random Write (4KB): Up to 86,000 IOPS
  • Seek Time (Milliseconds): 0.1
  • Mean Time Between Failure (Hours): 1 million
  • Form Factor (Inches): 2.5
  • Height (mm): 9.5
  • Weight (g): 130
  • Warranty (years): 3

Plextor M5P

The Plextor M5P is a good choice when selecting an SSD. The M5P offers a slim and lightweight design that makes it an excellent choice for use in ultrabooks and other portable devices. The drive also performs with competitive read and write speeds while offering an extended life expectancy when compared to other SSDs in its range.

  • Pros: Slim and lightweight with an excellent life expectancy
  • Cons: Limited capacity options and slow random write speeds

Specifications

  • Available Capacities (GB): 128, 256, 512
  • Controller: Marvell
  • Onboard Cache: 128 MB
  • TRIM Support: Yes
  • Sequential Read: Up to 540 MBps
  • Sequential Write: Up to 470 MBps
  • Random Write (4KB): Up to 88,000 IOPS
  • Seek Time (Milliseconds): 0.1
  • Mean Time Between Failure (Hours): 2.4 million
  • Form Factor (Inches): 2.5
  • Height (mm): 7
  • Weight (g): 70
  • Warranty (years): 5

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