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When it comes to laptops, few upgrades offer as big a performance boost as a solid state drive. And although they're still costlier than traditional drives, SSDs are no longer coveted by just the tech elite; they're now present in multiple mainstream devices from tablets to ultrabooks. As a result, prices on SSDs have fallen to the point where outfitting a laptop with a solid state drive is no longer a luxury. It's no coincidence many of today's best-rated ultraportables like Apple's MacBook Air and Asus' Zenbook series rely on SSDs rather than traditional hard drives.
So while last year's flooding in Thailand may have disrupted hard drive deals, SSDs on the other hand began their descent into affordability. To get a better picture of where SSD deals are heading, we looked at the past year's worth of data on 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB SSDs, which are the most common capacities listed on dealnews.com. As our chart indicates, prices on all three capacities have steadily fallen over the course of the last year.
But in terms of price-per-GB, are you better off buying a low-capacity drive or will you (and your wallet) benefit more from investing in a high-capacity SSD? Our deal data suggests that the landscape has changed drastically over the past year in this respect.
So what size SSD should you buy? When it comes to storage, the general mentality is of course: bigger is always better. But does that hold true for SSDs as well?
As the above chart clearly demonstrates, we've seen price drops across the board for SSD deals. But larger drives specifically have seen the biggest dip since the beginning of the year. For instance, at the start of the year in January 2012, the price-per-GB cost of a 256GB SSD was $1.37/GB. By September, that price had dropped 65% to $0.48/GB. Comparatively, this past winter 64GB SSDs were going for $0.86/GB, and today a similarly-sized SSD is a mere $0.47/GB — a 45% drop in price.
So, while we are seeing excellent deals across all sizes, higher-capacity drives are finally reaching an equal per-GB price point compared to smaller drives. Although the best 256GB deal checked in at one cent more per GB than the 64GB drive, it's no longer a drastic premium amongst SSDs for a larger capacity. Thus, with today's heavy storage needs, it makes sense to get a bigger option.
Of course, if you're just randomly shopping for a new SSD, you're unlikely to see these very low prices; instead, you'll need to look carefully for a deal. Luckily, we find several Editors' Choice storage deals every week, so be sure to keep an eye on our growing section of SSD deals.
The Intel SSD 520 Series is aimed at performance buffs with initial SF-2281-based models offering capacities of 60GB, 120GB, 180GB, 240GB and 480GB. It also has a slim design, measuring 100 x 69.85 x 9.5mm and weighing up to 78 grams. The 60GB model packs read and write speeds of 550MB/s - 475MB/s, while the larger 120GB version provides 550MB/s reads and 500MB/s writes. The 180GB, 240GB and 480GB models are slightly faster again as the write performance is boosted to 520MB/s. Naturally, using the SATA 6Gb/s interface is essential to achieving those speeds.
The Kingston HyperX SSD has a slim 2.5" design, measuring 10.1 x 6.9 x 9.3mm and weighing 94 grams. It consumes 2.0 watts of power when in use and just 0.455 watts in standby. The HyperX touts read and write speeds of 550MB/s and 520MB/s using SATA 6Gb/s.
The OCZ Vertex 4 Series 64GB model packs read and write speeds of 460MB/s and 220MB/s. The 128GB version is much faster with 550MB/s reads and 420MB/s writes. The 256GB and 512GB models feature the same 550MB/s reads, but writes are boosted to 465MB/s and 475MB/s, respectively.
The RealSSD C400 represents a mild performance gain over last year's C300 during light workloads, it's handily dispatched by competing drives from OCZ and Intel when it comes to heavy multitasking, but that's okay if the C400's price reflects its inferior performance and it does -- there's nothing wrong with delivering an entry-level product.
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