Budget Sub-$150 Solid State Drive Round-up

By Julio Franco · 61 replies
Sep 8, 2010
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  1. Recently there has been a surging demand for solid state drives that sacrifice space for speed and more affordable price tags, and manufacturers have been racing to deliver just that. Most of the drives featured in this round-up offer 32GB - 40GB capacities, while a few others top out at 64GB. As limiting as a 32GB drive might appear, they can still be extremely useful in enhancing a PC's performance when set to run as the boot drive. These smaller drives can also accommodate for select programs where they can greatly speed up the use of the application, for example, Adobe Photoshop.

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  2. kyosuke

    kyosuke TS Rookie Posts: 47

    So you are saying we can select the programs to run on a solid state drive while keeping our hard drives?

    If so that would be worth it for iTunes on windows xp is horrible!

    You guys should do some tests on simple tech things, like converting movies, gameplay, DivX to DVD burning etc.
  3. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,869   +2,039

    Kyosuke I think you meant to leave it as iTunes is horrible ;)

    Simple tech tings would cover loading Windows 7 would it not and a level in a game?

    Also stuff like DVD burning sees no performance gain when using SSD technology, nor does gameplay or converting movies (for the most part). They all focus on CPU and GPU performance rather than storage performance. Thanks for the feedback though.
  4. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    I haven't read the review yet, but I'm fairly certain what is meant is to install the OS on the SSD, along with some choice items of software (that are intensive and you want starting faster), and use another hard drive to place all your other installations in.

    I use a Crucial 256GB SSD for all of my Windows and Linux partitions, and both OS' software, and pretty much all applications have seen a definite decrease in startup times. All my personal data is stored on a 1TB hard drive, with all my critical data then backed up onto a 500GB hard drive.

    That said, the one scenario where I haven't seen any increase whatsoever is when I open an application up by opening a file from my documents hard drive. It might well open the software (for example Acrobat pro 9.2/Word 2007) really fast, but it then sits there for a couple of seconds finding, then opening the file from my other hard drive. If I place the same file on my SSD, it opens it instantly.
  5. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,960   +218

    Steven; actually for World of Warcraft I noted a tremendous speed increase by having it on a small SSD, this was a 16GB Mtron SATA-1 SSD I was "testing" for my work place (was going into a CNC machine)
    The loading times where improved tremendously, as was the loading of characters when you where finally in game
    This was compared vs a WD Raptor 150GB mechanical HDD
    SSD; 28 seconds to load game fully into Dalaran, another 4 sec as characters load
    HDD; 77 seconds to load game fully into Dalaran, another 30 sec as characters load
  6. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    So the WD Velociraptor HDD is actually considerably faster than the SSD?
  7. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,960   +218

    Fixed that epic spelling mistake in the original post, thanks!
  8. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    No problems, although I was convinced you had it correct, as I know the 'raptors are fast. :)
  9. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,869   +2,039

    That's right the load times were improved just as we showed when testing with StarCraft II. How many more frames per second did you receive? I was addressing gameplay as in the kind of FPS benchmarks we use on GPUs that would not be appropriate for this test.

    That said obviously any game that loads large amounts of data from the drive while playing will be much smoother when using an SSD but most games are optimized to load everything or just about everything before the game begins, purely because hard drives are so slow.
  10. KG363

    KG363 TS Guru Posts: 515   +9

    Really should've added the Crucial c300. I hear it's great and I was hoping that you would include it. It's $10 dollars over the limit, but I still think it should be included. Not too late!
  11. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    While it's only 10 dollars, you have to draw a line somewhere I guess, otherwise it'll very quickly end up being a round up of much more expensive SSD's and therefore worth nothing as a review.

    The other way of looking at it would be to save that $10 and get one you know from benchmarks is good. :)

    I'll certainly be getting another one to run my virtual os' from in the not too distant future; I find it vastly improves the performance during use, but I just can't stomach losing almost 60GB of my main SSD.
  12. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    For whatever reason, Anandtech's reviews always seem to be more thorough...interesting variety of tests though.
    Isn't the Agility 2 supposed to be cheaper than Vertex 2?
  13. grvalderrama

    grvalderrama TS Enthusiast Posts: 194

    I was looking forward to buying a Momentus XT but I see it doesn't work as fast as I expected. However, in this review there are many programs I don't use or hardly even know... So, may I ask how does this drive work for the purposes I intend to use, which are games, and other small aplications, such as music, movies, chatting.... above all, games. I would use this drive in a desktop computer. Thanks and really great and useful review.
  14. tonylukac

    tonylukac TS Evangelist Posts: 1,374   +69

    Wow, 12 second windows boot time? Are you sure?
  15. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,869   +2,039

    Not sure what more we can do for you, I felt this was pretty in-depth. You have to draw the line somewhere, after all I am just one man. Also Anandtech is one of the largest if not the largest tech site on the net and its also one of the oldest so I guess being compared to them can be taken as a complement.

    We have tested where these drives will improve performance and that is seen when loading large applications and games. An SSD is going to do nothing for your MSN, e-mail or Internet surfing experience, or at least very little anyway. As I have said with gaming you will not see more frames per second but level loading and things like that where the hard drive is used heavily will be much faster.

    The tests included are designed to show you how the drives compare, not so much how SSD's compare to hard drives, that would be a separate article altogether.

    LOL pretty sure.
  16. vangrat

    vangrat TS Rookie Posts: 223

    Personally, regardless of the FPS increase in a game, the boot time would be worth it alone. There is nothing worse in gaming then waiting for 2 to 3 minutes for a screen to load; this takes away from the immersion factor that the game creators are aiming for. Also, the loading time creates a subjective experience of the speediness of the game; if you have a slow loading time, then you are more likely to think the game is sluggish and boring, then if you had a super fast loading time.
  17. gwailo247

    gwailo247 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,010   +18

    I pre ordered the Momentus when I heard about it, then around the time it was ready to ship I decided to get a SSD instead, but when I went to cancel my order it had just shipped.

    It does run pretty fast. The Vista start items all pop up almost instantly, certainly much faster than they do on my i7 with 2 Velociraptors in Raid 0 running Windows 7. it boots pretty fast too, although Asus bios seem to crawl these days.
  18. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Its quite believable on a new install, with limited software installed.

    My PC will shut down in less than 10 secs. I timed it, and thats with all the software that starts with my PC still running in the backround.

    PC start up is slower though, as BIOS takes about 10 secs from the time the Gigabyte logo appears to the time it finishes POST and shifts over to the SSD to load. I then have quite a few programs that load up into the backround when W7 starts, but including the welcome screen I have to enter my login password for, loaded to a fully working (and idle) desktop is still only around 30 seconds - From the moment I press the power button to it idle on the desktop.

    Its definitely MUCH faster than using the previous 160GB 7200rpm hard drive!

    I also reckon if I removed my password to login, it would speed things up a few seconds as well.

    I find all the reviews on here to be fair, honest and accurate. Its clear all those involved in the backround take a great deal of time, effort and pride in the writing and testing, not to mention all the unseen work required to make these reviews possible. :)
  19. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,869   +2,039

    Thanks for the feedback Leeky I appreciate it.

    Also the Windows 7 boot test was not measured from the second you hit the power button, not that you are implying it was Leeky but maybe that's what tonylukac thought. Here is a quote from the opening sentence "The Windows 7 boot time test begins from the moment the initial loading screen appears to the time the Windows desktop is fully loaded."...

    The Windows 7 loading test saw impressive results from the SSD drives but it was the multi-tasking test where we load several applications at once right after Windows itself has loaded that provided the most impressive results.
  20. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    I would imagine so, although its impossible to be fair about loading times when different motherboards take different times to POST, so its the only way of doing it for the purposes of this review.

    In contrast, its only taking my computer 15-18secs to load up from the moment the windows startup kicks in on boot, allowing 2-5 seconds for me to enter my password, so it still goes to show that even on a system with massive amounts of software installed, and GB's of updates and many applications starting in the backround on boot up that its still bloody fast.

    To me, the SSD is the most important link in my hardware chain. While my hardware is not what you'd call cutting edge, its still worthy by todays standards, and the SSD really perks it up. Its like the rest of my hardware can now run unrestricted, whereas with the previous hard drive it lagged behind the rest of my hardware thus slowed the whole PC down with it.
  21. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,960   +218

    The minimum FPS gets a very nice boost, with a mechanical HDD when textures are loading the FPS drops, very noticeable in Dalaran in WoW
    Or if you play Crysis, when you enter a new big area the minimum FPS will also take a big dive, untill everything is loaded, then the minimum FPS goes up
    You can easily test this by using the built in benchmark in Crysis, only look at the first run, the one which is normally discarded when used in reviews.
    But still quite relevant when actually in game because the level you enter will not be preloaded into RAM (not on my system with 8GB of RAM anyway)
  22. grvalderrama

    grvalderrama TS Enthusiast Posts: 194

    My motherboard doesn't not show POST, but it takes longer to start than Windows 7 to load though. It takes about 40 seconds to get to W7 and ready to use it. I only have antivirus software, sound card and video card drivers running with boot.
  23. grvalderrama

    grvalderrama TS Enthusiast Posts: 194

    So, if I get a Momentus XT, will I see an improvement at least in games' loading times and when windows starts? They are more than enough reasons to go and get it xD
    SSD drives are just way too expensive for me and they lack of capacity, so I'm not considering buying one until I'm rich lol (a 60GB Ocz Vertex is U$S190 or $760 and a Vertex 2 same capacity U$S290=1160). Sorry for the re-post, thanks again!
  24. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,869   +2,039

    I have not noticed this at all but then the graphics card that I game with produces such a high frame rate that’s not surprising. As you say when benchmarking the first run is discarded but then again I have not notice the SSDs producing higher results, I will have to look into it. Still as I said this has had no impact on my gaming experience what so ever.

    So you could put that down to it being the games I play which I can assure you does not include WoW :p or the fact that the rest of the system is fast enough to sustain a high-end frame rate that the hard drive does not impact performance as much. I would assume anyone spending the kind of money it takes to acquire an SSD would already have a decent graphics card.

    At the end of the day if you do see a performance increase that is great, it just adds to everything good we have been saying about SSD technology. After all I believe SSDs do enhance the gaming experience, I just feel most should expect to see better load times more so than improved frames per second performance but as with everything there is the exception.

    Well I found Windows loading was much faster but not game level loading though this might vary depending on the game. I would recommend going for an SSD instead like one of the models we suggested in the conclusion. Yes the capacity is small but the performance was consistently impressive and you only need to install the applications you are using on the SSD and store things like high-res images (if you have lots), movies and music for example of a secondary hard drive.
  25. The author doesn't make much distinction between Single-Level Cell (SLC) and Multi-Level Cell (MLC) SSD drives. Of which, the MLC drives are cheaper than SLC drives but sacrifice some performance in the process. All the drives listed here are MLC drives (since there was a price cap) and we would see better performances out of their more expensive SLC counterparts.

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