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High prices are always a stumbling block to new tech adoption and with SSDs it hasn't been any different. We've come a long way from first generation drives that suffered from severe slowdowns, but solid state drives are still far from replacing traditional storage and this is easily explained by comparing cost per gigabyte.
Recently there has been a surging demand for drives that sacrifice space for speed and more affordable price tags, and manufacturers have been racing to deliver just that. The cheapest offering in our last round-up over a year ago came from OCZ. Priced at $270, the OCZ Agility 120GB cost almost twice the $150 limit we have imposed on the SSDs featured in this article.
With that price cap we've been able to include more than half a dozen drives using controllers from the likes of JMicron, Intel, Toshiba, SandForce and Indilinx. But while there is quite a bit of diversity in the controllers used by these affordable SSDs, like we mentioned before there is also something most of them have in common, a more limited storage capacity.
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.
Gamers are likely going to want at least a 64GB drive considering many titles weigh in at more than 8GB these days. Thankfully, we were able to find a few good options that provide this kind of storage capacity for less than $150.
Today's round-up is comprised of the following contenders: OCZ Agility 2 40GB ($135), OCZ Vertex 2 40GB ($124), OCZ Onyx 64GB ($130), OCZ Onyx 32GB ($85), ADATA S596 Turbo 32GB ($83), Intel X25-V 40GB ($100), and the Kingston SNV425-S2 64GB ($125). In addition to these affordable SSD offerings we have added to the mix the Seagate Momentus XT ($135), a highly-touted hybrid drive that attempts to deliver the best of both worlds by offering huge storage capacity at a reasonable price, with the added performance boost of NAND flash memory for caching data.
We'll be putting each drive through a set of tests including four synthetic benchmark programs plus our own file copying and load time tests. But before we jump into those results let's check out each one of the drives in closer detail.