Top 5 solid-state drives: It’s upgrade time

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Now that you have learned all about solid-state drives (SSDs) and even know how to take care of one, the only thing left is buying the SSD itself.

Any of the following drives will be a single upgrade that makes your computer feel like new, if the machine is currently running on a hard drive. Some of these drives can prove to be great upgrades even when your system is running on a budget or older-generation SSD. In short, it’s upgrade time for many of you out there, especially when most of the drives listed here now cost less than $1 per gigabyte.

Note that these are standard SSDs that come in the 2.5-inch design and 7mm thickness. This means that they will fit in all standard notebooks and desktops, but just some ultrabooks. This is because other ultrabooks might require SSDs of a different design, but in those cases they likely already come with an SSD.

This list will be updated on a regular basis as more drives are reviewed; the list is sorted based on the review date, with the latest reviews on top.

Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme

Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme
Introduced at CES 2013, the new M5 Pro Xtreme is an upgrade from the M5 Pro and it adds a lot more than just Xtreme to the name. The new drive comes with an optimized printed circuit board (PCP) design and a new firmware, providing provide better performance than that of the M5 Pro, which is a great SSD in its own right and currently still makes this list. The new drive also comes with relatively affordable price tag, costing less than $1 per gigabyte.

OCZ Vector

OCZ Vector
The OCZ Vector is the latest drive from OCZ and is the first drive made entirely by OCZ itself, from the controller to the flash memory. The result is something quite impressive. In my testing, it’s arguably the fastest consumer-grade SSD to date. Coming in the ultrathin (7mm) 2.5-inch design and shipped with a 3.5-inch drive bay converter, the Vector works with all standard systems, from desktops to ultrabooks.

In my opinion, it’s best used with a desktop, though, since it’s not very energy efficient. For that, you want to check out the Samsung 840 Pro below.


Samsung 840 Pro
The Samsung 840 Pro is an upgrade of the already-excellent Samsung 830. The new drive shares exactly the same design as its predecessor, coming in the 7mm-thin 2.5-inch design. On the inside, however, it uses a new controller and toggle-mode NAND flash memory to offer a much better combination of performance and energy efficiency. In fact it’s for now the most energy-efficient on the market, with just 0.068W(working)/0.042W (idle) consumption rating. For this reason, the new Samsung is best suited for laptops or ultrabooks.


Corsair Neutron GTX
The Corsair Neutron GTX is the first SSD from Corsair that I’ve worked with. Despite sharing the increasingly popular 7mm, 2.5-inch design, the drive’s quite different from the rest of SSDs since it uses a new controller called LAMD LM87800 and a high-performance toggle-mode NAND from Toshiba. This results in some of the best performance I’ve seen. The good news is that getting it won’t break the bank. The new Corsair drive is priced at around $1 per gigabyte, and the price is expected to get lower soon.


Plextor M5 Pro
The Plextor M5 Pro was succeeded by the M5 Pro Xtreme above, but it still makes this list because it’s an excellent SSD. The drive provides enterprise-grade double data protection and it can also use the new firmware (released for the M5 Pro Xtreme) to offer similar performance to what the Xtreme has to offer. The release of the Xtreme only means that the M5 Pro now costs even less than it used to. This makes it a great investment.

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