SATA III SSD Showdown: Which Solid State Drive is Fastest?


It’s no secret that replacing your notebook’s hard drive with a solid state disk can dramatically transform your computing experience. With even last year’s SSDs, tasks such as opening large files or starting bulky applications take mere moments to complete. And if you own a notebook powered by one of Intel’s 2nd Generation Core Series CPUs, you’re in for a whole new world of fast, courtesy of SATA III, a high-speed interface Intel included in its new chipsets starting in 2011.

While SATA II SSDs were often limited by the 3 GB/s cap imposed by their older interface, a new generation of SATA III drives takes full advantage of this increased bandwidth. For example, the SATA III-based Samsung 830 series was able to copy a 3.1GB file in just 13 seconds, nearly twice as fast as the SATA II-powered Samsung 430 series (24 seconds), which won our previous SSD round-up. That kind of data rate is also over three times as fast as a 7,200-rpm hard drive (71.7 seconds).

However, not all SATA III drives are created equal. We took four of the leading SSDs and put them through a battery of tests to determine which one belongs in your notebook.

The Contenders

Samsung 830 Series (256GB)

Featuring a triple-core Samsung controller designed to improve multitasking, the 830 series seeks to improve upon the 470 series, which was fast enough to win our previous SSD shootout in February. Like its predecessor, the 830 Series has an attractive brushed-metal case that really stands out in a crowd. It also is available with an upgrade kit that features a USB-to-SATA adapter and Norton Ghost software for easily migrating your data, OS, and apps from your old hard drive.

The 830 series carries a highly competitive MSRP of $429 for the 256GB capacity and $229 for the 128GB size. That’s a rate of $1.67 and $1.78 per GB respectively, but we expect those numbers to be even lower at retail.

Intel SSD 510 (250GB)

Intel SSD 510Since entering the SSD market in 2008, Intel has earned a strong reputation for building high-speed drivers with its own controllers. With the SSD 510, the company decided to go with a Marvell 9174 controller that’s used by other manufacturers such as Corsair and Micron, but continues to use its own firmware.

At $2.27 per GB for the 250GB size ($569) and $2.31 per GB for the 120GB capacity ($278), Intel’s drive is one of the more expensive on the market.

OCZ Vertex 3

OCZ Vertex 3Featuring the popular SandForce 2281 controller chip found in at least a dozen other drives, the Vertex 3 continues OCZ’s tradition of offering high-speed drives at a low cost. At $1.53 per GB for the 240GB capacity ($369) and $1.66 per GB for the 120GB size, this is one of the best deals you can score.

Patriot Wildfire

The Wildfire also features a SandForce 2281 controller, but with different NAND flash memory and firmware than the Vertex 3. At $1.99 per GB for the 120GB capacity and $1.96 per GB for the 240GB size ($469), this drive is one of the more affordable options in its class.

The Controls

To get an idea of what to expect we also compared the four SATA III drives to the Samsung 470 series, a SATA II SSD which won our previous SSD roundup, and to a 500GB 7,200 rpm hard drive.


Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch on
Facebook Twitter Google+
Email* (will not be published)
*Indicates required field
Submit Comments

All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options