If you haven’t yet replaced your notebook’s old-fashioned mechanical hard drive with a speedy solid state drive, you’re in luck. Even as performance continues to improve, the cost of a 240 to 256GB drive has dropped into the affordable sub-$350 range. In fact, some models now cost as little as $239. There has never been a better time to dramatically improve your notebook’s performance by upgrading to SSD.
To see which drive offers you the most performance for your money, we rounded up five 2.5-inch SSDs that support the high-speed SATA III (6 Gb/s) interface and tested them on a quad-core HP Pavilion dv7 notebook test-bed. The control was a 500GB 7,200-rpm Hitachi hard drive.
Instead of a proprietary Intel chip, the SSD 520 uses the popular SandForce SF-2281 controller, but adds in Intel’s custom-optimized firmware for improved performance and reliability. Speedy 25nm synchronous NAND flash, which promises faster performance than toggle or asynchronous NAND, holds the data.
Like most other SSDs in this class, the Extreme is powered by a SandForce SF-2281 controller, but combines that with 24nm SanDisk toggle NAND memory. Because the NAND memory is manufactured by SanDisk, the company can force prices down while still offering strong performance.
The Pyro SE also uses the very-popular SandForce SF-2281 controller, but combines it with blazing-fast 25nm synchronous NAND Flash memory.
Unquestionably the best-looking drive in our roundup, the HyperX has more going for it than just a chrome and bright blue chassis. Inside the drive is the nearly-ubiquitous SandForce SF-2281 controller and speedy 25nm synchronous NAND flash from Intel.
The winner of our previous SSD showdown, Samsung’s 830 series offers impressive multitasking performance because of a proprietary triple-core controller. It sports an attractive brushed-metal case and an optional upgrade kit that makes it easy to copy files from your old drive.
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.