What’s the Best SSD? 5 Drives Tested

Application Opens and Multitasking 

Single Application Open Tests 

Drive Adobe Reader (sec) Excel (sec) Firefox (sec) Photoshop (sec) Word (sec) Average Open (sec)
Patriot Pyro SE (240GB)  2.6 3.8 1.1 6.4 0.8 2.9
Intel SSD 520 (240GB) 3.5 4.0 0.8 6.5 0.9 3.1
Kingston HyperX SH100S3 (240GB) 3.6 3.9 0.9 6.5 0.0 3.1
SanDisk Extreme (240GB) 3.7 4.0 1.0 6.4 0.9 3.2
(Samsung 830 Series (256GB) 3.0 4.0 1.1 6.6 0.0 3.3
Hitachi 7,200 rpm 7.1 11.1 3.2 31.1 2.0 11.1

Every second you spend waiting for your programs to launch is another second of productivity you give away. To find out how quickly each SSD can start applications, we tested open times on five popular applications. We used Adobe Reader X to open a 500-page document, Excel 2010 to open a 6.5MB spreadsheet filled with 65,000 names and addresses, Firefox 7 to open a blank page, Photoshop CS6 beta (64-bit) to open a 400MB TIF file and Word 2010 to open a blank document. With leading open rates on all individual applications except Firefox, the Patriot Pyro SE lead the field by a narrow margin of just 0.2 seconds over the Intel SSD 520 and Kingston HyperX SH100S3. Even the Samsung 830 series is only 0.4 seconds behind.

Winner: Patriot Pyro SE

Multitasking: App Opens Under Stress

Drive Adobe Reader (sec) Excel (sec) Firefox (sec) Photoshop (sec) Word (sec) Average Open (sec)
Samsung 830 Series (256GB)  4.7 6.7 1.7 11.6 1.1 5.2
Patriot Pyro SE (240GB) 5.7 7.2 1.8 10.9 1.2 5.4
Intel SSD 520 (240GB) 5.0 0.6 1.6 11.6 1.3 5.6
SanDisk Extreme (240GB) 4.6 8.0 1.4 12.9 1.8 5.7
Kingston HyperX SH100S3 (240GB) 5.2 8.5 1.6 12.5 1.0 5.8
Hitachi 7,200 rpm 92.0 22.6 4.3 324.9 3.5 9.6

Opening a single application is one thing, but opening that application while performing another storage-intensive task is much more taxing. To see how well the SSDs handle multitasking situations, we opened each program while zipping 4.97GB of files in the background. While all the SSDs opened applications quickly under stress, the Samsung 830 series led the pack by a narrow 0.2-second margin. However, on the all-important Photoshop test, the Patriot Pyro SE was just a little bit faster. The Intel SSD 520, SanDisk Extreme and Kingston HyperX were all separated by just a few tenths of a second.

Winner: Samsung 830 Series

Verdict

Picking an overall winner for this round-up is a difficult task, because most of the drives won at least one round and the results were extremely close in most cases. In order to rank the drives’ overall performance, we looked at how they placed in each of the nine rounds then took the average place for each. 

In the end, computer users are the real winners here, because any of the five SATA III SSDs we reviewed here would make an excellent upgrade for your notebook. Intel’s SSD 520 had the highest average place on our tests, but other drives one particularly rounds that may be more important to you and still others offer more value for the money.

1st Place: Intel SSD 520

The overall leading performer is the Intel SSD 520, which won three rounds and had the highest average place (2.4) of any drive in our round-up. Because the drive features Intel’s custom firmware, speedy NAND Flash memory and powerful software package, it’s the strongest choice in a crowded field of fast drives.

2nd Place: SanDisk Extreme

The SanDisk Extreme provides the best value because it costs less than any other drive, yet achieved an average place on all our tests, coming in second or third in most categories, though leading none.

3rd Place: Kingston HyperX SH100S3

Easily the best looking drive in our roundup, the blue and chrome colored HyperX SH100S3 did really well on synthetic transfer tests, but wasn’t quite as strong on app opens and multitasking. Still, this drive provided strong performance throughout our tests. It’s also available with a very attractive upgrade kit that comes with a metallic blue portable screwdriver and a USB enclosure you can use to turn your old drive into an external storage device.

4th Place: Samsung 830 Series

Though it didn’t win or place high in as many rounds as the first three drives, the 830 Series remains an incredibly compelling choice, because it dominated on three key tests: the multitasking test, the file copy test and the synthetic file transfer test. For many users, the first two of those tests may be more important than any of the other performance indicators. Samsung also makes the 830 series available  with convenient laptop or desktop upgrade kits that include all the cloning software and connectors you need.

5th Place: Patriot Pyro SE

The Pyro SE didn’t do as well as the other drives on tests which involved writing files, but it was actually the fastest reader as it won the boot test, aced the file open and placed second in multitasking. For some, these tests may be more important than the others.

Drive Placement by Round

Drive Sequential Performance 512K 4K PCMark Vantage Boot Times File Copy Zip / Unzip App Opens Multitasking Average Place
Intel SSD 520 (240GB) 3 3 1 1 4 4 1 2 3 2.4
SanDisk Extreme (240GB) 4 2 2 3 2 2 2 4 4 2.8
Kingston HyperX SH100S3 (240GB) 2 1 3 2 3 3 4 3 5 2.9
Samsung 830 Series (256GB) 1 4 4 4 2 1 5 5 1 3
Patriot Pyro SE (240GB) 5 5 5 5 1 5 3 1 2 3.6
Hitachi 7,200 rpm 6 6 6 6 5 6 6 6 6 5.9

What’s the Best SSD? 5 Drives Tested

AUTHOR BIO
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com 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.
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  1. SATA 3 SSD Says:

    It would be nicer if you included OCZ Vertex 4 SSD in your list. After the firmware 1.4 driver update, it became almost the best of all.

    But anyway, thanks for what you presented here, it is beneficial

  2. tonberry Says:

    The sequential average of the Kingston drive doesn’t add up. Should that be 400.3??
    Also you mentioned the Pyro as having the quickest read speed in that table at 402.7, I’m guessing that should be 502.7?
    I’m confused

  3. Russell Thaw Says:

    How about an article explaining what SSD is best for an XP laptop. Older XP’s can be resurrected with an SSD, but it’s tricky. First you need to determine if your old drive is PATA or SATA, and if SATA what’s best for your laptop configuration. Then there’s lining up the partition offset. We need a “how to” on that subject alone.

  4. The TechieGuy Says:

    Why wasn’t Crucial SSD included in this showdown? Personally I think they run the SSD market currently. Consistent read/write speeds at the top of the benchmarks, with consistent durability as well.

  5. JayTexas Says:

    @Tonberry, no it should be 388.3. Surprised that missed that. It’s very simple math, unless they were weighing one stat more than the other, which in that case the others shouldn’t add up but do. (X+Y)/2.

  6. JayTexas Says:

    My English on the other hand……….. ***they***

  7. Mr right Says:

    It appears that we made a miscalculation with the samsung 830 on the Single Application Open Tests
    . Average it´s not calculated properly.

    =)

  8. jj Says:

    240-250 gigs is not a lot of storage in today’s terms and with the price ? its a joke and a new fad that has a long way to god

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