Size matters, and the best SSDs prove it. In 2008, Intel launched its first solid state drive for £400 (about $493), and in return, you were given a mere 80GB to store your files.
Things have changed in the last nine years, however. Nowadays you'll pay almost 25 times less than what you did back then for even the best SSDs, a 3x decrease every year. There’s no longer the need to fork out thousands per terabyte.
Then again, conventional hard drives cost a lot more in 2008, too, but it was still a case of swapping the “GB” and “£” or “$” symbols around. With less than a hundred bucks, you could be the sole proprietor of over 400GB in spinning magnetic platters even then.
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Capacity has always been the source of insecurity for SSDs. Even now, 15TB will cost you more than 7,000 clams from Samsung, and that's where the capacity maxes out (that is until the company's 32TB model touches down).
Luckily, there are drives like the Crucial MX300 that’ll set you back less than 300 a terabyte, and even the tiniest solid state drive will soak up a Windows installation. Simply chuck the rest in the big ol’ data bin we call a hard drive.
The problem with that theory is applications. They like storage performance too – especially games – and a decent games library needs some fairly serious space. For us, that means an absolute minimum of 250GB, and ideally closer to the 500GB mark.
Note that for the sake of simplicity, here we will be looking at SATA models only (sorry). No mSATA, M.2 SATA, PCIe or standard PCI models. Keep in mind that PCIe drives will generally perform better than SATA drives but also tend to cost far more.
Patriot Torch LE 120GB
Best SSD for low capacity
Capacity: 120GB | Interface: SATA 3
Anything smaller than 120GB is probably too small if you want to use only one hard drive in your computer.
When it comes to price, the Patriot Torch LE range remains the one to be beaten. Its 120GB model is the cheapest SSD in the UK with a very competitive £0.24/GB pricing. Expect minimal packaging or instructions, which makes it perfect for DIYers.
The drive, which uses a Phison S10 controller, is backed by a three-year warranty and Patriot is a well-known memory computer hardware manufacturer. The 120GB model is rated at up to 425MBps and 560MBps for write and read respectively.
As expected, it comes with a slew of other features including end-to-end data path protection (ETEP), advanced wear-levelling and garbage collection, smart ECC, refresh and flush.
Best SSD for medium capacity
Capacity: 250GB | Interface: SATA 3
Hynix is not a household name but the South Korean company is actually a big player in the world of memory chipmakers, ranking second only to might Samsung.
No surprise that, like their arch rivals, they use their own memory – TLC NAND - in their products. The storage controller is an unknown quantity.
The SL301, with a 250GB capacity, has one of the cheapest per GB price in this category at 20p but that doesn't mean that corners have been cut.
The drive has a rated read/write speed of 540MBPs and 470MBps with a read/write IOPS of up to 95K and 85K respectively, all backed by a solid three-year warranty.
Best SSD for high capacity
Capacity: 480GB | Interface: SATA 3
Asian SSD manufacturers score another winner here as Toshiba nabs that place with the Q300 (2016 version) which, despite being just a relatively new product, has one of the cheapest per GB price of any SSD in the UK.
The inventor of the Flash memory doesn't cut corners on this one, using 3-bit-per-cell 15 nm NAND Flash and advanced-speed and Adaptive Size SLC Write Cache technology as well as its own controller, the Toshiba TC58NC1000, a customised version of the popular Phison S10 controller.
As for other SSDs listed here, this one comes with a three-year warranty and the firm, which purchased SSD specialist OCZ not long ago, claims that the SSD is capable of read/write IOPS of 87K and 83K respectively with sequential R/W speeds topping 550MBps and 530MBps respectively.
Sandisk Ultra II
Best SSD for extra high capacity
Capacity: 960GB | Interface: SATA 3
Sandisk is one of the better known SSD vendors out there; it also produces memory cards and other storage devices. Now, as part of Western Digital, it is likely to collaborate with HGST, the other WD company acquired which has some valuable solid state expertise.
Sandisk's Ultra II has the second cheapest per GB price at just £0.18, offering sequential read/write speeds of 550MBps and 500MBps as well as random read/write speeds of 99K and 83K IOPS respectively.
nCache 2.0 technology, Sandisk claims, will deliver enhanced speed and endurance with the SSD dashboard providing with data in real-time about the drive itself. Coupled with a 3-year warranty, this is one of the better deals on the market.
Samsung 850 Pro
Best SSD for performance
Capacity: 1TB | Interface: SATA 3
If you are after speedy drives rather than just capacity, then there's really only two models on the market: Samsung's 850 Pro and the Sandisk Extreme Pro.
Pair either of those drive in RAID-0 mode and you would have a pretty compelling storage subsystem (although the law of diminishing returns dictates that the improvement is likely to be less than 100%).
The former uses 3D V-NAND memory to deliver some of the best performance on the market despite being more than one-year old. Its sequential R/W speeds reach 550MBps/520MBps while its random R/W speeds top 100K/90K IOPS. Add in a 10-year warranty and a useful 256-bit AES self-encryption feature and it's easy to see its appeal.
Sandisk Extreme Pro
Another very fast performer
Capacity: 480GB | Interface: SATA 3
As for the Sandisk Extreme Pro, it has remarkably similar specs, at least on paper, to the 850 Pro. Same warranty, similar sequential read/write performance and random read/write speeds.
It uses a two-tiered cache architecture called nCache Pro and offers a nifty SSD dashboard to assess your drive's health and performance in real time.
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article