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The Three Best SSDs
As is often the case with new technology, the solid state hard drive market has exploded, transforming rapidly from an expensive niche into a mainstream option. There are more consumer SSDs available now than ever before resulting in better products and better prices.
But this explosion of new products also means that the market is confusing. After years of dominance by the hard disk companies, SSDs have changed the rules. The best hard disk companies are not always the best SSD companies. So which solid state drives are actually the best?
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Intel X-25M G2: Best Mainstream SSD
Intel has long been the champion of the SSD market when it comes to performance. That hasn't changed. In both sustained and random read/write tests the Intel X-25M G2 is faster than its competitors in almost every benchmark. Even in the few cases where the Intel X-25M G2 is not the fastest it is usually in second place.
The price of the X-25M G2 isn't bad, either. At $299 for the 80GB version it is far from cheap, but among high-performance SSDs it provides reasonable value. The only real problem with the X-25M is that for many users it can be overkill. Some will find that the the extra performance the X-25M offers just isn't worth the extra price of entry.
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OCZ Vertex and Agility Vertex: Best Value SSD
The OCZ Vertex had a bit of a rocky start due to questions about long-term performance. New firmware updates have conquered that problem, however, and now the OCZ Vertex series of SSDs is widely regard as on par with Intel's offerings.
Granted, the Vertex drives tend to be slower. But only by a bit. In fact, the Vertex SSDs tend to perform just as well as those by Intel when viewed by the naked eye. It is only in benchmarks that the differences become apparent.
As a result anyone who is simply looking for the advantages of an SSD, who doesn't need the absolute fastest, will often find the Vertex drives to be a better choice. A 60GB Vertex SSD can be purchased for $215, and those on a tight budget can purchase the slightly slower Vertex Agility 60GB drive for about $200.
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OCZ Z-Drive: Best "I Have Too Much Money!" SSD
When it comes to practical, mainstream SSD drives the OCZ Vertex and the Intel X-25M G2 are the big names in town. Users looking to purchase a practical drive for typical usage are almost certain to find one of those two drives to be the best SSD for them.
The OCZ Z-Drive can therefore be considered a wild card. It is basically an SSD consisting of two SSDs put into a RAID configuration and then placed on a PCI card. The result is incredible theoretical speeds of over 800mb/s. This massive peak speed doesn't always result in better performance in everyday tasks, however, which is why the OCZ Z-Drive is best for power users moving a lot of data.
With prices ranging from just over $1000 for a 256GB drive and over $3000 for the 1TB version the OCZ Z-Drive will be out of the budget of most people. For those who can afford it, however, the Z-Drive should prove to be an interesting and outrageously quick SSD.