back to article Ten... Sata 3 SSDs

It wasn’t that long ago that it would’ve been a struggle to put together a list of ten consumer SSDs. Now it's case of asking: only ten? Indeed, the rise of flash based storage in the last 18 months or so has been truly astounding. Increased competition and cheaper NAND prices have combined to force prices well below the …

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  1. Seb123

    The Samsung 830 is a great drive and can be had from scan for £150 (240 GB) right now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But I can get TB's of storage for half the price. When they are the same price as a normal hard drive I will consider them.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        And tape drive £/Gb are far cheaper still so clearly that's the way to go.

        1. JEDIDIAH
          Linux

          You conflated it until it exploded.

          Tape isn't random access. So your little bit of conflation falls apart.

          It's been over 10 years and SSD still seems more like an overpriced boutique items for serious users that have revenue generating business that would benefit from a costly speed upgrade.

      2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re. TBs of storage off a normal drive

        Could I suggest you look at the hybrid drives then? You can get a 750GB drive with 8GB SSD for less than the 240GB "pure" SSD costs, and unless you truck around huge files all the time it will do good where you need it. I will throw one into my MacBook next month.

      3. DF118
        Facepalm

        @ AC 11:08

        Way to miss the point

      4. Steven Jones

        The calorifica value of a GB.

        Well AC, if your criterion is £ per GB then SSDs will probably never fit the bill. However, what you've chosen is the equivalent of how many calories can I buy for my £. As such, you are clearly going to be basing your diet based on the products of Greggs (or Taco Bell if you are a citizen of the US). That's wonderful if all you do is low-value, manual labour but some do more interesting things.

        For those with more discerning tastes, who value their own time and the responsiveness of systems, well we will value something more than just how many calories we can buy. There's a bit more to a storage than how many GB I can have.

      5. ToddRundgren
        Thumb Down

        @AC

        So if you need lost of IOPs, your solution is to increase the capacity? Problem solved

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Agree on the Samsung 830, picked up a 256Gb for 139.99 delivered from Amazon last week, at that price its the winner over all the others.

      1. Rich 30

        I too bought this, although the price seems to have sky-rocketted up to £145 ( http://amzn.to/K2P9e3 ) I'm going to swap out my MBP's 256GB HDD for the Samsung 830 256GB SSD. Should be a good upgrade. Although, obviously my MBP only has SATA 2, this still worked out the cheapest option for me. *

        *discoounting buying from a website i've never heard of, and giving them all my details

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I bought a 830 256gb to replace a laptop hard drive. Whole thing runs much cooler now, and much much faster. Not the fastest SSD in the world, but considering I'm hamstrung with SATA II, I'll never notice the difference anyway... and was £20 cheaper than the next SSD.

  2. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    shame no random write figures!

    Sequential transfer figures are useful, but actual bottleneck for many SSDs is (was?) random write.

    Also, it's worth noting that SSDs are whole new ballpark of performance compared to HDDs and even the "slowest" Crucial m4 is fast enough to run circles around fastest of HDDs.

    1. Steven Jones

      Re: shame no random write figures!

      I/Os per second matter, but the key (connected) criterion is latency. That's what really matters. This obsession with GB per second rather shows the reviewers don't understand why SSDs matter. If it's just GB/s and £ per GB, we might as well stick with LTO tapes.

      As it happens, with SSDs in real life it's the more subtle things that will matter. If the latency and bandwidth are half decent, then it will revolutionise PC performance. What will matter in the long term is reliability and whether performance will degrade over time (something which happened with some early SSDs).

    2. ToddRundgren

      Re: shame no random write figures!

      Actually th ebiggest problem woth SSDs is sequential writes, but for at least 5 or 10minutes (depending on the manufactuer), as you will see a dramatic drop in performance!

    3. Piro

      Re: shame no random write figures!

      Nah, sequential is often weaker than good old platters, but random is sky high. To find a real problem with that, you need to go back to the bad old days of the utterly terrible jmicron SSDs.

  3. Gordan
    WTF?

    Lies, Damn Lies, and Bad Benchmarks

    I am appallingly disappointed. I would have thought that everybody with a grain of understanding would by now know that sequential I/O tests are meaningless and that random read/write (especially write on SSDs) IOPS are the only meaningful figure for assessing the performance of disks. This should be done with write caching disabled, and the amount of data written in such tests should be at least 512MB of 10x the amount of cache on the disk, whichever is greater (to avoid the disk faking it by lying about commits - which incidentally some SSDs even from reputable manufacturers do with write-caching enabled).

    And yet we only get sequential read/write performance figures for these disks.

    The second most important figure for a lot of SSDs is power usage. This has also not been measured, nor even the manufacturers' (usually highly questionable) figures provided.

    Can this technical oversight please be corrected so that the review is actually meaningful?

    1. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Re: Lies, Damn Lies, and Bad Benchmarks

      > that everybody with a grain of understanding would by now know that sequential I/O tests are meaningless

      So you never copy stuff? I find that hard to believe.

      Not every one's access patterns resemble an OLTP database.

      If I decide to move 500G of stuff around, I want to know how long to expect to wait for it to finish. Sometimes this is also known as backup and recovery.

  4. Daf L
    Facepalm

    HP server SSDs...

    "Increased competition and cheaper NAND prices have combined to force prices well below the magical £1 per gigabyte ceiling"

    I wish someone had informed HP -> HP 200GB SSD

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Davidoff
      WTF?

      Re: HP server SSDs...

      "I wish someone had informed HP"

      The link leads not to HP but DABS which as usual attempts to sell an item for 2 times the price other shops charge.

      This aside, the HP SSD may be expensive in comparison with all the consumer gear listed in this review, but at the end of the day this SSD comes with a SAS interface instead of SATA and is not made for your gaming rig but for enterprise servers, and even at 10x the price of a consumer SSD it may still be cheap enough when considering that it is a certified and tested solution that keeps your business running.

      But yes, the price DABS charges is insane.

      1. Sandtitz Silver badge

        Apples to Oranges

        That HP drive is SLC based drive. The consumer drives reviewed by Reg are MLC drives.

        SLC is more reliable and faster technology and commands a much bigger price.

        You can find similar SSD's with similar prices from other big iron pushers.

        For the price of a 256GB MLC drive you can perhaps find a 24-32GB SLC drive. Or perhaps not.

      2. Philip Lewis
        Stop

        Re: HP server SSDs...

        And it will be supported in an HP Blade ILO configuration, unlike a gazillion consumer SSDs.

    3. Steve Foster

      Re: HP server SSDs...

      http://www.eshopbrokers.co.uk/m4n?seid=etailer-products&viewMode=3&ecom-query=632492-B21

      is a bit less ridiculous. And that's about the same price as my distie is quoting too.

  5. Gordan

    HP SSDs

    @Daf, Davidoff, Steve:

    If you are looking for SSDs that will actually work in HP disk array enclosures (e.g. MSA70) - most won't (tried it, most, including Intel, OCZ, and others start to error out in seconds), which is, I suspect, why you are specifically looking at HP SSDs.

    However - Kingston SSDs (tried with the V100 500GB ones) work just fine. Kingston kindly provided a set for testing to a previous client of mine and we hammered them for days with various flat out loads any which way imaginable and they never skipped a beat. You might want to give those a go - I suspect that if you need a lot of them, the price difference may well be worth a try. It is the only SSD that I tested that passed all our tests in server (Sun/Oracle/HP) grade hardware.

    1. ragge

      Re: HP SSDs

      Hopefully those HP SSDs won't lie about data persistence as most consumer crap SSD drives do.

      Most of these gaming drives have no way to remember any writes in the write cache and will forget them if they happen to loose power while still haven't decided to flush the write cache. To make things worse, most of them just *ignore* and sync-to-persistent-media commands from the host (because that would hurt performance, and they would look bad in tests like this one). If you loose power while there are unflushed writes in the write cache, you could easily get corrupt data or in worst case loose your entire file system.

      Real drives have supercapacitors or other techniques to actually remember what the host has told it to remember. The drives above are just toys, and should only be used as such.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Re: HP SSDs @ragge

        Of course you're accurate but totally missing the point - namely that for all desktops you run the same power outage risks regardless of disk choice. So in reality you comments are irrelevant and just part of a random rant against consumer grade ssd's.

        They done have to be perfect - just good enough for the consumer market.

        1. Philip Lewis
          FAIL

          Re: HP SSDs @ragge

          A sad commentary, where your claim is essentially "broken" is ok, because other products are also broken. What a mediocre outlook

      2. tapanit

        Re: HP SSDs

        Indeed. Apparently the only database-safe SSDs in the consumer market are the old and slow Intel 320 series ones (the new "enterprise" series 710 isn't much faster, but much more expensive - it is supposed to last much longer, though).

        You might still find some (out of production) OCZ Vertex 2 Pro models on sale somewhere, but are getting scarce (and often very expensive - I just picked a 50GB one - the last available at that store - at €80, but mostly they go for five times that).

  6. Spoonsinger

    "You can be certain that Samsung will be tuning up its SSDs even more going forward,"

    Is that the same as in the future?

  7. jason 7 Silver badge
    Happy

    Dont ignore the older drives.

    If you just want a cheap but roomy enough upgrade for an older laptop then the older SATA2 Sandisk Ultra 120GB that are going for around £65 are worth a look.

    Still three times faster then the HDD you have in there at the mo. Made quite a difference to my old laptop.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looks like you've missed the major reductions in SSD prices over the past 2-3 weeks. 256GB is in the £150-£170 range now

    1. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      More strangely British bargains...

      > Looks like you've missed the major reductions in SSD prices over the past 2-3 weeks. 256GB is in the £150-£170 range now

      Just got a 3TB spinny disk for about half that.

  9. Karl H
    Meh

    old fart remembers how it was

    f*** me , all this moaning about price per gig.

    being an old so and so , I can remember :-

    100MB IDE HDD costing me about 100 GBP back in the early 90s

    30 GB IBM 75 GXP "Death Star" costing about 200GBP around 2000.

    and I also remember it making the clicking sound of death, as my data

    all disappeared up the swanny ( thank YOU IBM )

    ahhh those were NOT the days, at least in HDD respects, but I did look younger and fitter , and didn't feel permanently shagged back then , so maybe I wouldn't mind going back ....

    1. sleepy

      Re: old fart remembers how it was

      Call yourself an old fart? When I were a lad . . .

      Check out this PDP-9 price list (1966). 32K words (96K 6 bit characters) for $25K with 45Kbytes/sec transfer rate. Compared to SSD's, that's 2 million times smaller and ten million times slower for one hundred times the price (1000 with inflation), isn't it? And DEC were the ones revolutionising the industry by inventing this super cheap minicomputer!

      http://www.videointerchange.com/PDF/PDP-9%20Price%20List%20Nov%201,%201966%20F-92.pdf

      1. sleepy

        Re: old fart remembers how it was

        Now if the same thing had happened with cars, for a fiver today you'd be able to buy a machine that could transport the entire population of the UK at the speed of light.

        Or beer - for under a penny you could get the entire population drunk in under a second.

        (. . . time for my nap)

    2. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Re: old fart remembers how it was

      I've paid $300 for a 750G drive before and I have no interest in repeating that if I can avoid it.

      Fortunately, tech moves on. I can avoid it, so I will.

      I don't need to be stuck in the past just because I can remember when I spent $400 on a 1G hard drive.

  10. Richard Lloyd
    Meh

    I have a Corsair and Intel...

    I have 240GB versions of the Corsair Force GT (not sure what performance benefits the "Performance Pro" version gives you) and the Intel 520. Both are stonkingly fast drives and have enough capacity to use them for than just a boot drive + common apps/games. My use will be to record 30 simultaneous TV streams to 200GB of SSD temp area, that is then copied/deleted to fast HDD's (Seagate 3TB's) serially as each recording finishes.

    I'm not sure why my previous SSD, the Corsair Force 3, was completely ignored. It's as good as performer as m4 (in some circumstances, it's actually a *much* better performer) and is now about 175 quid for 256GB. They had some dodgy batches early on, but the hardware and firmware have been solid for ages now and it still, IMHO, remains a better buy than the m4 - I guess the reviewer was sticking to one drive per manufacturer, but that means missing out on some models that could be the best in their class/price range?

  11. Clive Galway

    Kingston HyperX 3K price incorrect.

    It isn't £200 - Kingston sells it for £277 and Scan charge £227.

    1. Steve Todd
      Stop

      Re: Kingston HyperX 3K price incorrect.

      But DABS sell it for £199.99 and with free postage. I guess we can let el Reg off over 1p

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Kingston HyperX 3K price incorrect.

      I wouldn't touch of their their drives again after I got burned with their SSDNow v100 and its regular corruption issues. I have a 128GB sitting in a drawer doing nothing now as a result.

  12. Bob H
    Linux

    RevoDrive

    The RevoDrive doesn't have fantastic Linux support, so it makes me tend towards a real SATA solution.

  13. Mark 65

    OCZ

    Any reason why the Vertex 4 wasn't tested/included? Seems strange to include a £500+ PCI-E drive and not this.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quick question...

    I'm looking for a new HDD for my wife's laptop (an old acer 5050). It has SATA (probably 2, haven't checked).

    I've already maxed the RAM.

    The price of a 120gb SSD now seems reasonable to me. Will it help with the overal performance of the laptop?

    1. jason 7 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Quick question...

      Yes it will. As mentioned above I bought the 120GB Sandisk Ultra drive for my SATA2 laptop.

      The WD Black 320GB HDD gave me 85MBps throughput. The new Sandisk bumped that to around 270MBps.

      Windows 7 now boots in 20-25 seconds. Apps fire up virtually instantly. So yes makes the laptop a lot smoother and snappier. A good upgrade for £65.

      The benefit of buying the SATA2 Sandisk for an older laptop is that you know you are not hamstringing the performance so no back of the mind niggles of missing 500MBps performance.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why do they all sound like either

    missiles or quasar designations?

  16. illiad

    you need to check the *expert* sites..

    http://www.anandtech.com/tag/storage

    http://en.ocworkbench.com/category/tech/hddssd/

  17. Chz

    Physical dimensions

    Many, if not all, 13" and smaller laptops require a 7mm disk. It would be useful to know which of the disks can fit this specification without any undue fuss. What I mean by "undue fuss" is that I know several of them that are thicker than 7mm can be made to fit by removing fascias and whatnot, but you're at risk of voiding warranties.

    1. Neil 38

      Re: Physical dimensions

      The Intel 520 can for sure, it has a plastic shim which is removable.

    2. Chris King Silver badge

      Re: Physical dimensions

      The Samsung 830's are 7mm and they include a plastic shim in the packaging - I bought one last week to replace a faulty OCZ Vertex 3 which was causing random BSOD's.

  18. ColonelClaw
    Thumb Up

    Scan are selling the 360GB OCZ Agility 3 for £302 at the moment. Definitely worth considering at that price.

  19. Steven Pemberton
    Happy

    Reaching parity with HDs

    "There may never be parity between SSDs and the good old mechanical disk drive but the solid state option is steadily heading in the right direction regarding cost and capacity."

    Sure they'll reach parity. SSDs follow Moore's Law, HDs don't.

    1. Piro

      Re: Reaching parity with HDs

      No, HDDs have been increasing in capacity and dropping in price far faster.

      You can't underestimate that old design classic.

      There's not enough flash production, nowhere near, to replace all the spinning platters around today.

  20. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Speed _and_ size

    Don't bugger around with hybrids and their weird-ass drivers.

    ZFS on a set of big, cheap 5400rpm disks, with a decent amount of flash out front (128Gb+) has pretty impressive performance.

    Flashcache works pretty well too, these days.

    Ditto on other comments about Revo drives. Limited Binary-only linux support and mediocre performance under load means their prime use is ego stroking (I was looking at these to boost a 500Tb setup last week and decided they're not worthwhile)

  21. l8gravely
    Go

    Ranking suggestion...

    Looking over the selection, it's still hard to make a choice. I'd love to see a graph which shows the size vs cost vs warrantee length. I'd be willing to pay extra for a longer warrantee, since I could amortize that expense over a longer time. Maybe Cost/GB/Year would be an interesting metric to look at?

    As others have said, random read/write performance is much more interesting that sequential, and would also impact my purchasing more. But really, it's all about reliability first, since the speed is good across all of them.

    Now to figure out how hard it would be to move a windows 7 install from HD to SSD without bringing along all the data. Or only some of it.

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