Best 256GB Class SSD's for under $200
I ordered the SSD's as they appeared on Newegg based on price, lowest to highest. Oddly enough, the drives that move to the next round are on the first page. I could have just eliminated this page all together, but then some would have speculated why these products didn't make the list. Instead of allowing speculation to grow, we're just telling you why these products didn't make the cut. Just to be clear, these are the honorable mentions, good products all of them, just not the best.
- ADATA XPG SX900 256GB
Sequential Read / Write (MB/s): 550 / 530
Random Read / Write (IOPS): 60K / 85K
ADATA moved the XPG SX900 over to the new LSI SandForce B02 stepping of the SF-2281 controller, but in our review of the 128GB model, the voltage regulators didn't allow the B02 to perform as well as our prototype drives in the notebook battery test. The SX900 128GB also shipped with 20nm NAND flash so the performance with data on the drive wasn't what we've come to expect from SF-2281 drives with 25nm flash.
Then there is the pesky TRIM issue that ADATA took a very long time with releasing a fix for. Claiming custom firmware goes both ways, if you say it's custom then you have to own up to some degree of responsibility when it's FUBAR. If we had this drive in our hands, it would have a better chance of making the Best of List, but with many questions on the table, we're going to pass this one over.
- Kingston SSDNow V300 Series 240GB
Sequential Read / Write (MB/s): 450 / 450
Random Read / Write (IOPS): 85K / 43K
Another model we tested the smaller version of. The Kingston V300 120GB performed well in our test with the new 19nm Toshiba NAND and firmware. The drive just didn't feel like a typical SF-2281 in our real-world tests.
- SK Hynix HFS256G32MNM 256GB
Sequential Read / Write (MB/s): 510 / 470
Random Read / Write (IOPS): 55K / 85K
This has to be a record! We tested the SK Hynix SandForce 128GB drive branded as a Strontium Hawk last September. This drive uses a SF-2281 controller and pairs it with SK Hynix flash, a rare combination. The 128GB version performed better in some tests, but lower than 2281 / IMFT 25nm in other tests. It's an interesting product to test and play with, but when shopping for the best bang for the buck, you aren't looking for toys.
- Crucial M4 256GB
Sequential Read / Write (MB/s): 500 / 260
Random Read / Write (IOPS): 45K / 50K
The Crucial M4 is aging like the SF-2281 products, but that isn't why we are shying away from one of the better drives in our battery life test. Crucial has played with the firmware on the M4 to increase performance and to meet Windows 8 WHQL specs. On their forums, many users are complaining of issue with random reboots and other problems. If you have a Crucial M4 already, do some research before updating the firmware.
- Crucial M500 240GB
Sequential Read / Write (MB/s): 500 / 250
Random Read / Write (IOPS): 72K / 60K
We've already touched on the current state of 20nm NAND from IMFT, but nothing paints a brighter picture than looking at the sequential write performance difference between the M4 256GB and the M500 240GB. The M500 loses 10MB/s to the M4 in this capacity size and the M500 has more over-provisioning just to keep the pace comparable. You don't see any reviews of the 120GB or 240GB Crucial M500 because Crucial is hiding the drives from media. We purchased a couple of each model and plan to have a full review shortly.