Boot Drive 200+GB Capacity
The current king of solid state drives is the Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB. The smaller 64GB and 128GB drives have reduced write speeds that make the Team SandForce SF-1200 offerings more appealing in smaller capacities, but the largest capacity size (256GB) delivers the full wrath of the latest Marvell SATA 6Gbit controller. You will need a SATA 6G port on your motherboard or an add-in card to achieve the full 355MB/s read speed, but add-in cards are inexpensive and your next motherboard is guaranteed to support SATA 6G. The write speed tops out at 215MB/s, but you don't have to worry about the drive slowing when writing compressed files like the Team SandForce drives.
The only downside is the price. With Crucial being the only company to release a retail product with the Marvell controller, the price hasn't dropped like the SandForce drives. The 256GB drive that we recommend costs North of 500 USD, but you will get a lot of love back from giving the fastest SSD on the planet.
Boot Drive 200GB Capacity or Less
There are several SandForce SF-1200 products on the market and if you are looking for something less expensive than the 256GB C300, SandForce is your best bet. Even the 240GB SF-1200 drives are fast enough to rock your stockings and with a price of just 429 USD the Corsair Force F240 costs substantially less than the 525 Dollar C300.
The best bang for your Holiday Buck right now is definitely the 120GB SandForce drives. After looking around we found that Corsair also has the lowest priced drive in this capacity range. At the time of writing Newegg lists the Corsair F120 for 199.99 after a 30 Dollar mail in rebate. At that price I look for Newegg to sell out quickly; remember these drives originally sold for more than twice that price at launch. If that happens look for the OCZ Vertex 2 or G.Skill Phoenix Pro as these drives are also priced very low, just not as low at the F120.
SandForce recently released some new capacity sizes that fill the price gaps. The lowest priced option is the 40GB drives, but you can also find 60, 80, 100, 160 and 180GB drives. To keep things simple, we recommend the 120GB for its value and performance.
High Capacity Storage Drive
Product Model: 2TB HDDs
Price: Less Than 100 USD
With the recent release of 3TB drives, established 2TB HDDs have dropped to less than 100 USD. You can fit an awful lot of holiday cheer on a single 2TB drive, but with prices this low you might as well pick up two matching drives and put your motherboards RAID controller to good use.
Newegg currently lists the Samsung SpinPoint F4 as one of the lowest priced 2TB drives at 99.99, but we recommend the Seagate Barracuda LP at a great price of 89.99 USD. The Barracuda follows a long line of outstanding drives that stand the test of time. We have a pair of these drives on our test bench right now and will publish a full report by the end of the year.