Top 5 Best Value SSDs in 2015

Buying an SSD (Solid State Drive) to install in your old laptop is one of the most cost-efficient and important upgrades you can make to refresh and unleash the true potential of the system, without necessarily buying a new one. Even newer laptops hugely benefit from the added boost thanks to the fast data transfer speeds Solid State Drives can deliver, utilizing most of the available interface and closing the performance gap left by mechanical Hard Disk Drives.

It’s good to note that Solid State Drives come in various form factors and with different interface specifications and performance indicators. The most popular form factor is the 2.5″ SSD which utilizes the same dimensions as the laptop hard disk, thus having a great compatibility across the board. It can be installed perfectly in the hard disk tray and can use the laptop’s SATA interface. The replacement procedure is simple and straightforward: out with the old drive, in with the new SSD which can be secured to the laptop’s chassis using the same bolts.

Since this article’s main focus is affordable, consumer oriented drives, we’ll concentrate on 2.5″ drives with SATA interface. There are also mSATA and M.2 form factors which have been introduced more recently to adapt to the increasing size and weight demands of lightweight and portable ultrabooks. Every manufacturer also provides said form factors and in many cases it’s the same product with the same technical specifications in a different shape.

One thing to consider when buying an SSD is the interface: most laptops use the standard Serial ATA (SATA) interface. However, while newer models benefit from the latest installment, the SATA 6Gbit/s (SATA III), older models may be equipped with SATA II or SATA I. The difference between them is the bandwidth throughput, as follows:

  • SATA I: up to 150MB/s
  • SATA II: up to 300MB/s
  • SATA III: up to 600MB/s

So if your laptop has the SATA II interface, there’s no real reason to buy the most expensive SSD, because the write/read speeds will be hard capped at 300 MB/s, no matter how fast the SSD may be. It’s like trying to put kerosene instead of gasoline in your tank in the hopes of making the car faster. It won’t happen because the interface doesn’t allow it.

The performance indicators used in the technical specifications posted below are explained towards the end of the article.

5th place: Intel 535 Series SSD


Intel 535 Series SSD
Pictured: The Intel 535 Series 2.5″ Solid State Drive

The Intel 535 Series (240GB version) is the latest iteration of Intel’s successful SSD line. It’s a bit expensive compared to the other drives listed, but it does come with 5 years of warranty. However, build quality aside, the technical specifications of this Solid State Drive are less than impressive, as we can observe in the spec sheet below. Out of the 5 drives we’ve selected, it has the worst sequential write speed (by a short margin) and random read speed (by a significant amount), numbers which are confirmed by user benchmarks.


Product Intel 535 Series 240GB (SSDSC2BW240H601) [1]
Sequential Read Speed 540 MB/s
Sequential Write Speed 490 MB/s
Random Read Speed 41,000 IOPS
Random Write Speed 80,000 IOPS
MTBF 1.2M hours
Endurance Unknown
Interface SATA 6Gbit/s backward compatible to SATA 3Gbit/s
Weight 78g
Warranty 5 Years

4th place: OCZ Trion 100 Series SSD


OCZ Trion 100 Series SSD
Pictured: The OCZ Trion 100 Series 2.5″ Solid State Drive

The freshly launched OCZ Trion 100 Series (240GB version) is an impressively affordable SSD equipped with a Toshiba controller and also Toshiba A19nm Triple-Level Cell NAND components. This is exciting, since Toshiba was the first company to introduce flash memory back in 1984 and it seems they will provide consumer devices powered by their own hardware in the future. The Trion 100 has good sequential read and write speeds, but is severely crippled when it comes to random read speed, clocking in at just 43,000 IOPS. Endurance-wise, this is a good SSD that won’t fail you. Since it’s rather cheap, we’d say the Trion 100 Series is the best choice for older laptops equipped with SATA I or SATA II interfaces.


Product OCZ Trion 100 240GB (TRN100-25SAT3-240G) [2]
Sequential Read Speed 550 MB/s
Sequential Write Speed 520 MB/s
Random Read Speed 91,000 IOPS
Random Write Speed 43,000 IOPS
MTBF 1.5M hours
Endurance 60TB TBW (55GB daily)
Interface SATA 6Gbit/s backward compatible to SATA 3Gbit/s and SATA 1.5Gbit/s
Weight 48g
Warranty 3 Years

3rd place: SanDisk Ultra II Series SSD


SanDisk Ultra II Series SSD
Pictured: The SanDisk Ultra II Series 2.5″ Solid State Drive

The SanDisk Ultra II Series (240GB version) SSD has been around for some time and it remained a user favorite since it’s launch in 2014, and for good reasons. It’s very well balanced, with good sequential and random write/read speeds, the values being confirmed by independent benchmarks. An attractive price, great endurance and a good usage history amongst many satisfied users makes this an ideal buy to use as an OS drive or just to upgrade a normal, everyday laptop.


Product SanDisk Ultra II 240GB (SDSSDHII-240G-G25) [3]
Sequential Read Speed 550 MB/s
Sequential Write Speed 500 MB/s
Random Read Speed 91,000 IOPS
Random Write Speed 83,000 IOPS
MTBF 1.5M hours
Endurance Unknown
Interface SATA 6Gbit/s backward compatible to SATA 3Gbit/s and SATA 1.5Gbit/s
Weight 58g
Warranty 3 Years

2nd place: Crucial MX200 Series SSD


Crucial MX200 Series SSD
Pictured: The Crucial MX200 Series 2.5″ Solid State Drive

The Crucial MX200 Series (250GB version) is one of the greatest consumer grade Solid State Drives. For its retail price, the drive comes with some serious power: 555 MB/s sequential read speed (the fastest in our list), an impressive random read speed of 100,000 IOPS and the best endurance out of all five drives (80TB Total Bytes Written). The large operating temperature range of the MX200 also ensures you won’t need to worry about your laptop overheating and shortening its expected life or affecting the drive’s performance. If it weren’t for the 3 year warranty, we’d have  declared this SSD as the winner, since it’s considerably cheaper than the winner, the Samsung 850 EVO.


Product Crucial MX200 250GB (CT250MX200SSD1) [4]
Sequential Read Speed 555 MB/s
Sequential Write Speed 500 MB/s
Random Read Speed 100,000 IOPS
Random Write Speed 87,000 IOPS
MTBF 1.5M hours
Endurance 80TB TBW (43GB daily)
Interface SATA 6Gbit/s backward compatible to SATA 3Gbit/s and SATA 1.5Gbit/s
Weight Unknown
Warranty 3 Years

1st place: Samsung 850 EVO Series SSD


Samsung 850 EVO Series SSD
Pictured: The Samsung 850 EVO Series 2.5″ Solid State Drive

The insanely popular Samsung 850 EVO Series (250GB version) SSD has also been launched for some months, but it enjoyed a massive success thanks to its impressive capabilities and build quality. Equipped with Samsung 32 layer 3D V-NAND Flash and 512MB of DRAM cache memory, everything from sequential to random read/write speeds is great for an affordable consumer grade product, including the tempting 5 year warranty offered by Samsung. Although a bit more expensive than the Crucial, we’d say the extra 2 years of warranty and the extra stats make the Samsung 850 EVO the best 2.5″ SSD you can buy to upgrade any laptop, whether it’s old or brand new, since the Samsung won’t fail you and will deliver exceptional results.


Product Samsung 850 EVO 250GB (MZ-75E250B/AM) [5]
Sequential Read Speed 540 MB/s
Sequential Write Speed 520 MB/s
Random Read Speed 100,000 IOPS
Random Write Speed 90,000 IOPS
MTBF 1.5M hours
Endurance 75TB TBW
Interface SATA 6Gbit/s backward compatible to SATA 3Gbit/s and SATA 1.5Gbit/s
Weight 66g
Warranty 5 Years

Performance parameters glossary


Sequential write/read speed: Disk access pattern where large chunks of data are written to neighboring locations on the device, such as large files (video, music or photo files). Drives predominantly used for storing these types of files or as backup should have large sequential write and read speeds.

Random write/read speed: How fast a drive can process I/O requests and access random written information, which is scattered around and therefore harder to find. Typical usage includes writing and reading vasts amounts of 4K files by the operating system, so the higher the value, the better the performance will be.

MTBF (Mean Time Before Failures ): The predicted elapsed time given by the manufacturer for a system failure to occur during operation, rendering the device out of service. Basically, it measures the reliability of an SSD and the higher the number, the more reliable it will be.

Endurance: Amount of write cycles an SSD can endure before a system failure occurs due to the wear amplification effect. It’s expressed as data writes and the higher the number, the greater the endurance of the device. Also, wear amplification is mitigated by wear leveling algorithms operated by the SSD controller.

References


1 Intel 535 Series Specifications Sheet

2 OCZ Storage Solutions Trion 100 Product Brief

3 SanDisk Ultra II Series Datasheet

4 Crucial MX200 Series Product Flyer

5 Samsung 850 EVO Series Data Sheet


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