Review: Top SSDs For All Your Needs

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The rising need for speed of data access and transaction processing has driven demand for SSDs up and prices down. Flash memory also has gotten more durable, and super-low power consumption makes them ideal for use in laptops and in large storage arrays in the data center. The CRN Test Center has tested several SSDs, and here is what we found.

Intel continued to lead the industry in SSD sales in 2013, with three of the 10 best-selling SSDs according to an NPD report. Intel in February unveiled the 730 Series, which combines high performance with data center endurance. These 2.5-inch drives are rated to deliver a sustained transfer rate of 550 MBps for sequential reads and 270 MBps for writes for SATA installations, and are available in capacities of 240 and 480 GB. The tested drive over USB delivered 36.9 MBps for sequential reads and 27.2 MBps for writes.

Kingston Technology last summer introduced the E-series, a line of SSDs with speed, performance and encryption intended for the data center. Available in 100-, 240- and 480-GB capacities, E-series drives are rated to deliver up to 550 MBps for sequential reads and 530 MBp/s for writes. Over USB, testers observed a 36.7 MBps peak for sequential reads and 28.5 MBps for writes. Their fast performance ratings and 128-bit encryption capability, coupled with Kingston’s reputation for high quality, make E-series drives a good choice for the data center.

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Kingston also sent one of its KC Series SSDs for testing. This unit consumes just .08 watts when idle and averages .16 watts during use. With this fact in hand, Kingston claims that KC drives can give laptops as much as 40 percent longer battery life between charges against spinning hard drives. Data access is rated at 525 MBps for reads and 500 for writes. In testing over USB, the drive sustained 34.7 MBps for sequential reads and 25.2 MBps for writes. KC-series drives are available in capacities ranging from 60 through 480 GB.

Unveiled just in time for testing was the Micron M500DC, an endurance-optimized SSD for the data center that the company says can endure as many as three complete fills every day for five years. The unit is available in capacities of 120, 240, 480 and 800 GB and in 2.5-inch and 1.8-inch form factors. It's rated to deliver 425 MEGs for reads and up to 375 for writes, depending on drive size and capacity. Over USB, the 480pGB drive peaked at 36.4 MEGs for reads and 31.1 MEGs for writes.

Samsung in NPD’s 2013 report had four of the year's 10 best-selling SSDs, none of which was the 840EVO that we tested. Intended as a laptop replacement drive, 840EVO drives range in capacity from 120 GB through a full 1 TB, and include Samsung’s excellent data migration software. All models are rated at 540 MBps for sequential reads and all but the 120-GB model are said to deliver 520 MBps for writes. Over USB, the tested unit delivered a peak read rate of 26.5 MEGs and writes at 31.1 MEGs.