In the earlier days of solid-state upgrade drives, Intel was one of the prime movers, but the silicon specialist seems to have lost its interest and early lead, and now recycles other company’s components. The Pro 2500 Series is based on a reliable platform, using an old but still reliable SandForce controller, adding hardware encryption as a nearnecessity for a drive that otherwise would be slowed too much due by its compression dependency in a solely software-encrypted OS. The result is the rather poor value Pro 2500, which nevertheless was found to perform confidently well in most areas, and is backed by a five-year guarantee.
Kingston’s performance-inclined HyperX Savage continues the company’s marketing theme of brash colours and brasher names, but there is a little less substance below this gamer-friendly styling. We would be less concerned about the relatively poor 4kB random read/write figures, for instance, if this drive wasn’t the most expensive on test after the Intel. Its support is also lacking somewhat, both in availability of software and in length of warranty.
Crucial’s SSDs have been a favourite for PC upgraders, although with the MX200 we can’t help feeling the real benefactor in this season’s upgrade is Crucial alone. The drive performs little better and in our tests typically just behind the previous M550 model. Its construction quality is visibly cheapened and the flash stock has shrunken, both moves to maximise corporation profits. In its favour the Crucial MX200 is good value in price-per-gigabyte terms and the brand’s SSDs are ably supported with firmware and tools to apply it on any platform.
The erstwhile enthusiast brand of OCZ has a surprising cracker in its portfolio with the ARC 100, which is not only one of the best value drives we’ve seen, it also turned in some great performance results.
The two leading SATA SSDs of today are both a year old, but have not been surpassed by anything in the same category since. The SanDisk Extreme PRO was the first SSD to receive a 10-year guarantee, which should give any user the confidence to go solidstate; the Samsung 850 PRO launched a few weeks later in June last year and was also upgraded to a 10-year support scheme.
Both offer state-of-the-art performance on a SATA connection, and can be found for around 36p/GB, depending on capacity. We highly recommend the SanDisk drive, and award the Samsung our Gold Award for its breakthrough in 3D semiconductor manufacture, which combined with the larger 40nm process should ensure this drive is going fast and going strong even after the decade counter rolls over.