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.

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