Which SSD to get?

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Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:33 pm

I would like to set up a development box (C++, Ubuntu 10.04/11.04), and for that I need a hard disk drive.

The problem is that there are so many of them - A-Data, Corsair, Crucial, Patriot, Intel, Kingston, OCZ, and I also remember posts like "SSD is toast, SSD related BSOD, etc., etc." floating all over the web.

I haven't been actively following the topic, so I have no clue about these drives, and I'm also a bit lazy to look up reviews of each and every brand, and there also seem to be an abundance of versions for each manufacturer as well.

Does someone here know what to look for, and what to avoid, and could give me an advice?
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:58 pm

I'm only about a week ahead of you here. If you're willing to wait a while, I'll let you know how the Corsair I have on order works out. :lol:
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:07 pm

In my mind you can't go wrong with Intel. Not the best bang/buck. (alleviate this by looking for sales) Not the best speeds. But they've been rock solid reliable for me at home and work. That is a sticky situation. With your data you want reliability first, speed second. You really aren't going to notice speed differences at the mid-higher end SSDs anyway. Get the Intel 320 for slower SATA 3 Gbit/s (Sata II) controllers, get the 510 for the newer 6 Gbit/s controllers (Sata III).

Reviewers will go on and on about speed/cost/performance, and ultimately those are great things, but if your data is gone, or you have to go through an RMA process, ALL that speed advantage goes completely out the window.

I've used OCZ, and had horrible experiences with Vertex 2, and they are blacklisted, as far as I'm concerned. Not just because of a single failure, but also the support (the initial blame was on MY system?), the forums(hundreds of people complaining), and the multiple RMAs. fool me once...

I've used Crucial and had great luck as well. Kingston I have a few, not the fastest, nothing remarkable.

Make sure you get latest firmware for all your drives, this is vital in the SSD world. Most come with latest preloaded, but not all. For example the M4 is supposed to release a new firmware any day now to address a BSOD bug (that shouldn't impact you.)
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:08 pm

Is the failure rate mentioned @ http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2011/0 ... scale.html real?
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:12 pm

Assuming you're buying new, right now it's probably a toss-up between the Intel 320 (if you want to pay top dollar and receive a very nice box full of accessories) or a Crucial M4 (firmware update pending, but not a data-killer). As for the rest, it's mainly an issue of whether the drive contains a SandForce controller and if so, whether it has the latest, bug-fixed firmware.

Beyond that, do a quick scan of the TR storage section as there are some recent SSD articles: http://techreport.com/storage/
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:23 pm

Kingston, Corsair, OCZ, Mushkin use Sanforce conrollers. The Sandforce BSOD bug was "fixed" in late October 2011. I haven't seen or heard much complaining since then. I own a Vertex 3 with the latest firmware fix and haven't had a problem, even when trying to persue the BSOD path. Most of the BSOD's were able to be fixed by resetting power to the drive, I believe data loss was uncommon. If you grab a sandforce drive, get a Kingston HyperX, Corsair Force GT, OCZ Vertex 3, or Mushkin Enhanced Chronos as they use synchronous NAND and will not suffer as much performance-wise in incompressible reads and writes. Asynchronous NAND SSD's (Corsair Force3, OCZ Agility 3) tend to run cheaper and may still be a good solution if you aren't a power user. The majority of percieved SSD benefits are in response times which you'll see in any SSD regardless of NAND type or controller compared to a mechanical hard drive. Sandforce drives excel at compressible data reads and writes.

Crucial uses a marvell controller. They used to be considered the safe and cost effective choice (as opposed on intel being safe and expensive). However, they have recently found that the Crucial m4 is prone to a BSOD bug after 5,000 hours of use. A firmware fix isnt due out for a couple weeks according to this article. I would imagine that if you bought an m4 now, they would have a firmware fix out by the time you hit 5,000 hours of use. The Crucial m4 represents more of an even keel performance across various types of reads/writes/access times as opposed to sandforce ssd's that can be much better at some things but worse than the Crucial m4 at others.

Samsung 830 SSD's are making a big impact, but I hesitate to grab one since they've only been on the market for a short time. They do seem to be a nice compromise between Sandforce and Marvell drives.

You can glance over this article from TR on some of the major SSD's if you'd like some numbers to look at. Also, remember that SSD's are highly parallel in that the more capacity a drive has the better its performance will be. I like to use a general rule of thumb that you don't get "optimal" performance until you get over the 90GB mark.
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:44 pm

Would it be a good idea to just go with Intel 320 120GB to have a reliable drive, or the reliability is not an issue anymore?
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:51 pm

Madman wrote:Is the failure rate mentioned @ http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2011/0 ... scale.html real?

Would it be a good idea to just go with Intel 320 120GB to have a reliable drive, or the reliability is not an issue anymore?

It's real in that it's the experience of that small sub-set of 3 people. However, I would not say that 95% of SSDs have a catastrophic failure within their first 12 months as the article implies.

I would say that SSD reliability is at least an order of magnitude worse than traditional HDDs. Not bad enough that it offsets the speed increase of having one, but enough to make sure that you calculate into your costs having a truly effective backup plan. And while I believe (others may disagree) that Intel is a more reliable drive, it still isn't HDD reliable. Even Intel had their own major bug the middle of last year that took them several weeks to issue an update for.
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:53 pm

Yup... it seems that Intel is (and has been all along) the SSD "gold standard", but even they have had firmware bugs.
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:08 pm

Madman wrote:Would it be a good idea to just go with Intel 320 120GB to have a reliable drive, or the reliability is not an issue anymore?

Just for comparison, Intel's firmware bug in the 320s caused the drive to, in rare circumstances, completely flip out after a non-standard shutdown had occurred and then reappear with just 8MB of formatted capacity. The drive could be repartitioned and used normally again, but the data were lost. That was later fixed and so far no other major issues have been reported AFAIK, but pretty much every SSD vendor has encountered teething problems. Having a solid backup plan is always important, but even more so when using younger technologies.

That said, you can probably count on Intel to be there and still support their products a few years out, which may not be true for smaller vendors. Mostly it just depends if the cost is worth it to you. The Intel drives are definitely pricey, although the box does include pretty much every bracket, screw, and cable you could possibly need, including an adapter and software utility for mirroring and then swapping an existing laptop HDD.
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:23 pm

For me, reliability is a must. My mobo only supports SATA II so I was limited to these bandwidths looking fon an SSD. I looked through numerous ones on Newegg and the Intel SSDs all stood out in terms of happy customers. I bought mine based on that and several months later, the thing is rock solid. No issues. The included hardware was great and the software to clone my existing Win7 installation was a breeze to use....

I would repeat this along other posters in this thread: reliability comes before speed. The extra $$ spent on the SSD is nothing compared to losing data and your time to reinstall everything.

As with most cases, backup your SSD regularly, and you'll be golden.

My SSD:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820167050

Hope this helps...
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:37 pm

It seems that I'm going with Intel 320/120GB as well.

Backups might be an option, but if you backup every 2 hours you loose any edge SSD might have, and if you don't, 1 week of coding is actually quite a lot to loose.
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:05 pm

parism wrote:For me, reliability is a must. My mobo only supports SATA II so I was limited to these bandwidths looking fon an SSD.

The various "flavors" of SATA are backwards- and forwards-compatible, so there's no real reason you couldn't have gotten a SATA III drive if you were willing to spend the extra $ and wanted to do a bit of future-proofing. Of course it would've still been limited to SATA II speeds until you upgrade the motherboard...

Madman wrote:It seems that I'm going with Intel 320/120GB as well.

Backups might be an option, but if you backup every 2 hours you loose any edge SSD might have, and if you don't, 1 week of coding is actually quite a lot to loose.

There's a lot of wiggle room between 2 hours and 1 week. :wink:

Also, since you mentioned that this is a Linux system there's a very effective solution to the backup issue: Just set up a background cron job that periodically rsyncs the contents of the directories containing your working files to a mechanical hard drive or network server. As long as you're not dealing with directories containing many thousands of files, or frequently creating/updating really large (hundreds of MB) data files, the impact on performance should be minimal, since the rsync tool only copies the files which have changed. For a small enough project I bet you could even set it up to run every few minutes and not notice a performance hit, since the relevant file system meta-data will usually be in cache.
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:24 pm

Intel makes by far the most reliable SSDs. They are not the fastest nor the cheapest, but probably the most reliable. I say "perhaps" because Samsung also has a decent record, but the 830 is relatively new.

http://www.behardware.com/articles/831-7/components-returns-rates.html

But as far as the best SSDs, it's difficult to tell because all modern SSDs are all fast and decently reliable. After the 2.15 patch, OCZ vertex ssds are pretty stable, unless you just so happen to get a bad batch. The M4, even with low write speeds, is still fast (especially random 4k r/w). Anandtech seems to like the Kingston HyperX and OCZ ssds. I have lots of friends with ssds. No one ever got the BSODs or a bad drive, so I would take horror stories with a grain of salt, tho I'm sure they do happen.

My personal opinion is to wait for the Intel 520. It's coming out relatively soon (Q1 2012) and it will marry both the reliability of Intel with some very high speeds (it's probably a SF2 w/ custom firmware).
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:02 pm

halfline wrote:Intel makes by far the most reliable SSDs. They are not the fastest nor the cheapest, but probably the most reliable. I say "perhaps" because Samsung also has a decent record, but the 830 is relatively new.

http://www.behardware.com/articles/831-7/components-returns-rates.html


0.3% seems to be more reliable than for mechanical drives.

By Googling I also found this: http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1568290

Kinda hard to believe...
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:29 pm

Madman wrote:It seems that I'm going with Intel 320/120GB as well.

Backups might be an option, but if you backup every 2 hours you loose any edge SSD might have, and if you don't, 1 week of coding is actually quite a lot to loose.


Backing up a SSD (or even a virus scan) has very little impact on performance for background or foreground apps. This is the greatest place you'll feel an impact is in heavy I/O workload environments.

http://techreport.com/articles.x/22078/6 for sample benches...
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:48 pm

I vote for OCZ. I have several of their SSD's and they are fast and reliable. I did have the Sandforce bug on my Vertex3, but now its gone.
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:04 pm

I just picked up a Kingston SSDNow drive - it has a known problem with write speed that theyre working on fixing (but havent fixed yet which has made my cloning-an-OS-over-USB a LOT of fun) but I can give some meaningful feedback once I have it up and running. 128 gb drive set me back $141 from ncix.
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Wed Jan 11, 2012 8:30 pm

Ok, ordered an Intel 320/120GB, and just installed fresh Ubuntu installation on it.

BUT DAMN! Now I want to trow the PSU/CPU/GPU coolers against the wall! Without HDD constantly making the noise, they are so damn loud, or maybe just unusual... Everything just works, so quiet and smooth. :D
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:58 pm

If your hard drive was that audible above the fans before, you either had a pretty loud hard drive, or the case was resonating and amplifying the noise!
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:16 pm

I have a Wx raptor 150 gig and even at idle it has a loud whine. Much louder than my ssd.
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:09 pm

OK, I should've said if you have a 7200 RPM or slower hard drive... :lol:
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:49 pm

I have an M4 - with the firmware in need of update (see separate post). It runs fine so far - as fast as the Crucial C300 128GB it replaced. Easy acronis clone. Blows the old raptor away.

I think that one should be a larger SSD if possible - like the old logic of buy the biggest HHD you can - I found 128 too small very quickly even with data on an HDD.
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Sun Jan 22, 2012 3:46 am

DPete27 wrote:Kingston, Corsair, OCZ, Mushkin use Sanforce conrollers. The Sandforce BSOD bug was "fixed" in late October 2011. I haven't seen or heard much complaining since then. I own a Vertex 3 with the latest firmware fix and haven't had a problem, even when trying to persue the BSOD path. Most of the BSOD's were able to be fixed by resetting power to the drive, I believe data loss was uncommon. If you grab a sandforce drive, get a Kingston HyperX, Corsair Force GT, OCZ Vertex 3, or Mushkin Enhanced Chronos as they use synchronous NAND and will not suffer as much performance-wise in incompressible reads and writes. Asynchronous NAND SSD's (Corsair Force3, OCZ Agility 3) tend to run cheaper and may still be a good solution if you aren't a power user. The majority of percieved SSD benefits are in response times which you'll see in any SSD regardless of NAND type or controller compared to a mechanical hard drive. Sandforce drives excel at compressible data reads and writes.

Crucial uses a marvell controller. They used to be considered the safe and cost effective choice (as opposed on intel being safe and expensive). However, they have recently found that the Crucial m4 is prone to a BSOD bug after 5,000 hours of use. A firmware fix isnt due out for a couple weeks according to this article. I would imagine that if you bought an m4 now, they would have a firmware fix out by the time you hit 5,000 hours of use. The Crucial m4 represents more of an even keel performance across various types of reads/writes/access times as opposed to sandforce ssd's that can be much better at some things but worse than the Crucial m4 at others.

Samsung 830 SSD's are making a big impact, but I hesitate to grab one since they've only been on the market for a short time. They do seem to be a nice compromise between Sandforce and Marvell drives.

You can glance over this article from TR on some of the major SSD's if you'd like some numbers to look at. Also, remember that SSD's are highly parallel in that the more capacity a drive has the better its performance will be. I like to use a general rule of thumb that you don't get "optimal" performance until you get over the 90GB mark.


Great info here, thanks. I just pulled the trigger on a Mushkin Enhanced Chronos 120gb....hope it kicks ass :) I'll be sure to snag the latest firmware as well.
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Sun Jan 22, 2012 8:39 am

If you're worried about reliability get an Intel who have 2% RMA rates.

The rest have higher RMA rates in the 3-5% range, but that's hardly different to mechanical disks. I think there's just more whining and press coverage about SSD's because

a) They have firmware that users themselves can flash. People don't generally bother flashing mechanical disks because they don't support any new windows features like TRIM or have complex firmware. Anyway, flashing anything increases the risk of bricking something

b) They cost 10x more per gigabyte. People don't worry about a $40 hard disk. "Meh, I'll get another one". When your $400 SSD dies, you feel outrage simply because you feel something that expensive should be high quality. In this case it's not, it's the same quality as a cheap $40 hard disk, it's just that the underlying technology is far more expensive to produce.
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Sun Jan 22, 2012 8:46 am

I would add to that:

c) The lack of moving parts -- and how that is supposed to result in vastly improved reliability -- has been one of the selling points used by SSD vendors. When reality diverged from the marketing hype, people felt cheated.
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:38 am

Chrispy_ wrote:If you're worried about reliability get an Intel who have 2% RMA rates.

The rest have higher RMA rates in the 3-5% range, but that's hardly different to mechanical disks. I think there's just more whining and press coverage about SSD's because

a) They have firmware that users themselves can flash. People don't generally bother flashing mechanical disks because they don't support any new windows features like TRIM or have complex firmware. Anyway, flashing anything increases the risk of bricking something

b) They cost 10x more per gigabyte. People don't worry about a $40 hard disk. "Meh, I'll get another one". When your $400 SSD dies, you feel outrage simply because you feel something that expensive should be high quality. In this case it's not, it's the same quality as a cheap $40 hard disk, it's just that the underlying technology is far more expensive to produce.


Agreed. I think there is heightened sensisitivity to SSD failures, but honestly I'm sure the background rate of failure off SSDs is about the same as HDDs (when you correct for things like user ignorance, and etc. I've seen a lot of bad reviews on newegg complaining about 1) something that was fixed with a firmware update that was already available, and 2) the space reported in windows being less than what is advertised on the box [ie 111gb in windows vs 120gb advertised on the box], even though this is true with HDDs too)

To take things a step further. I've owned a pair of raided -x25ms for 3 years (until I just got rid of them). In that time I replaced my seagate barracuda drive 3 times due to grinding and errors noted by hard drive testing software. I also installed a corsair nova in my girlfriends desktop about 1 year ago and she has never had a single problem. In fact, she just asked me about putting a SSD in her laptop as well (she ended up going with a corsair force GT).

I honestly feel any drive by intel, OCZ, corsair and crucial are all excellent drives that are well supported. I doubt ssds fail at a higher rate than HDDs. And honestly you can always have backups with a storage drive (via manual or scheduled backups, or raid functionality), a laptop, and a portable drive to assist in that regard.
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:32 pm

halfline wrote:Intel makes by far the most reliable SSDs. They are not the fastest nor the cheapest, but probably the most reliable.

My personal opinion is to wait for the Intel 520. It's coming out relatively soon (Q1 2012) and it will marry both the reliability of Intel with some very high speeds (it's probably a SF2 w/ custom firmware).

So Q1 2012 has arrived! Are there any retailers (ie: Newegg, Micro Center --- do people go anywhere else these days! lol) selling these 520's yet?

I heard they will be available in 5 capacities (60gb, 120gb, 180gb, 240gb, and 480gb).
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:06 am

thegleek wrote:So Q1 2012 has arrived! Are there any retailers (ie: Newegg, Micro Center --- do people go anywhere else these days! lol) selling these 520's yet?
I heard they will be available in 5 capacities (60gb, 120gb, 180gb, 240gb, and 480gb).


We've had them in Europe for about a week now. All the usual UK options had actual, real stock last weekend. I'd be surprised if they landed over here before you guys had them in the US.

Edit: Yes, those are the 5 capacities I'm seeing over here:
http://overclockers.co.uk/search_result ... =intel+520
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Re: Which SSD to get?

Postposted on Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:19 am

just brew it! wrote:I would add to that:

c) The lack of moving parts -- and how that is supposed to result in vastly improved reliability -- has been one of the selling points used by SSD vendors. When reality diverged from the marketing hype, people felt cheated.

This is actually the biggest thing to me, and it's why I bought an Intel drive. It sucks when things die (and it does suck even more when they're meant to be MORE reliable), but their warranty service is great and I get that service for 5 years.
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