TR's 10th: The dawn of solid-state storage, yet more winners revealed

These days, mechanical storage has gotten so dense and so cheap that only $30-40 separates 500GB 3.5" hard drives from their 1TB brethren. Yet strangely, that's not what everybody is getting excited about. Solid-state drives have become the new frontier in computer storage, promising a brave new world of mind-boggling performance, negligible power consumption, and complete silence—not to mention the end of random mechanical failures.

Flash memory took many years to reach this point. A decade ago, when TR got started, you were lucky if you could get an MP3 player with 64MB of built-in flash. Nobody even knew what a USB thumb drive was, and many still thought MiniDiscs were the future of portable storage. Meanwhile, relatively inexpensive desktop hard drives were already hovering around the 20GB mark.

Slowly, flash memory started to creep into new devices. USB thumb drives pretty much replaced floppy disks. Compact Flash and Secure Digital cards became facts of life for digital camera users, which eventually became just about anyone with a camera. Tiny hard drives started to fall out of fashion in MP3 players, which were now able to store and display your videos and photos, as well.

Soon, certain firms started experimenting with flash as a replacement for PC hard drives. In the summer of 2006, we reviewed one such experiment: a Super Talent drive that crammed 16GB worth of flash chips into a 2.5" enclosure, all for the low, low price of $530. A year later, you were able to get 128GB of flash in the same form factor... assuming you had $4,600 burning a hole in your pocket.

Solid-state drives have become cheaper and faster in the last couple of years, having now found their way inside netbooks, pre-build laptops, and even enthusiast PCs. OCZ is one of the handful of companies that spearheaded the transition, having rapidly built up a broad line of of SSDs spanning multiple markets. The drives have become regulars in our mobile storage roundups, fighting it out with both mechanical hard drives and competing SSDs.

Of course, we started covering OCZ products ages ago. Heck, we even reviewed OCZ's Titan 3, a GeForce 3-based graphics card, in October of 2001. We gave many of the company's power supplies high marks, too, especially after it acquired PC Power & Cooling in 2007. The EliteXStream 800W, Silencer 750W, and ModXStream Pro 500W all earned coveted TR awards, and we continue to use OCZ PSUs in our test rigs to this day.

OCZ has long sponsored the site, too. Today, the firm took that sponsorship up to the next level by donating a bundle of hardware worth roughly $1,500 for our 10th-anniversary giveaway. This impressive cornucopia of goodness includes a Neutrino barebone netbook, a 30GB Agility solid-state drive, and 3GB of DDR2-667 laptop memory, which we'll be handing out as a single package to one lucky contest winner.

But that's not all! Other winners in today's drawing will walk away with a PC Power & Cooling Silencer 910 power supply, a Flex EX 6GB DDR3 triple-channel memory kit, and a 120GB Agility SSD. Also, each of our four winners gets to choose between one of four OCZ toolkits or one of four T-shirts.

Today's lucky winners are Luke Noyd, Brent Lee, Dawes Culp, and Gary Diaz. We're handing out prizes on a first-drawn, first-served basis once again, so Luke will get to choose from among the available prizes first, then Brent will get his chance, and so forth in that fashion. To claim your prize, check your inbox; we sent e-mail to the address you provided on the sign-up form.

What about the four T-shirts and/or tool kits not taken by our winners? We're going to give those out to the top TR forum posters who haven't yet won anything. In first-come, first-served order, these posters are LicketySplit (with 24,400+ posts), Usacomp2k3 (20,800+ posts), Vrock (17,200+ posts) and mattsteg (15,400+ posts). You folks will need to send a private message to TR biz guy Adam Eiberger, a.k.a. Inkling in the forums, to claim your prizes.

If you haven't won any prizes so far, we still have two giveaway days ahead of us. You might even end up as the winner of our Saturday grand prize, which will consist of the components needed to build a reasonable approximation of the Sweeter Spot rig from our most recent system guide. If you haven't signed up yet, you can still do so until midnight on Friday.

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