SSD prices in steady, substantial decline

On all too many occasions, we’ve bemoaned the state of hard drive prices. They rose sharply after last year’s Thailand flooding and still haven’t returned to what many of us would consider normal. There is good news on the storage front, though. The current generation of solid-state drives is cheaper than ever, with multiple models living comfortably below the dollar-per-gigabyte threshold.

To get a better sense of the SSD picture, we’ve analyzed a mountain of pricing information dating from early 2011 to Tuesday. The folks at Camelegg graciously provided the data, which we’ve sliced, diced, and compiled in pretty graphs. Camelegg tracks prices at Newegg, which should give us a good sense of what’s going on in the overall market.

Originally, I had hoped to combine a stack of SSDs in one massive graph. Turns out that was completely unreadable. With most drive makers competing aggressively on price, there was far too much overlap. Instead, we’ll tackle the most popular drives one by one. To make comparisons a little easier, all of the graphs stick to the same scale. The selection has been limited to include only the SSDs we’ve reviewed. In most cases, we’ve looked at the price of three capacities.

We’ll start with the longest-tenured of the bunch, the Intel 510 Series. This drive is currently out of stock and unlikely to return, but it’s an interesting anomaly. The 510 Series’ price stayed relatively consistent through most of 2011, and it was never cheap. I suspect the price cuts that hit earlier this year were a bid to clear inventory rather than chase competitors.

Intel’s 320 Series SSDs have also largely held the line. These drives have been with us for well over a year, and they’re still relatively expensive per gig. Since the 320 Series uses Intel’s own controller, it’s an exclusive affair.

The same can’t be said for the Intel 520 Series, which uses the same SandForce SF-2281 controller as seemingly everyone else in the industry. This replacement for the 510 Series was supposed to maintain its predecessor’s premium price, but that didn’t last. The 240GB model fell off a cliff within the first month of availability, no doubt in response to the aggressive price war being waged by other SandForce partners. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Apart from some firmware differences, the Corsair Force GT and OCZ Vertex 3 are largely identical to the Intel 520 Series. They’ve been around for much longer than the Intel drive, and their prices have been falling steadily. These Force Series GT models have been discounted by 49-55% since their debut. The Vertex 3s have dropped in price by even greater margins: 56-73%.

The 520 Series, Force Series GT, Vertex 3 all pair the SandForce controller with synchronous NAND. Less expensive asynchronous configurations have also proven popular, and they follow a similar pricing trend.

Over the past year, the prices of the async Force Series 3 and Agility 3 have plummeted. The Agility 3 has been around for longer and had farther to fall; it’s down around 60% from this time last year. The Force Series 3’s price has been slashed 38-54% over a shorter time span, with the 60GB model dropping the least.

Crucial’s m4 has been with us for more than a year, and it follows a familiar pattern. The drive is down 57-64% from its peak in 2011.

The OCZ Octane uses the same Marvell controller as the m4, but it hit the market much later. Even though OCZ wasn’t too ambitious with the Octane’s initial price, the drive costs a lot less now than it did at launch. In about six months, the price of the 128GB model has fallen 40%.

Another late arrival to the next-gen party was Samsung’s 830 Series. This is our favorite SSD right now, and it’s followed the same trend as the others. Prices change frequently, and they keep on falling.

Let’s put a number on that trend. For the data we’ve collected, the average price drop is 46%. And that includes the SSDs Intel has been so loathe to discount.

Have time for another graph? Last one, I promise. Here’s a look at the average cost per gigabyte of each SSD over the last week in our data set. The Intel 510 Series has been omitted because it’s effectively been replaced by the 520 Series.

Just look at all those drives under a dollar per gig. The higher-capacity models offer the best value in virtually every family. Although the 40-64GB variants don’t look quite so good on this scale, they have asking prices under 100 bucks.

Comments closed
    • Freon
    • 7 years ago

    Great job with the article. I think a lot of people have been noticing, but it is nice to see an actual analysis of the trends with real data.

    This is good not just for consumers, but in the server space. At work, our primary database system is Oracle Exadata, which uses a huge flash memory array as disk cache. Moving to that platform from a standard SAN with 15k rpm disks was an absolute boon to our entire system performance. We were struggling with performance for years, and overnight end user system response time dropped by almost an order of magnitude. With our transaction volume now we’d be dead in the water without it. But, it was also expensive… Something that maybe should have or could have happened sooner at a better price.

    This can really drive a lot of amazing SaaS and enterprise products. Smaller shops with less revenue can start looking at SSDs.

    • Anarchist
    • 7 years ago

    on amazon.com kingston 120gb ssd kit is priced at $90 after $40 instant coupon is applied. I think that;s a heckuva deal.

    • WhatMeWorry
    • 7 years ago

    I’ve just bought 25 Crucial M4 128GB SSDs for my work. What have you done to make SSDs cheaper 🙂

      • cynan
      • 7 years ago

      Wouldn’t soaking up excess supply lead to increased prices for SSDs? The NAND flash in these things is practically a commodity in the sense that, in the near future, companies can only make so much so fast. While going out and buying copious amounts of SSDs might ultimately help drive down prices over the long term, it will increase prices if anything over the short (ie, next couple of years).

    • Spotpuff
    • 7 years ago

    Yep when the 240GB Agility 3 hit ~$1/GB I bought one.

    Hopefully these replace rotational disks in a few years.

    • Arclight
    • 7 years ago

    Meh. By the time i upgrade to an SSD memristor based Reram might be the next best thing and i’ll have to wait again. Btw, what’s the downside of that new tech? There has got to be a catch….for SSDs it was limited write cycles, BSODs (though to be fair it was not caused by the NAND chips, rather by one faulty memory controller or another) and ofc high prices for a long time.

    • Krogoth
    • 7 years ago

    SSDs still have a long way if they have any hope of replacing HDDs for bulk data storage on a $$$/GB basis.

    Otherwise, SSDs have effectively killed 10K-15K RPM HDDs that used to dominate the server/workstation space.

    There’s little reason to get a 10K-15K RPM HDD other then for legacy support.

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      So what you’re saying is that Krogoth has woken up, but he hasn’t had breakfast yet…

        • pedro
        • 7 years ago

        He’s saying, “Krogoth is sleeping out in the server room on an enterprise-grade mattress with a legacy pillow.”

      • indeego
      • 7 years ago

      Writeback cach support isn’t universal on SSDs.
      No enterprise feature support on many SSDs.
      RAID controllers can’t handle the speed/features of SSDs.

      But yeah, that is fading.

        • rrr
        • 7 years ago

        “Isn’t universal”, “on many SSDs”.

        I take it you like weasel words.

    • cegras
    • 7 years ago

    I think jokes are on those who waited. For $140, my 60 Vertex purchased in Dec 2010 has provided a year and a half of amazingly fast boot times and system responsiveness.

      • flip-mode
      • 7 years ago

      Oh, you are just /so/ boss. You just embarrassed those fools for [i<]real[/i<]! /sarcasm

        • cegras
        • 7 years ago

        ?

        I’m just pointing out how everyone who keeps saying ‘not until it’s cheaper’ even though $1/gb was their supposed threshold are missing out.

          • paulWTAMU
          • 7 years ago

          Sorry, but I’ve got a limited budget. If I were to build right now I’d probably do a boot drive, but they still cost too much for one large enough for my steam folder.

            • cegras
            • 7 years ago

            Oh, for sure. But spending $80 on a boot drive is worth it.

            • flip-mode
            • 7 years ago

            Isn’t that up to the individual to decide? My next hard drive purchase will be and SSD, but it’s going to happen on my timetable, and it’s not going to happen the minute it’s affordable. It will happen when it’s a good moment for me to have some down time. If I want to do it without any down time then I’m going to need a 256 GB drive to be able to transfer my current boot partition. I’ve got software installed on there that requires me to take my computer to work every 6 months to borrow a license, so the soonest I’ll want to do a clean install is in November when my current software license expires.

            • cegras
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]Isn't that up to the individual to decide? [/quote<] Did I ever say anything otherwise? All I said is that even at $2/gb a SSD as a boot drive was, in my opinion, a worthy investment. Not sure why you had to be a dick about it. Everyone who was saying "I'll wait until it's $1/gb!" *still* aren't living up to their promise, all they are doing is saying stupid things just to be antagonistic. And those are the people that I'm calling out. You can complain about SSDs prices all you want, but I've experienced it for almost 1.5 years now and I think nothing would have made my computer seem faster for $140, especially with how computer games have been with hardware utilization.

            • ludi
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]Did I ever say anything otherwise? All I said is that even at $2/gb a SSD as a boot drive was, in my opinion, a worthy investment.[/quote<] Yeah, and you expressed it like this: [quote<]I think jokes are on those who waited.[/quote<]

            • cegras
            • 7 years ago

            And people took so much offense to that? I thought NeelyCam thickened your skins already.

            • rrr
            • 7 years ago

            Then don’t put a steam folder on it? Seems obvious to me. A few seconds less on loading screens won’t salvage you, increased productivity just might.

      • ew
      • 7 years ago

      People still reboot their systems?

        • jeme
        • 7 years ago

        Until we have a more sustainable and clean source of energy, then yes?

        • Vaughn
        • 7 years ago

        Last time I checked some updates from the windows update site will force you to reboot so the answer is Yes to your question!

        • cegras
        • 7 years ago

        This may surprise you, but a majority probably do. Also, boot times are not the only majorly affected factor…

      • My Johnson
      • 7 years ago

      I’ve bought two used laptops and another desktop workstation ($800 with monitor) for my family in that time. What else? $800 vet bill for the cat who’s still young. $500 Korg TR Workstation (keyboard) for my son (He’s got talent, so when he said he wanted a piano I took him seriously.) Last Christmas I re-tiled the master bathroom shower for $3,000. iPhone 3GS for $250 (first family smartphone.)

      What was your point again?

        • cegras
        • 7 years ago

        Er, I have no idea how anything you typed was relevant, but I was trying to make the point that paying $2/gb for a SSD gave me a year and a half (which is quite a long time) of SSD responsiveness in my system, and that I thoroughly enjoyed that time.

      • BestJinjo
      • 7 years ago

      But you aren’t taking into account that some of us were using some SSD since early 2009 for OS (almost 2 years before you got yours) and waited all this time to upgrade to a larger capacity SSD. For example, barely more than a year ago, 120GB OCZ Vertex 3 was $249 MSRP and was $299.99 on Newegg. Last week it was $60 on Newegg for the same drive. That’s more than 4x cheaper than yours ($2.33 / GB vs. $0.50 / GB). Of course you have enjoyed your SSD, so your point is valid. However, you aren’t considering that the pace of SSD declines per GB in the last 12 months has accelerated exponentially. Before the price was $4, then $3, then $2 per GB and suddenly it has dropped to almost $0.50-0.60 per GB with rebates in the last 12 months.

        • TheBulletMagnet
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]But you aren't taking into account that some of us were using some SSD since early 2009 for OS[/quote<] Then his point wasn't addressing you then now was it?

    • Derfer
    • 7 years ago

    I wonder how big of a roll amazon and newegg competition has played. They often seem to price match on M4s and often put them on sale to the point where I suspect they’re taking a loss. This could be beneficial to them. Take occasional losses to ship more SSDs then get the next batch for less $$ to increase sales.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    Neat article Geoff… Even neater is the camelegg website. They actually have a app that lets you see this data while shopping on the newegg website, pretty cool stuff. Too bad it doesn’t let you track the trends of including or excluding MIRs.

    Sorta was waiting for you to break out the grids with %s though. Like a overall comparison of % decrease over time then add in % decrease with performance mixed in… at the very least the best performance/dollar at the end, which is basically in every SSD review.

    • druidcent
    • 7 years ago

    Are these prices from what you get without coupons deals, etc? Or is it the final sales price when Newegg is having a Shell Shocker or Daily Deal?

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    Couldn’t resist biting on the deal Newegg had the other day on Samsung 830 120gb for $90.

    Epilogue: The drive is damn fast and my wallet is only marginally lighter.

      • rxc6
      • 7 years ago

      I tried to get that one, but it sold out too quickly for me :(.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah, I slept on it instead of ordering on the spot. Unfortunately this has lead me to regret that decision and look at other SSDs now to satisfy the craving. :l

    • StashTheVampede
    • 7 years ago

    The largest players want the little guys out ASAP. Lowering prices doesn’t affect the biggest flash guys by a big deal, but it will squeeze out anyone that isn’t fabbing their own flash.

    • rrr
    • 7 years ago

    Those plots make me want to shed a tear. If only HDD makers followed suit…

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 7 years ago

      Lack of competition and collusion between the two remaining hd makers ensures prices will never reach the lows of pre-flood.

        • Airmantharp
        • 7 years ago

        I agree with you in the short term (+1), however in the long term, SSDs will start putting price pressure on HDDs to the point that they’ll have to compete on their only advantage, that being density. At which point they’ll have to lower prices significantly.

      • LafInBob
      • 7 years ago

      Very recent history aside, whenever I’m prompted to reflect on HDD pricing I can’t help but be amazed. My first computer had storage measured in MBs and the first HDD I bought and installed was ~8 GBs and all but broke the budget at $250 or thereabouts.

      Here is a graph with price data for HDD’s from 1980 – 2009 – [url<]http://www.mkomo.com/cost-per-gigabyte.[/url<] Some very detailed HDD price data here - [url<]http://ns1758.ca/winch/winchest.html[/url<] (Note, most prices are shown in Canadian currency). BTW, thanks Geoff, nice article and I love the final graph!

        • Anomymous Gerbil
        • 7 years ago

        My first HDD was 10MB, and cost almost $1500 (in Australia), connected to my Exidy Sorceror via a huge S100 bus chassis which made up a fair chunk of that price. 10MB!!

          • LafInBob
          • 7 years ago

          Just $150/MB huh? The “good old days” weren’t very good when it came to HDD pricing! For my second build in early 2003 I was able to afford an 80 GB drive (a bit under $200 US I think), and wondered “what will I do with all this storage”! My next build (I’m “due” but don’t really need a new computer) will definitely include an SSD.

          • TheBulletMagnet
          • 7 years ago

          Damn what year was this?

    • Meadows
    • 7 years ago

    Not low enough for me.

      • rrr
      • 7 years ago

      Well, get on with Lil’ Jon then.

      • highlandr
      • 7 years ago

      That’s just because you’re a Negative Nelly.

    • Nutmeg
    • 7 years ago

    Flash memory (and the companies developing it) are seriously awesome.

      • rrr
      • 7 years ago

      To be fair, they can be a lot better, MRAM and ReRAM shape up to be major improvements over NAND.

        • Wirko
        • 7 years ago

        I am not so convinced that 9-nm MRAM or ReRAM will be substantially more reliable and durable than 9-nm NAND.

          • rrr
          • 7 years ago

          I take it you’re an engineer and work extensively with all of those, amirite?

    • drfish
    • 7 years ago

    On 6/11 you could get a 256GB 830 for $200 with a NewEgg coupon code – no rebate! The sale prices really make or break the $1/GB mark.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      They had 128s available for $90 around that time period as well.

    • stockup21
    • 7 years ago

    OCZ has new versions of both the Vertex and Agility out (Vertex 4, Agility 4 both now non-SandForce). Might be affecting the prices of the older versions.

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      It shouldn’t, really- the new drives are both slower on the desktop and more expensive to produce since they need a DRAM cache. The new drives are more focused on enterprise sales, which is where OCZ wants to be, and where they’re going with Indilinx.

    • flip-mode
    • 7 years ago

    Damn. That’s just purdy.

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 7 years ago

    Did you notice the trend there?

    The 60 GB and 120 GB and even the 240 GB prices are conversing. Soon it will not even be worth getting the 60 when the 120 can be had for a little more. So, when the 120 gets to 60 prices, will they stop making 60s and start playing low-ball with 480/512s?

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      They might discontinue the smaller drives at some point. You see this with regular hard drives too where the price difference between small drives and the next size up is very small. There are always going to be fixed costs, so even if NAND were free you’ll never have an SSD that goes below a certain price point. The variable costs come in from NAND spot-price & quantity and maybe controller price and DRAM cache, and as NAND becomes a smaller component for lower-capacity drives, you see the prices converge.

      • ew
      • 7 years ago

      This happens with hard drives too. Look at the price difference between say a 250GB drive and a 500GB drive. It’s like $10-20.

      • flip-mode
      • 7 years ago

      Conversing? I wonder what they’re saying to each other….

      • rrr
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]The 60 GB and 120 GB and even the 240 GB prices are conversing[/quote<] 60GB price: Hey 120GB price, how's it going? 120GB price: Awesome, how about you? 240GB price: Hey, don't shut me out, I'm fine too. 60GB price and 120GB price together: STFU noob, you're high.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    Not listed in this article but even the 512GB Crucial M4 is going for $400 on Newegg (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148531).

    That puts it at $0.80/GB.

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 7 years ago

      Yea, that is an awesome price for such a good drive!

      • superjawes
      • 7 years ago

      ::sigh::

      I would probably get in trouble for spending $400, but yes, that is an absurdly good deal, especially for someone who (like me) would rather get his games on the SSD.

      • tshort
      • 7 years ago

      The 256GB Crucial m4 is was $180 on Amazon earlier this week. That’s $0.70/GB.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      Maybe it’s just me, but I rather get two 256s and raid them then one big drive. The OCZ Agility 3 256 was selling for $179 with MIR last week.

        • Airmantharp
        • 7 years ago

        Higher speeds, but you lose Trim, decreasing performance over time. It’s real hard to prove the usefulness of that setup for a primary drive- however, for specific applications, and the use of a Sandforce-based drive for their better garbage collection, I can see the benefit.

          • Bensam123
          • 7 years ago

          Intel drivers were supposed to get trim support in raid sometime this last spring. That also goes for newer controllers, depending on the company. It’s gradual, but it’s happening across the board.

          Some companies have really good garbage collection too, so you don’t necessarily need trim as well. Samsung 830s being one of them.

            • Airmantharp
            • 7 years ago

            They do support Trim when in RAID mode, but not for drives in a RAID. Essentially, you can put Intel’s controller in RAID mode, and set up a RAID, and Trim will still work from drives that are not part of the RAID.

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            Yup, but it also functions with drives in the array. Other controller manufacturers such as LSI, Areca, and Adaptec have similar trim support in their newer cards.

            Here, quick google… from Nov 2011…

            [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/5136/intel-to-add-trim-support-for-raid-0[/url<]

            • Airmantharp
            • 7 years ago

            You’re right!

            I missed that one, and that’s news to me. Definitely would like to see Intel get on this :).

            • yuhong
            • 7 years ago

            Now, I hope that RAID vendors add support for recovering SSD RAID arrays that has an SSD that ran out of write cycles by copying data.

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            Definitely forward looking, but SSDs seem to die for every other reason besides the write cycle limit. ><

            • rrr
            • 7 years ago

            If it was write cycle limit, it would not happen very soon at all. Firmware bugs or standard DOA stuff comes to mind. Hence best to wait and pick one which was “field tested” so to speak.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 7 years ago

    Wake me up when prices are < $0.50/GB.

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      Awaken the Krogoth!

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        zommmm zommmm *readies the sacrificial goat*

        • Krogoth
        • 7 years ago

        [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OlCnPKr4Q8[/url<]

      • drfish
      • 7 years ago

      I gave you a thumbs up because I assume you are trying to be funny.

        • superjawes
        • 7 years ago

        I thumbed him down because he wasn’t funny.

          • Thatguy
          • 7 years ago

          I commented so you knew i cared.

            • Mourmain
            • 7 years ago

            SO CONSIDERATE

          • derFunkenstein
          • 7 years ago

          Yeah, the effort doesn’t result in the +1 or -1 from me. It’s the success or failure.

          • drfish
          • 7 years ago

          Fair enough.

        • MethylONE
        • 7 years ago

        Same here.

      • Prototyped
      • 7 years ago

      Wake [i<]me[/i<] when prices hit 3x mechanical storage in $/GB. (Which will probably be 5-10 years ;p)

        • bcronce
        • 7 years ago

        With memresistors having 6x the storage density of current SSDs and assuming the price per unit area will become nearly the same, lets look at those prices.

        512GB current SSD – $600
        Let say has 25% storage reserved for wear leveling, so really ~700GB drive.

        700GB times 6 = 4.2TB – $600

        I can’t f’n wait for memresistors..

      • rrr
      • 7 years ago

      Sleep all you want, in the meantime let others enjoy their awesome hardware.

      • pedro
      • 7 years ago

      Wake me up when SSDs are under a buck a gig, in Australia.

        • octagonalman
        • 7 years ago

        Wakey?
        [url<]http://www.scorptec.com.au/computer/41143-agt3-25sat3-120g[/url<] [url<]http://www.pccasegear.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=888&products_id=20527[/url<]

          • pedro
          • 7 years ago

          Thanks for waking me up. 🙂

          I’m now going to take a little nap…

      • ULYXX
      • 7 years ago

      I remember people scoffing at $1/gb about a year and half ago and saying we would NOT see that happening within at least 5 years. Look, its now under 1 buck per gigabyte. So, im on your band wagon whether you’re joking or not.

      • Arag0n
      • 7 years ago

      I agree with you… I want at least 256Gb for my OS HD, and I won’t pay 250$ for that plus 100$ for 1 to 2Tb classic HD to store data, total 350$… yeah HDD is slower but still it does the job no rush here to update till prices go down and I can get a 256Gb drive for 100 to 150$.

        • TheBulletMagnet
        • 7 years ago

        I bet a year ago you were like “till prices go down and I can get a 256Gb drive for $250”.

          • superjawes
          • 7 years ago

          Who cares what people were saying a year ago? Even though the price/GB prices are moving for SSDs, the same is true for HDDs. $250 can get you 256GB on a SSD or 3 1TB HDDs. So you can get a nice (not “phenomenal”) performance increase on your OS, [i<]or[/i<] you can get almost 12 times the storage on mechanical drives. The good news is that SSDs are definitely dropping faster, but we're going to be waiting awhile for them to catch up to HDD value and storage space.

            • rrr
            • 7 years ago

            “Value” is a relative term. There seem to be people, for whom “value” means performance for money as well and size is not an issue.

            • superjawes
            • 7 years ago

            ‘Tis why I mentioned both, as both are always in play. Personal preference will weigh heavier on one, but the final decision is based on both. While SSDs have a significant performance advantage, we’re still seeing some $0.80/GB drives while [url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136490&cm_sp=DailyDeal-_-22-136-490-_-Product<]something like this[/url<] pops up at $0.08/GB. That's 10x the storage per dollar. My point is that all the points are floating right now, as is what consumers are willing to spend. You're not going to see SSDs start to overtake HDDs until they get there, and that's a matter of getting prices down [b<]and[/b<] sizes up.

    • mattthemuppet
    • 7 years ago

    buying an SSD at the moment is like trying to time the bottom of a stock market crash – prices are a lot lower than before but might be even lower tomorrow/ next week/ next month. At least it will silence Yawn and his “wake me up when prices are <$1/GB”. I imagine he’s already had breakfast and is onto his mid-morning coffee by now 🙂

      • Anomymous Gerbil
      • 7 years ago

      Actually, it’s completely different. SSD prices will just keep going down and down, whereas stockmarkets (sometimes!) rise.

      • My Johnson
      • 7 years ago

      Prices will go lower but at a still slow pace because your competing with the mobile market too.

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