I have recommended a lot of SSDs over the years, and it seems like at least once a month someone asks me what SSDs I recommend right now.
So I’m going to present a list, and make an effort to keep it reasonably current. This list is somewhat curated; if there’s a drive that’s selling well but people are having a lousy experience with it, I’m leaving it off. I won’t name names but there is one of those this month. I may tweak the statistics with time, but for now I’m reporting capacity, expected price, where to buy it, and random write speed, which is what these drives are worst at. Any of these drives can open a 2-gig hibernation file in less than four seconds; it’s when they’re at their worst that you notice the difference between them, if there is any.
Let me get a disclaimer out of the way: Some of the links I present are affiliate links. You’re welcome to buy a drive anywhere you like, but if you buy from one of these links, I may make a small commission. That helps pay to keep this site up. Not everyone is up front about things like this, so I want to try to be open.
Let’s get on with the bestselling drives of December 2015.
Samsung 850 EVO series
This drive gives a good combination of value and performance. Samsung has been pricing these aggressively, and it shows in the sales figures. With this series, it’s possible to get a reasonably high-performance drive at any capacity that an enthusiast is likely to be interested in. Samsung makes both its controllers and its memory, which gives them an advantage when it comes to tuning its drives for performance, and gives them some cost advantages as well.
Kingston V300 series
Sometimes the 120GB version of this drive goes on sale for $40, and in that case, this is the biggest bargain on this list. These drives are budget drives in every way, but no conventional hard drive can touch them for performance, When these drives sell for the same price as the Sandisk SSD Plus, they’re not as compelling, but when they sell for 10% less, they seem to sell like crazy. The next time one of these goes on sale, I’m likely to get one.
Sandisk Ultra II series
This is Sandisk’s middle of the road drive, which offers a good combination of value, performance, and capacity. While not as fast as Samsung’s drives, it’s not as expensive either. Sandisk makes its own memory chips in a joint venture with Toshiba, which gives them the same advantages as other first-tier manufacturers when it comes to picking out the best chips. Sandisk hasn’t been making SSDs as long as most of these other companies, so they’ve been fairly aggressive with pricing to get a piece of the market.
Samsung 850 Pro series
At some capacities this drive is quite a bit more expensive than the 850 EVO, but that could just be a pricing anomaly. These drives are worth considering if you find a good price on them, but don’t pay a heavy premium for it over another performance drive. Under the best conditions it will outperform other drives, but under a more typical workload you don’t get much more speed than you would from an 850 EVO.
Crucial MX200 series
This is Crucial’s higher performance drive, but when it comes to random writes, which is where you’re more likely to notice the performance, it’s no better than the BX100 or BX200. Crucial seems to be the king of middle-of-the-road drives right now, which isn’t necessarily a bad place to be.
Intel 535 series
Intel makes an appearance on this list. Sometimes it seems hard to remember that Intel still makes SSDs, but this drive is a good performer at a competitive price, and Intel offers some capacities that nobody else is offering right now, although the pricing on the odd capacities like 180 and 360 GB can be even more odd. I’m not sure who would pay $190 for 360 GB when they can get 480 GB for about the same price.
Crucial BX100 series
This is Crucial’s budget drive. This line is being phased out, but there must still be some in the channel. If you can get a good price on one of these it’s well worth considering, especially for an upgrade for a machine with SATA2 where you won’t notice its limitations anyway. But make sure you don’t accidentally end up paying a premium for this drive over its newer and faster successor, the BX200.
Crucial BX200 series
The BX200 is Crucial’s new budget drive. It offers better write speeds than the BX100 did, so if the price is close, this is the better drive to get.
Sandisk SSD Plus series
This is Sandisk’s budget line, and is currently very aggressively priced. If you want a drive made by a company that makes its own chips, which isn’t a bad idea, this is the least expensive option on this list. Much like the Kingston drives, these are good drives for upgraders who want to extend a system’s usable lifespan without spending much. An enthusiast building a new, high-performance system may want to spend a little more for a higher-performing drive.
Samsung 850 EVO M.2 series
This drive features the M.2 connector, and as such, under the best conditions will outperform the other drives on this list. The caveat is that not all systems have an M.2 connector, so this drive isn’t an option for many upgraders. But if you have an M.2 connector, it’s a shame not to use it.