Though you'll see the manufacturer's suggested retail price quoted in our charts, it's not always indicative of how much you'll pay. Some vendors provide MSRPs that are actually street prices, while other vendors offer loftier MSRPs that end up being heavily discounted at retail. The 240GB SanDisk Extreme, for example, is list priced at $399, but we saw it at several online retailers for much less than half that amount. On the other hand, Intel priced its 335 series model at $184, but that drive was selling for more at several online retailers.
Based on street prices, the price per gigabyte ranged from about 69 cents to $1.08 per gigabyte for the 240/256GB models we reviewed. Although that's expensive compared with the 6 cents per gigabyte the Seagate hard drive fetches, or the 24 cents per gigabyte that WD's VelociRaptor commands, so is a Ferrari compared with a Volkswagen.
Be aware of what comes in the box with the drive you choose. At a minimum, you should get a bracket and screws that let you adapt the 2.5-inch drive to a 3.5-inch bay. Some manufacturers go further and offer cloning software so that you can easily migrate your operating system and software environment from your old drive to the new one. Some manufacturers sell drives under different SKUs, one with just the drive and others with the drive plus accessories. Be sure to make apples-to-apples comparisons when you're shopping.
The bottom line
Speed is the primary motivation for upgrading to an SSD, so I recommend skipping over the bargain drives in favor of what you really want. The lone exception to that recommendation is for a laptop that has only a SATA 3-gbps interface. In that case, you should still stay away from bargain-bin drives, but make your choice based on price per gigabyte. If you're upgrading your laptop, be mindful of drive height: Some drives are 9mm high, and many thin-and-light portables can accommodate only 7mm drives.
We reviewed seven of the very latest SSDs for this roundup. The competition was tight, but one drive managed to outperform the rest of the field. You'll find links to our reviews below and after the jump!
Corsair Neutron (240GB): The middle of the road
Corsair's move to the Link A Media LM87800 controller has been a good thing. The Neutron GTX performs better thanks to its faster toggle-mode NAND, but the Neutron with its synchronous MLC NAND is still a very fast drive--fast enough to take the fifth spot among some very tough competition in our roundup.