January 25, 2013, 11:58 AM — When SanDisk announced the arrival of its Ultra Plus solid-state drive (SSD) at CES two weeks ago, the company made no bones about whom it was targeting: the consumer retrofit market. In other words, this SSD was made specifically to replace that old hard drive in your laptop or desktop.
SanDisk Ultra Plus SSD
Right off the bat I liked two things about this drive: It's extremely light (it only weighs 1.37 oz.) and it's cheap -- as in very inexpensive. The Ultra Plus comes in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB capacities. On SanDisk's site, they sell for $75, $110 and $210, respectively, but you can find them in retail outlets for even less. For example, the 256GB Ultra Plus -- which is the one I tested for this review -- can be had at Amazon.com for $170.
As I've said in past reviews, there is no single upgrade that will give you a bigger bang for the buck than an SSD, and it's all the better when it's an inexpensive one.
The Ultra Plus is a 2.5-in drive that uses multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash and a SATA 3.0, 6Gbps drive interface. If you don't have the very latest laptop or desktop model, you are likely still using a SATA 2.0, 3Gbps drive interface, so the SSD won't perform quite as well for some applications. (The Apple MacBook Pro I tested the drive on has the latest SATA drive dock; more information about my test machine is in the next section.)
When SanDisk announced the Ultra Plus, the company also announced an upgrade to its NAND flash density: it went from 24-nanometer (nm) lithography to 19nm with the drive, which may account for the low price. The smaller the technology used for the semiconductor, the fewer chips are needed to build a drive.
The Ultra Plus sips power, using just 0.12 watts when active.