How to equip your PC with SSD for about $200

You'll find some pretty great rebates on SSD online

A lot of solid-state disk (SSD) drive reviews and features have been circulating around the Internet lately, and I've noticed that the speeds of those products are increasing remarkably, even as manufacturers use more multilevel cell (MLC) NAND flash memory in their products, which is innately slower than single-level cell (SLC) NAND.

The I/O boost in a few of those MLC-based SSD drives, which can be attributed to better firmware and the use of multiple NAND chips with a parallel multichannel architecture, now rivals or beats traditional hard disk drives. But one problem remains a barrier in mass adoption of SSD in desktops and laptops: price.

Today, most consumer-grade SSDs from leading vendors cost from US$2 to US$3.45 per gigabyte, while traditional hard disk drives cost about 38 cents per gigabyte, according to iSuppli and research firm Gartner. So you'll be paying a high premium to get a little advantage in random reads and power consumption. For example, Samsung Electronics, offers a 64GB SSD with a SATA II interface for a cool US$750. Intel just released its screaming fast, 80GB, X25 SSD drive priced at US$595.

But the average user -- myself included -- just isn't going to bite at those high-priced drives. So I spent some time calling various vendors and cruising the Web for SSD drives that retail for around US$200 and that offer what I consider the minimum capacity required to run applications on a laptop or PC: 64GB. In order to keep this simple, I chose to only look at 2.5-in. SATA interface drives that can be used in laptops or PCs.

Patriot Memory's drive

First up is Patriot Memory's 64GB Warp v.2 drive (Model PE64GS25SSDR), which is priced at US$230 retail. I quickly found the drive for US$169 after a US$50 rebate on Newegg.com. The drive has a zippy 170MB/sec. random read and a 100MB/sec. sequential write speed.

By comparison, Seagate Technology's Momentus 7200.2 2.5-in. hard disk drive has an average read speed of 69.5MB/sec. and a burst read rate of 214MB/sec. Unfortunately, Seagate does not release the sustained write rate on this drive. In another comparison, Computerworld tested Lexar Media's Crucial 2.5-in. 64GB SSD drive (Model CT64GBFAA0US). That drive has an average random read rate of 100MB/sec. and a sustained sequential write rate of 35MB/sec. The drive retails for US$699.99 -- so it's out of the running.

According to Meng Jay Choo, marketing manager at Patriot Memory, his company's low SSD drive prices can be attributed to 25 years in the flash memory business with plenty of high-volume suppliers. Choo's comments were echoed by other vendor's managers, including one at Transcend Information.

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