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Price watch: Time to buy a solid-state drive?

Solid-state drives for laptops have a lot of advantages but one big disadvantage: high prices. But SSD prices are sliding, making them worthy of consideration.


Solid-states drives are sexy for many reasons: They tend to be faster, lighter, more rugged, and cooler than their spinning-platter predecessors. Unfortunately, they've also carried a premium price tag. But that is starting to change.

According to DealNews, prices on 64GB SSD and 120GB SSDs have been steadily sliding, narrowing the price gap between them and standard disc drives (check out the DealNews story and chart for all the details). While the prices are still high compared with regular drives, with each passing month they become a more viable upgrade option.

Regular hard drives contain spinning platters and movable read/write heads. In comparison, an SSD has no moving parts, making it more energy efficient, quieter, and faster. You'll notice these differences in several ways. Computers boot up and wake faster, for example. Popular laptops like the MacBook Air come standard with SSDs and Apple proudly touts these advantages.

The lack of moving parts also makes them more rugged, a good quality for laptops.

"The price of SSDs are still very expensive," said Dong Ngo, who reviews storage devices for CNET. "Yes, they are cheaper now compared with a few years ago but still very expensive compared to regular hard drives and even system memory."

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But that's changing. In general, you can buy a 64GB SSD for about $50 and 128GB SSDs for less than $160. A year ago, a 64GB SSD was selling for nearly $100, and a 128GB drive for about $200 (although the price has been fluctuating, so it depends on when you buy it. In June, a 128GB SSD was nearly $200). By comparison, standard drives such as a traditional 2TB external hard drive can be purchased for $70, DealNews writer Louis Ramirez told CNET. That's 3.5 cents per GB, compared with 78 cents per GB for a 64GB SSD. Sure, there is a substantial difference in price per gig. But if you don't need all that space, then you can go with a sturdier and quieter SSD drive.

One SSD to watch out for is the Kingston SSDNow V-Series 64GB Serial ATA 3Gbp/s 2.5-inch internal solid-state drive, which is selling for only $94.95 with free shipping, though earlier this month, its price tag was as low as $50. But these days deals like this might be rare. Ngo said a good 128GB drive will likely cost $250.

So if you don't need a ton of space and want the benefits of an SSD, this a good time to start scanning the Web for price drops and rebates.