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Monster Digital Daytona SSD review: Monster Digital Daytona SSD

Though great-looking, the Monster Digital Daytona drive in the end proves to be typical of solid-state drive experience, both in terms of cost and performance.

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Dong Ngo
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Dong Ngo

SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

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5 min read

Noticeably more affordable than the Le Mans drive, the new Daytona solid-state drive (SSD) from Monster Digital proves to be a better deal than its big brother, thanks to its at times better performance.

Monster Digital Daytona (120GB)
7.2

Monster Digital Daytona SSD

The Good

The shiny <b>Monster Digital Daytona</b> solid-state drive offers very good performance and is relatively affordable.

The Bad

Though good, the Monster Digital Daytona's performance and pricing could be a little better.

The Bottom Line

The Monster Digital Daytona will give you a typical solid-state drive experience both in terms of performance and cost.

However, the new drive is not exactly the best deal on the market. That's because its 120GB and 240GB capacities cost about $1 per gigabyte, which is the average, even among drives of much superior performance. If you really want to get a good deal out of the Daytona, you'd need to opt for its 480GB capacity, which costs $460, effectively less than $1 per gigabyte.

Those in the market for a 256GB or smaller drive should also check out the current top five SSDs while shopping.

Design and features

Drive type 2.5-inch 7mm Internal drive
Connector options SATA 3 (6Gbps), SATA 2, SATA
Available capacities 80GB, 120GB, 240GB, 400GB
Product dimensions 7mm thick, 2.5-inch standard
Capacity of test unit 480GB
OSes supported Windows, Mac, Linux

The Monster Digital Daytona comes in completely different packaging from the Le Mans; it's spartan with just the solid-state drive and a tiny warranty note on the inside. The new drive doesn't offer any software or accessories, such as a drive-bay converter or USB-to-SATA adapter. That said, the drive is packed in a nice gift-box-ready case that's similar to a jewelry case. Personally, I prefer its packaging than that of the Le Mans since it means there's much less trash to deal with once the drive is used.

Despite the lack of a drive-bay converter, you can still use the Daytona in a desktop by leaving it hanging inside the computer case. Like all SSDs, the drive has no moving parts and doesn't really need to be securely attached to the chassis.

Though the packaging is different, the Daytona drive itself is very similar to the Le Mans with its shiny, aluminum casing. In fact it's so nice that you might wish you could show it off, rather than keeping it hidden inside a computer. The drive comes in the new and increasingly popular 2.5-inch design that's 7mm thick. This means it will fit inside an ultraportable laptop computer as well as regular laptops that use a traditional 9.5mm-thick hard drive.

As with the Le Mans, Daytona does not come out of the box preformatted; it doesn't contain any data. This makes the cloning process faster since you don't need to erase the drive first. Like all internal drives, you'll need to be fairly comfortable with computer hardware to install it. If you need help upgrading your computer's main hard drive to an SSD, which is the main reason why you would want one, check out my how-to post on this matter.

The Daytona drive supports SATA 3 (6Gbps), but it also works with the SATA 2 (3Gbps) standard. In my trials, the drive worked with the Mac, PC, and Linux platforms.

Cost per gigabyte
When it comes to SSDs, the pricing is always the biggest concern; the good news is that the Daytona is indeed cheaper than the Le Mans. Compared with other drives on the market, however, it's not the best deal. The drive is available in 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB capacities. The first two currently cost about $130 and $240, respectively, effectively about $1 per gigabyte. The Corsair Neutron or the Samsung 830, for comparison's sake, cost just around 85 cents per gigabyte. The 480GB-capacity drive is slightly better. At $450, it's about 95 cents per gigabyte. But in this case, that's still a pretty big investment; 480GB might be more than you need or want to pay for.

Cost per gigabyte

Performance
I tested the 480GB-capacity model of the Daytona, and it exceeded my expectations for a somewhat entry-level solid-state drive. Note that in the world of SSDs, higher capacity can also mean better performance. Accordingly, the smaller-capacity Daytona drives might be slower, though not by much.

In data-copying tests, the new drive did very well, with 209MBps when used as a computer's secondary drive. This was in no way close to the fastest I've seen, but considering that this is not supposed to be a performance drive, it was very fast. In fact, it was faster than the 178MBps of the Le Mans, which costs more and is supposed to be a higher-tier drive.

When used as the main drive that hosted the operating system, and performed both writing and reading at the same time, the Daytona scored 108MBps, clearly slower than the Le Mans' 122MBps.

The drive indeed improved the system performance a great deal compared with a traditional hard drive. The test computer took just 12 seconds to boot up and about 8 seconds to shut down. All applications also took much less time to launch. This is typical when moving to an SSD from a traditional hard drive.

Compared with the rest of the 7mm SSDs on the market, the Daytona is about average in terms of performance.

Data-transfer scores (in megabytes per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
As secondary drive  
As OS drive  
WD VelociRaptor 300GB
112.59 
47.12 
Seagate Barracuda XT
115.71 
51.1 
WD VelociRaptor 600GB
126.33 
58.05 
Sandisk Ultra
96.4 
65.6 
Patriot Pyro
190.01 
76.44 
RunCore Pro V Max
186.78 
92.55 
OCZ Agility 3
207.75 
101.67 
Monster Digital Daytona
209.04 
108.32 
Plextor M3
221.98 
110.4 
Sandisk Extreme
234.15 
117.66 
Crucial M4
235.51 
117.99 
Monster Digital Le Mans
177.56 
121.11 
OCZ Octane
183.41 
135.43 
Corsair Neutron
237.69 
138.44 
Intel 520 series
230.01 
154.01 
Plextor M5 Pro
251.19 
155.65 
RunCore Pro V 7mm
236.71 
155.89 
Corsair Neutron GTX
273.62 
161.38 
OCZ Vertex 4
246.55 
168.36 
Samsung 830 Series
261.63 
172.88 

Boot and shutdown time (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shutdown  
Boot time  
Plextor M5 Pro
6.21 
11.1 
Monster Digital Daytona
8.21 
12 
Corsair Neutron
6.2 
12 
OCZ Vertex 4
6.8 
12 
OCZ Octane
6.3 
12 
Patriot Pyro
6 
12.5 
SanDisk Ultra
7.2 
13.5 
Crucial M4
6.8 
13.7 
OCZ Agility 3
6.7 
14.7 
WD VelociRaptor 300GB
12.2 
56.2 

Conclusion
With good performance and relatively friendly pricing (for a solid-state drive), the Monster Digital Daytona makes a very good upgrade for those currently use a standard hard drive for their computer's main storage.

Monster Digital Daytona (120GB)
7.2

Monster Digital Daytona SSD

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 7Performance 7Support 7
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