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Top 5 solid-state drives: It's upgrade time

CNET editor Dong Ngo picks the best solid-state drives (SSDs) currently on the market.

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.
Dong Ngo
3 min read

Editors' note: This post was originally published on March June 25, 2015 and is periodically updated.

Officially, solid-state drives (SSDs) are no longer too expensive. Some even consider them affordable now with the 1TB capacity going for somewhere between $250 and $350. Less capacities are even cheaper, costing as low as $40 for 120GB. Bottom line is they are totally worth the investment.

This is especially true if you still use a regular hard drive inside your computer. Replacing that hard drive with an SSD will be the most satisfying upgrade, and it will boost your rig's performance so significantly that you'll ask yourself why you didn't do it sooner.

When it comes to getting an SSD, the larger the capacity is always better. But if you can't afford that, get one with a small amount of storage space as your main drive to hosts the operating system and software, and use a regular hard drive as storage space for your data. If your computer can house only one drive, which is the case with most laptops, a good rule is to get an SSD that has at least 40 percent more storage space than the amount of data you have on your existing hard drive.

There are a lot of SSDs on the market, with different brands and models. To make it easy for you, these are the top five that you won't go wrong with. They are sorted in the review order with the most recent review on top. Get one today and make upgrading your weekend project, though the process should actually take just an hour or so.

Josh Miller/CNET

Transcend SSD370S

With its two largest capacity drives (512GB and 1TB) costing just $150 and $320, respectively, the Transcend SSD370S has set a new low in SSD pricing: less than 30 cents per gigabyte. The low price doesn't mean it's a cheap internal drive, however. In my testing, it ranks among the fastest, and also had a good set of features and very high endurance. Overall, this is an excellent buy. Read the full review of the Transcend SSD370S.

Josh Miller/CNET

Crucial MX200

The Crucial MX200 is a consumer-grade SSD that includes helpful enterprise-class features. The drive is designed to last a long time and comes with features to protect data in case of sudden power loss. In our testing, the drive also delivered very fast performance. The MX200 is available in 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB capacities, but if you want the 750GB capacity, the MX300 an excellent alternative. Alternatively, if you want. Read the full review of the Crucial MX200.

Dong Ngo/CNET

Samsung SSD 850 Evo

The 850 Evo is the budget version of Samsung's SSD 850 Pro below. Budget because it's cheaper and has a shorter warranty period, but that doesn't mean this is an entry drive. The 850 Evo shares the same feature set as the 850 Pro, including the RAPID mode, which uses the host system's RAM as a cache to increase performance. And in testing, it proved to be quite a formidable challenger to high-end SSDs. Recently, Samsung also announce the latest 4TB version of the drive, making it the highest capacity standard SSD on the market. Read the full review of the Samsung SSD 850 Evo.

Dong Ngo/CNET

Samsung SSD 850 Pro

Available in up to 2TB, the 850 Pro is the top-tier SSD on the market, offering top speed as well as a 10-year warranty (the longest available). It competes against the SanDisk Extreme Pro below. While it's not among the most affordable, at a price of around 40 cents per gigabyte, it's still quite a good buy for those wanting a top-notch standard SSD. Read the full review of the Samsung SSD 850 Pro.

Dong Ngo/CNET

SanDisk Extreme Pro

The SanDisk Extreme Pro is the first SSD on the market to come with a 10-year warranty. The drive also has some of the best performance, making it a serious rival to the Samsung SSD 850 Pro, shown above. Read the full review of the SanDisk Extreme Pro.