When we did this shootout last year, we remarked that prices of SSDs have fallen dramatically, to record lows even, making them more accessible to even mainstream users. In the past year, we saw prices of SSDs stabilizing and also noted several trends in the industry.
Although 2013 saw lesser new SSDs being released, we observed that these new drives are moving away from SandForce's very popular SF-2281 controller. SanDisk’s new Extreme II SSD, for instance, which used to be powered by SandForce's SF-2281 controller is now running on a Marvell controller.
We also saw the entry of Seagate into the consumer SSD space with their Seagate 600 SSD. Obviously, Seagate is, along with Western Digital, one of the two biggest manufacturers of mechanical hard disk drives and their entry into this space is an indication that the SSD market is too big for them to ignore.
Finally, towards the end of the year we saw OCZ file for bankruptcy and was subsequently acquired by flash memory giant Toshiba. Considering the number of players in the market, could this be the beginning of the consolidation of the SSD business as so many have predicted earlier? Only time will tell.
This year, we are pitting no less than eight of the fastest and newest drives against each other. Some of them might seem familiar to you, such as the Corsair Neutron GTX and OCZ Vector, but we are including these drives because they have been refreshed, either with new firmware or memory. To be clear, to make the cut, the drive has to be from the company’s high-end range, be introduced or refreshed within last year, offered in 240GB, 250GB or 256GB capacities and have a SATA 6Gbps interface.
Here are the list of contenders:
In the following pages, we will be describing the drives in greater detail.