Why now's the time to go SSD

11th Jun 2012 | 10:34

Why now's the time to go SSD

Give your laptop or desktop the sold-state upgrade it deserves

Getting increasingly more for less is the trend that's underpinned pretty much all digital technologies since, well, forever. But, once in a while, something a little special happens to prices.

When it comes to solid state storage, that time is now. Prices in recent weeks have fallen faster than a disgraced politician's employment prospects.

As recently as late April, one of our favourite current drives, the Samsung 830 series in 128GB trim, cost £130. You can now pick one up for just £80. That's some discount.

The same goes for a wide range of drives from a number of the usual online retailers. And before you think it's just retailers offloading surplus stock, the price cuts include outfits who sell their own wares, including Crucial, who'll flog you one of their 128GB M4 drives for just £88.

What's more, with drives getting cheaper, it brings larger 240GB and 256GB drives well under £200, which helps diffuse the last remaining objection to solid state drives – the lack of capacity.

So why is this happening now? Well, supply and demand is obviously part of the explanation. Last autumn, a glut of DDR memory chips lead to tumbling RAM prices. That actually helps lower SSD prices as most drives have a few DDR chips on board.

It's time to get serious

But the bigger issue is falling prices for the flash memory chips that form the main storage of SSDs thanks to new production facilities coming on line and more dense chips lowering the cost-per-gigabyte.

But that's not all. Several sources have reported that the big players in the SSD game have decided it's time to get serious. Their aim is allegedly to trigger a price war that will force the small players out of the market.

Whether that's true or not, who can say. You certainly won't get SSD makers going on the record. But there's no doubting SSD prices have plummeted of late and that's great news whatever the true explanation.

Another interesting dimension here is relatively high prices for traditional magnetic hard drives. The explanation here is well known and largely involves natural disasters in Asian countries including Japan and Thailand. Hard drive prices today are probably double what they would be without the recent disruptions in production.

So, with hard drive prices inflated, SSDs look even better value. All of which just leaves on last question, will SSD prices fall even further and if so, should you hold out a little? My gut feeling is that we won't see further dramatic drops for a while yet. Which means now is probably the best time ever to buy an SSD.

If you're looking for simple advice regards which models to go for, my current favourites are the Intel 520 Series SSD, the Crucial M4 and Samsung 830. From that little bunch, a Samsung 830 128GB for £80 from Dabs.com is my pick. It's a fantastic deal.

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