Grumpy-sysadmin SSD recommendations

I got asked on FT for some SSD recommendations, and since this got lengthy, I posted a really short answer there. Here’s the longer write-up, below the break:

There are a bunch of questions I’d normally ask before I make a recommendation:

1) Which is most important to you of the three factors I mentioned before:

* Price?
* Speed?
* Reliability?
2) Which is the second most important of that list?
3) If speed is a significant factor, is the difference between 480gb and 512gb worth giving up some speed for?
4) Do you need a 7mm drive, or does a regular 9.5mm drive fit your laptop?
5) Do you use full-disk encryption?
6) Do you deal with a lot of writing-out of encrypted or compressed files (e.g. video encoding) where performance is critical?

I’ll give a matrix below of 6 recommendations depending on the answers for 1 and 2, assuming the answer to the other 4 questions is all “no.”

Best price (reliability second): Samsung 840 (non-Pro) 500gb, $319 (via Amazon directly; slightly cheaper via a 3rd party seller)

Best price (performance second): SanDisk Extreme SSD 480 GB, $330 (this one is a REALLY good deal on for someone with a risk, although I have no track record with Sandisk on reliability,

Best performance (reliability second): Corsair Force Series GS, 480gb, $420

Best reliability (performance second): Samsung 840 Pro, 812gb, $449 (via Amazon directly; slightly cheaper via a 3rd party seller)

I’m a bit uncertain what to recommend for:
Best Performance (price second)” although Sandisk above or the Seagate 600 480gb are both worth looking at on this one.

Best Reliability (price second)“: depending on how important the pricing is as a second, either of the Samsungs would qualify.

You won’t go wrong with any of the drives mentioned above except maybe the Sandisk, and the amount of risk in a mature model (with a known controller — it’s Sandforce [no relation to Sandisk]) is pretty darn low.

There are exceptions based on the later question:
* if you really need 500gb+ and 480gb isn’t enough, that pretty much answers for you “get one of the Samsungs”

* if you need a 7mm drive, that pretty much answers for you “get one of the Samsungs” if performance isn’t your first consideration, or to look at a broader set of models if it is… (the Seagate, or the newer Corsair Neutron are worth looking at)

* If you were to answer “yes” to one of the last two questions (either use of full disk encryption, or very heavy writing out of encrypted or compressed files) AND performance was critical then you’d want to avoid the Corsair Force or Sandforce drives. They’re both fine for those applications, and the Sandisk is still likely to outperform the Samsung 840 (non-Pro) there at the low end of the price range, but this still would be a case where looking at other models would be in order.

I really like the LAMD controller, hence the Seagate 600/600 Pro or Corsair Neutron/Neutron would be my choice in those workloads.

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