Leaderboard - Best Hard Drive, SSD and Storage Solutions
The StorageReview Leaderboard briefly describes the drives that we believe are the best in their given categories. Note, however, that these capsule comments are not a substitute for the full reviews of the drives. To help consumers better sort through the clutter, StorageReview has also put together a list of the most important SSD brands (updated 3/13) to consider when buying an SSD. SMB and Enteprise users may also be interested in our dedicated enterprise storage reviews section and upcoming storage webinars to further their storage education.
Be sure to view the drive reviews database for all of our detailed reviews.
SSD (Solid State Drives)
Performance - For those looking outside the SandForce box at SSD controller technologies with great performance, Corsair Neutron GTX shows dominating performance across the board. SandForce controllers remain a fan favorite though, if you want the best of the SF lot, look no further than the SanDisk Extreme SSD or the Intel SSD 520. Samsung's SSD 840 Pro is another new drive that can compete in the top space, offering a complete in-house solution filled with Samsung components through and through.
Mainstream - Buyers can now get a ton of value from mainstream SATA 6.0Gb/s SSDs as prices continue to come down. The biggest concerns for most SSD buyers are about reliability and perhaps a little less about top-tier performance. Not that SSDs in this class can't perform, they certianly do and most users won't "feel" that much of a difference between the performance SSD class and the more cost competitive mainstream category. Our current first choice is the Crucial M500 which is available in capacities up to 1TB, a first from a mainstream storage brand. The Kingston HyperX 3K is another good option for those who want a performance edge over the M500, but are willing to give up the top-side capacity and some endurance. Lastly the Intel SSD 335 is another good price/performance option, however it's only available in very limited capacity options including 180GB and 240GB. Also keep in mind that as new drives come out, prior generation SSDs can often be found on clearance as stock gets cleared out. The Crucial m4 is a good option in that case, as is the Samsung SSD 830.
mSATA- The mSATA class of SSDs are gaining populatity due to the growth in ultra-thin portables and embedded solutions. While the number of products in the space has exploded, only a few are special. The Intel SSD 525 is the class-leader in performance, reliability and compatibility though the Plextor M5M also provides very good performance and is a viable selection candidate as well.
Specialty- The OWC Aura Pro SSD is a high-performance 1.8" SSD that comes in capacities up to 480GB and features a SandForce SF-1200 processor. If you have break-neck speed in mind, look no further than the OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 which interfaces through an open PCI-Express slot to give speeds surpassing 1000MB/s.
3.5" Desktop Hard Drives
Performance - Our current top choice for consumer performance hard drives is the Hitachi Deskstar 7K4000. The 7K4000 outpaces all other consumer 4TB hard drives and maintains price parity, making it the easy choice for those who want a high-speed, high-capacity hard drive.
Low Power - Thankfully for consumers the green drive space has three very solid entries that when on sale, are all valid choices. However, we have favorites - for always-on applications like home servers, the Seagate Barracuda LP is a nice choice due to its lowest in class idle power consumption and the Western Digital Caviar Green earns a nod for high reliability. The fifth generation Caviar Green, which come in 2.5TB and 3TB capacities, while if you want to take the step up to a 4TB drive, look at the new 4TB Hitachi Deskstar 5K4000.
2.5" Notebook Hard Drives
Hybrid Hard Drives - Seagate is the first to re-enter the hybrid hard drive space with the Momentus XT. The drive comes in capacities up to 500GB and beats out all other notebook drives (the VelociRaptor too for that matter) in our real world tests, where the drive is able to effectively use it's extra 4GB flash storage. The 500GB model runs roughly $130, an excellent value for top-line performance. Seagate updated the original XT to the new 750GB Momentus XT, offering a faster SATA 6.0Gb/s interface and 8GB of flash storage.
Performance - In all of our testing, one notebook drive continues to rise to the top - the Western Digital Scorpio Black. After two years, the 320GB Scorpio Black is still a great drive, bested only by the recent release of its bigger brother, the 500GB Scorpio Black.
High Capacity - The Western Digital Scorpio Blue and Samsung SpinPoint M8 hold the spot as best high-capacity 2.5-inch drives. Offering the 9.5mm drive height standard to almost all notebooks, these models offer 1TB capacities with great compatibility. Recently even 7200RPM performance models have reached as high as 750GB, such as the 750GB Seagate Momentus.
Standard 2.5" - While most products in this category are engineered for price point, there are a few that stand out. The HGST G-Technology mini is our favorite in the class for both excellent build quality and the best performance in the class. The G-Tech tops out at 1TB though, for those who need more storage in a small package, the WD My Passport Studio line is also very nice to look at and tops out at 2TB.
Wireless - The wireless portable drive market is aflood with options, but few really stand out and differentiate. Two hard drive based models we like are the Corsair Voyager Air and the Seagate Wireless Plus. Both available in capacities up to 1TB, the Corsair is special because of the built-in NAS functionality and the Seagate gets points for excellent build and swapable interface options. The entire class though needs application development help and heavy users will find several gaps in use, but both excel in providing wireless access to files when on the go.
Windows To Go - There are two ways WTG has been implemented, usually it's on a flash drive, but there is also a hard drive based solution. Both the Kingston DataTraveler Workspace and the WD My Passport Enterprise provide good representations of what WTG can be; the Kingston in a portable USB form factor with flash storage and the WD with the much more capacious 500GB hard drive.
Home-Office/SMB Network Storage
0-2 Bay Home/Media NAS - This category includes network storage devices such as the Western Digital My Book Live or My Book Live Duo, packed with a single or dual low-power 3.5" hard drive. These systems like the Buffalo CloudStor don't require any network configuration by the end-user to get up and running. There are even models such as the PogoPlug Mobile that depend entirely on USB hard drives or memory cards plugged in for storage.
2-6 Bay Home-Office/Small-Business NAS - This category includes network storage systems with RAID functionality; including RAID5, RAID6, and RAID10 for performance and data integrity. Systems such as the 4-bay Synology DiskStation DS411+ or 6-bay Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra 6 offer top performance with a full range of features for home or business settings.