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 10/14) to consider when buying an SSD. SMB and Enterprise 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 - The Samsung SSD 850 Pro is drive that can compete at the top (just like its predecessor, the Samsung SSD 840 Pro), offering a complete in-house solution filled with Samsung components through and through. In addition, the SanDisk Extreme Pro is also a great solution with an industry best 10-year warranty.
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 certainly 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 top choice is the Samsung EVO that uses TLC NAND to keep prices down while driving tremendous performance, in some cases more than that of the performance drives listed above. OCZ's latest entry mainstream entry with the Vertex 460 is also a good choice, matching the EVO on price but using higher grade MLC NAND. The MX100 is always a good low cost option, and though it doesn’t offer much in performance gain, the MX100 does provide enterprise-grade data protection features like power fail protection at a price that is under $.50/GB. This makes for a great option for those who care more about data integrity than raw performance. Lastly, the OCZ ARC 100 offers the benefits of an SSD performance with an aggressive price point.
mSATA- The mSATA class of SSDs designed for ultra-thin portables and embedded solutions. While there are a number of products in the market, only a few are special. The Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SSD is the top performing drive of this form factor, offering class-leading performance and capacity for those wanting the absolute best of both worlds. The Intel SSD 525 is another top-class performer with a pedigree of reliability and compatibility while the Plextor M5M also provides very good performance and is a viable option as well.
PCIe - While there appear to be several options in this category, many are from brands you've never heard of and almost all fail to make complete use of the PCIe interface. The OCZ Storage RevoDrive 350 is an exception, posting the fastest throughput for a workstation-class product at a reasonable price point. Unfortunately it tops out at just under 1TB.
3.5" Desktop Hard Drives
Enthusiast - Our current top choice for consumer performance hard drives is the newly revised WD Black 4TB. It's simply faster than all other 4TB desktop drives in every single benchmark. When lower cost is required, the Hitachi Deskstar 7K4000 is still a very good option.
Mainstream – As SSDs are now the main focus of mainstream system builds, we are seeing fewer and fewer new releases of Hard Disk Drives. However, we still have our favorites - for always-on applications like home servers, the Seagate Barracuda LP and the Seagate Desktop HDD15 are a nice choices due to their lowest in class idle power consumption. If you want to take the step up to a 4TB drive, look at the new 4TB Hitachi Deskstar 5K4000.
NAS HDDs - HDD vendors have started segmenting drives for specific use cases, NAS being one that has emerged in 2013. The WD Red and the Seagate NAS offer capacities up to 6TB and 4TB respectively and both are viable choices for NAS duty, though the Seagate drive tends to show a little better performance. WD also offers the Red in a 2.5 inch form factor.
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 (for 7mm design for the latest thinnest laptops) and 1TB (for 9.5mm design for maximum capacity) where the drive is able to effectively use its extra 4GB flash storage. The Seagate Desktop Hybrid and Toshiba SSHDs are also a way to give hard drive users a modest bump in speed.
Enthusiast - 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. The Cruicial MX100 SSD is also a good choice for consumers looking to upgrade their laptops to a solid-state based system, especially for those looking for good gaming performance.
High Capacity - The Samsung SpinPoint M9 holds the spot as best high-capacity 2.5-inch drives, offering 2TB of storage in a 9.5mm drive height, which is standard to almost all notebooks. In addition, 7200RPM performance models have reached as high as 1TB, such as the Seagate Momentus.
Standard 2.5" - While most products in this category are engineered for price point, there are a few that stand out. The Seagate Backup Plus Fast Portable is one of our class favorites for both its high capacity of 4TB and top performance. We also recommend the WD My Passport Pro, as it offers good performance, high capacity, and easy-to-use bundled software.
Wireless - The wireless portable drive market is aflood with options, but few really stand out and differentiate. The hard drive based models we like best is the LaCie Fuel, but it's followed closely by the Corsair Voyager Air and the Seagate Wireless Plus. All three are 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 swappable interface options. The LaCie owns best design and is ready to go for Apple devices out of the box. 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. For smaller capacity needs, there are several flash-based options that provide ease of use in a tiny package. Our favorites in this class are the SanDisk Connect, SanDisk Connect Media Drive and the Kingston MobileLite Wireless.
USB3 Flash Storage - Both the SanDisk Extreme PRO USB 3.0 Flash Drive and the Patriot Supersonic Magnum USB drive provide best in class performance, while the Corsair Flash Voyager holds its own against these top of the line flash drives and is an excellent, lower-cost alternative for professionals and enthusiasts. Those looking for enhanced security features (as well as performance) should consider the Kingston Secure USB Flash Drives with ESET USB 3.0.
Top-in-Class Memory Cards – It’s hard not to recommend the recent fleet of Samsung microSD/SD EVO and PRO cards, which have dominated in performance, reliability, and price categories, making them ideal for any high-end mobile device. For example, the new Samsung microSD PRO 32GB is built for performance and microSD EVO 32GB offers consumers a balance of price and speed. They have SD card iteration of their PRO and EVO line as well. Also recommended is the SanDisk Ultra Plus SD card due to its low price point and class-leading lifetime warranty.
For Compact Flash (CF) memory cards, we suggest you take a look at the lesser known, but high-performing, Komputerbay CF Professional 1000x.
Desktop Storage (DAS)
Performance – LaCie has thrived in this area due to the premium design and advanced technology used with all of their devices. That being said, the LaCie d2 Thunderbolt 2 is a very flexible solution, as it offers high capacity and an optional SSD upgrade kit to add serious performance; this makes it a perfect companion for media enthusiasts and professionals. Although a bit older, the LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 still provides some pretty impressive numbers with its two PCIe SSDs cranking out roughly 1300MB/s read performance. We also highly recommend the LaCie 5big Thunderbolt 2, as it offers users upwards of 30TB in capacity as well as great performance and a variety of RAID configurations. The G-Technology G-SPEED Studio 4-bay--a direct competitor to the 5Big--is also a very good DAS, providing consumers with a high capacity point, great performance, and a very easy-to-use RAID manager; all at a reasonable price.
Home/SOHO Network Storage
Smaller NAS (less than 5) – The QNAP TS-451 NAS is a powerful NAS for home, small, and medium businesses along with an HDMI port. As far as affordability and simplicity goes, the WD My Cloud Mirror (as well as its entire line of My Cloud devices) is a very competitively priced and robust NAS that has a consumer-centric feature-set as well as the easiest setup on the market. The Synology DS214se also fits this bill.