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 1/14) 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, the OCZ Vector, Corsair Neutron GTX and Seagate 600 show great 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 Intel SSD 530. Samsung's SSD 840 Pro is another drive that can compete at the top, 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 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 Crucial M500 is a reliable choice and can be a great value depending on market pricing.
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 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.
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.
NAS HDDs - HDD vendors have started segmenting drives for specfic use cases, NAS being one that has emerged in 2013. There are currently two offerings, the WD Red and the Seagate NAS. Both are offered in capacities up to 4TB and both are viable choices for NAS duty, though the Seagate drive tends to show a little better performance.
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. The hard drive based models we like best is the LaCie Fuel, but it's followed closely by the 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 swapable 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.
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.
Desktop Storage (DAS)
Performance - There is only one drive that can be considered for this category, the newly released LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2. While there are few systems that offer Thunderbolt 2, the drive provides some pretty impressive numbers for the less fortunate Gen1 systems as well. Two PCIe SSDs are inside the LBD, cranking out roughly 1300MB/s read performance.
Home/SOHO Network Storage
Small Home/Media NAS - We're big fans of pretty much anything Synology in the small NAS category like the DS1513+, but the new line of My Cloud devices from WD are very simple to use and have great tools for remote access from just about any device. Available in a single-bay form factor today, we should see a more data secure two-bay version shortly.