Introduction

The biggest reason why SSDs have not become truly mainstream (yet) is price. While prices have come down significantly over the last year, you are are still paying roughly $0.75 per GB, whereas hard drives can usually bought for less than $0.10 per GB. For an enthusiast, it shouldn’t be a problem to pay up to ten times more per GB if it yields significantly better performance, but the consumer market is much harder to convince. Most aren’t ready spend hundreds of dollars on a single component, especially if there is a cheaper alternative that is sufficient. In this case, hard drives also offer more capacity, which can make it very hard for consumers to understand the benefits of an SSD.

Besides price, there is another problem. Most SSDs sold today are SATA 6Gbps but the vast majority of computers are only compatible with older and slower SATA 1.5Gbps and 3Gbps standards. That means consumers who don’t have a SATA 6Gbps compatible computer will not be able to take advantage of the extra IO bandwidth that the SATA 6Gbps SSDs offer, and it may feel pointless to pay for something you can’t use. Of course, there are previous generation SSDs that are SATA 3Gbps but they aren’t necessarily cheaper due to the use of more expensive NAND (2Xnm vs 3Xnm).

However, almost any SSD is faster than a traditional hard drive, be that 2.5” 5400RPM, 3.5” 7200RPM or even a 10,000RPM VelcoiRaptor. Crucial sees that there is a market for low-end SSDs, which are not as fast as today’s fastest drives but offer a more affordable $/GB ratio. The v4 SSD is specifically targeted at consumers with SATA 3Gbps and due to the usage of a cheaper controller, Crucial was able to price the drive below its 6Gbps counterparts...but is it priced low enough to really sell?

Crucial v4 Specifications
Capacity 32GB 64GB 128GB 256GB
NAND Micron 25nm synchronous MLC NAND
Controller Phison PS3105
Sequential Read 200MB/s 230MB/s 230MB/s 230MB/s
Sequential Write 60MB/s 100MB/s 175MB/s 190MB/s
4K Random Read 10K IOPS 10K IOPS 10K IOPS 10K IOPS
4K Random Write 1.2K IOPS 2.4K IOPS 4K IOPS 4K IOPS

Performance wise the v4 is significantly behind SATA 6Gbps SSDs. Sequential speeds are actually fairly normal for SATA 3Gbps SSDs but random speeds are awful to get straight to the point. Even the Intel SSD 320 has three to four times higher random read/write speeds and it's a year and a half old drive, so the random performance is really not good by today's standards. We'll soon see how the random speeds impact real world performance, but the specs aren't overwhelming.

NewEgg Price Comparison (11/22/2012)
Capacity 32GB 60/64GB 120/128GB 240/256GB
Crucial v4 $50 $65 $85 $160
Crucial m4 N/A $73 $110 $200
Samsung 830 N/A $70 $104 $200
Intel SSD 330 N/A $70 $104 $140
Plextor M5S N/A $50 $110 $200
OCZ Vertex 4 N/A $80 $75 $160
OCZ Agility 4 N/A $75 $95 $165
Mushkin Enhanced Chronos N/A $65 $100 $165

As for the pricing, the v4 is cheaper compared to it's big brother m4 but there are other, faster SSDs that offer similar pricing. For example the Mushkin Enhanced Chronos is only $5-15 more expensive depending on the capacity and there are others such as Kingston SSDNow V+200 and OCZ Agility 3 that are priced equivalently. Samsung's 830 drives are also regularly on sale, and we've seen the 128GB drive go for as little as $85 with the 256GB now routinely on sale for $170 or so (or $190 for the kit). Even if you're stuck with a 3Gbps SATA connection, it's a safe bet that $5 to $10 more will get you much better performance. How much better? We'll get to that on page three....

The Drive
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  • mattdobs - Thursday, November 22, 2012 - link

    Sounds like Crucial needs to buy OCZ's Indilinx controller to make a wining drive. Reply
  • extide - Friday, November 23, 2012 - link

    Uhhhh.... I don't think you get the point of this drive.... And they should definitely not buy an OCZ controller. Reply
  • Beenthere - Thursday, November 22, 2012 - link

    Almost no one could ever actually tell the performance difference between any SATA 2 vs. any SATA 3 SSD in actual use, unless you run the benches - which may be inaccurate as we see with compressible data and SandForce controllers. I suspect SSD makers have also learned how to inflate the numbers just as GPU makes have.

    That being said there is a price point at which people will buy anything they perceive is of value. ~$100 for an ~128 GB. SSD is enough for many people to buy. Quite frankly only a small percentage of consumers acuti\ully need a large capacity SSD/HDD. Most folks can get buy with 60-128 GB. capacity but naive consumers have been programmed to believe they need a 500 GB. drive. Few people do but when you can buy a 500 GB. HDD for $100 many people take the bait.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, November 22, 2012 - link

    "Few people do but when you can buy a 500 GB. HDD for $100 many people take the bait."

    How do you know what people need ? You don't.

    At any rate. I'd say many people who feel they need a SSD for $100 are swallowing the bait. hook, line and sinker. Until prices drop significantly. There are many reasons why to opt for more storage versus performance. Very few productive applications take advantage of that much disk performance. Unless you will propose that running multiple SSD's in one large RAID array to play the latest greatest game is something most consumers do . . . Or sit and stare at how fast windows boots.

    See, most people have a life that does not revolve around computers. Novel idea I know. Then when they do use a computer, they generally do not care if it takes a few extra seconds to load something from disk. But they *do* care if the disk they use wont hold their family pictures, videos, or audio collection.

    Also, you can buy a good 1TB 2.5" HDD for less than $100 now days . . .
    Reply
  • Chaser - Thursday, November 22, 2012 - link

    Anandtech consistently recommends not filling a SSD to capacity and leaving a portion of it unused for performance purposes. So for me I go with a 240GB SSD so that I don't have to "swap out" games. Yes I want higher performance in gaming with zone/instance loading etc.

    I ALSO use a 500GB magnetic drive as my media drive for docs, pics, music, data in general.

    So this is what I NEED and enjoy using.
    Reply
  • Zanegray - Friday, November 23, 2012 - link

    "Very few productive applications take advantage of that much disk performance. Unless you will propose that running multiple SSD's in one large RAID array to play the latest greatest game is something most consumers do . . . Or sit and stare at how fast windows boots."

    Honest question, have you used an ssd before? Because your post sounds like you've never touched one. Boot times are not the reason I run an ssd. I run an ssd because nearly every application benefits - from app start up to saving a file to browsing the file system to caches (you must use an Internet browser). SSD's are the new client side storage paradigm and until you realize that you are stuck in the past.
    Reply
  • Beenthere - Friday, November 23, 2012 - link

    SSDs are an "immature technology" as Anand has stated. While they can offer improved performance over a HDD, they still have teething issues in many cases. Until all of the Bugs are resolved, a lot of people will wait to upgrade as the hassles aren't worth the modest performance gain, based on my testing. Reply
  • extide - Friday, November 23, 2012 - link

    Sadly, you are doing it wrong if you are only getting a moderate performance increase. Terribly wrong :/ Reply
  • hp79 - Sunday, November 25, 2012 - link

    I only have one comment for you. You must be stuck in 2007. Reply
  • erple2 - Sunday, November 25, 2012 - link

    I think that you're right. The average consumer doesn't want the hassle of trying to remember where they put thing on which drive, plus have to manage the hassle of 2 drives. So until these are cheap at about 500 gigs (~$200), were stuck with the false promise of 120 gig ssd's.

    I have a laptop with a 160gig ssd plus a 250gig spindle drive, and I gave up on the general hassle of remembering what goes where and where I put things. I had to go to the internet to figure out "esoteric" windows CLI utilities to move my user profile to the magnetic drive (how freaking hard, Redmond, is it to mimic 'ln -s source destination'?????? Why are files treated any different than directories?????). And I'd consider myself a much more patient (and advanced) user than ordinary consumers. I now just do the uninstall/reinstall swap instead.

    I suppose that I mostly blame steam, but that's not fair for the finger pointing share.
    Reply

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