Solid State Drives
Without doubt, this has been our (internal) favourite upgrade for some time now.
Sure, putting a brand new £200 graphics card into a 2 year old machine is going to help make your games fly, but it’s not an overall sense of wonder – just a specific boost in a specific set of applications.
The reason SSD technology is so fascinating and exciting, is that it takes all of the hardware you already owned – then ‘gives it back to you’ with a completely different user experience.
The CPU you thought might be too slow, is suddenly fast enough and your frustration levels drop significantly.
In short, upgrading to a good SSD will actually make you smile.
Before we get to the actual winning units, we want to make a special mention of the OCZ R4 Z-Drives demonstrated to us at CeBIT last March. Seeing a system spend all day long moving a DVD’s worth of data back and forth, between a pair of Solid State Drives, in under 2 seconds was very impressive and, probably, a glimpse into the future.
For this category, we’ve chosen our overall performance favourite and a value option that will make your life better without breaking the bank. The same company is responsible for both and while OCZ has had plenty of drama behind the scenes in 2012, you can’t ignore the company’s ability to deliver market-leading product.
SSD Peak Performance
Choosing this winner is pure science. You can beat the scores using RAID arrays, but in a straight head-2-head fight, the winner is the 256GB OCZ Vector. While OCZ’s own Octane drives can take up to 20 seconds to load STALKER, the Vector manages it in just 15 seconds. All that power is available for less than £200 at the end of 2012.
SSD Value Option
With most traditional hard drives now under £100 online, our SSD Value choice needs to be under that figure. At the same time, space is important and we believe that you need at least 120GB to make this exercise worthwhile. On that basis, the strongest contender has to be the 240GB OCZ Vertex 2 drive that hit the shelves at just £88 for Christmas. Every other product in this report was released in 2012, but the price drop on the Vertex 2 (from over £500 at launch to under £90 today) is so strong, that it’s as if a new product has been launched.