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For a while it seemed everyone with a garage and a soldering iron was in the SSD business. Buy a controller, flash chips on the spot market, lay out a PC board and voila! you're golden.
Any SSD will outperform a hard drive for booting or application startup. But as the market matured users discovered that not all SSDs were created equal - and some vendors fell by the wayside.
STEC's stock price boomed then busted as its enterprise SSDs rose and fell. OCZ is hurting. Several controller vendors have been bought up - Sandforce by Sandisk LSI, for example - and others like Anobit went to system vendors like Apple.
Some vendors make a big deal out of the fact that they manufacture their own flash - and that doesn't hurt. But a number of SSD vendors have investments from major drive or chips vendors that give them the heft they need to get good parts.
Buying advice: While it is tempting to go for the highest data rates, they're not that important in the real world. The SSD's real advantage is fast random access time to small flies, which is why it speeds boot times. Performance is a given, so look at other factors such as warranties, MTBF and cost.
Another factor is thickness. The 7mm form factor has become popular. Since SSDs have no moving parts, they don't need the robust mounting that disks require, so you can drop a thinner SSD into a 9.5 or 12mm slot with some hook-and-loop fastener to keep it in place.
Now that the smoke is clearing, who makes good solid state storage? Here's my Top 10:
Samsung's 830 and 840 models. On the pricey side, but fast and reliable.
Intel's 520 and 335 series. Intel partnered with Micron on flash production, but they design some of their own controllers while using SandForce in these popular drives. The get good marks for reliability and tend to undercut Samsung on price. (updated to credit SandForce)
Crucial's M500 series. Fast, thrifty and reliable. Plus they have a 960GB version for a reasonable price.