Even though there is a plethora of mechanical hard drives on the market that support the SATA-600 interface, we really need a solid state drive to make use of the bandwidth available. Today we are going to compare five different models from Crucial, Intel, Mushkin, OCZ, and OWC to see how they perform.

Recently, there has been a mass adoption of the SATA-600 interface by motherboard manufacturers thanks to native support in the latest chipsets from AMD and Intel. So if you’re going to be building a new system anytime soon, it’s likely that you’ll be able to make use of the extra bandwidth of SATA-600 over the previous generation SATA-300 interface.

Before continuing, we’d highly suggest that you read our Anatomy of SSD Units tutorial which provides all the background information you need to know about SSDs. The SSDs featured in this review use MLC memory chips.

In the table below, we compare all the drives we’re going to review. All five units use the standard 2.5” form factor and the SATA-600 interface. The Vertex 3 unit from OCZ is available in two slightly different models. We have the MAX IOPS version for testing today.

The advertised capacities of the drives on test vary slightly even though all of the drives on test feature the same number of memory chips. All five drives feature 256 GB of physical memory, but some of the manufacturers set aside a certain portion of the available memory for over-provisioning. This helps to improve the performance of the drive in the long run. The capacities of the five drives are displayed in the table below.

Manufacturer Model Model # Capacity Price
Crucial M4 CT256M4SSD2 256 GB USD 415
Intel 510 Series SSDSC2MH250A2K5 250 GB USD 580
Mushkin Chronos MKNSSDCR240GB-DX 240 GB USD 544
OCZ Vertex 3 MAX IOPS VTX3MI-25SAT3-240G 240 GB USD 560
OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G OWCSSDMX6G240 240 GB USD 549

Prices were researched at on the day we published this review. The Mushkin Chronos wasn’t available from at the time of review, so we took the price from

In the table below, we provide a more in-depth technical overview of the reviewed units. For some reason, most chip manufacturers don’t put on their websites specific information about these chips, so we are linking only what we found.

Model Controller Buffer Memory
Crucial M4 Marvell 88SS9174-BLD2 Micron IED22D9LGQ (256 MB) Micron 29F128G08CFAAB (16 x 16 GB)
Intel 510 Series Marvell 88SS9174-BKK2 Hynix H5TQ1G63BFR (128 MB) Intel 29F16B08JAMDD (16 x 16 GB)
Mushkin Chronos SandForce SF-2281 NA Toshiba TH58TAG7D2FBA89 (16 x 16 GB)
OCZ Vertex 3 MAX IOPS SandForce SF-2281 NA Toshiba TH58TAG7D2FBAS9 (16 x 16 GB)
OWC Mercury Extreme 6G SandForce SF-2281 NA Micron 29F128G08CFAAB (16 x 16 GB)

Henry has been taking apart computers since the age of 10, which eventually lead to a career in technology journalism. He’s written for numerous leading UK technology websites as well as writing advisory articles for Best Buy.