The words "cheap" and "SSD" don't tend to cluster together all that much, which is a shame because many people would love to upgrade their tech with cool-running, fast-accessing solid-state storage. OCZ promised to (almost) change things, with their Core Series line of drives: the predicted retail prices are $169, $259 and $479 for 32GB, 64GB and 128GB respectively, with read transfer rates of over 100MBps and sub-1ms seek times. Bold claims, and Laptop Mag have had the 64GB model in recently to see if OCZ really have kicked off the age of affordable SSDs.
Initial benchmarks suggested average read-rates of between 89.5 and 112.4Mbps, while seek times ranged from 0.5 to 1ms. Burst rates occasionally exceeded 120Mbps. That compares strongly to standard 5,400rpm notebook drives; Laptop Mag quote the Western Digital Scorpio Blue, which managed around 46MBps with a seek time of over 17ms.
In real-world tests, the SSD didn't have a significant effect on Windows Vista boot time, but launching Word 2007 or Adobe PDF Reader happened in half the time of the Western Digital HDD. Other apps, such as Photoshop CS3 and Firefox 3, showed less of a difference, while a 5GB file transfer was only just faster than the Scorpio Blue managed.
It's early days for testing, but the results seem to be promising. SSD won't offer madly improved performance across the board, but it will undoubtedly have an effect on battery life and - depending on what apps you regularly use - the amount of time you generally sit around waiting for common software to load. If OCZ can bring that in significantly cheaper, then that has to be a good thing.