SSD competition heats up as Crucial offer 480 GB for under £300/$380

Dave James at

They’re not as glamorous as a new graphics card, and not as ultimately vital as a processor, but a good solid state drive can make a big difference to your gaming PC. It’s also an incredibly easy upgrade and making the move from traditional spinning platter hard drives to an SSD will instantly make your machine feel faster.

Solid state drives have been around for a good while now, but they probably still represent the most volatile segment of the PC component market. For processors, motherboards and graphics cards the scene has shrunk down to just a few key players, but there are still a huge number of SSD manufacturers, each vying for dominance. You’ve got massive mega-companies, like Samsung, developing their own SSD hardware and comparatively tiny underdogs, like OCZ, beavering away on their own memory controllers and firmware. But it’s the Crucial M500’s price that has grabbed my attention. Could this be a sign that SSD's are moving toward a more affordable price point?

For less than £300 / $380 you’re looking at almost half a terabyte of quick solid state storage with the M500. You can also pick up 960GB M500 drives for less than £500 / $700. Granted, that’s still pretty pricey, but significantly cheaper than other performance drives of the same capacity. Worries about NAND Flash-based storage’s longevity can largely be tempered now too, with some drive manufacturers offering full five year warranties. That won't bring back any lost data, but shows how much faith they have in their drives now.

There’s also been some interesting experiments done about the impact larger amounts of system RAM have on SSD lifespans too over on Tom’s Hardware. They show just how having more RAM significantly cuts the amount of writes software has to do to your SSD. And the less writes it takes the longer those Flash chips are going to last.

So maybe there is a reason to have 16GB RAM in your gaming rig after all. How many of you have made the switch over to SSDs for your gaming machines? And if you haven’t, what's holding you back?