Solid State Drives still command a hefty premium, but they're far more attainable now than they were at the end of 2008. They offer significant performance gains over traditional hard drives, and particularly in notebooks, they can really change the feel of a machine.
Intel's 34nm X25-M Gen 2 SSD is the best all-around SSD this year. It had some issues out of the gate, but Intel has worked hard to remedy those problems (and has largely succeeded). Our own testing showed impressive benchmark results, and the comparatively low prices put them in reach of nearly any enthusiast willing to make the investment necessary for a serious boost in performance
Intel X25-M Gen 2
OCZ Technology's Vertex Series was actually introduced late last year, but they weren't widely available to the public until 2009. These SATA II 2.5" drives strike a decent balance between power and price, but they're clearly designed for premium users. Boasting 64MB of cache, blazing 200MB/sec read and 160MB/sec write speeds and capacities of 30GB, 60GB, 120GB, and 250GB, this is the drive to get if you're looking to treat yourself to an upgrade.
OCZ Vertex Series
What could be better than a Vertex? A Vertex Turbo! These SATA II 2.5" SSDs ship with a proprietary firmware and 64MB of 180MHz DRAM cache, and they promise read and write speeds clocking in at up to 270MB/s read and 210MB/s write. Available in capacities of 30GB (32), 60GB (64), 120GB (128), and 250GB (256), these also come with a 3-year warranty.
OCZ Vertex Turbo
SSDs may be all the rage, but let's face it: they're both expensive and offer low capacities. If you're in need of a spacious (yet quick) conventional hard drive, we're glad to say that the storage mainstays haven't given up on those platters just yet. Below are our favorite three hard drives from 2009.
Western Digital's 2TB Caviar Black HD gets the nod. With a 7200rpm spindle speed, 2TB of storage capacity and a knack for blasting through benchmarks, the only thing sweeter is the reasonable price tag (relatively speaking, of course). If you're looking for the largest and fastest single internal HD the market has to offer, your search ends here.
WD Caviar Black 2TB
It's not the cheapest way to get 2TB of space into your new desktop rig, but it's one of the fastest. With an MSRP of $299, the 2TB Barracude XT drive takes advantage of the new SATA 6Gbps standard, but you'll need to ensure you snag a motherboard that supports that. It also maintains backward compatibility with the SATA 3Gb and SATA 1.5Gb interfaces, but be honest, you're not buying this to use with some transfer tech from yesteryear.
Seagate Barracuda XT
WD Caviar Black 640GB
With strong performance in its own right, the 640GB edition of WD's Caviar Black is the bargain choice for those who can't quite justify the price on those 2TB options. This 3.5" drive may be smaller in capacity, but it still packs 32MB of cache, a 7200RPM spindle speed, and offers great performance for the money.