This is a high-level summary of the research I’ve done with the time I was able to dedicate. There is potential for much more in-depth research requiring a larger time commitment. Feel free to leave helpful comments!
There are three categories important to my research: Performance, Encryption and Price.
Tom’s Hardware provides a great, thorough and detailed listing of various performance benchmarks. The top five 256GB SSD drives as listed by Tom’s Hardware are:
1) OCZ Vector
2) Plextor M5 Pro
3) Samsung 840 Pro
4) OCZ Vertex 4
5) Corsair Neutron GTX
To help demystify the encryption features on these SSD drives I found two extremely helpful and detailed blog postings: SSDs with usable built-in hardware-based full disk encryption and Locking and unlocking an HDD with Dell Bios ATA password with hdparm.
The results from the SSDs with usable built-in hardware-based full disk encryption blog leave only one set of SSD drives that are known to have properly implemented hardware level encryption, the Intel series 320 and 520 SSD drives. Unfortunately, the Intel SSD drives aren’t on the top 5 list from Tom’s Hardware performance page and none of Tom’s top 5 SSD drives are mentioned in the usable built-in hardware-based full disk encryption blog posting positively. The OCZ series of drives are listed explaining that they more than likely do not properly implement the hardware disk-level encryption.
I reached out to OCZ support regarding the encryption provided on their OCZ Vector 256GB drive and with assistance from Dr Charl Botha, the author of the SSDs with usable encryption blog post, I was able to ask some great questions. As the full conversation turned out to be quite long, I’ve put it in a separate blog post titled: OCZ Vector 256GB SSD AES 256-bit Encryption Technical Details.
The end conclusion is that OCZ probably does properly implement the built-in hardware-based full disk encryption, but we don’t know for sure. The ideal confirmation would be provided by official documentation OCZ provides with the SSD drive.
If you want to reach out to OCZ, or any other manufacturer and confirm, feel free to leave an update in the comments!
The second helpful blog posting, Locking and unlocking an HDD with Dell Bios ATA password with hdparm, provides a great step-by-step walkthrough of the commands to execute using hdparm and the SSD to lock and unlock the drive.
There are two commonly trusted online retailers with a reputation for competitive pricing, Newegg and Amazon. To quickly research other competitors, a great tool is a simple search done through froogle.com (Google’s product search), which usually shows a good listing of competitors.
The OCZ Vector is offered for $265 at Amazon and $270 at Newegg, but with a recent 15% off promotion at Newegg, the price comes to $230.
The Samsung 840 Pro is offered for $220 at Newegg and $230 at Amazon.
The best 256GB SSD drive currently on the market that possibly offers proper hardware disk-level encryption and has the most competitive price is either the OCZ Vector with promotion discount for $230 at Newegg or the Samsung 840 Pro for $220 at Newegg.