One of the most exciting advancements in consumer electronics is the introduction of affordable solid-state drives, or SSDs. Solid-state drives are used for storage in your computer just like traditional hard drives, but SSDs are a great deal faster for reading and writing files. While traditional hard drives have to mechanically seek data out and can take several seconds to find a file while the disk spins up, an SSD will only take a few milliseconds to perform the same task. SSDs also lack moving parts, which removes the potential for mechanical failure.

Cheap 120gb SSDs are excellent entry points if you’re interested in trying one out. SSDs have not quite reached the large capacities of hard drives, so SSDs are best used to store large programs and files that you have to access quite often, such as your operating system, games or high-definition video. A good entry-level option is the Sandisk Ultra II 120gb model. At less than $60, this is a cheap option that will let you experience the advantages of an SSD without breaking the bank.

Another great option is the Samsung 840 Series. Samsung has built a reputation on reliability and quality, and their SSDs are no exceptions. This model runs about $100, but its great performance makes it another good pick as a cheap 120gb SSD, especially if you want to go with an established brand.

The OCZ Technology Vertex 4 is also a popular model and noted for their long-lasting warranties and low price, running just under $100. Users can expect great reliability since OCZ is a subsidiary of Toshiba.

Practically every computer user will benefit from a new solid-state drive. One of the most visible improvements is the radical improvement in computer startup and shutdown times. A traditional hard drive will usually take at least a minute to boot up and load your operating system, but an SSD can get those boot times down to just a few seconds. Even older computers will benefit from the incredible speeds of a solid-state drive.