A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and this has been true for desktop and laptop computers more than many realize. There's no refuting that the slowest part of a computer system is its storage system.

Before you can use your applications - whether it's your favorite game or your favorite word processor- you first need to load that program into memory. No matter how fast your new CPU is, your hard-drive will introduce delay orders of magnitude greater than anything else in your digital world.

Solid state drives (SSDs) are changing all of this by storing data on chips, instead of rotating platters. Now with more down-to-earth prices and exceptional performance, they are moving into the mainstream.

Whether upgrading to an SSD or ordering your new computer pre-built with one, you'll get instant gratification as you experience an immediate and noticeable impact on everything your computer does.

Having been out for a few years, a few gripes have kept it from being embraced by the masses, however.

The first is hardly a surprise - cost. Ushering in anything promising to solve the woes of a previous technology is usually met with a high price tag, and SSD's are no exception to the rule.

Last year, Intel launched a major volley into the consumer SSD market, releasing the X25-M at a price point of near $1,000. Even a year later, Intel's SSD is among the tops in performance, while maintaining a respectable premium.

Compare this with a standard mechanical drive that can be purchased with comparable space at less than $100, all but the most extreme user would find the cost hard to justify.

The second impediment is surprisingly quirky performance. Though fast in raw operations, like reading and writing, many of the first generation SSD drives suffered in real-world environments.

A sample drive we received from US-based Patriot Memory aims to address both of these.

The new Torqx SSD utilizes a technology from South Korea based Indilinx that works better than what we've seen in first generation SSD's. In our tests there was no system-stutter, and even the most strenuous workloads were met with ease.

The true test of the drive comes after several weeks of usage. Because of the way SSD drives work, they will slowly degrade in performance over time.

Putting the drive to the test, we put it into a number of mainstream business class laptops, including Lenovo's Thinkpad T60, Sony's Vaio Z590 and Hewlett Packard's EliteBook 2530.

In all systems the Torqx does extremely well and works roughly as advertised in our benchmarking.

At $399, the Torqx is still at the high-end of the price spectrum, however, the Torqx provides the performance of top-notch SSD's at a fraction of the price.