VPS Comparison: Vultr vs. Digital Ocean vs. Linode vs. SSD Nodes

2018 VPS Comparison: Vultr vs. Digital Ocean vs. Linode vs. SSD Nodes

Posted by Joel Hans on Jan 17, 2018

Looking for a new virtual private server (VPS)? Whether you want a development area to play around in or your business has outgrown shared hosting, a VPS is an excellent investment—if you know where to put your money. We’ve found plenty of VPS comparison posts out there, but they’re all faulty in some way. How so?

They don’t include us.

I’m being a little snarky here, but it’s frustrating when writers repeatedly ignore us when compiling comprehensive VPS comparisons. We get it—it’s easier to focus on only the most prominent players and leave out the rapidly-growing competition—but we feel as though too many people are making fast decisions based on the idea that there’s only a handful of VPS hosting providers out there.

We felt like it was about time to showcase how we stack up against the biggest names in cloud hosting.

Here’s a couple of things to keep in mind moving forward:

  • We’re looking at the 8GB RAM plans from each provider. We think 8GB is a perfect middle ground between performance and reasonable cost.
  • All of these prices are for unmanaged servers, which means you are responsible for installing applications and maintaining your server. Managed services, where an IT team helps you with installation and maintenance, are another matter entirely.
  • Each plan utilizes shared resources, which means your server runs alongside many other servers on a single host. Dedicated resources are, again, a different topic.
  • All providers offer full root access.
  • Every plan provides a few different operating system (OS) options, including Ubuntu, Debian, and CentOS.

We’ve decided to skip many of the subjective measures in this VPS comparison, such as who has the best technical support or who has the prettiest dashboards. There’s no real way to quantify those, and we prefer to stick to objective fact. Namely, four essential questions:

  1. How much disk space, transfer, and CPU does each 8GB RAM plan come with?
  2. What are the prices for each plan?
  3. How does each plan perform in benchmarks?
  4. Which plan offers the best value?

January 17, 2018: We just updated this post with new data, new benchmarks, and new prices based on recent changes from a few of the included hosting providers.

What does each plan offer?

Let’s get a baseline for what we’re looking at with the 8GB servers from these various providers.

8GB plans Vultr Digital Ocean Linode SSD Nodes
CPU 4-core 4-core 4-core 4-core
Disk 100GB SSD 160GB SSD 96GB SSD 40GB SSD
Transfer 4TB 5TB 4TB 4TB
Price $40/mo $40/mo $40/mo $8.99/mo

Time for some benchmarks!

Now, we took a slightly different approach to benchmarking than you might see in other comparisons. Instead of buying a server at each of these providers and seeing how performance stacks us, we instead relied on scores uploaded to ServerScope. Why? We felt as though these results, submitted by actual users at each provider via a script that normalizes the benchmarks, providers more objective results.

ServerScope benchmarks look at a few crucial aspects of server’s performance:

  • A speedtest benchmark to see how quickly you can upload files to the server.
  • A bandwidth test to measure download speeds from a major CDN.
  • Disk speed using dd.
  • Disk I/O with fio.
  • And a comprehensive Unixbench score, which aggregates results from numerous tests into an easy-to-understand score.

Again, using the 8GB plans as our baseline, we found ServerScope benchmarks for each of the plans in question.

Vultr Digital Ocean Linode SSD Nodes
Disk read 3544 MB/s 3100 MB/s 4892 MB/s 8000 MB/s
Disk write 1293 MB/s 1034 MB/s 1336 MB/s 1940 MB/s
dd (64K/32K)/(1M/2048) 278 MB/s / 190 MB/s 198 MB/s / 566 MB/s 537 MB/s / 538 MB/s 1.2 GB/s / 1.3 GB/s
Read IOPS 907504 793776 1282662 2097254
Bandwidth 1441.77 Mbit/s 1232.29 Mbit/s 1062.98 Mbit/s 268.87 Mbit/s
Speedtest 529.32 Mbit/s 310.53 Mbit/s 413.03 Mbit/s 133.2 Mbit/s
Unixbench 3070.5 2378.4 3492.1 3920.9

The results are pretty clear: while Vultr takes the lead when it comes to network bandwidth in and out of their Atlanta data center, SSD Nodes wins in every other category.

And here’s are the links to each test result:

Calculating the value of each plan

We’ve already demonstrated that SSD Nodes features impressive disk I/O and a strong aggregate Unixbench score, but raw speed is only part of the equation. You probably want to ensure that you’re getting the most for every dollar you spend on your cloud hosting, just as you would with any other purchase. Most other comparisons skip value, but not us.

How much RAM do I get per dollar?

Having enough RAM is incredibly important to the performance of your VPS, so it makes sense that you want as much RAM as possible without spending too much.

Using the same 8GB plans and prices listed above, we can calculate the following RAM per dollar figures. It’s a simple equation: (8 / $plan-cost) * 1000. Why multiply by 1000? That’s to convert from GB to MB.

Vultr Digital Ocean Linode SSD Nodes
RAM (MB) per dollar ($) 200 MB/$ 200 MB/$ 200 MB/$ 890 MB/$

How much performance do I get per dollar?

We can carry over the same fundamental idea to other benchmark results, like the Unixbench score.

Vultr Digital Ocean Linode SSD Nodes
Unixbench per dollar ($) 76.76 59.46 87.3 436.14

Or, if you prefer to talk more specifically about disk performance, input/output operations per second (IOPS):

Vultr Digital Ocean Linode SSD Nodes
IOPS per dollar ($) 22687.6 19844.4 32066.55 233287.43

Wrapping up

Obviously, there are a lot more factors that go into your VPS choice than raw speed, price, and value. A lot of the equation depends entirely on how you’re going to use your VPS. The needs of a single WordPress site are considerably different than the needs of a startup’s SaaS platform with 10,000 concurrent users. Some applications demand unique features, like load balancers, while others will work exceptionally well on whatever company is the cheapest.

There are some other questions to consider:

  • What platform does the provider use? Xen, OpenVZ, KVM?
  • Which platform features do you actually need? Do you need to run that obscure Linux distribution, or is Ubuntu 16.04 fine?
  • Do you need partially- or fully-managed service?
  • What do others think about the service?
  • Has the provider been around for a while?

Whether this is the beginning or the end of your VPS research, we hope you take these benchmarks and value calculations into account alongside the above questions. The last thing you want is to invest your hard-earned money only to realize it’s not what you need after all.

We hope this helps address at least some of the issues around picking a VPS provider. If you have any questions for us, feel free to ask in the comments!


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