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When it came to putting together a list of SSDs for your latest upgrade, one name that you could easily overlook until recently was Samsung. Compared to its rivals in the marketplace the company hardly trumpeted its solid state storage products.
Samsung's SSD 830: 256GB is an affordable and versatile upgrade
Yet early in 2011, all that lurking in the shadows stopped when Samsung launched the SSD 470, which was well received and offered pretty good performance and value for money, but it was soon overshadowed by SSDs featuring the latest generation of Sandforce drivers.
Back with its latest SSD 830 series, Samsung has upgraded its controller speed that, along with a Sata 6Gb/s interface and a host of tools, keep that fresh out-the-box performance. Indeed, Samsung appears ready seriously slug it out with the Sandforce drives.
A 512GB model is available, if you've the cash to spare
The Samsung SSD 830 is currently available in the usual capacities; from 64GB to the flagship 512GB drive. On test here is an early example of the 256GB model, so it didn't come with any retail packaging but the drives are available in two versions: one for notebooks and one for desktops. The drives are the same in both instances; it's just the hardware bundle that differs between the two.
The notebook version includes a handy USB interface and software for migration
Regardless of version, it comes bundled with a full version of Norton's Ghost 15 and Samsung's own Magician software, which has a number of tools to keep your drive in tip-top condition. If you are the world's largest memory manufacturer you're not about to start throwing money at your rivals to develop a memory controller so as with the 470 SSD, the controller is one of Samsung's own design.
The major improvement of the new S4LJ204X01-Y040 chip over the one looking after the 470 is its Sata 3 6Gb/s interface. While old mechanical drives are hard pushed to get anywhere near the bandwidth limit of the original Sata specification, let alone Sata 3Gb/s, the same cannot be said for SSDs. The performance of solid state storage is now almost saturating the Sata 6Gb/s bandwidth limit – so much for future proofing.
A homegrown controller and all the chips are one side of the PCB
Just like the 470, all the rest of the 830 internals are Samsung as well; eight 32MB NAND 25nm (K9PFGY8U7A-HC K0) memory chips provide the capacity while 256MB of on-board DDR2 cache helps with handling small files. All the chips are built on to one side of the PCB, unlike its predecessor that used both side of the board.
First off, I performed some real life testing up against one of its Sata 3, the OCZ Vertex 3 equipped with the latest Sandforce controller. Installing Windows 7 64-bit from a USB DVD drive took 14mins for both drives. Installing MS Office 2010 Pro proved quicker on the Samsung at 4mins 20s, the OCZ trailing behind at 4mins 30s.
AS SSD and CrystalDiskMark 3 scores
When copying 100GB folder of mixed sizes and types of files the performance of the drives was more in pronounced. The Samsung 830 clocked up 9mins 50s, the OCZ Vertex 3 rolled in at 12mins 24s and just for good measure I checked out the Sata 2 Samsung 470 too, which took 23mins 15s.
Evidently, Samsung has made a good job of building the uprated controller in the 830. If the performance of the OCZ Vertex 3 is anything to go by, then it's certainly more than a match for the Sandforce SF2000 controlled drives. The last test shows the true value of the Sata 3 6Gb/s interface over the previous Sata 2 3Gb/s one. The 830 copies the file folder in well under half the time of the 470.
CrystalDiskMark 3 Results
Data throughput in Megabytes per Second (MB/s)
Longer bars are better
Samsung quotes sequential read and write figures for the SSD 830 256GB version at 520MB/s and 400MB/s respectively, and judging from the ATTO benchmark results that pretty much on the money and in fact the review drive managed to squeeze out a few more MB/s for both read (546MB/s) and writes (408MB/s) above Samsung's figures.
Both the read and write figures drop a little during the more demanding AS SSD, CrystalMark and HD Tach benchmarks, but still are pretty impressive.
Mounting brackets are included in the desktop version
I really like Samsung's SSD 830 and it shows that its predecessor, the SSD 470 was no flash in the pan. While it may be more expensive than, for instance OCZ's Vertex 3, it does come bundled with some powerful and very useful utilities. Moreover, in terms of performance, the Samsung SSD 830 delivers some serious competition to its Sandforce equipped rivals. ®