We've taken a look at a lot of SSDs in the past year or so here at OC3D, and whilst the controller used can vary wildly between models, we nearly always see the NAND Flash being provided by Samsung.
Of course Samsung are a huge name in the electronics industry, supplying everything from cameras to giant plasma screens. It's their RAM department that we most often come across. Not only do they provide the RAM chips that are in the vast majority of DIMMs, but most of the SSD RAM too. So rather than constantly provide to third parties, Samsung have branched out into producing their own range of Solid State Drives.
Today's review is of their high-end model, the 830. This is available in a variety of sizes from 64GB up to a whopping 512GB and takes advantage of the 6Gbp/s available from SATA3 to hopefully provide huge read and write speeds. The model on test is the 256GB, which nicely balances between price and capacity.
As well as 256GB of storage, the 830 comes with Samsung 256MB of DDR2 cache, Samsung's S4LJ204X01-Y040 controller and eight of their popular HCK0 NAND Flash chips. There is no denying that they've grasped the opportunity to keep everything in house with both hands.
- Samsung SSD 830 Series
- Capacity: 256GB
- Form Factor: 2.5 inch
- SATA 6Gb/s (Compatible with SATA 3Gb/s and SATA 1.5Gb/s)
- Samsung Magician software for SSD management
- Samsung Toggle DDR NAND Flash memory
- Samsung 3-core MCX Controller
- Samsung 256MB DDR2 SDRAM cache memory
- Dimension : 100 x 69.85 x 7mm
- Weight: 62.5g
- Sequential Read: Up to 520MB/s
- Sequential Write: Up to 400MB/s
- Random Read: Up to 80000 IOPS
- Random Write: Up to 36000 IOPS
Usually SSDs come in pretty basic packaging. However the 830 comes in a very nice box. All the important information is clearly on display and the whole thing is very classy indeed.
There is a surprising amount of accessories included in the package. As well as a Molex to SATA cable and SATA cable, we have a 2.5" to 3.5" adaptor and plentiful screws to connect the drive to the plate. Software is a copy of Norton Ghost and the Samsung Magician software.
The drive itself is gorgeous. The top is a black aluminium number that just oozes high quality. Even the orange size indicator sticker nicely matches the packaging. It's the little touches that mean so much.
As you can see the whole drive is a step above the usual affair in which the top is customised but the base is standard plain aluminium. Even the bottom is black on the Samsung, showing an attention to detail that really helps the first impressions.
The software has a vast array of features, certainly many more than one usually finds in a SSD package with everything from Firmware updates, to performance testing. You can even manually set TRIM if you're still on an aging OS.
Crystal Disk Mark
In 512K and 4K read testing the 830 isn't quite up there with either the Sandforce equipped Hyper X or even the Micron controller of the Crucial M4. However the straight sequential test has it right up there at the top of the graph and in QD32 testing it's on a par with the Hyper X.
It's a bit of a double-edged sword in the Crystal Disk Mark write tests. At the 4K end of the scale the Samsung 830 is definitely the slowest of the three SATA6Gbp/s drives on show, yet when it comes to large chunks of data it leaps to the top, giving some excellent write speeds.
I hope you're sitting down. In HD Tune Pro the Samsung 830 is nothing but spectacular. In read testing it's over 100MB/s faster than anything else on the graph.
It's not like this is a one off either as in write testing, whilst the Samsung 830 doesn't hold such a healthy lead as we see above, it nonetheless dominates.
PC Mark Vantage
Moving into some tests that are closer to the real world speeds you should expect, the Samsung 830 256GB SSD has a mixed bag of results. It's there or thereabouts in every PC Mark Vantage test, without ever moving ahead of either the Crucial M4 or Kingston Hyper X.
In keeping with the theme we saw in PC Mark testing, in the x264 benchmark the Samsung 830 just slips behind the Crucial M4. Not by much, but still just slower.
Using the graphing feature of AIDA64 to test the ability of the controller, cache and NAND itself to deliver consistent results we think it's fair to say that in Linear testing they are unbelievable consistent. Even by SSD standards this is a very flat Read graph.
Writing is even more consistent. Normally there are some dips as the controller switches between each memory chip, but with such a huge amount of cache onboard, and utilising nothing but Samsung products, the 830 is as flat as a pancake and as smooth as the butter you'd pour over them.
The ATTO disk benchmark shows how quickly the 830 gets into its stride. You hardly have to increase the block size at all before it's maxing the read and write speeds, and the read speed in particular just keeps getting quicker and quicker.
To a certain degree you could look at the Samsung 830 and think that it's exceptional, just not quite as blistering as some of the Sandforce SSDs around. However pure performance doesn't tell the whole story.
For a start it looks gorgeous. We can't think of many SSDs we'd rather have at the heart of our systems than the Samsung 830. The attention to detail is exquisite from the packaging, to the outstanding Samsung Magician software, which covers every possible requirement you could have. The drive itself is robust and the all-black looks are sure to find favour with nearly everyone.
The consistency is great too. Only when handling really tiny blocks, 4K or below, does it lack a little bit of performance, but above that it really kicks into gear and rolls out some very high speeds indeed. It's not all about gaudy numbers though. As much as the Sandforce controller is the fastest on the planet, it's not the easiest and most stable controller to work with. The Samsung Y040 is far easier to live with on a daily basis and more robust.
Pricing is good too. Available for around £300 you're getting a huge amount of performance in a gorgeous looking, well designed drive with customer support from one of the biggest names on the planet. Only its abilities with very small file sizes and some slight lack of absolute speed at the top end stop it from receiving our Gold Award, and for this reason we're giving it our OC3D Silver Award. Although it's only a shade away from getting Gold.
Thanks to Samsung for providing the 830 for review. Discuss in our forums.