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Samsung 830 Capacity Range Roundup - Samsung Takes a Serious Turn on Performance

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung
Tagged: ssd, sata, Samsung, 830, 6gbps

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging

Introduction

Samsung has been in the SSD business for a good long while now. My first "serious" SSD setup consisted of a pair of 32GB G.Skill 'FlashSSD's in a RAID. A few months later I upgraded to an Intel X25-M, starting working for PCPer, and have since seen a slew of different controller types come and go. Of those, Samsung and Intel both come to mind as the most reliable controllers out there. Of those two, Samsung has always been the primary choice of PC OEMs. It may have been because the Samsung controllers have always leaned towards the slow-but-steady approach. Other fire breathing controllers would be quick out of the gate but slow over time as fragmentation effects set in, while Samsung controllers would take the hit on random IOPS, but they maintained that lower level even after repeated and sustained abuse. They were not the fastest, but as a testament to their consistency, I continue to use one of the two aforementioned G.Skill drives in the PCPer Storage Testbed to this day.

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Read on for the full review!

Well we're a few generations into the game now and those other fire-breating controllers have grown much more mature and consistent on their performance, lapping even the more recent Samsung 470 Series units in testing. Now we have the 830 Series, launched late last year. With a new controller release, we decided to kill several birds with one stone, part of which involved reviewing not one, but three samples:

  • Evaluate the new controller to the maximum extent possible.
  • Evaluate performance gradients across multiple capacities.
  • Conduct long term fragmentation / TRIM testing on those multiple capacities.

This took a *lot* of testing. Sure our normal test suite can make it through an SSD in an afternoon, true TRIM testing requires an OS install to each device, with large activity like application installs and the like performed with TRIM both enabled and disabled. The test to evaluate the effects requires writing across the full available area, which for most SSDs also happens to completely reset the SSD to a Fresh-out-of-box-yet-full condition. If anything goes wrong with the testing pass or the results, the entire process must be repeated start to finish.

Before we get into the specs, here's the simplified block diagram of the new Samsung controller:

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I've requested further detail (and hopefully a more complex block diagram), but from the looks of it, each of the three ARM-based processor cores can simultaneously read and/or write to individual channels of flash memory. This is a unique approach, as it's basically three independent controllers all sharing the same set of flash memory. I can't imagine the complexities involved in three CPU's all fighting over various flash chips, but we'll see just how well this implementation behaves in our random IO testing later in this article. While the photo shows a possible 10 channels (0-9), the 830 Series can only physically accept 8 packages on the current PCB design.

Specifications

64GB:

  • Up to 520MB/s Sequential Read Speed
  • Up to 160MB/s Sequential Write Speed
  • 75K IOPS Random Read Speed
  • 16K IOPS Random Write Speed

128GB: 

  • Up to 520MB/s Sequential Read Speed
  • Up to 320MB/s Sequential Write Speed
  • 80K IOPS Random Read Speed
  • 30K IOPS Random Write Speed

256GB:

  • Up to 520MB/s Read Speed
  • Up to 400MB/s Write Speed
  • 80K IOPS Random Read Speed
  • 30K IOPS Random Write Speed

512GB:

  • Up to 520MB/s Sequential Read Speed
  • Up to 400MB/s Sequential Write Speed
  • 80K IOPS Random Read Speed
  • 36K IOPS Random Write Speed

Packaging

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The desktop edition packaging is pictured above. In the box is a 2.5" to 3.5" bracket, the Samsung Magician software (which allows a GUI for firmware updates and secure erasing), and a *full* edition of Norton Ghost. Samsung felt it important to include the fully featured Ghost, and I fully support this as it can come in handy for maintaining a backup regime and other drive cloning duties the user may have down the road. Under the bracket (not pictured) is a short SATA cable and molex to SATA power adapter cable. The Notebook upgrade kit (also not pictured) substitutes the desktop bracket and cabling for a USB to SATA dongle (for cloning) and a 2.5mm spacer bezel to mount the 7mm 830 Series into any laptop that might require a snug and standard 9.5mm fitting. Here's the pic from the Samsung site - sorry for it being tiny but you can pick out the bezel and dongle for the laptop kit:

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March 28, 2012 | 10:22 PM - Posted by D (not verified)

Thanks Al, I was stuck between this and the 520. I'll pretty much get which ever one I can for the least amount when I start my build.

March 29, 2012 | 04:58 AM - Posted by scajjr2

Got one of the 256Gb 830's when they first came out last fall. Compared to the OCZ and Kingston HyperX SSDs I had before, I have not had one issue at all with the Samsung. Fast and reliable.

March 29, 2012 | 05:05 AM - Posted by Rick (not verified)

How does a Crucial M4 hold up against one of these Samsung 830? The reason I ask is I have a M4 NIB, should I return it for one of these 830's?

March 29, 2012 | 11:56 AM - Posted by Lou (not verified)

I would trade it for the 830. The M4 is no slouch, but the 830 reviews seem to have been quite positive, all across the board.

March 29, 2012 | 06:41 AM - Posted by PCPerFan (not verified)

Has anyone here upgraded from an older SATA3 Intel or other SSD to one of these at SATA6 and noticed any difference in system responsiveness, boot-up, application load times, etc. Trying to determine if its a worthy upgrade to an older SSD.

March 29, 2012 | 08:33 AM - Posted by GrizzledYoungMan (not verified)

The M4 is a disaster. Massive, unpublished and unacknowledged issues with driver compatibility (especially the vital Intel RST set) that prevent correct sleeping behavior and will keep your event logs full of red warnings.

I RMA'ed mine (I had a 120GB M4 going into my latest PC) and replaced it with a similarly sized Intel 320. Despite the slower interface, the Intel SSD is noticeably more responsive (probably due to the high I/O performance at low QD, and the excellent random read performance) and certainly less buggy.

Sleep works now!

March 29, 2012 | 11:53 AM - Posted by Lou (not verified)

Interesting, I never heard a single complaint about the M4's, and I've sold plenty of them (less so since the 830s were released). To get nit-picky, there isn't a 120GB version of the M4. I think you mean 128GB.

March 29, 2012 | 11:47 AM - Posted by Lou (not verified)

Great review! I love the 830s, and I sell a ton of them. I'd like to see some head to head numbers vs the OCZ Agility and Vertex 3's. Most customers are interested in the OCZ drives because the price is better and the advertised read/write speeds are sexier. To throw in the M4's would be great, given that the prices of the Crucial drives are close to Samsung's prices.

March 29, 2012 | 04:36 PM - Posted by Rick (not verified)

i paid 130 for my m4 128gb. is the price difference worth it for an 830?

March 30, 2012 | 12:51 PM - Posted by Chris Myers (not verified)

Allyn- can you maybe explain the IOMeter results a bit more? I'm a little confused how your results show the 830 outperforming the Intel 520 by such a large margin, when other review sites, for example let's say one that does 'storage review(s)', shows a different story- with the 830 actually lagging a bit in IOPS.

Thanks.
-Chris

March 30, 2012 | 12:51 PM - Posted by Chris Myers (not verified)

Allyn- can you maybe explain the IOMeter results a bit more? I'm a little confused how your results show the 830 outperforming the Intel 520 by such a large margin, when other review sites, for example let's say one that does 'storage review(s)', shows a different story- with the 830 actually lagging a bit in IOPS.

Thanks.
-Chris

March 31, 2012 | 03:47 AM - Posted by czesiu (not verified)

Are these normal speeds for samsung 128gb 830 as a system drive in win7? (seq write @200)
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/103221/as-ssd-bench%20SAMSUNG%20SSD%20830%20%202...

April 17, 2012 | 06:18 AM - Posted by razorxc (not verified)

great test, can you give me the 64 version please :)

June 13, 2012 | 08:38 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The 128Gb is now down to £80 at a number of outlets - the price of these is now making conventional disks a bit pointless unless less you have major amounts of data.

July 14, 2012 | 06:29 PM - Posted by mAxius

WHERE IS THE PCPER LOGO HERE!!! http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147163 and thanks al i made my ssd decision

July 14, 2012 | 06:30 PM - Posted by mAxius

WHERE IS THE PCPER LOGO HERE!!! http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147163 and thanks al i made my ssd decision

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