Solid-state storage is becoming more affordable, helped along by healthy competition among a wider range of vendors. Joining specialists in SSD storage such as Crucial, OCZ and Kingston is Korean corporation Samsung with its Samsung 830 Series SSD. Read more SSD reviews.

Aside from its popular consumer electronics products, Samsung is a major manufacturer of silicon, from processors and controllers to raw NAND flash memory. So it’s little surprise that the company is now making a big push into SSDs for consumer PCs and laptops, and this time using its own name on the box.

The Samsung 830 Series includes four capacity options – 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB. We previously reviewed the Samsung 830 256GB model, and found it to be a very capable drive that could stand among the fastest products available. 

Now that the price of SSDs has fallen well below the £1 per gigabyte point, larger capacity models are becoming more within reach, and at prices that won’t make your eyes glaze over.

In the case of the Samsung 830 Series SSD, we see the 512GB model is currently available in September 2012 for as ‘little’ as £435. That’s still a premium price for what would cost one-tenth the price in traditional notebook disk of the same capacity.  

But compare this to the SSD market of only 18 months ago, when a 512GB solid-state drive would exceed four-figures at £1000 or more.

Depending on the technology used within the SSD, it can also be the case that larger drives perform faster than smaller capacity versions.

Samsung 830 Series: Features

The Samsung 830 Series SSD is based around all-Samsung chips – from the flash storage and the essential system controller to the generous 256MB DRAM cache memory. 

We’re used to seeing controller technology from the likes of Marvell, SandForce and Indilinx, but Samsung has rolled its own design using a thre-core ARM processor, along with the firmware that runs it. 

Built into a smart chassis, the Samsung 830 is a lightweight SSD only 7mm thick, with an aluminium top cover. Interface is the now-popular SATA 6Gbps type to ensure best performance in compatible PC hardware.

Samsung supplies a useful software utility for setting up the drive and tweaking its performance, although this only runs on Windows.

Samsung 830 Series kit

The Samsung 830 Series SSD is available in a kit for laptop or desktop PC – laptop kit with USB-SATA attachment shown above

Samsung 830 Series: Performance

We tested the 512GB Samsung 830 Series SSD using the same test PC as the 256GB version. Results were found to be broadly similar, with some slight but measurable increase in certain areas.

The basic ATTO benchmark showed sequential reads peaked at a very speedy 547 MBps – one of the fastest results we’ve seen, just below the 559 MBps from the SandForce-controlled Kingston HyperX 240GB and Patriot Wildfire 240GB

The 256GB Samsung 830 was fractionally faster at 549 MBps, but write speeds were better for the 512GB model, at 421 versus 409 MBps.

CrystalDiskMark confirmed that no debilitating data compression was in force, as the results from compressible and non-compressible data were practically the same. Sequential reads were up to 490 MBps and writes at 431 MBps, against the fractionally slower 484 MBps and 408 MBps from the 256GB Samsung SSD.

At the small file level, the Samsung 830 512GB had very good results – the 4kB test with 32-thread queue depth showed a quick 303 MBps for reads was favoured over slower 154 MBps for writes.

In the AS SSD test, we saw IOPS reach a maximum of 72.5k for reads and 25.9k writes, again showing that the Samsung 830 Series has been tweaked toward more impressive read rather than write performance.

As well as our usual Windows benchmarks, we tried the Samsung 803 Series 512GB installed in an Apple Mac mini running OS X 10.7. While there is no native TRIM support on this platform for third-party solid-state drives, a few weeks of heavy use suggested no perceptible degradation in performance. 

In the QuickBench storage benchmark test, the Samsung 830 Series 512GB exceeded speeds of 510 MBps in the extended test (20-100MB files), reaching a peak of 517 MBps. Write speeds here were still in the premier league, up to 420 MBps.

QuickBench’s random read/write test runs files from 4kB to 1024kB, and here the drive averaged 134 MBps random reads and 177 MBps random writes.

As a more punishing test of continuous, sustained sequential transfers, we used Blackmagic Disk Speed Test. This demonstrated that the Samsung 830 Series 512GB could manage 405.9 MBps sustained writes and up to 475.7 MBps sustained reads.

Note that while the Samsung 830 Series can work well on the Mac, Samsung does not offer any support for the platform. This may be a problem if any essential updates of the drive’s firmware become necessary; unlike other brands that offer cross-platform bootable discs to upgrade firmware, Samsung provides software for use in Microsoft Windows.

Samsung 830 Series 512GB: Specs

  • 512GB solid-state drive
  • also available in 64, 128 and 256GB capacities
  • SATA 6Gbps interface
  • 2.5in form factor
  • 3-core ARM9 controller
  • 20nm toggle NAND flash
  • 256MB DDR2 cache
  • Norton Ghost 15 and Samsung Magician software for Windows
  • 100 x 69.9 x 7mm
  • 61g
  • 3-year warranty
  • 512GB solid-state drive
  • also available in 64, 128 and 256GB capacities
  • SATA 6Gbps interface
  • 2.5in form factor
  • 3-core ARM9 controller
  • 20nm toggle NAND flash
  • 256MB DDR2 cache
  • Norton Ghost 15 and Samsung Magician software for Windows
  • 100 x 69.9 x 7mm
  • 61g
  • 3-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

Samsung’s 830 Series 512GB SSD is an exemplary solid-state drive, able to boast very decent sequential reading and writing speeds. Its controller seems to be tuned to favour reads over write speeds in small file juggling, but overall all-round performance remains very healthy. We found it to work well across both Macintosh and Windows PC platforms, although the lack of support for Apple and other platforms may become a problem later. The price is good, but we note that other worthy SSDs such as the Crucial M4 512GB can be found now for less than £300.

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