Samsung is well placed to offer solid-state drives as upgrades for end-users’ computers. The Korean company is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of NAND flash, as well as running huge semiconductor fabs and can thereby engineer its own controller chips.
The Samsung 470 Series is a range of SSDs available in three capacities – 64, 128 and 256GB. To maintain consistency between different brands and models in our lab measurements, we tested our standard capacity 256GB-sized drive.
While the leading brands are now capitalising on the potential of the latest SATA bus – namely third-generation SATA with its nominal 6Gbit/sec throughput – Samsung is behind the curve by plumping for the last-gen SATA 3Gb/s bus in its 470 Series.
Before writing off these drives as also-rans in the performance stakes, it’s worth remembering that only the latest laptops and desktop PCs are likely to be fitted with SATA 6Gb/s interfaces.
And in our experience, you really don’t need a third-gen SATA SSD to feel the very real and tangible benefits of SSD storage.
In fact, our notebook companion is a 2008-vintage MacBook Pro with a first-gen SATA (1.5Gb/s) bus – and we can still feel the supercharging effect of low-latency flash storage, inescapable benefits such as near-instant app launching and wait-free file juggling.
From Samsung’s own specs, the 470 Series has up to 250MB/s read speeds and 220MB/s writes. Random reads up to 31k IOPS are claimed, while random writes should reach 21k IOPS.
In the ATTO sequential read/write test, we saw a maximum of 266MB/s for reading the largest transfers of 2MB and over, while sequential writes hit 260MB/s from 1MB and larger transfers. That suggests an 18% improvement in write speeds, for instance, over Samsung’s unusually modest specifications.
Samsung makes little noise about the controller chip and its intrinsic technology. The drive is listed as supporting TRIM, as we’d expect these days, but there’s no discussion about garbage collection, wear levelling or over-provisioning.
The controller and its proprietary algorithms make a big difference to how well an SSD will maintain its health with daily use, and we can’t comment on its long-term stability here.
One thing we did find though is the Samsung 470 Series 256GB SSD's even-handedness across different file transfers in the lab tests.
Where some controllers compress test data to misleadingly report the maximum headline speeds of their drives, this Samsung 470 Series SSD remained impressively consistent – as shown by the CrystalDiskMark test when switching between random and compressible data sets.
Whether using random data or a string of zeroes, the Samsung 470 Series showed maximum sequential speeds of 255 and 250MB/s, respectively, for reads and writes.
At the much smaller 512kB level, these figures held up well where other drives can slow markedly. Here, we still saw 189 and 242MB/s for reads and writes.
For the smallest file transfer test of 4k at 32 queue-depth, the Samsung 470 Series could muster a useful 129MB/s in reads, and 75MB/s in writes.
In IOPS performance, the Samsung 470 Series reached maximums of 28.4k read and 16.5k write IOPS, in the AS SSD benchmark with 4k-64 threads. Overall nominal score from that benchmark was 373 points.
A copy of Norton Ghost is included, but that Windows-only program is not really enough to assuage the uncompetitive price/performance offering of this Samsung 470 Series SSD, when much faster and more up-to-date drives such as the Crucial M4 are available at lower cost.