Samsung is kind of a big deal. In addition to manufacturing everything from tablets to televisions to turbines, the Korean giant is one of the world’s largest producers of DRAM and NAND flash memory, and it has long provided SSDs to OEMs and systems integrators. Samsung entered the retail SSD market in late 2010, with its 470 Series SSD delivering performance on par with the first-gen SandForce drives that owned the top end of the market. It’s now late 2011, and the goalposts have shifted. Samsung’s Series 830 drive boasts a slimmer look, a refreshed controller, and a 6Gb/s SATA interface. Can the new part compete with today’s top SSDs?
Like the Series 470 SSD, the Series 830 is top-to-bottom Samsung, from the 20nm toggle NAND, to the 256MB of DDR2 cache, to the tri-core ARM processor controlling the drive. Samsung tells us the three-core design allowed them to dedicate one core to full-time garbage collection. The controller is similar to the one on the Series 470, but the Series 830 brings much-needed 6Gb/s SATA support.
The 830 Series SSD is just 7mm thick, so Samsung provides a spacer in its laptop upgrade kit.
And boy, does it cook. The 256GB Series 830 SSD we tested matched the fastest second-gen SandForce drives, such as OCZ’s Vertex 3, in nearly every benchmark, and it exceeded them in some. The 830 Series’ sustained read speeds stayed north of 500MB/s, with sustained writes averaging 388MB/s or 398MB/s, depending on the benchmark—that’s more than 100MB/s faster than the SandForce drives we’ve tested. The 830 Series’ 4KB single-queue-depth read and write speeds are as high as the Vertex 3's, while 32QD reads far surpass the Vertex 3's. Writes at 32QD however, lag at 150MB/s to the Vertex 3’s 247MB/s. In fact, high-queue-depth 4KB random writes are the only test in which the Vertex 3 (and its SandForce brethren) beat the pants off the Samsung 830 Series. In our 32QD Iometer random-write test, the Vertex 3’s IOPS were three times higher than the Samsung’s. On the other hand, the 830 Series edged out the competition in our Premiere Pro video-encoding test, which writes a continuous uncompressed 20GB .avi video to the disk, and its PCMark Vantage and PCMark 7 storage subscores were top of the pack.
The 830 Series SSD is as attractive as it is fast, with a black brushed-aluminum finish and a chassis that’s just 7mm thick to fit inside the thinnest of notebooks. It’s also well equipped with extras. The SSD is available in three different configurations: as a bare drive, in a laptop kit, and in a desktop kit. All three include a full version of Norton Ghost, while the laptop kit includes a SATA-to-USB adapter and a spacer, so the drive fits in standard 9.5mm drive bays. The desktop version includes a 2.5-inch-to-3.5-inch tray adapter.
The 830 Series SSD can’t match the high-queue-depth random writes of a SandForce-powered drive, but it’s as good or better than the competition at everything else, with especially impressive sustained write speeds. The 830 Series SSD is a serious ass-kicker that demonstrates Samsung’s vertical integration to be a concrete advantage over the competition.
Blazing fast, especially in sustained writes; sleek and attractive; comes with a full copy of Norton Ghost.
Can't match SandForce for 4k random IOPS.
Samsung 830 Series SSD
Samsung 470 Series SSD
OCZ Vertex 3
OCZ Agility 3
Sustained Read (MB/s)
Sustained Write (MB/s)
Seq. Read (MB/s)
Seq. Write (MB/s)
4KB Read (IOPS)
4KB Write (IOPS)
64KB File Read (MB/s)
64KB File Write (MB/s)
4KB Random Write
Max Access Time (ms)
Premiere Pro Encode Write (sec)
PCMark Vantage x64 HDD
PCMark 11 x64 SST
Asterisk (*) denotes highest score. Our current test bed is a 3.1GHz Core i3-2100 processor on an Asus P8 P67 Pro (B3 chipset) running Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. All tests used onboard 6Gb/s SATA ports with latest Intel drivers.