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Maximum PC Staff Jan 10, 2011

Samsung 470 Series 256GB SSD

At A Glance

SAMSON

Competitive performance and price; attractive chassis; strong random writes...

SON OF SAM

...Except when compared to 'max IOPS' SandForce drives.

Samsung’s first retail SSD comes out swinging

Samsung has long been a player in solid-state drives, but usually behind the scenes. As one of the largest flash memory makers on the planet, of course, its NAND modules have been used in many SSDs, and it’s one of the largest providers of SSDs to OEMs. The 470 Series, however, marks Samsung’s first foray into the retail market.

Hey, someone put some effort into designing an attractive SSD enclosure! Too bad it goes inside the PC.

Samsung claims tight vertical integration—it makes every part of the 470-series SSD, from the controller to the DRAM cache to the NAND flash modules—gives it an edge over other SSD manufacturers, who more often use third-party controllers (from Indilinx, SandForce, etc.) and off-the-shelf NAND. Samsung, on the other hand, can develop a holistic solution with NAND and a controller that were made for each other. Samsung’s multicore controller, for example, is the first to support toggle-mode NAND, and Samsung says the controller is optimized for random-write speeds. But does this integration mean a better experience for the end-user?

It certainly doesn’t hurt. Samsung’s 256GB 470 Series drive offers performance competitive with current-gen SandForce-based drives, like the Patriot Inferno, as well as Barefoot Indilinx drives. At 216MB/s and 221MB/s, respectively, its sustained read and write speeds are within a few MB/s of the Patriot Inferno we tested in October. 4KB random-read IOPS in HDTune are around 10 percent lower than the Inferno, but the Samsung drive’s 4KB random-writes in both HDTune and IOMeter tests were nearly 40 percent faster than the Inferno. Of course, random-write performance on SandForce drives is very firmware-dependant; OCZ’s Vertex 2, which otherwise displays performance on par with the Inferno, had IOMeter random-write IOPS approaching 50,000.

In PCMark Vantage, which mimics real-world performance, the Samsung drive scored around 27,000 PCMarks, well behind the Inferno’s 33,000. But the Samsung drive’s Premiere Pro encoding results were nearly 10 percent faster than the Inferno’s—hinting at the write-speed edge Samsung brags about.

Samsung has come out of the gate strong with the 470 Series, its first retail SSD, which offers performance on par with current-gen SandForce-powered drives. Furthermore, its enclosure is the prettiest we’ve seen on an SSD, though that hardly matters once the drive is in your system. MSRPs are competitive: 64GB for $150, 128GB for $300, and 256GB for $600—and street prices are already lower than that. The 470 Series may not be revolutionary, but it’s competitive every step of the way.

Benchmarks

Samsung 470 Series
Patriot Inferno
Capacity 256GB100GB
HDTune 4.01
   
  Avg Read (MB/s)
216.8 226.9
  Random-Access Read (ms)
.1.1
  Burst Read (MB/s) 103.2209
  Avg Write (MB/s)
220.7222.2
  Random-Acess Write (ms)
.1.1
  Burst Write (MB/s)
110.0205.4
  4KB Read (IOPS)
9,00610,685
  4KB Write (IOPS)14,32310,480
  IOMeter Random-Write IOPS (4KB, Queue Depth 32)
14,74310,724
   
Premiere Pro (sec)
330360
PCMark Vantage HDD
27,01633,889
All drives tested on our hard drive test bench: a stock-clocked Intel i7-930 CPU on an Asus P6X58D Premium motherboard with 6GB DDR3, running 64-bit Windows 7 Professional. All 3Gb/s tests performed using latest Intel ACHI drivers.
THE VERDICT

Samsung 470 Series 256GB SSD

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