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Looking to upgrade current 64GB SSD to 256GB SSD

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April 23, 2012 2:35:40 AM

Hi guys,
I am interested in upgrading my current SSD for my main rig.

Here are my specs:
Motherboard: ASUS SABERTOOTH 55i, BIOS version 2003
CPU: Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core BX80605I5750
RAM: G.SKILL Trident 4GB DDR3 2000 (PC3 16000) F3-16000CL9D-4GBTD (considering upgrading to 8GB)
Video Card: Sapphire Vapor-X 100283VXL Radeon HD 5770 1GB
PSU: Corsair HX750 (CMPSU-750HX) 750W
SSDs/Hard Drives:
1 x Crucial M4 CT064M4SSD2 2.5" 64GB (internal, Windows install, large program installs)
1 x WD VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS 300GB 10,000 RPM (internal, games/large program installs)
2 x WD Caviar Green WD10EARS 1TB 5,400 RPM (internal, RAID 1, storage/backup)
1 x WD Caviar Green WD10EARS 1TB 5,400 RPM (internal drive in external enclosure, eSATA, backup of all internal drives)
CD/DVD: Samsung SH-S203N
Case: Thermaltake Element V VL20001W2Z
OS: Windows 7 SP 1 x64 Home Premium

Looking for:
I'm looking for a 256GB SSD.

Use:
I am a game developer and the 256GB SSD drive will be for my Windows installation and all of my programs. (games, Adobe Master Collection, Unity, etc.)

Use for other drives:
My Crucial 64GB SSD and the WD VelociRaptor will be sold. The WD Caviar Greens will be kept for storage/backup purposes.

Allegiance & Recommendations:
I am open to any recommendations for drives. I have no allegiances towards any companies. (Although if Western Digital made one, I would use that in a heartbeat if costs were not prohibitive :D ) I need something that is stable and that will last me for many years. For example, I have had the WD VelociRaptor for 4 years with no issues.

Concerns:
  • Concern 1: I have a Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 TV tuner card which I use to watch TV on my PC using Windows Media Center. I rarely use the timeshifting feature in Windows Media Center but I am concerned about all those small writes to the SSD cutting the life of the drive down. I can change the location of the timeshifting folder but it would be nice to get input from someone else on this feature and SSDs.
  • Concern 2: I'll be using Unity for game development purposes and I believe this program likes to thrash the drive. I am concerned about the drive going on me down the line.

    Possible contenders:
  • $299.99 - Crucial M4 CT256M4SSD2BAA 2.5" 256GB SATA III MLC
  • $329.99 - SAMSUNG 830 Series MZ-7PC256B/WW 2.5" 256GB SATA III MLC

    Thank you for any help you can provide.
    April 23, 2012 2:44:28 AM

    The 830 series and M4 is really the only two contenders in the SSD sector as of right now. They both provide reliability and top speeds. Maybe Plextor, but I would go with the M4 (because I'm currently using two M4 SSDS right now). I wouldn't mind giving the 830 a try since it has very positive reviews.
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    a c 260 G Storage
    April 23, 2012 2:07:32 PM
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    Western Digital does offer several solid state drives. Here is a link to the ssd database:

    http://www.johnnylucky.org/data-storage/ssd-database.ht...

    Scroll all the way down to the Western Digital section where you will find links to quite a few technical reviews.

    Here is my standard Samsung recommendation.

    If reliability and stability is a major concern, then I recommend Samsung. Samsung was awarded contracts to supply Dell, Sony, Lenovo, Apple and other off the shelf brands with OEM versions of their 470 Series SATA 2 3Gb/s ssd's. Eventually the 470's were released for retail sale to consumers. There have been no major issues reported. The 470 has an absolutely stellar record.

    Then Samsung released their 830 Series SATA 3 6Gb/s ssd's as successors to the 470. The first ones were OEM versions for Dell and the other off the shelf brands followed by release of retail versions for consumers. The ssd's are Samsung's own design with their own components and firmware. It looks like Samsung got it right again.
    a c 352 G Storage
    April 23, 2012 2:26:51 PM

    Have both the 128 gig Samsung 830 and the 128 gig curcial M4.
    Performance wise, not a big diff. Reliability - Not enought time lapse from issue to really say (from users). Compatability and user problems, probably favor the Samsung. CG implimentation about the same.
    For only about $30 diff would probably go with the Samsung 830, but either / OK.

    I'd probably not sale the 64 gig M4 and use it as a storage drive. Maybe for your "timeshifting folder". However; Video playback does not require a SSD, is just fine off of a HDD.
    April 24, 2012 2:27:46 AM

    Hi all,
    Thanks for your replies.

    The Mushkin definitely looks nice in terms of price per GB, but I'm very concerned as a good chunk of users on Newegg are reporting dead drives. (on arrival or after a few months)

    As for WD drives they only seem to support drives up to 128GB: http://www.wdc.com/en/products/solidstate/embedded/

    RetiredChief said:
    I'd probably not sale the 64 gig M4 and use it as a storage drive. Maybe for your "timeshifting folder". However; Video playback does not require a SSD, is just fine off of a HDD.

    I already have a storage drive and Windows Media Center will always write to the drive due to the timeshifting feature and live TV. There's no way to turn it off.

    JohnnyLucky:
    Thanks for your detailed info regarding the Samsung SSDs. I have some questions for you:
  • How does Samsung tech support compare to that of Crucial? Will I get someone competent?
  • How do Samsung firmware updates compare to those of Crucial? Are they timely? Can you update the firmware when set in RAID mode? Do they offer a in-Windows update option or do I need a burn an image to disc?
  • How does the internal controller compare to that of the m4 I have now? It's only been 9 months since I got my m4 64GB SSD. (probably an eternity in SSD time)

    Thanks! I'm still open to recommendations!
    a c 260 G Storage
    April 24, 2012 3:59:07 AM

    WOW! I can't answer your questions.

    1. I have never had to deal with Samsung or Crucial technical support personnel. There were a few times I checked online support and found the answers I was looking for.

    2. I never had to update Samsung firmware. I bought my Samsung 470 series 256GB ssd last October. There is no new firmware for the 470. Last January Samsung issued a firmware update for the 830 series but it did not apply to me. Here is the link to the 830 series online technical support page:

    http://www.samsung.com/us/support/owners/product/MZ-7PC...

    3. I do not know if firmware can be updated when set in RAID mode. I am not a fan of RAID arrays for the simple reason I do not do anything that requires a RAID array.

    4. There are different ways to do a firmware update. Links to the information can be found on the Samsung technical support page I referenced.

    5. Samsung uses their own Controller. Crucial uses a Marvell Controller. I do not know what the actual technical differences are. Companies do not reveal technical specifications for their Controllers.
    April 24, 2012 4:06:40 AM

    Hi Johnny,
    Sorry for being difficult. I appreciate you taking a shot at the questions. I'll do some more reading over the next 24 hours and make a decision. Thanks again.
    April 24, 2012 4:12:20 AM

    geogolem said:
    If you had a z68 or z77 mobo you could use the 64GB SSD as a cache for your large storage drive. Its called Intel SRT technology. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_Response_Technology

    Yuppers. Just saw this on an insert for a build I built for a customer. I think you can have the cache on the same drive as the boot drive too if that drive's a SSD.
    April 24, 2012 4:16:28 AM

    BlindWolf8 said:
    Yuppers. Just saw this on an insert for a build I built for a customer. I think you can have the cache on the same drive as the boot drive too if that drive's a SSD.


    Ya you can partition your Boot SSD so that you use 64GB for the cache. Intel concluded through empirical analysis that a cache larger than 64GB offered marginal gains. I would do this for sure if I had a 256GB SSD, but with only 120GB I'd probably rather just keep the full 120GB for a boot drive with OS/Apps etc.
    a c 260 G Storage
    April 24, 2012 4:56:45 AM

    Jusr realised you and I have the same motherboard - Asus Sabertooth 55i. That motherboard does not support SATA 3 6Gb/s performance. It is restricted to SATA 2 3Gb/s performance. SSD performance will be restricted to SATA 2 3Gb/s levels. You probably won't notice the slight difference during ordinary everyday use. It might make a difference depending on how complicated your game development applications are.
    April 24, 2012 4:59:24 AM

    JohnnyLucky said:
    Jusr realised you and I have the same motherboard - Asus Sabertooth 55i. That motherboard does not support SATA 3 6Gb/s performance. It is restricted to SATA 2 3Gb/s performance. SSD performance will be restricted to SATA 2 3Gb/s levels. You probably won't notice the slight difference during ordinary everyday use. It might make a difference depending on how complicated your game development applications are.

    Yup, I'm fully aware of the SATA 2 limitation, but Unity loves to access the disk a ton so it should really speed things up in there. I'm planning for the future. (says the person who is changing out a 64GB SDD he bought 9 months ago)
    April 24, 2012 5:23:48 AM

    I would advise against the M4 only because there is no point in purchasing a synchronous NAND based ssd when toggle NAND drives are practically the same price (unless you're buying intel, which means you want reliability over speed anyway... Not that they even make a toggle NAND drive yet).

    I'm sure there are others, but here's a basic list of toggle NAND ssd's

    Samsung 830
    Patriot WildFire
    Sandisk Extreme (only avail. in 120gb, though)
    Mushkin Chronos Deluxe
    OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS

    *here's tom's performance comparison list. A 120gb toggle NAND, sandforce based ssd is in the same tier as the 256 gb M4, meaning toggle+sandforce is roughly *twice* as fast as synchronouns, non-sandforce.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-review-benchmar...
    April 24, 2012 5:29:30 AM

    quilciri said:
    I would advise against the M4 only because there is no point in purchasing a synchronous NAND based ssd when toggle NAND drives are practically the same price[...]

    Thanks for the info about Toggle NAND. Admittedly, I have no idea what that is. (SSD noob here) I'm assuming it has to deal with how memory is read in the drive itself? Thanks for any education you can provide.
    April 24, 2012 5:32:02 AM

    It's the type of memory used in the drive. Simply put,

    SLC > toggle MLC > synchronous MLC > asynchronous MLC

    SLC - single level cell
    MLC - multi level cell

    SLC stores one bit per cell, which makes for furiously fast transfer speeds, lower power consumption and a much longer drive lifetime.

    MLC stores two bits per cell. It's cheaper :) 

    SLC is prohibitively expensive, so enthusiast drives are made with MLC.
    April 24, 2012 5:38:29 AM

    quilciri said:
    SLC > toggle MLC > synchronous MLC > asynchronous MLC

    Thanks for clarifying. I knew about the basic storage differences between SLC and MLC (using a condo analogy) but wasn't aware of the different types of MLC. Are there any disadvantages of Toggle MLC I should be aware of? That Samsung 830 is definitely looking nice so I want to be aware of any curveballs thrown my way down the line. (performance degradation, etc.)
    April 24, 2012 5:48:25 AM

    BlindWolf8 said:
    Are there any disadvantages of Toggle MLC I should be aware of?


    Nope.

    Not entirely sure why they called it toggle, it's effectively DDR technology, sending data on the rise and fall of each clock cycle, instead of just at the peak.

    http://www.toshiba-components.com/memory/togglenand.htm...
    April 24, 2012 5:54:44 AM

    P.S. Am I the only one pissed off that SSD manufacturers obfuscate which type of MLC is used in the drive? It's the single most important factor in drive performance, and they hide it.
    April 24, 2012 5:58:29 AM

    Hi quilciri,
    Thanks for your continued help. Do you see Toggle NAND being around in SSDs for at least a year?
    April 24, 2012 6:10:26 AM

    I've no idea. SSD technology is still more or less in it's infancy (at the consumer level, anyway), and changes fast, so there's likely to be better technology out within the year. I didn't even know toggle NAND existed until the first drive debuted.

    You might look at the vertex 4 as well. Supposedly it's the current king of speed and other than OCZ buying indilinx and using their new controller instead of sandforce, I've no idea what's in the drive.
    April 24, 2012 6:33:59 AM

    quilciri said:
    You might look at the vertex 4 as well. Supposedly it's the current king of speed and other than OCZ buying indilinx and using their new controller instead of sandforce, I've no idea what's in the drive.

    Someone on Newegg says it's actually a Marvell controller.
    a c 260 G Storage
    April 24, 2012 6:55:13 AM

    The OCZ Vertex 4, Octane, and Petrol models use slightly modified Marvell controllers and Indilinx firmware. Reported by AnandTech. Confirmed by OCZ. For some reason OCZ which acquired Indilinx decided to call the Marvell controllers Indilinx Everest and Indilinx Everest 2.
    a c 352 G Storage
    April 24, 2012 1:21:08 PM

    1) Tech support – In general, outside of relatively simple problems many of the companies seem to have a problem with tech support – The manuf support website and forums like this one seem to provide better problem solving. Have tried Samsung (for Laptop and OCZ Agility III) no help. A couple of Post on Samsung F3 HDDs indicated problems with RMAs, but may be due to Transferring HDD support to Seagate. OCZ Not very good. Toshiba Very poor Knowledge. Crucial have not tried.
    2) Firmware:
    SEE: http://www.anandtech.com/show/5460/samsung-updates-the-...
    Samsung “The only way to update the firmware on your SSD is to use the SSD Magical Tool. Click here to download the SSD Magic Tool. This software only is Windows compatible…” You would need to look at the instructions for using Magical - @ work and my manual is at home. Have not needed to do yet.

    Crucial. I’ve updated mine twice. Two methods, from windows (See: http://edge.crucial.com/firmware/m4/000F/Utility_User_G... ) and from a Linux boot disk. I prefer the Linux boot disk.

    For the windows based (both) you will have to read up and see if they only work when controller is set to AHCI, but I think they will work with Bios set to Raid as LONG as the drive is NOT a member drive.

    Primary reason I prefer the Linux boot method is, even though my systems are stable, a BSOD or lock up is a possibility and although remote, I prefer not to take the chance if I can avoid it.

    Maybe a slight edge to curcial on frequency of Fireware updates.

    3) Outside of the small performance difference. The biggest difference is probably how CG is implemented. This should not be a big issue for either drive as Long as TRIM is passed.
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4863/the-samsung-ssd-830-...


    On OCZ - NOT a very good company from standpoint of customer relations - Based on reading their forums (initial release of SF22xx drives) I took a oath - NEVER to buy a OCZ product..
    a c 260 G Storage
    April 25, 2012 12:44:53 AM

    I was thinking about your questions about firmware updates. Began to wonder if you were thinking of something like the monthly Microsoft Windows updates, patches, and fixes. It is just the opposite with ssd firmware. The holy grail would be an ssd that does not develop any major problems and does not require any firmware updates to fix those problems. Second best would a minor firmware update to fix a minor problem that a few users might experience.
    April 25, 2012 8:14:47 AM

    JohnnyLucky said:
    I was thinking about your questions about firmware updates. Began to wonder if you were thinking of something like the monthly Microsoft Windows updates, patches, and fixes. It is just the opposite with ssd firmware. The holy grail would be an ssd that does not develop any major problems and does not require any firmware updates to fix those problems. Second best would a minor firmware update to fix a minor problem that a few users might experience.

    Well I simply asked because with my Crucial m4 I've had to update it multiple times. I believe in most instances they've improved performance.

    PS: Can anyone else throw their hat into the ring as to my two concerns in the OP? Thanks!
    April 25, 2012 8:57:43 AM

    Go wtih the Samsung 830 its would be a good choice either samsung or intel 520 no 3rd
    Quote:
    At the 240/256 GB capacity point, Samsung's 830 is the fastest in our internally-generated trace, outpacing the 256 GB m4 by roughly 20%. Yet, getting this performance advantage requires that you pay an extra 15%. SandForce-based drives make for a good comparison, too, but the 256 GB 830 outperforms the 240 GB Vertex 3, while only commanding a 3% premium.


    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-review-benchmar...
    May 2, 2012 7:04:45 AM

    Just pulled the trigger on the 830. Thanks everyone for all your help!
    May 2, 2012 7:05:26 AM

    Best answer selected by BlindWolf8.
    !