I know a lot of people have a "might as well" attitude, and I'll probably install the new firmware for the Samsung 830 (I just built a new PC, my first). However, I'm wondering if it's actually necessary to upgrade it right now, or if I can put it off for a while. I've already installed windows and everything, but I hear Samsung firmware isn't destructive, so I'm not worrying about that.
Also, is the Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver useful? I am not in RAID, and don't plan to be. However I'm getting the feeling that some people think it offers some kind of performance upgrade to an SSD.
it's not necessary, when it comes to hardware, i usually say don't upgrade firmware unless you have problems or it doesn't perform the way it's suppose to.
I do hear that some Samsung SSD's perform much lower than specified on the specs. just do a benchmark and see if the SSD is working properly. easiest way to find out if it needs to be upgraded or not. Remember that upgrading firmware may result in a bricking of the device so only do it if you it's a must.
It should only be done when it's not functioning properly, or the newer firmware brings beneficial performance or fixes known problems; chance of bricking a SSD is small, but possible.
Today I updated my Corsair GS drive to firmware 5.03 via the firmware utility while in Windows and it worked just fine, it only took 10 seconds and no issues.
So, unless the newer firmware for your SSD has any noticeable changes don't bother.
In regards to Intel Rapid Storage Technology:
Intel Rapid Storage Technology provides benefits to users of single drives as well. Through AHCI, storage performance is improved with Native Command Queuing (NCQ). AHCI also delivers longer battery life with Link Power Management (LPM), which can reduce the power consumption of the chipset and Serial ATA (SATA) hard drive.
Native Command Queuing (NCQ) is a feature supported by Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI). It allows ATA drives to accept more than one command at a time and dynamically reorder the commands for maximum efficiency. NCQ, when used in conjunction with a hard drive that supports NCQ, can increase storage performance on random workloads.
In order to take advantage of NCQ, you need:
Intel® RST software
Hard drive(s) that supports NCQ
Intel® Chipsets using a controller hub that supports AHCI