Roundup: The Best SSDs For Enthusiasts

Samsung 470-Series (Also Known As PM810 [256 GB])

While the previously-discussed SSDs all represent variations of existing controller designs, Samsung’s new 470-series can be called a new breed. You might also hear the term PM810 here and there, which is Samsung’s internal name for this product family. Samsung managed to improve its SSD line in all characteristics, including power consumption and performance, but the firm is staying with the SATA 3Gb/s interface, so you already know Samsung won’t overtake the throughput leader, Crucial’s RealSSD C300, in terms of data transfer rates.

The 470-series is a consumer product for the upper-mainstream and enthusiast market, and it comes with Samsung’s new toggle mode DDR NAND flash memory. Samsung adopted this approach in its latest flash memory, where it should help to improve SSD performance while keeping power consumption down. The results are impressive, but the technology doesn’t hit new records--yet.

This is a relatively slim, 7 mm z-height drive. Although this isn’t a very special feature, it may prove handy for compact notebook designs. Samsung offers 64 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB capacities.

Our reviewed model is based on Samsung’s MAX controller (S3C29MAX), which is an eight-channel design utilizing 256 MB of cache memory along with 32-queue Native Command Queuing (NCQ) support. There are different enclosures depending on whether you get an OEM or a retail version. Our sample was the OEM variety, which can be opened easily. As you can see, the PCB is also small enough to fit into the 1.8” form factor. Expect identical performance there.

At a queue depth of 1 or up to 32, the 470-series is fairly strong on 4 KB random writes, drawing close to SandForce and the RealSSD C300 by Crucial. It beats everything else here and is also the fastest drive for sequential reads, right after the C300 and Intel’s X25-M G2. Everyone else is slightly behind. Watch out for the throughput benchmark. Our preferred h2benchw 3.6 almost exclusively works with zeroes, which favors the SandForce architecture. Still, h2benchw works well for examining minimum throughput and tracking performance drops across the test run.

The Samsung 470 reaches higher throughput and is stronger than most of the other SSDs, including the SandForce party, in our PCMark Vantage application tests. Additionally, we found it to be the best drive on sustained performance.

Lastly, the 470 series isn’t as low on power as the Toshiba drives or the Intel X25-M.