Where Does Samsung's 830-Series SSD Stand?
A few months back (when it was the only second-gen SandForce drive around), we proclaimed the Vertex 3 to be the fastest MLC-based SSD for consumers. Since that time, we've seen other solid-state solutions based on the same controller (like Patriot's Wildfire) steal the spotlight using faster memory interfaces. No matter the brand, though, SSDs based on SandForce's technology are clearly the performance benchmark everyone else is trying to beat.
However, when it comes to working with non-compressible data, SandForce's technology doesn't allow you to realize the architecture's best possible performance. For customers who'd rather not run the averages of compressible versus non-compressible information on their machines, an alternative approach might be preferable. That's what attracts many to Intel's SSD 510 and Crucial's m4.
Samsung's latest SSD shakes up the status quo in a very unexpected way. The 830 delivers its performance without a suite of secret sauce wrapped up in marketing terminology, and it's fast enough to succeed the bevy of SSDs based on SandForce's controller hardware. Its performance is sufficient to even provide a small (but clear) lead over Intel's SSD 510 and Crucial's m4.
Although the 830 does serve up incredible speed, it's not a chart-topper in every benchmark. It seems to struggle with random read and write operations. At low queue depths, its random read performance is better than the 240 GB Vertex 3. However, the 256 GB 830 falls behind Crucial's m4 at the same capacity point. Once you turn up queue depths, both OCZ's drive and the m4 surpass it. Random writes bring us even worse news, as the m4 is able to outperform the 830 by up to 60 percent, while the Vertex 3 delivers twice the performance.
In sequential transfers, Samsung's 830 really shines. For the average desktop user, that's great news. Very few applications and consumer usage models are bound by random I/O. If you don't believe us, take a look at SSD Performance In Crysis 2, World Of Warcraft, And Civilization V. Although we'd probably think twice before picking this as our first choice for a database server, it does just fine in an enthusiast's machine.
The combination of screaming sequentials and so-so random performance makes the Samsung 830 seems like a supercharged Intel SSD 510. We're not as awed by it as we were when OCZ first showed us the Vertex 3, but to be frank, we're standing in the midst of a lot of very fast SSDs right now. In that context, Samsung's 830 performs like a drag racer that puts its rubber down on flat pavement and in a straight line. Meanwhile, the m4 and second-gen SandForce drives are the 4x4s, ready to handle any terrain you put in front of them.