The Samsung SSD 830: A user review

I didn’t need much convincing to purchase a Samsung 830 SSD; I was in the market for a bigger SSD, and my short list consisted of Samsung and Intel drives. So when I found a good price on a 128 GB Samsung 830, I bought two.

The laptops I put the drives in aren’t able to fully take advantage of what the 830 brings to the table, but it’s still a worthwhile upgrade. I thought that two months ago when I installed them, and two months of living with them hasn’t changed my mind.

Curiously, my Dell Inspiron 1505 gives the Samsung 830 a performance rating of 6.7, while my Kingston V+100 in my desktop system (a late-model Socket AM3 with an Nvidia chipset) rates a 6.9. Further investigation reveals the Insprion 1505 doesn’t support AHCI, so the drive can’t reach its full potential. On paper the Samsung is a much faster drive; this probably means you’ll get better results from it with newer hardware.

My only beef with the 830 is that SSDLife doesn’t work with it. It just doesn’t report the statistics that SSDLife uses to make its estimates. Most likely the drives will outlive their usefulness, much like my first-generation OCZ Vertex drives did, but it’s nice for a drive to fail predictably and to be able to plan for its replacement a few months in advance. The 830 won’t give me that luxury, and won’t give me any bragging rights.

Other than that, what can I say? It’s an SSD. The conventional HDD in my old Dell was prone to thrashing at times for no obvious reason–I have plenty of memory in the machine, for starters–but particularly during long downloads. The 830 put an end to that. The drive claims to be able to deliver 100 mb/second throughput during random writes, which is what SSDs do worst. In practice, I was able to bring the old 80 MB Toshiba HDD in that Dell to its knees without a lot of effort, and so far with the Samsung 830, I haven’t been able to do that. It’s fast, it improves battery life, it runs much cooler than the drive it replaced–no more using the laptop as an electric blanket–and it’s silent. The silence is a bit eerie at first, but you get used to it.

Subjectively, it feels faster than my first-generation OCZ Vertex did. If I got enough disk activity going, I could at times overwhelm an OCZ Vertex for a few seconds, and so far I haven’t been able to do that with the Samsung 830. Then again, the same goes for my Kingston V+100. But that point is moot because you can’t buy a Kingston V+100 anymore and you can buy a Samsung 830. To me, the performance isn’t jaw-dropping, because I’ve been using SSDs for almost 4 years. But if you’ve never used an SSD before, the 830 probably will impress you more than it does an SSD veteran. Windows boots in well under a minute (it takes about 40 seconds for me, because I’m loading a 1 GB ramdisk at boot time). Firefox launches in about 4 seconds. MS Office applications launch in about a second.

Even if you don’t have SATA 3, the Samsung 830 has benefits for you. If you’re like me, you spend more time doing random I/O than sequential I/O, so the drive won’t saturate the SATA bus most of the time anyway. And even if you connect it to a SATA-PATA bridge and put it in an ancient Pentium 4 (a configuration I haven’t tried), you’d still just barely keep the IDE bus saturated, and you’d benefit from the superfast seek times.

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