Samsung 830 Series SATA 3 512GB SSD Review – Amazing Performance and an Unbeatable Toolbox
Samsung’s experience with SSDs didn’t start with the 830 Series SSD. Samsung can rightfully claim to be one of the originators of solid state storage as it is currently known and the 830 is the culmination of that knowledge and experience.
Based around a lineup of 27nm Toggle NAND, 256MBs of low power DRAM, and a tri-core ARM controller, the 830 is very much a product of Samsung’s many disciplines.
Both Samsung and Toshiba have are primary providers of SSDs chosen by many OEMs. Until recently, the SSDs used by the likes of Dell and Apple were not fast, but they were reliable; and they have to be. When one of the largest system manufacturers in the world needs a SSD for one of their high-end products, it must be bullet-proof. Merely being trouble free is not enough anymore. Speed and reliability must go hand-in-hand, and that idea is the genesis of the PM830, aka the Samsung 830 SSD.
The 830 is the consumer version of the OEM PM830. The distinctions of each lies solely in the 830′s svelte brushed metal-and-plastic exterior as the OEM versions dispense with the fancy chassis. The 830 was designed, not just for ultra-portable laptops requiring a 7mm height, but is also available to OEMs in a mSATA form factor. We’ve already looked at the PM830 256GB mSATA and the 256GB 830, and today we have the big dog — the 512GB version.
There are 4 different capacities of the 830. Sequential reads are the same across the board, and writes start at 160MB/s with the 64GB, double with the 128GB, and plateau with the 256GB/512GB. IOPS are just about the same story. The two largest 830 members should be similarly capable with 520MB/s and 400MB/s writes and 80K read/36K write with 4KB random operations.
The desktop product bundle ships with a SATA cable, molex-to-SATA power adapter, 3.5″ mounting bracket. Also included is a copy of Norton Ghost 15, a disk with the Samsung SSD Magician, and a certificate to download Batman: Arkham City.
There is a corresponding laptop-oriented bundle which contains a USB to SATA device for data transfer and a spacer to bring the super-slim 830 into a 9.5mm high drive if needed.
The Series 830 SSD also ships with Ghost and a game download. There is also a drive-only SKU, but the extras included in the notebook and desktop kits are certainly worthwhile, and can be found for close to the same price.
The 512GB should be identical to it’s 256GB sibling. After all, the two drives share the same number of NAND flash devices — 64 in total. More NAND dice mean the SSD’s controller can access more of those devices in parallel, and drives with more NAND die are generally faster. This is the reason SSDs get faster as they get larger in capacity (generally speaking).
The 64 NAND dies in the 512GB unit are arranged in 8 packages, each with 8x27nm Samsung Toggle NAND dies inside (8×8 = 64). Samsung’s 27nm Toggle runs at 133MT/s, though Toshiba’s newer 24nm Toggle runs slightly faster at 166MT/s. You can see that slightly-faster Toshiba Toggle at work in our Plextor M3S review.
Whereas the 256GB has 64x4GB dies, the 512GB has 64x8GB dies, giving the drive twice the capacity and ostensibly the same speed. Each package is silk-screened with K9UHGY8U7A-HCK0, the only physical indication internally that would clue you in to the fact the drive you’re holding is 512GB and not one of the smaller siblings.
The proprietary Samsung S4LJ204X01 packs 3 ARM cores mated with 256MB of low-powered DDR2 cache. All 8 NAND packages are located on one side as the Samsung manages to fit a whopping 64GB on each package. The business side of the PCB faces down and transfers heat away from components via thermal pads. You can see the splotchy residue left over from the removal of the PCB from the bottom half of the chassis.
It’s not clear what the controller is doing with all that computational power, but each core is probably capable of doing whatever it needs to do. One core can read while another writes, for example. One thing is for sure though; the 830 is fairly exotic, and you won’t find any of it’s components in another manufacturer’s drive anytime soon. When shopping for a SATA III SSD these days, consumers have only two other main stream controller choices: Marvell and SandForce. Samsung is the only alternative at this time, and it’s most certainly a welcome addition to the market. More diversity in controller and NAND choices is always a good thing, and when it’s accompanied by a high level of polish, it’s hard to not take Samsung seriously long-term.
So how does the 830 fare with only Samsung components on board?