Priced at a whopping $700 for the largest-capacity version, which caps at a mere 256GB (it's $280 for the 128GB version), the Samsung 470's top-notch performance only helps create a painful conundrum: you want it so badly yet at the same time you have many reasons not to want it. So think carefully: if you can afford it, and don't really need much data storage space, the drive will make an excellent replacement for your laptop computer. It's superfast, light, and, like all SSDs, designed to be durable and save energy, as it has no moving parts.
Those who have financial constraints, however, might want to check out the hybrid-drive Seagate Momentus XT, which offers somewhat similar performance, has a cap capacity of 500GB, and costs only around $130.
Design and features
|Drive type||2.5-inch solid state|
|Connector options||SATA 3Gbps|
|Available capacities||256GB, 128GB, 64GB|
|Product dimensions||9.5mm, 2.5-inch standard|
|Capacity of test unit||256GB|
|OSes supported||Windows, Mac, Linux|
The new Samsung 470 SSD has the same design as any standard 9.5mm, 2.5-inch internal hard drive. However, its white aluminum casing looks much better, and it's much lighter.
All these aesthetically pleasing features are a little overkill, because at the end of the day this is an internal storage device, which means it will be used inside a computer, hidden from admiring eyes.
Like all SSDs, the Samsung has no moving parts, so it potentially can endure shocks, vibration, and even water damage much better than traditional hard drives. The drive supports the most popular SATA 3Gbps standard, also known as SATA2. This is a little disappointing as a new, much faster SATA 6Gbps standard has been available for a while, and this Samsung doesn't support it.
We tried the Samsung 470 with a few laptops and desktops, where other SATA hard dives were used, and it worked well every time. The operating systems had no problem recognizing the drive, and we could install Windows, Linux, and Mac OS on it without having to use third-party drivers.
Cost per gigabyte
The Samsung 470 is more expensive than other traditional hard drives, including the hybrid Momentus XT. At around $700 for just 256GB, the Samsung costs around $2.70 for 1GB. The Momentus--the most expensive among traditional and hybrid hard drives--costs just about 25 cents per gigabyte, which is more than 10 times cheaper.
Note, however, that the comparison of cost per gigabyte between these two types of internal storage solutions is also largely one-sided; SSDs offer more benefits than traditional platter-based hard drives. Among SSDs, the Samsung 470's cost is about average.
The Samsung 470 shines where it matters the most: performance. Like other hard drives, we tested Samsung thoroughly with many different applications, and it did an excellent job with most of them.
Apart from the throughput test, which focuses on drive performance alone, all other tests are designed to gauge the computer's performance as a whole while using the drive as its main internal storage that hosts the operating system. This means the hard drive only plays a small role in the final score, especially in tests designed to gauge the computer's nonstorage-intensive performance, such as 3D rendering. Nonetheless, the test machine showed visible differences that the Samsung 470 contributed to.
We stacked the Samsung 470 against the Momentus XT, which is the fastest among platter-based 2.5-inch hard drives, and three other SATA 3Gbps hard drives: a 3.5-inch WD VelociRaptor (300GB, 10,000rpm), a 2.5-inch Fujitsu (120GB, 5,400rpm), and a 3.5-inch WD Caviar SE16 (500GB, 7,200rpm). For each hard drive, the test system was re-imaged with exactly the same operating system, system settings, test software, and data.
In the boot time test, the Samsung decidedly took the shortest time, even a few seconds shorter than the Momentus XT, which also uses flash memory to store booting information, allowing for a really fast booting process.
In the office performance test, where we time how long the computer takes to finish a comprehensive set of different concurrent tasks, including Word, Excel, file transferring, and compression, the Samsung took second place, trailing only the WD VelociRaptor, which is a top-tier 3.5-inch hard drive. It was faster than the Momentus XT by about 10 seconds.
In a test that involves using iTunes to convert music from the MP3 to AAC format, the Samsung 470 was a tad faster than the other two 2.5-inch hard drives, but slower than the two 3.5-inch hard drives. The performance gaps between all of the drives in this test, however, were very narrow, just by a second or two.
Similar results were found for the multimedia multitasking test, which gauges the computer's performance when it converts a hi-def movie from one format to another while iTunes is doing a heavy job of music conversion in the background. In this test, the Samsung 470 was right in the middle, faster than the WD Caviar SE16 and the Fujitsu, but slower than the other two.
In the Cinebench benchmark, interestingly, the Samsung was slower than the Fujitsu and faster than the rest of the drives.
If the tests are to measure the computer's performance, the throughput test gauges the drive's performance itself. This makes it the most important test for storage devices, and this is also the one in which the Samsung did the best. We conducted the test by copying a large amount of data from one place to another on the same host drive of the computer, and the Samsung 470 scored by far the fastest. Note that in this test, the drive has to do both writing and reading at the same time. This means its one-way speed (either read or write) could potentially be doubled in real-life usage.
|Multimedia multitasking||iTunes||Office||Boot time|
Service and support
When it comes to storage devices, the length of the warranty is the most important factor, and Samsung offers a decent one. The company backs the 470 SSD with a three-year warranty, which is shorter than the five-year warranty that Segate offers for the Momentus XT but still longer than what other manufacturers offer for their storage devices.