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It's really hard to rate a solid-state drive (SSD) without knowing its exact pricing, and that's just what we had to do with the Samsung 830 series. Samsung has been very tight-lipped about how much the 830 costs and will not reveal that until the drive is available for purchase in October. For now the company says that the new drive will be priced similarly to other SSDs of the same standard and capacities on the market and promises that there won't be any "surprises" with the final pricing. For this reason we'll update the rating of this review if the actual price of the drive turns out to be significantly different.
Pricing aside, the Samsung 830 series makes an excellent SSD and it's also one of the best-looking on the market, something that's not a must-have but still a welcome bonus for an internal drive, in case you want to use it as a gift. Supporting SATA 3 (6Gbps), the drive also matters where it's most important: it's one of the fastest among all standard SSDs we've seen.
If you're in the market for a worthy upgrade for your desktop or laptop computer, the Samsung 830 series is definitely worth the consideration.
Design and features
|Drive type||Internal drive|
|Connector options||SATA 3 (6Gbps), SATA 2, SATA|
|Available capacities||64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB|
|Product dimensions||7mm thick, 2.5-inch standard|
|Capacity of test unit||512GB|
|OSes supported||Windows, Mac, Linux|
Following the tradition of the previous model, the Samsung 470 series, the new Samsung 830 series looks incredibly nice with a black aluminum top and a shiny Samsung logo right in the middle. The device looks more like a piece of jewelry than an internal drive.
Though it comes in the 2.5-inch standard, the 830 is just 7mm thin, as opposed to the standard 9mm found in the 470 series and other laptop hard drives. This means it will fit in an ultraportable laptop, but for it to fit tightly in a regular standard laptop drive bay, you'll need a spacer that Samsung provides in a laptop kit. This kit, unfortunately, costs another $10 but also includes an SATA-to-USB adapter that helps turn the SSD into an external drive, making it easy if you want to clone a computer's existing main drive to the 830.
There's also another $10 upgrade kit for desktops, which comes with SATA data and power cables, screws, and a 2.5-inch-to-3.5-inch adapter bracket that helps make the SSD fit in any desktop computer. While it's rather disappointing that these kits cost extra, you can actually get away with not getting any of them and use a piece of homemade padding if you want to use the SSD with a laptop or just let it hang out inside a desktop's chassis. Since the drive has no moving parts and emits almost no heat, the patchwork solution will likely get the job done without any adverse effects.
To make up for the extra cost of the kit, Samsung bundles the 830 series SSD with Norton Ghost 15.0 and Samsung Magician for free. Norton Ghost 15.0 is a handy drive-cloning program that also offers advanced data backup and recovery functionality. Samsung Magician, on the other hand, is a set of software tools that allows users to users to maximize the performance and lifetime of their Samsung SSD. It provides testing, benchmarking functions, the ability to turn on overprovisioning, and so on. Overprovisioning is a feature that helps resize the partition on an SSD to create unused space on the disk, giving the controller more room to improve the drive's performance.
The Samsung 830 series support the latest SATA 3 (6Gbps) and works very well with SATA controllers (including SATA 2 and SATA) we tried it with. It also worked well with all popular operating systems in our trials, including Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. For better performance it's recommended that you use the latest version of the OSes that support the TRIM command, such as Windows 7 and Mac OS 10.6 or later.
The Samsung 830 series performed excellently in our testing, especially where it matters the most: data rates.
We tested the drive by copying a large amount of data both when it was used as a secondary drive and when it was used as the main (boot) drive of the test machine. In the former case, the drive can show its full throughput speed, and in the latter, it represents what normal users would get from using it in daily usage.
When used as a secondary drive, the Samsung 830 series registered a real-world copying speed of 261.63MBps, topping the chart. The second fastest we've seen is the Plextor PX-256M2S, which scored 261MBps, just a tad slower. When used as the main and single drive of the test machine, the Samsung 830 series was slower as expected since it had to perform both reading and writing at the same time, and averaged 172.88MBps, once again the fastest--more than 10MBps faster than the Plextor.
The drive also helps the test machine boot and shut down much faster. On top of that, applications, especially heavy ones, such as games or Photoshop take much less time to load.
In all, we were happy with what the drive offered, performance-wise. It also worked flawlessly during our testing without any problems.
|As secondary drive||As OS drive|
Service and support
Samsung backs the 830 series SSD with a three-year warranty, which is standard for most SSDs, though not as generous as the five-year warranty of the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G. At the company's Web site, you'll find downloads for manuals, software, and firmware for the SSD.
We were really pleased with the new Samsung 830 series SSD and would recommend it to anybody if its price is comparable to or lower than that of other SSDs of the same standard and capacities on the market.