It's been a while since I've gotten my hands on some serious computer hardware, likewise it has been ages since I've upgraded either one of my computers. A couple of years ago I used to take my netbook since my needs did not justify carrying the much heavier notebook. Then I started working on some serious computing applications, from cloud computing to programming and virtualization, I needed something to help me work on the go. That was when I got my notebook. That was also the last time I bought computer hardware (just over a year ago!), until now…
I decided it was time for me to upgrade my notebook, however with notebooks you are usually limited to either RAM or the hard drive. It already came with RAM filled to its max capacity. I don't store a lot of stuff on the hard drive anyway so I don't really need all the extra space. Instead, I decided to eliminate the hard drive and instead get an SSD (Solid State Drive). Sure they are more expensive (cost to storage ratio) and store less, but they are insanely fast!
After lurking around Amazon and reading reviews, I decided to go for a 256GB Samsung 830 series SSD. It was just under $300 ($299 lol) and at the time it seemed like the best buy given the reviews I read. Samsung boasts the 520MB/s read and 400MB/s write speeds but I know those numbers are theoretical.
I was waiting eagerly for Aramex to deliver it and finally, yesterday afternoon I had my hands on the SSD. Let me say that it has been a looooong time since I have unboxed something as exquisite as this SSD. Stuff bought these days usually come in not so impressive packaging, even if you paid an arm (and a leg) to get it. It actually felt like unpacking a luxury item (for geeks).
As I opened the shiny box, the precious SSD was there nice and secure (and damn hot from the delivery…), it actually took some force to take it out. They definitely didn't want this thing to be wobbling around during transit. At the lower left corner the capacity was confirmed to be the 256GB I ordered.
The Samsung 830 is definitely a SSD given how thin it was between my fingers. Since this was the laptop version, a spacer was included just under the SSD in the box (the thing that looks like a frame inside the box below) to make the drive thicker in your laptop's drive bay. I flipped it over and was satisfied that it really was a Samsung since the label mentioned "Made in Korea". Beneath the plastic shell was a black-on-the-outside-grey-on-the-inside envelope that contained the documentation and CDs (Samsung software and a licensed copy of Norton Ghost).
The last thing in the box that Samsung have included is a SATA to USB cable in case you ever wanted to use your SSD as an ultra light weight external drive! Given the sleek design and lack of moving parts you don't really need a case to protect whatever components you fear, or worry about the ugly looks of a conventional, meant to be internal, hard drive.
Once the thing was nice and safe within my notebook (which is also a Samsung by the way), I decided to give Windows a try. The installation process was just as fast as on a regular drive since the slowest component now is my optical drive. Once the installation was over, I was ready for the ultimate test, rebooting. The shutdown process took only 3 seconds! Once the POST screen was gone, I was at the Windows login screen in a around 8 seconds! This was a clean installation of Windows, so I decided to start installing the software I usually use. Just about everything installed in a flash compared to the old mechanical drive days. I now had several services running and a few applications that would start at boot time. Now would be the ultimate test… This time I was at the login screen in about the same amount of time. After entering my password, Windows had loaded everything in under 5 seconds. Windows also conveniently detected the drive as a SSD and enabled TRIM. This SSD is worth every penny!
For the sake of getting real numbers, I decided to run a test using CrystalDiskMark and get real numbers, and here they are in a production environment:
The values above are just about half of what Samsung originally advertised, not sure how they base their tests, but it is still impressive. It is also 2nd place in PassMark's HDD benchmark site. Although I haven't tried any other SSD, I am quite amazed at how much difference mechanical parts can slow your computing down. I can also conclude that the Samsung 830 is a great option for those who want to upgrade their drives to SSD.