A year ago, it was difficult, if not impossible, to find a solid state drive with a capacity greater than 100GB. And, if you wanted something that size, you’d have to pay thousands of dollars. This year, models starting at 250GB cost less than $800 and notebook vendors like Dell are offering them as configuration options on high-end notebooks. But when you spend hundreds of dollars on an SSD, you want to know it can provide a significant speed boost over a mechanical hard drive. While Samsung’s 256GB MMDOE56G5MXP-0VB SSD may not seem cheap at $799, it delivers groundbreaking performance at a fairly low cost per gigabyte.
How We Tested
To measure its performance, we put the Samsung MMDOE56G5MXP-0VB through a series of real-world tests and synthetic benchmarks and compared its results to those we got from three other SSDs: the OCZ Vertex (120GB), Intel X25-M (80GB), and Imation M-Class (128GB). We also compared the test results with those we got from the fastest mechanical drive we’ve ever tested, the 7,200-rpm Fujitsu MHZ2320BJ (320GB). All tests were performed on our standard test bed, a Gateway P-7808u FX with 4GB of RAM, a 2-GHz Core 2 Quad Q9000 CPU, Nvidia GeForce 9800M graphics, and 64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium.
To test best-case scenario throughput, we ran Sisoftware Sandra Lite and HD Tach 18.104.22.168, two programs that measure read transfer rates and seek times under ideal conditions. In Sandra Lite, the Samsung SSD lead the pack with a 232.6-MBps transfer rate and 1-millisecond seek time. However, in HD Tach, it was slightly behind the Intel X25-M and OCZ Vertex with a read transfer rate of 176.8 MBps.
|Fujitsu MHZ2320BJ 7,200 rpm(320GB)|
|Imation M-Class (128GB)|
|Intel X-25M (80GB)|
|OCZ Vertex (120GB)|
|Samsung MMDOE56G5MXP-0VB (256GB)|
Laptop Transfer Test
On our file transfer test, in which we copy 4.97GB of mixed media files from one folder to another, the Samsung drive lead the pack by a wide margin, besting its nearest competitor, the OCZ Vertex, by nearly 20 percent. It even significantly outperformed the 7,200-rpm drive.
In our zip and unzip tests, during which we archive the same 4.97GB of mixed media files and then extract them, the Samsung drive placed just behind the OCZ Vertex, completing the zip in 4 minutes and 51 seconds and the unzip in 2 minutes and 55 seconds. It was comfortably ahead of the Intel X-25M, Imation M-Class, and the 7,200-rpm drive.
Application Open Times
The Samsung SSD came within a few imperceptible tenths of a second of the Intel and OCZ drives in most of our application open tests, during which we time the launch of four popular programs: Adobe Photoshop CS4 opening to a 398MB TIFF file, Adobe Reader 9 opening to a 567-page PDF (the 9/11 Commission Report), Firefox 3 opening to a blank screen, and Microsoft Word 2007 opening to a new document. All three leading SSDs blew both the Imation M-Class and the 7,200-rpm drive out of the water.
Application Opens Under Stress
On our application stress tests, which are designed to test each drive’s multitasking performance by opening the same four applications while zipping a file in another window, the Samsung drive returned strong results, opening Adobe Reader in a mere 4.2 seconds and Photoshop CS4 in a speedy 19.3 seconds. In Firefox 3 and Word 2007 opens, it fell behind by a hair, tying the Imation M-Class for fourth place with Firefox and falling behind the M-Class with Word.
Many factors affect startup time, besides drive speed—post time, time to power up devices, startup programs—so even a blazing SSD may not have much effect on boot time. In fact, the otherwise speedy Samsung booted our test notebook more slowly than all of its competitors except the Imation M-Class. Even the 7,200-rpm drive started the system more quickly. On the other hand, the gap between fastest and slowest boot times was under 4 seconds.
Because Samsung does not target the retail market with its SSDs, it’s rare to find this drive being sold under the Samsung brand, but we located it selling for $799 on Pinnaclemicro.com. However, Corsair sells a drive under the model number CMFSSD-256GBG2D, which the memory maker said is a rebrand of this drive, that goes for a street price of about $699. We have yet to verify that it is exactly the same drive. At $799 or $3.12 per gigabyte, the Samsung drive offers similar value to other drives of this capacity. The 250GB OCZ Vertex, for example, currently retails for around $799, or $3.20 per gigabyte, and the 160GB Intel X25-M sells for about $629, or $3.93 per gigabyte. Users who want a high speed SSD and are willing to settle for a lower capacity should get the OCZ Vertex 120GB, which goes for a lower $374.
The Samsung MMDOE56G5MXP-0VB drive is also available as a configuration option on Dell’s XPS M1330 and M1730 notebooks for only $300 to $400 above the cost of a 5,400-rpm drive. At these prices, the Samsung is a more useful option for most business users than a faster processor.
The Samsung MMDOE56G5MXP-0VB offers blistering read and write performance in a capacity that is large enough for even the most-demanding mobile professionals. With 256GB, you will have more than enough space for a library of media, several large applications, and a full install of Windows or Mac OS. If you need the capacity and can afford the $799 price, this drive could make a world of difference for your existing notebook or integrated in a new system.