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Upgrading a computer with a solid state drive (SSD) is one of the best ways of boosting its real world performance across the board. Today we are going to review and compare two of the latest 256 GB SSDs on the market from Samsung and Kingston. Both drives on test are within the USD 450 to 550 price range.
Before going on, we’d highly suggest that you read our Anatomy of SSD Units tutorial which provides all the background information you need to know about SSDs. Both of the SSDs featured in this review use MLC memory chips.
Capacious 256 GB SSDs like these two are ideal for notebook users who will usually be limited to a single drive setup as they have much more room for files than smaller capacity drives. Desktop systems almost always have room for multiple storage drives, so many users opt for a cheaper low capacity SSD alongside a mechanical hard drive to save money.
In the table below, we are comparing both of the units that we’re going to review. Both units use a SATA-300 interface and the usual 2.5” form factor. The Kingston drive is available as a standalone drive or as part of a ‘Desktop Bundle’. Our sample included the ‘Desktop Bundle’ which contains an adapter to make the SSD fit a 3.5” hard drive bay and SATA power and data cables. It also includes software which lets the user create an exact replica of their current hard drive on the SSD, making the upgrade very simple. Kingston also includes a USB 2.0 enclosure for the SSD which makes this process even more simple.
|Samsung||470 Series||MZ-5PA256||256 GB||USD 450|
|Kingston||SSDNow V+100||SVP100S2B/256GR||256 GB||USD 523|
We researched the prices at Buy.com on the day that we published the review and noted the following observations:
- The listed price for the Kingston drive is for the ‘Desktop Bundle’ version that we have for review. The standalone drive is also available from Buy.com but is actually more expensive at USD 541 due to the large discount on the ‘Desktop Bundle’ version.
- Our sample of the Samsung drive doesn’t have the same casing as the retail version which is made from aluminum with orange accents. The insides are identical, though, so all our performance benchmarks are still valid.
In the table below we provide a more in-depth technical comparison between the two drives. Most chip manufacturers don’t detail the specifics of their chips on their websites, so we are only linking those we found.
|Samsung 470 Series||Samsung S3C29MAX01-Y340||2 x 64 MB (Samsung K4T1G164QE-HCE6)||Samsung K9HDGD8U5M-HCKO|
|Kingston V+100||Toshiba T6UG1XBG||128 MB (Micron ONA17-D9HSJ)||Toshiba TH58NVG7P7EBAK2|
[nextpage title=”A Closer Look”]
Even though they both have the same 256 GB capacity, the Kingston and Samsung units differ greatly in most other respects. We will outline these differences below.
Kingston has decided to use a metal casing for this drive which makes it feel very solid. This adds significantly to the weight, though, making this unit heavier than most 2.5” mechanical hard drives.
All of the chips within the Kingston drive are located on one side of the board which sits on a large thermal pad to aid heat dissipation. Kingston has chosen to use eight 32 GB chips to make up the total capacity along with a 128 MB buffer. In the center of the board we find the Toshiba T6UG1XBG controller which is identical to the model used in Apple’s latest Macbook Air. This supports maximum read and write speeds of 230 MB/s and 180 MB/s, respectively.
The Samsung drive sports a lightweight plastic casing which makes it ideal for use in a laptop. It should protect the insides reasonably well but lacks the indestructible feeling of the Kingston casing.
It’s clear that Samsung has designed the drive’s board to be used with 1.8” drives as well as 2.5” ones, as it’s far smaller than the outer casing. Samsung has chosen to use sixteen 16 GB memory chips to make up the 256 GB capacity which are located on both sides of the board. On the top of the board we find one of the two buffer chips and nine memory chips. The remaining buffer chip and seven memory chips are located on the underside of the board alongside the Samsung S3C29MAX01-Y340 controller. This supports maximum read and write speeds of 250 MB/s and 230 MB/s, respectively.
[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]
During our testing procedures we used the configuration listed below. The only variable component between each benchmarking session was the SSD being tested.
- CPU: Intel Core i5-2500S
- Motherboard: Gigabyte P67A-UD3
- Memory: Two 2 GB Kingston HyperX Genesis
- Video Card: AMD Radeon HD 6790
- Video Resolution: 1920 x 1080
- Video Monitor: Viewsonic VX2260WM
- Power Supply: Corsair HX850W
- CPU Cooler: Thermaltake Contac 29 BP
- Boot Drive: Kingston SSDNow V+100 128 GB
- Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium using NTFS files system
- Intel INF Driver Version: 220.127.116.115
- AMD Video Driver Version: Catalyst 11.4
We adopted a 3% error margin in our tests, meaning performance differences less than 3% can’t be considered meaningful. Therefore when the performance difference between two products is less than 3% we consider them to have similar performance.
As you will have gathered from the last page, we measured the performance of each drive using three different programs CrystalDiskMark, DiskSpeed32 and HD Tune. We will be looking at the test results from each program in the order they appear in the list above, dedicating a separate page to each test.
It’s important to note that we connected the SSDs to a SATA-600 port on our motherboard rather than a SATA-300 port which could cause performance limitations.
We used CrystalDiskMark’s default configuration for our tests which benchmarked each SSD using a file size of 1000 MB with five test runs. Please read on to see the results.
In the sequential read test, the Samsung 470 Series drive was around 10% faster than the Kingston V+100 drive. Both these results are very similar to the manufacturer claimed performance figures.
The sequential write results are much closer than the sequential read results but the Samsung 470 Series drive still beats the Kingston V+100 drive by about 3.5%
In the random read test using 512 KB blocks, the Kingston V+100 was the best performing drive and was 7% faster than the Samsung 470 Series unit.
The Samsung 470 Series drive takes the performance lead again in the random write test using 512 KB blocks, with 30% better performance than the Kingston V+100 unit.
In the random read test using 4 KB blocks, the Kingston V+100 was 11% faster than the Samsung 470 Series drive.
The Samsung 470 Series drive bettered the Kingston V+100 drive by around 57% in the Random Write test using 4 KB blocks.
We will now take a look at the results from DiskSpeed32 which lets us measure performance in a different way, sequentially reading all sectors from the SSD.
First of all, we will look at the burst transfer rates of each drive. These show us the maximum transfer rate between the motherboard’s SATA port and the controller within the SSD.
In the burst transfer rate test, the Kingston V+100 was 33% faster than the Samsung 470 Series drive.
Things are much the same in the maximum transfer rate test where the Samsung 470 Series drive outperformed the Kingston V+100 by 24%.
But in the more important average transfer rate test, the Samsung 470 Series managed to achieve a 24% lead over the Kingston V+100 drive.
In the minimum transfer rate test, the Samsung 470 Series drive beat the Kingston V+100 drive by around 464%. During the test, there was only one moment when the Kingston drive’s transfer rate dropped to this low level, though.
[nextpage title=”HD Tune”]
Finally, we will look at the results recorded using HD Tune.
In the HD Tune burst transfer rate test, the Kingston V+100 outperformed the Samsung 470 Series drive by around 185%.
But as we saw in DiskSp
eed32, the Samsung 470 Series drive beat the Kingston V+100 by 18% in the average transfer rate test which is more significant than the burst rate.
The Samsung 470 Series drive wins the maximum transfer rate test, beating the Kingston V+100 drive by 13%.
The Kingston drive had some issues in the minimum transfer rate test, experiencing a large momentary drop in performance near the beginning of the test. The Samsung 470 Series drive outperformed the Kingston drive by 180%.
[nextpage title=”Access Time”]
Transfer rates aren’t the only measurements that are important to consider when evaluating a storage device. We must also consider the access time of the storage unit. This is the time taken for the storage device to start delivering data after the computer has requested it. So, the shorter the access time, the better. It is measured using milliseconds (ms, which is equal to 0.001 s).
While mechanical hard disk drives tend to have access times in the tens of milliseconds, the access times of solid state drives are much closer to zero as the components are 100% electronic. We recorded access times of 0.1ms for both drives in DiskSpeed32 and HD Tune.
It’s clear from our tests that the Samsung 470 Series 256 GB unit is the fastest out of the two SSDs on test as it came out on top in most of the benchmarks. But there were some benchmarks in which the Kingston SSDNow V+100 proved superior.
The Kingston V+100 drive performed better than the Samsung 470 Series in random read tests in CrystalMark which use 4 KB and 512 KB blocks. But the Samsung 470 Series performed better in the sequential read and write tests and both 4 KB and 512 KB random write tests.
Moving on to DiskSpeed32, the Kingston V+100 drive performed better than the Samsung 470 Series unit in the burst transfer rate test while the Samsung 470 series beat the Kingston by quite a margin in the maximum, minimum and average transfer rate tests.
In HD Tune, the Kingston drive also beat the Samsung 470 Series in the burst transfer rate test while failing to beat it in the others. Taking all into account, the Samsung 470 Series boasts best overall performance out of the two drives.
We were hoping that Kingston’s SSDNow V+ 100 256 GB would be as good a value for the money as their lower capacity models but it has a USD 70 price premium over the Samsung 470 Series 256 GB drive which performs better overall. So out of the two, we would definitely say that the Samsung 470 Series 256 GB is the best choice.