Samsung Series 9 15″ NP900X4C Ivy Bridge Ultrabook Overview and SSD Performance Analysis

SSD PERFORMANCE

For those new to SSDs, it is important to recognize that the most visible upgrade one will see in a computer is that achieved through migrating a hard drive to an SSD.  It is more visible than increasing RAM or even preferring a higher CPU.  If you have been relying on a hard drive previous to trying a SSD for the first time, be ready for it as you will be amazed.  I remember being quoted as describing this visible performance increase as, “the computer knowing what you are going to do before you do”, a few years back when an SSD purchase was simply not affordable to the typical consumer.

With respect to this comparison, we are pitting the best mSATA SSD that we have ever tested against one of the worst. Lets first take a look at the compressible performance of this SSD.

ATTO DISK BENCHMARK VER. 2.46

ATTO Disk Benchmark is perhaps one of the oldest benchmarks going and is definitely the main staple for manufacturer performance specifications. ATTO uses RAW or compressible data and, for our benchmarks, we use a set length of 256mb and test both the read and write performance of various transfer sizes ranging from 0.5 to 8192kb. Manufacturers prefer this method of testing as it deals with raw (compressible) data rather than random (includes incompressible data) which, although more realistic, results in lower performance results.

To the uneducated consumer, this result looks great and definitely hits the SATA 3 range.  Manufacturers use this type of testing to determine their specifications because they understand that sales are achieved where the consumer can relate to higher performance.  What the consumer is not aware of is that these high transfer speeds of 492MB/s read and 314MB/s write are reached through high sequential disk access, this being a level of transfer that will only be used in less than 1% of their activities.

CRYSTAL DISK BENCHMARK VER. 3.0 X64

Crystal Disk Benchmark is used to measure read and write performance through sampling of raw (0/1 Fill/compressible) or random data which is, for the most part, incompressible. Many new ‘SandForce Driven’ SSD owners who can’t wait to test the performance of their SSD often grab this program and run a quick test, not realizing that they are testing with incompressible data rather than compressible data used in testing by manufacturers.

Using Crystal DiskMark, we have tested both the U100 (left) and SMART SSD (right) and we can obviously see a significant difference.  Not concentrating on the Sequential or even 512k transfer levels, take a look specifically at the low 4k random write results.  The’low 4k’ transfer is very important as it is seconded only to disk access speed where a visible performance upgrade is observed.  In short, the higher the low 4k random write transfer speed, the more likely it wil be that we observe a performance increase.

In these two results, we used highly incompressible data as the data sample, this data being simlar to that of music, movies or photographs.  At first, it may almost appear that the Sandisk betters the MyDigitalSSD SMART simply because of the Sequential write scores but remember, low 4k random writes are the key to visible performance increase.

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Martyn
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Martyn

Nice review,
I purchased the 15 inch today from JBHIFI in Australia as it was on special for $1400 AU which had i7 ivy bridge instead of i5. Mine also came with the samsung SSD. I read a few forums and it seems only some machines have the samsung SSD which is a bit disappointing especially when you are paying for their higher end machines.

Les@TheSSDReview
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Agree totally. To me, disappointing is the fact that companies do not differentiate and list which SSD is installed, especially with such varying differences in performance. This was first seen in our Zenbook review and it’s good to have it spoken of here as well as I was not sure.

interhead
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interhead

My samsung PN900X4C got the mz -mpc1280/okn samsumg ssd. New series! it is a much better disk but not faster than sandforce.

Les@TheSSDReview
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There are many that would prefer the SSD you have in that system to any other. It is a good thing to see that they are now installing them, the unfortunate part is the lack of identification that allows us to know what we are getting.

Brian
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Brian

Les, I just purchased a used Samsung 9-15 ivy bridge and would like to upgrade the SSD. With what is now available what would you suggest. I would like to go to 500GB. Thanks, Brian

Stoli67
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Stoli67

Does the box say which SSD is installed – so you can check before you buy it?

Les@TheSSDReview
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No, like the Zenbook one only knows after testing and understanding the performance, or lack thereof.

Satpal Chander
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Satpal Chander

I can’t believe that Samsung haven’t put a 1080p screen on this 15″ ultrabook. The new Zenbooks 11″&13″ both have 1080p ips screens. Also surprised that they didn;t manage to squeeze a discrete gfx card into this 15″ chasis.
In all honesty if Apple can pack a Nvidia 650m and a quad core i7 ivy bridge into a package thats only ~1lbs heavier, then surely someone like Samsung should be able to produce something in the same league. The new MBP Retina is just about my perfect laptop, apart from the price!!!

Les@TheSSDReview
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Never been a Mac Guy bt have to admit I may cave in once the new MacAir is released. Agree totally with the gfx card, however this screen s amazing. I almost wonder if battery life becomes a concern with the two factors you spoke of.

Satpal Chander
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Satpal Chander

If the claimed run time on the MBP is as stated (7hrs) then, can we assume that Windows is the problem with battery life?

BTW great site.

Les@TheSSDReview
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Thank you…

jon
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jon

So am I reading this correctly that the reviewer only loves this ultrabook AFTER he replaces the SSD?

Les@TheSSDReview
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No, not at all. This ultrabook is one of, if not, the best on the market right now. It’s Achilles heal is the SSD which 99% of the population will never notice. I, on the other hand, run a website that has evaluated just about every SSD released in the last three years and I would be foolish NOT to put the best mSATA SSD available in the system since I have it right in front of me with countless others. My analysis, in the end relates that for the crowd in which it was intended, this is probably the… Read more »

jon
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jon

Thanks. Some other questions: The AO3US (i7 model) doesn’t seem to be out in the states yet. Samsung doesn’t even advertise the AO3US on its own website– why is this? Any idea when to expect it in the US and is it worth the wait rather than just purchasing the AO2US (i5 model)? Also, do you expect other significant upgrades to the series 9 over the next few weeks?

Les@TheSSDReview
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Samsung doesnt announce until release much like others which is why the i7 is not public (for the most part) yet. Unless you have a specific reason, 99.9% of the population could never visibly tell the diff between the i5 and i7.

jon
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jon

Amazon is selling an i7 version that comes with a serial ATA 256 GB SSD. Any idea which SSD this is and if it’s any good?

http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Series-NP900X4C-A03US-15-Inch-Laptop/dp/tech-data/B0082PZ1JU/ref=de_a_smtd

Les@TheSSDReview
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As ours is the SanDisk and all I have read are the SanDisk…

keithcombs
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keithcombs

Are you saying the SSD you installed is the best?

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

If we are looking at the complete analysis we did on the MyDigitalSSD 256GB SMART Drive, I would have to say that, most definitely, this SSD has shown itself to be the top on the market BY A STRETCH for capacity (256GB), performance (Vantage scoring) and price. Do you know of another that can grab top spot in all three qualities?

Now, this is actually the ADATA XPG SX300 SSD and, if ADATA puts out a similar priceon release, the tables turn as we know ADATA will be offering a 5 year warranty, vice 3, for this same drive.

keithcombs
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keithcombs

Yes. the Samsung Series 830 mSATA, right? Oh wait, you said available.

Did you do a side-by-side compare of the Sammy 256GB mSATA SSD and the MyDigitalSSD?

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

You are dead on. the Samsung 830, as much as I like that mSATA SSD, is not publicly available. Furthermore, it’s performance did not match in any of our testing and a side by side isn’t necessary when we pride ourselves in consistency throughout our testing. So the 830 gets hit in availability, price and performance at the end of the day. Let me guess….that is the SSD in the new Surface??? Send me one and I will get it tested right away. By the way, I have very close contacts in Samsung and they all experienced my jumping up… Read more »

keithcombs
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keithcombs

I can’t answer that. Wink.

Please tell Samsung on your end to make the 13.3″ Series 9 with 8GB RAM and the 256GB Series 830 mSATA. That would be my dream machine until they come out with a 15″ PLS screen.

Thanks Les. Your site rocks as usual.

Les@TheSSDReview
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Samsung is a funny company and heeds the advise of those ‘outside the group’ very carefully and so they should. Do you know of any other company that sells 2 televisions in every second of the day? As well, spot open here if your ever interested in joining the team Keith! eheh Until, you are always welcome to make guest contributions and I wil be waiting for that Surface for review!

Gordon
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Gordon

You mentioned you swapped your old Toshiba Z830 for the Samsung Series 9.
Any reason why?
Currently, the issues I’m getting with my Z830 include: Fan noise, a glossy screen, and a (counter intuitively) bulky power cable.
Does the samsung series 9 ultrabook have these issues?

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

The fan is not noticeable with the Series 9, the screen is a matte but not so that it appear matt and the cord is very thin given exception to the adapter which, peculiar enough, is shaped lik an SSD eheh. Love the Toshiba, however, very disappointed that they havent sent out that upgrade to run it at SATA 3 levels asI had discovered initially. The one thing in the industry right now that disturbs me is that, although we have advance to SATA 3, notebook manufacturers have fallen behind and believe the consumer will be just as happy with… Read more »