MacBook Air (mid-2012) MBA Review Part 2 – Samsung and Toshiba (SandForce) SSDs Go Head To Head

REPORT ANALYSIS AND FINAL THOUGHTS

The best news we can see in this report is that, for potential MBA owners or even new owners, we have demonstrated first hand that the two SSDs chosen by Apple are top tier SSDs and among the best available today.  Deciding on which to get may even be an easier choice as it seems that current 64 and 128GB systems are Toshiba SSDs while 256 and 512GB systems seem to be that of Samsung.  This actually has a very logical ring to it as most typical consumers don’t have a need for the increased capacity or performance with respect to the increased transfer of incompressible data that a photographer, videographer or musician might have.

In examining the overall benchmark results, any thoughts that the Toshiba ‘LSI SandForce Driven’ SSD might have substandard specifications and performance compared to the Samsung were quickly put to rest through initial performance results above 500MB/s.  From that point, both the Toshiba and Samsung SSDs took turns at being the top dog in each benchmark; that was until PCMark Vantage results were compared.

PCMark Vantage favors compressible data testing and that might give Toshiba the advantage to some extent, however, that could easily be countered by the fact that we are testing with a higher capacity Samsung PM830 SSD which has higher performance ratings than it’s 128GB little brother.  As well, we have tested the PM830 in its new state and in a mSATA form factor to which it had amazing PCMark Vantage results.  The fact that the Samsung did so poorly in Vantage testing (36892 pts) and couldn’t break into SATA 3 transfer speeds even once, showed a very sharp contrast to the Toshiba SSD, which had several test results in the SATA 3 range and a Total Point Score almost 20000 points higher at 56812.

The icing on the cake has to be the partnership between LSI SandForce and both Toshiba and Apple, a partnership that many never would have predicted a few months ago.  SandForce, a company that released it’s first SSD processor to the market just over three years ago, has pushed like no other to make it’s mark in the SSD world.  For that effort, LSI SandForce has been rewarded partnership with just about every SSD manufacturer in the world except Crucial/Micron and Samsung.  As much as we might have thought the LSI purchase of SandForce or even Intel’s partnership was a vote of confidence for this company of just over 190 employees (prior to LSI purchase), this partnership with Toshiba in building a new Apple SSD just seems like a final nod of approval.

Apple MacBook Air (mid-2012) Prices at Amazon

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5 comments

  1. 🙂 Thank you so much for this excellent review, exquisite not only in
    its findings but also in terms of the amazingly simplistic manner in
    which you presented the essential facts and clearly bring about the
    important distinctions between the Toshiba SandForce Driven SSD and the
    Samsung SSD to light. As a novice to SSD’s and the MBA alike, your
    findings have not only made it easier for me to choose the MBA with the specs that fits my budget, I also no longer feel like I’m getting a “lesser deal for my buck” from Apple by choosing one blindly over the other, something that I was thinking of considering in 2011, while being at the same crossroads as I find myself today.

    Last year I had decided NOT to opt for the MBA, considering the vast difference in the performance between the Toshiba & Samsung SSD’s & having no way to determine how to go about choosing the best SSD without leaving things to fate! As usual, the “Genie-Ass’s” @ Apple were of No help at all-Many did not even know what I was talking about! This year, thanks to your review, I find myself better equipped and more empowered to make the right decision!

    In light of Apple’s known business practice of “discrimination” in sourcing SSD’s from two different vendors and not giving a choice to the end user as to which SSD we want to purchase at the point of sale, your review breathes new hope & light in the current scenario by empowering the end user with the required information so that we get to know what we’re paying for and helping us set our “expectations” accordingly.

    I’m also grateful to you for investing your time & effort in publishing your findings in record time & thanks for not taking your reader’s patience for granted, unlike some of your colleagues in the same industry! Like last year, I was waiting for Anandtech for publishing their in-depth review for the 2012 MBA’s & it’s SSD to finally decide if one was worth switching to this year, and after waiting for what seemed to be an eternity, it looked like Anand had found his dream machine in the new Retina MBP and having reviewed it thoroughly, he & his team seemed uninterested in helping prospective MBA buyers this year.. they may be hard at work on it right now-I don’t know & I no longer care but I’m surely glad I stumbled upon you site and got the information I was looking for! Thanks a ton!!! 🙂

  2. Perfect drive to offload outlook ost file and windows search index 🙂

  3. @Les: Thanks for the review.. Quick question:Since you have both the MBA’s 128GB/256GB with you, can you please check & let us know which panels(Samsung/LG) do they have & your comments about the visible contrast & color vibrancy difference on both-I know I’m requesting this info on theSSDreivew site & reviewing panels is by no means your primary focus but i’ll be extremely grateful if you can help me (& others like me) with this since I can’t seem to be able to get a clear answer from other websites & forums to help me decide if I’ll be okay with getting an LG Panel, as it’s all a lottery anyways! Thanks a ton, in anticipation!

  4. Hi,
    I have a question.. I have X1 Carbon (2012). I am looking to upgrade my ssd to higher capacity. Can you please suggest which would be the best and the cheapest ?

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