SSD Review – Head to Head Test – Crucial M4 vs Intel 330 vs Samsung 830 Solid State Drives

Crucial M4, Sasmung 830, Intel 330
Crucial M4, Samsung 830, Intel 330 Series – Solid State Drive showdown

The last few months have seen a substantial drop in the prices of Solid State Drives.

One of the most cost-effective performance upgrades you can perform on an older computer – desktop, laptop, netbook, (Windows, Mac or Linux does not matter) is upgrading the existing hard drive to a newer solid state model. We also recommend upgrading the memory to the maximum supported by the motherboard. Before proceeding though, do make sure that your specific make and model of computer supports the drive you plan to purchase as most drives are not returnable unless defective.

To keep the spending down, you may want to purchase a smaller SSD and install a fresh copy of your Operating System and Applications on the SSD, keeping your Data on the Existing Hard Drive. Most SSD manufacturers offer bare drives as well as kits that contain a USB cable, mounting adapters and software to clone your existing hard drive to the new SSD.

Three of the top drives on the market now with a high reputation for both performance and reliability are the Crucial M4, Intel 330 and Samsung 830 series of 6Gbps SATAIII drives.

In evaluating the best solution for our clients we decided to go with the vendor reliability ratings rather than outright performance, and therefore decided to put the drives to the test ourselves on our very own test rig.

We cloned the three drives with an identical data set – OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion and some Applications and hooked them up as the primary drive to an Ivy Bridge Core i7 Mid-2012 MacBook Pro to see how they would compare.

Apple Macbook Pro Ivy Bridge Mid 2012 TestBed
Apple Macbook Pro Ivy Bridge Mid 2012 Test Bed

Here are the manufacturer’s claims taken directly from their respective websites. We deliberately avoided listing their IOPS (Input Output Operations per Second) figures, simply because each of the three manufacturers’ rate their drives at different file sizes and so listing it would be an apples to oranges comparison that would be very confusing.

; Crucial M4 Samung 830 Intel 330
Sequential Read 500 MB/s 500 MB/s 500 MB/s
Sequential Write 260 MB/s 450 MB/s 450 MB/s
Warranty Period 3 yrs 3 yrs 3 yrs
Components MLC MLC MLC
Form Factor 2.5 inch SATA 2.5 inch SATA 2.5 inch SATA
Interface SATA III – 6.0 Gb/s SATA III – 6.0 Gb/s SATA III – 6.0 Gb/s

The screenshots below are just some of the tests we conducted with the free AJA System Test using the Sweep Binary Frame Size test using a 1GB file with frame sizes of 16KB, 32KB, 64KB, 128KB, 256KB, 512KN, 1MB, 2MB, 4MB, 6MB and 8 MB.

File System Caching was disabled.

Also included for comparison is a the same test run on a conventional Hard Disk Drive

You can see that the performance of of the 500 GB 7200RPM HDD with a 16MB buffer is’nt too shabby but gets smoked by all of the SSD’s.

Chipset Information with HDD connected
Chipset Information with HDD connected
Hitachi HDD Performance Results
500GB HDD, 7200 RPM Hitachi Conventional Hard Drive Test Results
Chipset Information with SSDs connected
Chipset Information with SSDs connected
Crucial M4 SSD Performance Results
Crucial M4 256GB SSD, Test Results
SSD Intel 330 Performance
Intel 330 240GB SSD, Test Results


Sasmsung 830 256GB SSD, Test Results
Samsung 830 256GB SSD, Test Results

Trim Support in OS X may also be enabled using Alessandro Boschini’s Chameleon SSD Optimizer or Oskar Groth’s Trim Enabler. Don’t forget to donate if you use either of their applications and find them useful. Unfortunately native TRIM support is not available under OS X unless the drive is an Apple SSD. Windows Vista, 7 and 8 users have no such limitation. Most recent Linux distributions are fine too.

This is by no means a comprehensive test but should give you a fair idea of how the drives perform under similar conditions. All tests were performed on the same computer with identical data, at approximately the same ambient temperature, a fully charged battery and the MacBook Pro connected to a power source. More importantly the files sizes used to test each drive were the same. While this test may be overly simplistic, it should still give you a fair idea of the relative performance of each of these three very popular drives

All done in the interest having fun with technology and providing our clients with accurate information to make an informed decision. We’ll let you guess which one stayed in the MacBook Pro ;-)

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Posted in OS X, Storage, Upgrades
Frame Size Hitachi 7200RPM SSD Crucial M4 SSD Intel 330 SSD Samung 830 SSD
16 KB 60.7 110.3 95 131
32 KB 82.8 211 142.5 182.6
64 KB 85 304.8 216.5 313.8
128 KB 63.6 320.4 262.1 342.4
256 KB 82.1 206.1 272.3 321.4
512 KB 89 412.4 308.4 444.1
1 MB 87.1 455.2 413.9 387.3
2 MB 82.9 482.4 455.5 461
4 MB 81.5 480.8 478.5 466.8
6 MB 88.8 508.4 485.7 483.8
8 MB 88.8 502.1 491.6 492
; ; ; ; ;
Frame Size Hitachi 7200RPM SSD Crucial M4 SSD Intel 330 SSD Samung 830 SSD
16 KB 57.7 122.1 103.2 114.5
32 KB 83.9 156.9 169.9 259.8
64 KB 89 192.3 249.6 285.8
128 KB 88.9 191.9 294.4 272.1
256 KB 87.4 238.2 300.6 304.2
512 KB 87.8 243 364.9 316.6
1 MB 88.8 266.5 409.7 368
2 MB 88.9 258.1 440.2 389.6
4 MB 88.7 253.4 461.7 400.8
6 MB 84.3 163.4 469.0 398.4
8 MB 88.7 266.4 473.9 405.1