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Samsung 256GB SSD drive review

At 256GB, Samsung's latest SSD solves one of the bugbears of solid state technology for client machines - capacity. But can it also deliver for performance and value?

However, the picture was less clear-cut when we pitted the traditional hard disk against the super-fast SSD in our real-world tests. When running our suite of applications benchmarks, which includes Microsoft Office 2003 and Adobe Photoshop CS4, we found that there was little difference in performance between the two disks: both scored an overall result of 0.98. However, the SSD achieved slightly better results in our Office and 2D graphics benchmarks, although it did fall behind in our multi-tasking benchmark.

Battery life didn't differ massively when using the lower-power SSD, either: in both our heavy and light use tests, both returned similar results, lasting for just over an hour under stress and almost four and a half in light use conditions.

Thankfully, the SSD's performance was far more assured in other areas. When booting from the solid-state drive, for instance, Windows Vista took 42s to load its selection of start-up applications and achieve a usable state - under the same conditions, the normal hard disk to 59s, almost 25 per cent slower.

While its performance in applications wasn't particularly stellar, that doesn't mean that the Samsung SSD won't boost your computing in numerous ways. Boot times are vastly improved, for instance and, even though it's difficult to measure in a concrete manner, using the SSD just feels snappier than a normal disk: menus open up without delay, even in Windows Vista, and applications open far quicker than they would do when booting from a platter-based disk even if, once work and office applications are running, their performance doesn't vary too much.

The Samsung drive is easy to use on a practical level, too; it's the same size as a regular 2.5in hard disk and weighs only 80g, and the same mounting mechanism is used on the SSD as on laptop hard disks, meaning that it'll fit into the variety of caddies and slots used for 2.5in drives in modern laptops so, on the physical side at least, upgrading your notebook to an SSD should be a relatively painless experience.

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