This time last year we took our first look at the Samsung 830. It was a drive that made a lot of sense, especially as Samsung make the memory chips for nearly every SSD on the planet. In the end we found that it was very good indeed, just lacking a little at the top end of the speed range.
The past year has seen an influx of huge performing SSD's, and with the price per GB plummeting there is absolutely no reason not to have at least one SSD in your system, and not one so small you can only just squeeze the OS onto it either.
Samsung have released the 840 in three flavours. We have the standard model with 3 year warranty and TLC NAND, the 840 Pro we're reviewing today with a 5 year warranty and the faster MLC NAND, and it's available as the simple drive option, or with a mounting kit and sundries too. The 840 Pro is aimed at the Enterprise crowd, and enthusiast users. We all love stuff that's been engineered for the Enterprise market thanks to the speed and reliability, so the 840 Pro could be just the thing to make your gaming rig fly.
At a glance you might be forgiven for thinking this is the same as the old drive. Both were (in review form) 256GB models with a SATA6 interface. However this is Samsung we're talking about so beneath the hood all is very different.
The original 830 had 133Mbps NAND, this has 400Mbps. The original MCX controller was a 220MHz ARM 9, whereas this has a tri-core ARM Cortex R4 at 300MHz. As well as the big jump in general speed the 840 has built in AES256 Encryption, ensuring your data remains safe and secure. The biggest claimed improvement is in the small block size, which was the one area we really felt the 830 was lacking.
Finally whereas a lot of drives utilise compression to help keep up the attention grabbing numbers up, the Samsung 840 Pro doesn't compress the data, meaning that no matter what type of file you're using you'll see the same speeds across the board. If you think about RARs, Zips, JPGs and MP3s, you'll realise how many file types you use that already are compressed and therefore will transfer slower on a drive that compresses your data, and therefore how fast the Samsung 840 remains in all scenarios.
|Product Type||Solid State Drive|
|Design||2.5" 7mm ultra-slim|
|Read Speed||Up to 540 MB/s|
|Write Speed||Up to 520 MB/s|
|Random Read||Up to 100K IOPS|
|Random Write||Up to 90K IOPS|
|Contents||Samsung SmartMigration Software, Samsung Software & Manual CD|
As is always the case with SSDs, there isn't much to show. It's a box with a drive in it. However, Samsung have taken the classy route with very minimalist packaging, and a classy looking drive inside.
It's no surprise that we like the black and orange combination. But we do have to say that the orange square makes us think of a telecommunications company. Otherwise the drive is a solid all-black affair and very attractive.
The SSD Magician software covers all of the tasks that you are likely to wish to perform with your new SSD. It also includes the most stress-free Firmware updating procedure that we've encountered on a Solid State Drive, requiring nothing more than a little patience and a reboot. Although we'd prefer it if the software itself would download the Firmware rather than sending you to their site and making you download and unzip it. It's not a problem for us but we know that not everyone is as happy to tinker under the hood as most of you reading this, so Samsung have missed a trick.
Over provisioning dedicates some space to the controller to enable it to perform the wear-levelling tasks that ensure your drive remains in tip top condition.
Crystal Disk Mark
In Crystal Disk Mark we see that the 4K results are, although much better than the 830, not quite up there with the very finest. It's close though. The big block size and sequential read tests give a massive result though. If the read is impressive, the write speeds are something else entirely. The 840 Pro slaughters the competition, especially in the 4K test. Stunning stuff.
Although we're not comparing against the 830 as such, it's worth noting that in ATTO the 840 destroys it, being 100MB/s and 200MB/s better in read and write tests respectively. As for the competition, the Samsung 840 Pro is blisteringly fast in both read and write tests, and particular note has to be paid once again to the small block size score especially the write 16K test where the 840 is 100MB/s faster than the next best drive.
The Anvil all-in-one benchmark is now up to RC5, and we're not sure if the big drop in write performance is part of the change in software or that Anvil doesn't 'like' the 840 Pro. Certainly nothing we've seen so far would lead us to believe the write performance is this bad. The read score continues the fine results of previous tests, and the sequential write tests are fine. The small 4K QD16 write result is anything but good though.
Testing the IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) shows that the Anvil Read tests continue the excellent performance so far, and their is definitely something about the combination of Anvil RC5 and the Samsung 840 Pro that doesn't produce good write performance.
Anvil IOPS Sequential
Demonstrating that the smaller block test might be borked, the Sequential testing in Anvil shows the Samsung 840 Pro to be right on a par with the rest of the SATA6 herd.
AIDA64 Read Suite
The performance is outstanding, just being shaded in the random test by the Corsair Neutron GTX, but otherwise the 840 Pro is a very capable performer.
The SSD market is extremely close, with the similarity of controllers and NAND Flash chips on all the drives meaning that, within certain obvious limitations, the sticker on the cover is the majority of the difference. Thanks to the ever reliable Moore's Law, SSDs have also dramatically reduced in price since the larger capacity drives started appearing. Samsung took advantage of the fact they produced the chips that were on most SSDs to bring the 830 to the market at a decent price and with good performance. It wasn't quite as blazing fast as the very premium models, and when handling small block sizes it struggled a little, but it was a great all rounder.
Now Samsung have gone back and tuned up all the areas that needed a little work and brought us the 840, here in Pro guise.
Unquestionably the tweaks have worked. Thanks to the more powerful ARM R4 MCX controller and better bandwidth the 840 Pro not only tops the charts in nearly all of our 'out and out speed' benchmarks, but the 4K results are a vast improvement upon the 830 and most other drives as well.
It's not only in the speed department that the 840 Pro makes us happy. Samsung have tweaked the wear-levelling algorithms to ensure that with an average amount of normal use (around 40GB a day) the drive should happily last you over 30 years. Considering that most of us replace our storage every 5 years or so, and maybe 10 years for rarely updated systems, then you can be sure that the 840 Pro will outlast its own technical obsolescence.
We have to comment upon the poor write performance we saw in Anvil. Although we don't like to handwave certain results, it's worth noting that this is the first time we've benchmarked with the RC5 version, and that all the other benchmark tests we ran showed the performance of the Samsung 840 Pro to be very good indeed in every scenario. So whilst it may be a fair reflection of the drives performance in certain extreme scenarios, our hands-on experience of the drive backs up our other benchmarks, and we feel we can confidently state that this was an aberration.
So it's blisteringly fast, will last you far longer than you need to, looks the business and, at well under the £1 per GB mark, it is great value for money too. If you're in the market for a new SSD, or looking to upgrade an earlier model that appears wheezy in comparison, we can heartily recommend the Samsung 840 Pro 256GB and it wins our OC3D Gold Award.
Thanks to Samsung for providing the 840 Pro for review. Discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.