Introduction

Samsung has been making steady progress in becoming one of the major players in the consumer SSD market. Even before the SSD 470, Samsung was a major player in the industry with their mostly OEM SSDs, but this took a dramatic change when the SSD 830 was released. Samsung never really marketed the SSD 470, even though it was a reasonable competitor back at its launch. The SSD 830 was Samsung’s first SSD that really received media and consumer attention, and for good reason: it was one of the best consumer SSDs on the market.

With the 840 and 840 Pro, Samsung took a big step forward in marketing. Instead of hosting a regular press release and providing reviewers with the drives, Samsung flew around 70 media representatives from all around the world to Seoul, South Korea for their Global SSD Summit. Samsung spent two days talking about their new drives, including several live demos and presentations on Samsung’s future plans. For the first time, Samsung also opened the doors of one their NAND manufacturing plants to media and we were allowed to meet with some of their engineers in person and ask questions about their NAND and SSDs.

We have already reviewed the 840 Pro, but Samsung did not sample the regular 840 until the Summit. I started testing the 840 right after I got back from Seoul and I was able to provide you with some preliminary benchmarks shortly after, but today we’re back with the full review.

When we finally got the specifications for the SSD 840, I understood why Samsung was reluctant to share too many details about the drive before its launch: the Samsung SSD 840 is the first consumer SSD to utilize 3-bit-per-cell MLC NAND (aka TLC). Before we delve into the actual SSD 840, let's take a closer look at how NAND works and how TLC compares to SLC and MLC.

A TLC Refresher
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  • mapesdhs - Friday, October 12, 2012 - link


    I have SCSI disks that are more than 20 years old which still work fine. :D

    Ian.
    Reply
  • MarkLuvsCS - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    Considering Write Amplification has been significantly reduced compared to the initial SSD tech, I don't believe it's going to be a problem for the consumer market. Google xtremesystems Write Endurance to see a Samsung 830 256gb with 3000 P/E still running at 4.77 PETABYTES.That page also shows you other brands and how they fare. I would trust Samsung wouldn't put this tech to use without truly understanding how it would pan out.

    That is why the worry of the 1000 P/E 840 vs 3000 P/E 830 is overblown. Either way you have little to worry about with Samsung's controllers causing any fuss unlike Other CompanieZ.
    Reply
  • Kjella - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    Not giving one fsck about wearing out the SSD I burned through a 10k-rated SSD in 1.5 years. Now with fairly normal SSD usage - a standard Win7 desktop with torrents etc. on other drives - I'm down to 57% health and looking at 3 years 10 months on a 5K-rated drive. I don't know exactly what is eating it but I'm guessing every log file, every time MSN or IRC logs a line of chat, every time something is cached or whatever it burns write cycles. I feel the official numbers are vastly *overstating* the actual lifespan, not understating it. TLC with 1K writes? Not in my machine, no sir. Reply
  • madmilk - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    There's no way MSN/IRC can burn through an SSD in 1.5 years since they're all text. You must be doing something unusual, or at least your computer is without you knowing it. A good idea would be to open up Task Manager, and select the columns that count the number of bytes written by various programs. Maybe then you can find the source of your problem. Also make sure you have defragmentation off, and sufficient RAM so you're not constantly hitting the pagefile. Reply
  • piiman - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    Better yet put the page file on a different drive and also move your temp folders to a different drive. Reply
  • Notmyusualid - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    Absolutely hilarious ending there pal... I wonder how many people got it!

    I got burned by them on a couple of drives, and promptly dumped them on some well-known auction site, sold as-is.
    Reply
  • creed3020 - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    I see what you did there ;-)

    Great review Kristian! I'll be looking at this drive as option for a new office PC I am building.
    Reply
  • B3an - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    Did you people even bother to read?? Because you're conveniently missing out the important fact in this article that you'd have to write 36.5TiB (almost 40TB) a year for it to last 3.5 years. I know for a fact that the average consumer does not write anywhere near that much a year, or even in 3 years. If anyone even comes close to 40TB a year they would be using a higher-end MLC SSD anyway as they would surely be using a workstation.

    Most consumers don't even write 10GB a day, so at that rate the drive would easily last OVER 20 years. But of course it's highly likely something else would fail before that happens.

    You're also forgetting out DSP which is explained in this article as well. That can also near double the life.

    I think Kristian should have made this all more clear because too many people don't bother to actually read stuff and just look at charts.
    Reply
  • futrtrubl - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    Granted the usual use cases won't have so much data throughput. However those same usual use cases have the user filling 3/4 of the drive with static data (program/OS/photo archive etc) reducing the drive area it's able to wear level over. So that 20 years again becomes 5 years.

    Also the 1000PE cycle stat means that there is a 50% chance for that sector to have become unusable by that time (ignoring DSP).

    I'm not saying that TLC is bad, and I am certainly not saying this drive doesn't have great value. I'm just saying that we shouldn't understate the PE cycle issue.
    Reply
  • xdrol - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    You sir need to learn how SSDs work. Static data is not static on the flash chip - the controller shuffles it around, exactly because of wear levelling. Reply

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