The Samsung SSD 840

Now it's time to look at the Samsung SSD 840 itself. Performance differences between different capacities are tangible. Sequential write speed in particular increase with larger capacities. With MLC NAND based SSDs 256GB and 512GB models usually perform around the same because 256GB of NAND is able to saturate the limits of the controller but as TLC NAND has longer program times, you will need more NAND dies to hide the additional latency.

Samsung SSD 840 Specifications
Capacity 120GB 250GB 500GB
Sequential Read 530MB/s 540MB/s 540MB/s
Sequential Write 130MB/s 250MB/s 330MB/s
4KB Random Read 86K IOPS 96K IOPS 98K IOPS
4KB Random Write 32K IOPS 62K IOPS 70K IOPS
Cache (LPDDR2) 256MB 512MB 512MB

 

Samsung SSD 840 Pro vs 840 vs 830
  Samsung SSD 830 (256GB) Samsung SSD 840 (250GB) Samsung SSD 840 Pro (256GB)
Controller Samsung MCX Samsung MDX Samsung MDX
NAND 27nm Toggle-Mode 1.1 MLC 21nm Toggle-Mode 2.0 TLC 21nm Toggle-Mode MLC
Sequential Read 520MB/s 540MB/s 540MB/s
Sequential Write 400MB/s 250MB/s 520MB/s
Random Read 80K IOPS 96K IOPS 100K IOPS
Random Write 36K IOPS 62K IOPS 90K IOPS
Warranty 3 years 3 years 5 years

Performance wise the 840 does well but can't challenge the 840 Pro. Read performance is actually nearly on-par with the 840 Pro but write performance is behind due to the use of TLC NAND. I should add that write speeds are still adequate for a consumer drive. In some ways, the 840 can still be a healthy upgrade from the 830. Even though sequential write speed is lower, the increase in random read and write speeds can compensate. Still I suspect most 830 users will want to upgrade to the 840 Pro at least, if they choose not to wait for the next generation of SSDs.

Samsung SSD 840 Series Pricing
  64GB 128GB 256GB 512GB
Samsung SSD 840 N/A $109.99 (120GB) $199.99 (250GB) $449.99 (500GB)
Samsung SSD 840 Pro $99.99 $149.99 $269.99 $599.99

Pricing isn't as aggressive as it could be but keep in mind that the above prices are suggested retail prices. Street prices can easily be ~$20 less and I wouldn't be surprised to see the 120GB SSD 840 retailing for less than $100 (and even $70-80 when on sale). Also note that we're still very early in the production of TLC NAND. Over time you can expect a more appreciable difference in pricing between TLC and MLC NAND.

Based on the chassis alone you can't really tell the difference between the 840 and 840 Pro. Both use a similar matte black plastic design. The 840 measures in at 7mm tall as well, just like the 840 Pro. It's only when you flip the drive around that you can see that it's actually an 840 and not 840 Pro.

Unfortunately, we don't have any pictures of the internals at the moment. Samsung uses special pentalobe screws (similar to MacBook Air) and finding suitable screw drivers in Finland isn't as easy as in the US. In order to get the review out as soon as possible, we decided not to wait for the screwdriver to arrive from the US. We are, however, looking at a PCB that's indentical to the 840 Pro (i.e. eight 32GB TLC NAND packages). The only difference are NAND part numbers.

The 840 Pro

Test System

CPU

Intel Core i5-2500K running at 3.3GHz (Turbo and EIST enabled)

Motherboard

AsRock Z68 Pro3

Chipset

Intel Z68

Chipset Drivers

Intel 9.1.1.1015 + Intel RST 10.2

Memory G.Skill RipjawsX DDR3-1600 2 x 4GB (9-9-9-24)
Video Card XFX AMD Radeon HD 6850 XXX
(800MHz core clock; 4.2GHz GDDR5 effective)
Video Drivers AMD Catalyst 10.1
Desktop Resolution 1920 x 1080
OS Windows 7 x64

 

Lower Endurance: Hardly an Issue Random & Sequential Read/Write Speed
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  • Kevin G - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    On the fourth page:

    "With perfect wear-leveling and write amplification of 1x, you would get 256TiB of writes out of a 250GB Samsung 840 with TLC NAND and 1,000 P/E cycles. "

    Shouldn't it be 256 GiB?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    No; he's accounting for the visible storage capacity (and spare area). So 250GB is 256GiB of NAND but only 250GB end-user storage. You can still write 256TiB of data (256GiB * 1000 P/E), which means on a 250GB SSD you end up with the ability to write 281TB of data (for an effective P/E cycles of 1125). Reply
  • schizoide - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    I'm not comfortable with TLC, particularly since it doesn't come at a huge absolute cost savings. I've been burned too often with SSDs, and now only buy the most bulletproof devices available. Maybe next generation. Maybe. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    I wouldn't draw any conclusion for pricing just yet. Everyone is comparing street prices of current gen SSDs to MSRP of next gen SSDs. Give it a few months to get the 840 into stores and selling and then we'll se how prices fair.
    I'm personally fairly confident that there will be a distinct cost advantage.
    Reply
  • name99 - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    Have ANY SSDs given you a failure based on the flash cells themselves, rather than on crappy firmware?
    It's stupid to demonize a technology because some companies sold you a bad product --- especially when your response is to refuse to buy a product from a company that is known (in this respect at least) NOT to have shipped crappy firmware.
    Reply
  • harijan - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    Pretty sure 3650GiB != 3.65TiB.

    3650GB == 3.65TB.

    It doesn't do anything to your percentages, but this is Anandtech, we hold you to higher standards ;)
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    You are correct, I forgot that binary units don't scale up linearly (1000GiB is not 1TiB); metrics are just so much simpler. Thanks for the heads up, I've fixed the math now. Reply
  • iaco - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    I wonder if Samsung will ever make a SSD made of SLC NAND. The performance would be amazing. Reply
  • Conficio - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    First thanks to the Kristan and the Anand Team for another comprehensive review and the inclusion of in depth knowledge about the technology behind it.

    I'd like to see included in the test (or in another article) a review of the available tools for each SSD. I think it is important to know if the manufacturer supports its tools to low level format, secure erase, TRIM, ROM update etc. beyond the obligatory Windows (7). Are those available for Linux (command line and/or GUI)? Are they available for Mac OSX? Do they work if the drive is connected over USB? Are these tools user friendly to use?

    It is useless if I buy an SSD and have to find out that Mac OSX does not support the tools. I have a couple of Vertex drives which I can't find a way to secure erase in order to restore full performance. They are pre TRIM drives and Mac OS X does not support trim on them anyway.

    As with motherboards, the the BIOS or UEFI is important, so is with SSDs the ability to actually perform some of the low level functions. I hope you can add that to your workload! A comparison of the different tools for each manufacturer for current drives would be a great start. Thanks again!
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    Samsung will be releasing Magician 4.0 later this year and we are definitely going to do an article about it. I tried to get a beta version of it but Samsung wasn't willing to send us one, yet. Magician 3.2.2 that comes with the 840 is the same that's available for the 830, so I didn't find it that important to cover.

    But you are right, we need to cover the software side more as well because it will also drive manufacturers to make their own SSD tools.

    P.S. Try installing Ubuntu to a USB stick (just use UNetBootin) and then use hdparm commands (see below) to secure erase the SSD.

    sudo hdparm --user-master u --security-set-pass password /dev/sdX

    sudo hdparm --user-master u --security-erase password /dev/sdX

    "password" is whatever you choose as the password and "X" is the drive (you can see which it is in Disk Utility)
    Reply

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