Samsung 840 series review: High-end entry-level SSDs

The software offers a few handy tools for users to manage, test and customize their 840 series drive. One of these tools is the ability to toggle overprovisioning. The 840 series drive doesn't come with overprovisioning out of the box, leaving the users the options to manage this themselves. Overprovisioning is a feature that enables the use of part of an SSD's storage space to enhance the drive's performance. With the the 840 series, you can reserve between 7 and 24 percent of its storage for overprovisioning, making it one of the most flexible drives on the market when it comes to choosing between speed or maximum capacity.

In my trials, the Samsung 840 series worked well with all popular operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. For better performance it's recommended that you use the latest version of the OSes that support the TRIM command, such as Windows 7 and Mac OS 10.6 or later.

Cost per gigabyte
The biggest selling point of the Samsung 840 series is, well, is pricing. This is the first drive from Samsung, and arguably the first on the market for that matter, that costs well less than $1 per gigabyte at launch. Right now you can get a 250GB bare-bones version of the drive for just $180, making it one of the most affordable SSDs on the market. The price is expected to get even lower soon, just in time for the holiday shopping season. The Samsung 840 series might be the beginning of an era where SSDs' performance more than justifies their cost.

Performance
Because the new Samsung 840 series uses TCL flash memory, I didn't expect much from it, but I was wrong. It seems that Samsung has done a good job with the controllers, which enables the new drive to offer performance on par with many other SSDs on the market. The drive, as expected, wasn't the fastest I've seen, but it managed to be fast in some tests. And yes, it was also comparatively slow in other tests.

When used as a secondary drive, the Samsung 840 series had a data writing speed of about 231MBps, right about the average on the chart. This is very good since it's at the top theaffordability chart. When used as the main drive that hosts the operating system, and performed both read and write at the same time, the drive reached a speed of just 103MBps. Note that being the main drive is the most popular use for SSDs.

When used as the main drive, the 840 series helped speed the boot time of the test machine a great deal at just 11 seconds (compared with about a minute when a standard hard drive is used). The shutdown time was also cut down to just about 6 seconds (from around 12 seconds with a hard drive.) These scores were actually on par with those of most SSDs I've reviewed.

You can use the Samsung Magician software to tweak the performance of the 840 series drive.
You can use the Samsung Magician software to tweak the performance of the 840 series drive. Dong Ngo/CNET

The computer's overall performance was also greatly improved when compared with using hard drives. Everything was much faster and most applications loaded instantly. Heavy apps, such as games, also took much less time to get ready. Overall, most novice users won't notice the difference between the Samsung 840 series and other higher-end, more expensive drives.

While I didn't test the drive's power consumption, it appared to use less power than the 830 series and slightly more than the 840 Pro. If you have experiences with all three drives, you'll notice the difference in your laptop's battery life accordingly.

In all, the Samsung 840 series proved to be an excellent entry-level SSD in terms of performance.

Bootup and shutdown times (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shutdown  
Bootup  
Samsung 840 Pro
5.21 
10 
Corsair Neutron GTX
5.28 
10 
Samsung 840 series
6.09 
11 
Sandisk Extreme
6 
11 
Plextor M5 Pro
6.21 
11.1 
Corsair Neutron
6.2 
12 
OCZ Octane
6.3 
12 
Samsung 830 Series
6 
13.3 
SanDisk Ultra
7.2 
13.5 
Crucial M4
6.8 
13.7 
WD VelociRaptor 600GB
7.9 
45.4 
WD VelociRaptor 300GB
12.2 
56.2 

Data-transfer scores (in megabytes per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
As Secondary Drive  
As OS Drive  
Corsair Neutron GTX
273.62 
161.38 
Samsung 830 Series
261.63 
172.88 
Samsung 840 Pro
256.63 
168.18 
Plextor M5 Pro
251.19 
155.65 
OCZ Vertex 4
246.55 
168.36 
Corsair Neutron
237.69 
138.44 
RunCore Pro V 7mm
236.71 
155.89 
Sandisk Extreme
234.15 
117.66 
Samsung 840 Series
230.69 
103.12 
Intel 520 series
230.01 
154.01 
Monster Digital Daytona
209.04 
108.32 
OCZ Octane
183.41 
135.43 
Monster Digital Le Mans
177.56 
121.11 
WD VelociRaptor 1TB
149.73 
62.21 
WD VelociRaptor 600GB
126.33 
58.05 
Seagate Barracuda XT
115.71 
51.1 
WD VelociRaptor 300GB
112.59 
47.12 
Sandisk Ultra
96.4 
65.6 

Conclusion
Affordable, good looking, and offering decent performance, the Samsung 840 series is an excellent SDD for home users on a budget.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Form Factor 2.5" Ultra Slim Line
  • Hard Drive Type internal hard drive
  • Capacity 500 GB