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Review Samsung SSD 840 'Basic' Series: 250 GB

Jesper Berg, 06/21/2013

Fast and affordable? Compared to the high-end Samsung 840 Pro, the 'non-Pro' 840 uses the same controller but considerably less durable TLC (Triple-Level Cell) NAND Flash modules. Should that stop you from investing in this economical SSD? Keep reading to find out.

In Review: 250 GB Samsung 840 SSD
In Review: 250 GB Samsung 840 SSD

What makes Samsung different from its competitors is the fact that it produces all parts of the SSD, from controller firmware to NAND memory modules. Considering Samsung's excellent track record in terms of reliability, this may well be a major advantage, since it lets Samsung control the entire production process.  

The MDX controller, which is used in both the 840 and the 840 Pro SSDs, uses three ARM Cortex-R4 cores running at 300 MHz and 512MB of LPDDR2 SDRAM cache. Its features include TRIM support, wear leveling and garbage collection.  We know from the 840 Pro review that this is a very competent controller, but in this case it has to work with slower TLC NAND.

TLC and Durability 

Some background concerning the nature of TLC NAND might be useful in this context. The most durable type of Flash circuitry in SSDs is SLC (Single-Level Cell) NAND by a wide margin. As the name implies, SLC only stores one bit of data per physical memory cell. SLC wears out very slowly and is therefore good for up to 100,000 program/erase (P/E) cycles. Unfortunately this type of memory is also far more expensive to produce, so it is only used in the more pricey 'enterprise class' drives. 

MLC (Multi-Level Cell) is the mainstream NAND variety and is used in nearly all consumer SSDs including the 840 Pro. With MLC, durability is often reduced by an order of magnitude compared to SLC, but exactly how much depends on over-provisioning, wear leveling and other factors. However, it is still sufficiently durable for consumers in practically all usage scenarios. 

TLC (Triple-Level Cell) adds yet another layer of complexity and further reduces durability by a considerable amount. Therefore TLC has so far mostly been used in thumb drives and memory cards, where endurance is less important due to the infrequent transfers. Samsung's 840 is the first computer SSD to employ TLC NAND

According to Samsung, the memory modules – although much less durable than MLC – are good for 1,000 P/E cycles. That's a hundred times less than high-quality SLC, but it would still mean that you could write as much as 256000 GB to a 250GB Samsung 840 before it finally gives in. That's quite a bit of data, and for most consumers it should be more than enough for the drive to outlast the rest of your notebook or desktop. 

In other words the TLC NAND is likely a non-problem for most users. Besides, Samsung supplies the 840 series with a limited 3 year warranty that should alleviate most durability concerns.

Pricing and Scope of Delivery

The suggested retail prices for the 840 series are:

  • 120GB - $139.99
  • 250GB - $249.99
  • 500GB - $479.99

However, the actual street prices are considerably lower. For example, you can find a 250GB 840 for as little as $170 at this writing, including a desktop/notebook installation kit. The optional installation kit consists of a SATA-to-USB cable, SATA data and power cables, and a 3.5-inch adapter bracket for desktop systems. Also included is Samsung's "Smart Data Migration" software for transferring your existing data and OS to the new drive.

Another detail of note is that the 840 SSD is 7 mm thick and therefore thinner than a standard 9.5 mm notebook hard drive. This makes the drive suitable for certain ultrabooks and other slim form-factor notebooks that use the format. The drive also ships with a mounting spacer for fitting the SSD into a standard notebook drive bay. 

Samsung SSD 840
Samsung SSD 840
Samsung SSD 840 Basic
Samsung SSD 840
Samsung SSD 840

Test System

Just like in our other SSD reviews we used a desktop PC for testing. Our testing platform consists of an Intel DP67BG motherboard equipped with an Intel Core i7-2600K, 8 GB DDR3 RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 470 GPU, with all components running at their default clocks. The drive was installed in Port 0 using the Intel Rapid Storage Driver version 11.2.0.1006, and the operating system used was a Windows 7 64-bit (a full installation). 

For the battery test, we cloned the system drive of the Asus N56VM.

Synthetic Benchmarks

Sequential Speeds

In terms of sequential read throughput, the 840 is on par with the 840 Pro in most cases, meaning that it's close to the upper boundaries of the SATA 3 interface. This is not the case when it comes to sequential write speeds, where the TLC-based 840 is only half as fast as the MLC-based 840 Pro in both the AS SSD and CrystalDiskMark 3.0 benchmarks. 

AS SSD
Seq Read (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
513 MB/s ∼38%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
513 MB/s ∼38% 0%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
499 MB/s ∼37% -3%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
496.14 MB/s ∼37% -3%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
503 MB/s ∼37% -2%
Seq Write (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
254 MB/s ∼25%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
498 MB/s ∼49% +96%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
395 MB/s ∼39% +56%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
288.38 MB/s ∼28% +14%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
459 MB/s ∼45% +81%
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
Read Seq (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
531 MB/s ∼36%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
531 MB/s ∼36% 0%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
514 MB/s ∼35% -3%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
497.7 MB/s ∼34% -6%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
486 MB/s ∼33% -8%
Write Seq (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
259 MB/s ∼23%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
513 MB/s ∼46% +98%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
413 MB/s ∼37% +59%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
307.8 MB/s ∼28% +19%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
470 MB/s ∼43% +81%
Read 512 (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
458 MB/s ∼50%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
471 MB/s ∼51% +3%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
350 MB/s ∼38% -24%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
441.2 MB/s ∼48% -4%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
308 MB/s ∼33% -33%
Write 512 (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
258 MB/s ∼25%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
501 MB/s ∼48% +94%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
409 MB/s ∼39% +59%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
299.5 MB/s ∼29% +16%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
470 MB/s ∼45% +82%
HD Tune Transfer Rate Average - --- (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
414 MB/s ∼41%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
392 MB/s ∼39%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
376.2 MB/s ∼37%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
271 MB/s ∼27%

Legend

 
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
 
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
 
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZ-7PC256D/EU
 
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Intel SSD 520 Series SSDSC2CW240A
 
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB VTX4-25SAT3-256G

Unlike the SSDs using the ubiquitous SF-2281 and other controllers from SandForce, Samsung's drives are not dependent on compressible files to achieve their maximum speeds. The Intel 520 demonstrates clearly how much SandForce-powered SSDs rely on compression. As you might expect, the write speeds are where the Samsung 840 shows its weakness compared to the high-end drives. Like the 840 Pro, it is also less consistent while writing than the older 830 SSD. 

Samsung SSD 840 (MDX)
Samsung SSD 840 (MDX)
Samsung SSD 840 Pro (MDX)
Samsung SSD 840 Pro (MDX)
Samsung SSD 830 (MCX)
Samsung SSD 830 (MCX)
Intel SSD 520 (Sandforce SF-2281)
Intel SSD 520 (Sandforce SF-2281)

ATTO Transfer Speeds

The ATTO test is useful for pinpointing an SSD's maximum transfer speeds. What's interesting here is that the TLC-based Samsung 840 is actually slightly faster than the 840 Pro when comparing maximum read speeds with most block sizes. However, its write speeds are considerably slower than all but the old Samsung 470 for all but the smallest blocks. 

Samsung SSD 840 ATTO
Samsung SSD 840 ATTO

4K Transfer Speeds

In the 4K transfer area, the 840 shows some additional weakness compared to the Pro version, although it performs consistently better than its predecessor the 830. It also compares favorably to the much more expensive Intel 520. The vast differences in sequential write speeds also even out in the 4K tests. 

AS SSD
4K Read (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
26 MB/s ∼33%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
32.3 MB/s ∼41% +24%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
21 MB/s ∼27% -19%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
24.41 MB/s ∼31% -6%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
26.3 MB/s ∼33% +1%
4K Write (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
70 MB/s ∼53%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
73.5 MB/s ∼56% +5%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
69 MB/s ∼52% -1%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
72.01 MB/s ∼55% +3%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
76.7 MB/s ∼58% +10%
4K-64 Read (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
354 MB/s ∼53%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
381 MB/s ∼57% +8%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
285 MB/s ∼43% -19%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
236.17 MB/s ∼36% -33%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
332 MB/s ∼50% -6%
4K-64 Write (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
207 MB/s ∼39%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
329 MB/s ∼61% +59%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
104 MB/s ∼19% -50%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
231.79 MB/s ∼43% +12%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
306 MB/s ∼57% +48%
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
Read 4k (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
29.7 MB/s ∼68%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
35.7 MB/s ∼82% +20%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
24.1 MB/s ∼56% -19%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
29.74 MB/s ∼69% 0%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
29.6 MB/s ∼68% 0%
Write 4k (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
86.1 MB/s ∼53%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
88.9 MB/s ∼55% +3%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
85.4 MB/s ∼52% -1%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
91.24 MB/s ∼56% +6%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
85 MB/s ∼52% -1%
Read 4k QD32 (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
372 MB/s ∼67%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
402 MB/s ∼72% +8%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
307 MB/s ∼55% -17%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
239.9 MB/s ∼43% -36%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
349 MB/s ∼63% -6%
Write 4k QD32 (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
259 MB/s ∼47%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
370 MB/s ∼68% +43%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
152 MB/s ∼28% -41%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
266.3 MB/s ∼49% +3%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
342 MB/s ∼63% +32%

Legend

 
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
 
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
 
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZ-7PC256D/EU
 
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Intel SSD 520 Series SSDSC2CW240A
 
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB VTX4-25SAT3-256G

Access Times

Access times aren't much of an issue with SSDs considering how tiny the access times are compared to mechanical hard drives. Nevertheless, the 250 GB Samsung 840 is a bit slower than the 840 Pro, which is not surprising in view of the TLC NAND, but it is still much faster than the Intel 520.

AS SSD
Access Time Read (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
0.063 ms * ∼0%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
0.056 ms * ∼0% +11%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
0.069 ms * ∼0% -10%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
0.126 ms * ∼0% -100%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
0.13 ms * ∼0% -106%
Access Time Write (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
0.054 ms * ∼0%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
0.046 ms * ∼0% +15%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
0.052 ms * ∼0% +4%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
0.212 ms * ∼0% -293%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
0.03 ms * ∼0% +44%

Legend

 
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
 
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
 
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZ-7PC256D/EU
 
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Intel SSD 520 Series SSDSC2CW240A
 
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB VTX4-25SAT3-256G

* ... smaller is better

System Performance - PCMark

PCMark provides a useful measure of overall system performance. We use both PCMark Vantage and the newer version PCMark 7.

As is evident from the overall scores of both PCMark Vantage and PCMark 7, the difference between the SSDs is quite small compared to the drive-specific tests. Somewhat surprisingly even the System Storage subscore in PCMark 7 is very even. In PCMark Vantage's HDD subscore the difference is much more evident, placing the 840 well behind the 840 Pro, but also ahead of the Vertex 4.

PCMark Vantage
1024x768 Result (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
17648 Points ∼75%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
19147 Points ∼81% +8%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
19999 Points ∼85% +13%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
20391 Points ∼87% +16%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
18602 Points ∼79% +5%
1024x768 Memories Score (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
13270 Points ∼84%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
13721 Points ∼87% +3%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
13279 Points ∼84% 0%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
13283 Points ∼84% 0%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
11982 Points ∼76% -10%
1024x768 TV and Movies Score (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
7427 Points ∼85%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
7544 Points ∼87% +2%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
7371 Points ∼85% -1%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
7038 Points ∼81% -5%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
7294 Points ∼84% -2%
1024x768 Gaming Score (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
18342 Points ∼70%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
23183 Points ∼89% +26%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
20852 Points ∼80% +14%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
22422 Points ∼86% +22%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
20746 Points ∼79% +13%
1024x768 Music Score (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
18073 Points ∼72%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
21711 Points ∼86% +20%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
20102 Points ∼80% +11%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
21465 Points ∼85% +19%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
18004 Points ∼72% 0%
1024x768 Communications Score (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
14764 Points ∼58%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
16400 Points ∼65% +11%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
17669 Points ∼70% +20%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
19022 Points ∼75% +29%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
16316 Points ∼64% +11%
1024x768 Productivity Score (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
23240 Points ∼76%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
27046 Points ∼88% +16%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
25451 Points ∼83% +10%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
25406 Points ∼83% +9%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
23055 Points ∼75% -1%
1024x768 HDD Score (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
41912 Points ∼63%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
54763 Points ∼82% +31%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
45077 Points ∼67% +8%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
45907 Points ∼69% +10%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
36056 Points ∼54% -14%
PCMark 7
Score (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
4862 Points ∼73%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
4945 Points ∼75% +2%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
4866 Points ∼73% 0%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
4941 Points ∼75% +2%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
4835 Points ∼73% -1%
Lightweight (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
5018 Points ∼75%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
5236 Points ∼78% +4%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
5039 Points ∼75% 0%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
5068 Points ∼76% +1%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
4900 Points ∼73% -2%
Productivity (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
4780 Points ∼44%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
4905 Points ∼45% +3%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
4728 Points ∼43% -1%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
4808 Points ∼44% +1%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
4611 Points ∼42% -4%
Entertainment (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
4689 Points ∼44%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
4700 Points ∼44% 0%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
4662 Points ∼43% -1%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
4739 Points ∼44% +1%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
4662 Points ∼43% -1%
Creativity (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
5214 Points ∼45%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
5405 Points ∼47% +4%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
5280 Points ∼46% +1%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
5310 Points ∼46% +2%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
5176 Points ∼45% -1%
Computation (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
4572 Points ∼16%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
4589 Points ∼16% 0%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
4573 Points ∼16% 0%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
4962 Points ∼18% +9%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
4573 Points ∼16% 0%
System Storage (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
5269 Points ∼74%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
5519 Points ∼77% +5%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
5248 Points ∼74% 0%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
5216 Points ∼73% -1%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
5085 Points ∼71% -3%

Legend

 
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
 
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
 
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZ-7PC256D/EU
 
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Intel SSD 520 Series SSDSC2CW240A
 
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB VTX4-25SAT3-256G

Program Profile with IOMeter

To simulate realistic "regular use" vs. heavier workstation use, we use the software IOMeter - the profiles "IOMix" and "Workstation" simulate various drive access scenarios of an average user/workstation user. 

Interestingly, even the Samsung 840 Pro came in behind the competition - including the old 830 - and the non-Pro 840 is the slowest of all the tested drives by a wide margin. It should be noted, however, that all SSDs in our comparison are high-end drives with the exception of the TLC-based 840.  

IOMeter
IOMix, 5min, 10GB Partition (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
89.6 MB/s ∼1%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
177.5 MB/s ∼2% +98%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
217 MB/s ∼3% +142%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
230.17 MB/s ∼3% +157%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
211.9 MB/s ∼3% +136%
Workstation, 3min, 10GB Partition (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
61.8 MB/s ∼23%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
135.8 MB/s ∼50% +120%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
115.8 MB/s ∼43% +87%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
165.68 MB/s ∼62% +168%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
225.2 MB/s ∼84% +264%

Legend

 
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
 
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
 
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZ-7PC256D/EU
 
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Intel SSD 520 Series SSDSC2CW240A
 
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB VTX4-25SAT3-256G

Performance Drop

As a stress test we let the IOMix profile run on the entire SSD for 60 minutes. This shoud simulate the performance drop over time in filled SSDs which have been at load for extended periods of time. SSDs with more overprovisioning (dedicated spare area) should have an advantage.

Samsung's SSD Magician software allows the user to adjust the amount of overprovisioning. This essentially means setting aside more spare area  to lengthen the drive's lifespan. Considering the less durable TLC NAND modules used in the Samsung 840, it might be wise to sacrifice some space for a healthier drive.

The 840 series performs very well. They start lower than the 830 series but will eventually outpace them by an average 49 MB/s (840 Pro) and 52 MB/s (840) (830 - 38 MB/s). The Intel 520 series remains in the lead with its 200 MB/s and loses slightly in the IOMix test.

Samsung SSD 830 256 GB
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB
Samsung SSD 840
Samsung SSD 840
Samsung SSD 840 Pro
Samsung SSD 840 Pro
Intel SSD 520 256 GB
Intel SSD 520 256 GB

Tests

For testing the SSD as a system disk, we first use a regular stopwatch to measure boot times. As usual, there is little difference between modern SSDs when booting into Windows 7 – both the 840 and 840 Pro, as well as the old 830 and even 470 series clock in at around 28 to 30 seconds. Competing drives from other manufacturers also perform about the same. 

The same is true when starting the single-player mode of Battlefield 3, which takes 19-20 seconds with all modern SSD, compared to the 72 seconds required by the mechanical Toshiba MK6461GSYN 640 GB. 7200 rpm notebook hard drive.

In the simulated file copy benchmarks in AS SSD, the Samsung 840 falls behind the high-end drives in all tests and proves yet again that it can't keep up with the Pro model, despite using the same controller. 

AS SSD
Copy ISO MB/s (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
211 MB/s ∼28%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
429 MB/s ∼56% +103%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
415 MB/s ∼54% +97%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
367.95 MB/s ∼48% +74%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
347 MB/s ∼46% +64%
Copy Program MB/s (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
124 MB/s ∼30%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
222 MB/s ∼53% +79%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
192 MB/s ∼46% +55%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
143.86 MB/s ∼34% +16%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
196 MB/s ∼47% +58%
Copy Game MB/s (sort by value)
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop
158 MB/s ∼20%
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop
269 MB/s ∼33% +70%
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop
258 MB/s ∼32% +63%
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop
214.01 MB/s ∼27% +35%
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop
229 MB/s ∼28% +45%

Legend

 
Samsung SSD 840 250 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
 
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB MZ7PD256HAFV-0Z000
 
Samsung SSD 830 256 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 830 Series MZ-7PC256D/EU
 
Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Intel SSD 520 Series SSDSC2CW240A
 
OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB Desktop Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB VTX4-25SAT3-256G

Power Consumption and Battery Life

To test the SSDs power consumption we use two multimeters (current and voltage of a 5V wire) on the same PC used for our other benchmarks. Idle power consumption in notebooks should be reduced considerably (to 0.04 W) thanks to DMPI support, but this feature can unfortunately not be activated on our desktop system. The 0.04 W number has however been confirmed by our colleagues at Tom's Hardware.

Compared to the 840 Pro, the standard 840 requires a bit more power to operate on average, but the power consumption is considerably lower than its predecessor the 830, particularly when writing.

Power consumption while idle and at load with CrystalDiskMark.
Power consumption while idle and at load with CrystalDiskMark.

To measure the effect on battery life, we installed the SSDs as a system drive in a  precursor model of the Asus N56VM. First we tested the maximum battery life with Battery Eater's Reader test. As opposed to our regular resting procedure, WLAN was left on. In the second test – simulating a higher load – we ran the IOMeter profile IOMix on a small (<10 GB) partition. 

Both 840 drives produce good results, with the regular 840 even performing a bit better than the 840 Pro. However, this is not the case under IO load, where the non-Pro model fares a lot worse. On the other hand, it still comes out ahead of all the other tested SSD except the Intel 510 in terms of battery runtime under load.

Verdict

Considering that the two SSDs use the same controller, comparisons between the 840 Pro and the normal 840 are inevitable. 

Although it is a cheaper drive in all respects, the 840 still manages to keep up with the 840 Pro in  terms of sequential read speeds, but falls shorts in many other areas - most obviously write speeds, but the 840 is also significantly slower than the 840 Pro in our IOMeter and file copy tests

On the other hand, the difference in everyday use should not be overly dramatic. Boot and load times are similar with all modern SSD, something that is also evidenced by the more general PCMark benchmarks.

Another important factor when choosing an SSD is reliability, and here Samsung has an excellent track record. On a more anecdotal note, we have used the Samsung 840 in a production machine for several months, where it still runs flawlessly. TLC NAND should not be a major concern for the average user as it should (theoretically) last for many years.  

Samsung's SSD Magician software is quite useful, and in some ways better than even Intel's SSD Toolbox in that you can assign you own amount of overprovisioning. Setting aside some extra storage space to improve the drive's longevity might be a good idea in this case, to be on the safe side.

As long as Samsung can keep the price considerably lower than high-end drives with better NAND, the 840 series is an attractive alternative. This is particularly true for users who are looking at upgrading to their first SSD at a reasonable cost per GB.

Samsung SSD 840 Basic

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Samsung SSD 840 'Basic' Series: 250 GB
Author: Jesper Berg, 2013-06-21 (Update: 2013-06-24)