It's been exactly a year since Samsung released its 830 series solid-state drive (SSD) and today, the company unveiled the upgraded version, the Samsung 840 Pro.
This new drive is actually the professional version of the 840 series, so in a way it's a double upgrade since the 830 series didn't have a Pro version. The new drive differentiates itself from the rest of its SSD siblings by using Samsung's high-performance toggle-mode NAND flash memory, making it the direct competitor to the recently reviewed Corsair Neutron GTX, which uses the same type of flash memory.
In my testing, the new Samsung 840 Pro was very fast, but it wasn't faster than the 830 series in certain tests, making it hard to justify the new drive's current cost, which is some 35 percent higher than its predecessor's. Plus the drive doesn't come with any accessories such as drive-bay converter for use with a desktop, which makes it much less of a good deal than the 830 series. In the 840 Pro's defense, it does indeed use much less power than the 830 series, or than other other SSDs I've seen for that matter.
That said, if you're a professional or a hard-core gamer looking for a top-notch SSD for your system, especially if it's a portable computer, the Samsung 840 Pro will still make a great investment. And it's not the most expensive SSD on the market, either, costing just between $1.05 to $1.17 per gigabyte. For others with less demanding needs, I still recommend the Samsung 830 Series.
Design and features
|Drive type||7mm-thick, 2.5-inch standard internal drive |
|Connector options||SATA 3 (6Gbps), SATA 2, SATA|
|Available capacities||64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB|
|Product dimensions||7mm-thick, 2.5-inch standard|
|Capacity of test unit||512GB|
|Controller||3-core MDX controller|
|Flash memory type ||2y-nm class |
DDR2 toggle-mode NAND
|OSes supported||Windows, Mac, Linux|
The new Samsung 840 Pro looks almost exactly the same as the Samsung 830 series; the 7mm, 2.5-inch drive looks great and supports the latest SATA 3 (6Gbps) standard. It also works with previous versions of the SATA standard, though.
The new drive comes in a new package that's much more spartan than the previous model's. It doesn't include any accessories, such as a drive-bay converter (which would enable it to fit in the 3.5-inch drive bay of a desktop computer) or a USB-to-SATA adapter. In fact the only thing it does come with is the Samsung Magician (version 4.0) software, which lets you test and change its settings. While this is not a big deal, it does make the new drive that much less affordable than the previous model.
Despite the above similarity in design, on the inside, the Samsung 840 Pro is quite different. It uses a new 3-core MDX controller and toggle-mode NAND flash memory as its storage. This is high-performance flash memory, similar to the kind used in the Corsair Neutron GTX. The combination of the new memory, Samsung's firmware, and the new controller also means that the new drive uses much less energy than the previous model, which already requires very little power to operate. More specifically, per Samsung's claim, the new 840 Pro uses 0.068W when in use and only 0.042W when idle, compared with the 830 series, which used 0.24W and 0.14W, in respective states.
Like the 830 series, the new 840 Pro doesn't come with overprovisioning out of the box. Instead users can use the downloadable Samsung Magician software to turn this feature on or off. Overprovisioning is a feature that enables the use of part of an SSD's storage space to enhance the drive's performance. The 840 Pro allows users to 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. Using the Samsung Magician software, you can also check the SSD's health status and securely erase its data.
In my trials, the Samsung 840 Pro worked well with all popular operating systems in our trials, 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 Samsung 840 Pro costs about 35 percent more than the 830 series. The 256GB capacity, for example, costs $270 compared with $200 for the 830 series. Compared with other SSDs on the market, however, the new 840 Pro isn't the most expensive, averaging about $1.10 per gigabyte. Note that this is the suggested retail price of the new drive, which, like those of nearly all SSDs, will get lower once the drive has been on the market for a while. Also note that the Samsung 840 Pro comes with a full five-year warranty, which is the longest among SSD warranties.