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The Samsung 840 Pro landed on our Best of the Best list when it was launched in December 2012, and it has remained at the top of the SSD pile ever since, thanks to its blistering speed, impeccable pedigree, and superb software. Shortly after the Pro launched, Samsung debuted a non-Pro drive, named simply “840,” that was designed for those who wanted a less expensive drive with a smaller three-year warranty. This month, Samsung is replacing the regular 840 with the Samsung 840 Evo, an all-new drive that slots in below the 840 Pro, thanks to its three-year warranty (the Pro’s is five years) and more reasonable pricing. The Evo is also offered in a full range of capacities, from 120GB all the way up to 1TB, making it the first Samsung SSD available at that size and putting the 1TB Crucial M500 directly in its sights, although the Evo does cost $50 more at $650 MSRP
The 840 Evo replaces the company’s vanilla 840 drive, but actually threatens the Pro drive.
To create the Evo, Samsung added new 19nm MLC NAND, a new controller named MEX (its previous one was called MDX), and new caching technology it calls TurboWrite. This caching method treats a portion of the drive’s MLC NAND as if it were far pricier and faster SLC NAND for buffered writes, allowing for a significant boost in speeds when utilized. The amount of NAND reserved for this varies according to the drive’s size; on the 1TB review drive we have it’s 36GB, which becomes a 12GB “SLC” buffer—3-bit MLC converted to 1-bit SLC NAND.
In addition to the TurboWrite thing, Samsung has also added a Rapid Mode, enabled in the Samsung Magician software, that uses the host system’s DRAM and CPU for caching purposes. It caches frequently used files in system memory and can dramatically increase read and write speeds. Rapid Mode can be switched on and off in the software, and requires just 50MB of RAM and an 840 Evo SSD to be activated. Samsung says it will eventually bring the caching technology to its 840 Pro drive, but for now it’s exclusive to the Evo.
To test the Evo drive, we attached it to our SSD test bench, installed version 4.2 of the Samsung Magician software, initiated the AS SSD incompressible data benchmark, and went to get a cup of coffee. When we returned, we were lucky not to have been sipping coffee when we saw the numbers because we surely would have done a spit-take. The Evo racked up a score of 855MB/s for reads and 1GB/s for writes, and over 100K IOPS in 4K random writes, as well. As we progressed through our test suite, the Evo laid waste to all the previous drives and became the fastest SSD we have ever tested by a sizable margin, even beating out its big brother, the more expensive 840 Pro. We also tested the drive with Rapid Mode disabled, and it was still extremely fast, making it a supremely competitive SSD that seems to have no weaknesses other than its short three-year warranty.
Note: This review was originally featured in the October 2013 issue of the magazine.
Ridiculously fast; effective caching; every capacity.
Only three-year warranty.
|Samsung 840 Evo (Rapid Mode)||Samsung 840 Evo (Normal Mode)||Crucial M500||Samsung 840 Pro||Corsair Neutron GTX|
|Controller ||MEX||MEX||Marvell 88SS9187||MDX||LAMD|
|Avg. Sustained Read (MB/s) ||594||519||480||534||441|
|Avg. Sustained Write (MB/s)||591||500||422||514||478|
|AS SSD - Compressed Data|
|Avg. Sustained Read (MB/s)||855||506||493||513||507|
|Avg. Sustained Write (MB/s)||1,002||496||408||495||475|
|64KB File Read (MB/s)||519||494||502||524||345|
|64KB File Write (MB/s, 4QD)||659||510||422||497||485|
|4KB Random Write 32QD (IOPS)||88,859||89,423||83,354||82,927||85,375|
|PCMark Vantage x64||100,797||57,306||71,619||75,205||67,426|
|Sony Vegas Pro 9 Write (sec)||272||277||485||294||286|
Best scores are bolded. All tests conducted on our hard drive test bench, which consists of a Gigabyte Z77X-UP4 motherboard, Intel Core i5-3470 3.2GHz CPU, 8GB of RAM, Intel 520 Series SSD, and a Cooler Master 450W power supply.