Main­stream Cham­pion

Sam­sung SSD 840 EVO


SSDs to­day are al­ready fast enough that there isn’t much to sep­a­rate the main­stream and high-end mod­els. This isn’t to say high-end SSDs aren’t worth the pre­mium, but rather, main­stream SSDs of­fer more value for the money for the aver­age user. This is where the Sam­sung SSD 840 EVO comes in.

In or­der to bring down the costs of its SSDs, Sam­sung went with a TLC (or Triple-Level-Cell) NAND stor­age de­sign. As its name im­plies, TLC NAND stores three bits of data per cell, trans­lat­ing to eight pos­si­ble volt­age states and a higher mem­ory den­sity. What this means is that more dies can be har­vested from a sin­gle wafer, thus re­duc­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing costs.

Un­for­tu­nately, with eight volt­age states to check, the use of TLC NAND is of­ten as­so­ci­ated with lower lev­els of per­for­mance and poorer drive en­durance. How­ever, users should not worry too much about this be­cause even if you write 30GB of data to the drive each day, the 840 EVO is es­ti­mated to have a life­span of over 15 years. By that time, your sys­tem would most def­i­nitely be ob­so­lete.

To ad­dress the is­sue of per­for­mance how­ever, Sam­sung has im­ple­mented some­thing called Tur­boWrite tech­nol­ogy to boost write per­for­mance by ded­i­cat­ing a small por­tion of its TLC NAND to work as an SLC write buf­fer. Thanks to this tech­nol­ogy, the Sam­sung SSD 840 EVO ac­tu­ally com­mands a very de­cent per­for­mance de­spite its main­stream po­si­tion­ing.

In our tests, we found that it could match and even out­class high-end MLC NAND drives in some bench­marks and work­loads. It only lost its com­pet­i­tive edge at work­loads with high queue depths, when its Tur­boWrite cache was ei­ther in­suf­fi­cient or ex­hausted. That said, there is very lit­tle in ev­ery­day com­put­ing tasks that would stress a drive out as much, so for most users the Sam­sung SSD 840 EVO’s per­for­mance should be more than suf­fi­cient.

If you need more per­for­mance, the SSD 840 EVO also fea­tures RAPID caching tech­nol­ogy. Dis­abled by de­fault, RAPID mode on the drive will en­able it to make use of spare CPU re­sources and sys­tem mem­ory to cache fre­quently used data to fur­ther boost per­for­mance. Sur­pris­ingly, the gains re­ported with RAPID mode en­abled were very sig­nif­i­cant as trans­fer speeds eas­ily dou­bled or more. How­ever, it does come with some risks as its cache writes to your sys­tem mem­ory first be­fore trans­fer­ring to the SSD. Sys­tem mem­ory is volatile, so there is the off chance that you might lose your data should a power out­age oc­cur be­fore it is able to trans­fer this data onto the SSD.

At $259 for the 250GB vari­ant, the Sam­sung SSD 840 EVO costs sub­stan­tially more than its clos­est com­peti­tor in this seg­ment - the Cru­cial M500 - even if it comes very close to the one dol­lar per gi­ga­byte mark. But con­sid­er­ing the per­for­mance gains of the SSD 840 EVO over the M500, we feel that the pre­mium is well jus­ti­fied.

As it is, un­less en­durance is of the ut­most con­cern to you, the Sam­sung SSD 840 EVO of­fers the best per­for­mance in this price bracket and comes highly rec­om­mended.

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