The 512GB Samsung 840 Pro carries the typical ~7% overprovisioning and the end user finds themselves with 476GB in Windows after formatting etc. Overprovisioning allows for the controller to have fresh NAND available to carryout tasks of replacing bad blocks and handling wear-leveling duties. Given the size of the drive, most users wouldn’t ordinarily fill the available capacity and the Magician software included allows for extra spare area to be set aside as assigned by the user. The more spare area a drive has, the greater the endurance (to a point, NAND begins to lose its charge after about 10 years).
As we outlined previously, the 840 Pro is the enthusiast level drive in the 840 Series line of drives from Samsung with the more vanilla (in name anyway) 840 hitting the more budget oriented demographic. The former is rocking Toggle 2.0 MLC NAND while the latter being the first consumer drive to roll out with the TLC NAND. Each share the same controller but between the NAND and firmware differences, the end performance is quite different. In our review of the 840, we talked about some pretty low power consumption numbers published by Samsung of 0.068W active and 0.042W idle. The Pro version only has the power consumption listed as 0.15W which we have to assume is an average although clearly well above the TLC equipped 840 drive. This is probably the only arena where the Pro doesn’t win out in terms of performance but it’s still very low in comparison to other drives on the market. Unfortunately, we don’t have direct comparison performance numbers because we recently upgraded our test bench and the 840 drive we were sent was a loaner and returned to Samsung.
Continuing on with our summation of the overall performance, we can’t say enough good things about this drive. Clearly this is one of the fastest consumer SSDs you can buy right now in terms of raw speed with its only real peer being the OCZ Vector drive powered by the Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller. Regardless of the test or benchmark we threw at it, the 840 Pro ended up with the best or second best scores more often than not. Honestly, on the SATA III interface, we probably will not see any drives performing appreciably better. That said, how much are you willing to pay for that performance and are you really going to benefit from it? The three capacities of the 840 Pro run $139, $239 and $529 for the 128GB, 256GB and 512GB. While these priced aren’t bad, similarly sized drives can certainly be found for less but the cost is generally commensurate with performance. The non-Pro version is quite a bit less expensive and with the ultra low power consumption, may be better suited for the majority of users who will plop it into an Ultrabook or laptop. Most wouldn’t be able to discern a performance difference anyway. There is a subset of the population who do a lot of I/O intensive tasks or are hung up on numbers that will definitely be well served with one of these drives.
With Samsung in complete control of the drive manufacture, from the firmware to the PCB, they have unrivaled oversight of their product quality. As as result, they have a high degree of confidence in their product integrity and cover them with a 5 year warranty. They also include their Magician toolbox software which comes in very handy. Only a few drive makers offer such a robust tool and it really does add value to the product. We also expect Samsung to remain in the SSD market space for the foreseeable future. Being one of the few manufacturers that have an internal supply of NAND, they will be able to edge out those that rely on third party suppliers. In addition, the NAND they keep for themselves will undoubtedly be the higher binned parts and sell off the lesser rated parts to the open market. As we’ve stated before, we expect to see attrition rates of SSD manufacturers accelerate as margins shrink and NAND supply tightens – which we’ve heard rumors about for 2013. We didn’t see or hear anything at CES to change our outlook.
Legit Bottom Line: The Samsung 840 Pro is a seriously fast drive that delivers world class performance while keeping power consumption relatively low. For now, it shares the performance crown with the OCZ Vector drive for a SATA III drive.