As it shows in Windows, the Samsung 840 250GB drive has 232GB available to the user. However, using the Magician tool provided by Samsung, the user can adjust the level of overprovisioning allocated to the drive.
The tool recommends 23.20GB be allocated but the user can specify a different amount as they wish. Theoretically, the greater the amount of overprovisioning, the longer the overall drive life. Given that TLC NAND has a shorter theoretical lifespan than MLC, this can be prudent.
As illustrated, Windows shows the new available capacity to be 209GB after the execution of the procedure. Overall, it’s a very handy tool and adds to the overall value of the drive.
In case you skipped all the way to the end (Et tu, Brute?), you may have missed the fact that this version of the 840 Series drive comes loaded with TLC NAND – the first one of its kind. As such, its performance is more modest than that of some enthusiast level drives in the writes arena but darn good in reads which, if you had to choose, would be where you’d want to see your top speeds. We found it to be a very consistent performer and no slouch when it comes to real world tasks thanks in part to their 300Mhz triple core controller. Reads were consistently in the vicinity of the 530MB/s mark and writes near 240MB/s. It was actually a bit surprising given what we know about TLC NAND that the drive performed as well as it did. The 840 Pro model upgrades to MLC NAND which manifests itself with much higher max writes and, given the performance, obscenely low power consumption numbers of 0.068W active and 0.042W idle according to Samsung. This is a large drop from the 0.24W active and 0.14W idle of the 830 Series. We weren’t given the same detail of specification on the non-Pro version but suffice it to say that power usage is higher than that of the Pro model. Take note, those that have mobile PC’s with limited battery life! The Pro model also ups the warranty to five years versus the three year warranty on the other model.
Currently, we find the 250GB version for sale for around $179.99 which works out to be $0.78 per usable GB. For Black Friday, Samsung is bundling Far Cry 3 with the purchase of a 250GB drive. That’s a pretty sweet deal! As we stated earlier, as Samsung hits their stride on the TLC NAND, we expect the drives to drop in price. Being able to manufacture 100% of the drive components and software also gives Samsung an advantage in maintaining absolute control of their product quality for which Samsung has a good track record for their SSDs. Ultimately, the inevitable absolute affordability of the drives will put significant pressure on those firms not fully committed to their SSD products and really shake up the market.
While the performance and value are attractive, we all know how fickle consumers can be and they may just be hesitant to jump on a TLC NAND based drive given the known reduction in endurance as compared to MLC NAND drives. Whether or not users would ever stick with a drive long enough for this to manifest not withstanding. At this point, we may caution users who place a heavier than average workload on their drives as a matter of prudence but for most there shouldn’t be a need to worry. The controller should mitigate wear and keep things cherry for years – the number being largely dependent on usage. I personally wouldn’t be reluctant to use one in my main PC which gets quite a bit of use. That said, this breed of NAND hasn’t seen widespread use either which is always a watch point even though we have full confidence in Samsung’s due diligence efforts to thoroughly test it. In the end, we always applaud companies who break the mold and blaze their own path and so offer up our innovation award to Samsung and their 840 Series SSD!
Legit Bottom Line: Samsung changes things up a bit with the 840 Series as the world’s very first consumer TLC NAND based SSD that offers up surprisingly good performance. This is a product that may herald the inevitable attrition of the smaller players in the SSD arena.