I love Samsung's marketing image of the Cadillac turned into a Porsche GT when viewed through the 840 SSD. I love it so much I had to use it again in the 250GB review. What the advertisement is staying is true. My Lenovo T61p that I've had for at least five years is faster than any new notebook with spinner and the T61p is only SATA 1.5. The problem is I don't need a Samsung 840 to make an old computer feel new or fast. It's still really good marketing and a cool advertisement.
The Samsung 840 is a revolutionary SSD that pairs a cutting edge, low power controller with the latest NAND flash manufacturing process that holds more data per cell than anything else on the market today. Eventually TLC flash will displace MLC in mainstream consumer SSDs. TLC will also increase data capacity in solid state drives - bring on the 1TB models please! Still though, is the 840 the SSD we want today?
I guess it really depends on what you do with your computer. If you are a notebook user, the Samsung 840 offers excellent battery life and since you'll have all of the C-States on you're not going to notice the lower write speed because all ultra high performance SSDs like those in our charts will write at a reduced speed. So, notebook or ultrabook user working off the battery most of the time, you are good.
So what about everyone else? The Samsun 840 250GB offers very good sequential read performance, I would call it superior to everything else on the market sans the 840 Pro that we haven't tested yet. Then we have the write performance and I'd have to say it is the total opposite, one of the worst modern day write speeds of next-gen SSDs. You may wonder how a product that's so good can also be so bad. Well, you have a really good controller that can read from bottom of the barrel flash really quickly, but at the same time, without storing user data in the DRAM buffer, can't overcome TLC's low write performance.
The 500GB version had much better write speed because of parallelism, more die per package and apparently the controller can handle it. The 500GB model also had another advantage; most other 480/512GB drives are slower than the 240/256GB drives. That goes double for LSI SandForce drives because of their DRAM-less design. The same controller used in the SF 240GB drives is the same in the 480GB drives, but the controller has to handle twice the mapping data with the same size buffers (that are internal). So, the Samsung 840 250GB with slower performance has to take on the fastest SandForce controllers.
With the performance out of the way we have to focus on price. SSD pricing is a lot more complicated than it seems. I don't want to go into the full OCZ story, but let's take a very brief run at it. OCZ drove SSD prices down to unprofitable levels. They did this on mainstream drives and even enthusiast / prosumer/ power user products. Enjoy your low cost SSDs now because those days are coming to an end and it started with Vector just a couple of days ago. Still, some SSD manufacturers will keep prices low going into CES and at that point LAMD controllers should pop up from more than just Corsair and they will all cost at least $1 per GB. At the time of writing and going into the holiday season, finding drives for 40 and 50 cents per GB will be pretty common. LSI SandForce controllers will be in most of them and we all know they are pretty damn fast in the same capacity size we're comparing the Samsung 840 to today.
So, Samsung 840 250GB at the time of writing costs $189.99 to $209.99 depending on the accessory package. That's a fair price, but also as the same time the OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS with 5K P/E cycle 32nm Toshiba Toggle flash costs $139.99 after a $20 mail-in rebate. Both drives have nearly equal incompressible write speeds, but the advantage goes to Team SandForce since it has a lower price and the boost in compressible data performance. The OCZ drive comes with a desktop adapter bracket too, something desktop users will want.
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