Model: Samsung SSD 840 Pro Series 128GB Solid State Drive
Manufacturer: Samsung Electronics
Provided By: Samsung Electronics
Samsung Electronics has been a leader in the electronics industry for more than 30 years. Since the introduction of their first television in 1970, this Korean company has grown to become one of the world's leading electronics manufacturers, offering everything from tiny semiconductors to large home appliances. Samsung is no stranger to the storage industry either. Along with an assortment of DVD and Blu-ray Disc drives, the company offers both hard drive and flash based storage solutions for the portable and desktop computer markets
Like many other manufacturers, Samsung has set its sights on the growing solid-state drive (SSD) market. In the fall of 2012, the company introduced 840 Series SSDs. Designed and built completely in-house, the SSD 840 and SSD 840 Pro were powered by Samsung's own triple-core MDX controller and featured a SATA 6GB/s interface, specially-engineered wear-leveling and garbage collection algorithms and up to 512MB of cache. The main difference between the two was that the SSD 840 used Samsung's new 3-bit/cell MLC NAND, which is often referred to as TLC NAND. This high-density NAND was more affordable than the 2-bit/cell MLC NAND found in the SSD 840 Pro, but there was a bit of a trade off in regards to endurance (program/erase cycles) and performance.
While the SSD 840 has been replaced by the SSD 840 EVO, the SSD 840 Pro continues to be one of, if not the, best consumer-grade SSDs on the market today. With its superior performance and reliability, it's hard to imagine that Samsung made the SSD 840 Pro any better, but with the latest version of their Magician software, the company has done just that. Along with a number of other improvements, Magician 4.3 gives SSD 840 Pro owners the ability to use Samsung's RAPID (Real-time Accelerated Processing of I/O Data) technology. When enabled, RAPID mode is able to analyze system traffic and, using spare system resources (DRAM and CPU), improve random write performance, access to frequently-used data and overall system responsiveness.
If you've read our review of the SSD 840 EVO, you already know that RAPID is more than a marketing gimmick. With it enabled, we were able to push the drive's performance beyond what a single, SATA SSD is normally capable of. In this article, we're going to take a look at the latest version of the Samsung's Magician software and then see how well their RAPID technology works with the SSD 840 Pro. Can RAPID make an already fast drive even faster? Keep reading to find out.
The Samsung Magician software is designed to help users easily manage the health and performance of their Samsung SSD. From the main screen, users can check the health of their drives and view information like the serial number, firmware, capacity and the total bytes written. This screen also shows whether or not AHCI mode has been activated as well as the speed of the SATA interface.
Magician also gives users the ability to benchmark their drives and optimize the performance by forcing TRIM and Garbage Collection to run. In addition to this, users can download and apply firmware updates using the software.
Most operating systems are optimized for traditional hard drives. The OS Optimization menu provides options that help you configure your OS to work best with your SSD. Additionally, the Over Provisioning menu gives you the ability to optimize the performance and lifespan of your drive by resizing the partitions.
The Secure Erase feature provides the option to delete all data on an SSD in a way that it can never be recovered, restoring the drive to its original performance. Magician gives you the option to do this from within Windows. Otherwise, if your SSD is in a frozen state, you can create a bootable USB drive, CD or DVD.
One of the advanced features in Samsung's Magician software is RAPID (Real-time Accelerated Processing of I/O Data) Mode. When enabled, RAPID mode is inserted as a filter driver in the Windows storage stack. The driver actively monitors all storage-related activity between and among the operating system, user applications and the SSD. The RAPID technology analyzes system traffic and leverages spare system resources (DRAM and CPU) to deliver read acceleration through intelligent caching of hot data and write optimization through tight coordination with the SSD.
Magician 4.3 introduces another advanced feature that deals with Data Security. From here, users can check and see what security features their drive supports and view its current settings. Looking at the screenshot below you can see that while the 840 EVO offers support for Class 0, TCG/Opal and Encrypted Drive, the older 840 Pro only supports Class 0. Unlike the other two modes, Class 0 mode cannot be enabled using Magician. Instead, you will need to set a password in the BIOS.
The test system used in this review was an HP 8200 Elite. The computer came equipped with an Intel Core i5-2400 CPU, 4GB of DDR3 1333MHz memory, Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3250312AS 250GB SATA 6 Gb/s hard drive, NVIDIA Quadro FX580 512MB PCIe graphics card and an Intel 82579-LM gigabit network card. For the operating system, I installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 Enterprise.
To test the performance of Samsung's 128GB SSD 840 Pro with RAPID enabled, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1, ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46, Anvil's Storage Utilities and Iometer. For comparison, I've also included test results from the OCZ Vertex 450, Samsung SSD 840 EVO, Seagate SSD 600, SanDisk Extreme II, OCZ Vector, Plextor PX-256M5Pro Xtreme, Samsung SSD 840 Pro, Samsung SSD 840, Kingston Ultra Plus, OCZ Vertex 4, OCZ Agility 4, Kingston SSDNow V300 and Kingston HyperX 3K.
First, I ran a few quick tests using CrystalDiskMark. This benchmark tool measures the performance of a storage device by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its random read and write speeds using blocks 512K and 4K in size.
According to Samsung, the 128GB SSD 840 Pro is capable of reading at 530 MB/s and writing at 390 MB/s when connected to a SATA 6 Gb/s port. While the drive performed as expected when writing, it came up a bit short in CrystalDiskMark's sequential read speed test. With RAPID mode enabled, these numbers increased by more than ninefold. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the SSD 840 Pro was able to read at 4,648 MB/s and write at a blazing 5,334 MB/s.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the SSD 840 Pro's sequential read and write speeds. The tests are run using blocks ranging in size from 0.5KB to 8192KB and the total length set to 256MB.
When tested with ATTO, the 128GB SSD 840 Pro's read speeds topped out at about 535 MB/s and its write speeds at 396 MB/s. With RAPID mode enabled, the read and write speeds were all over the place, but for the most part, it was a considerable improvement.
AS SSD is a relatively new benchmark designed specifically for solid state drives. The application contains five synthetic tests used to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of a drive.
AS SSD also includes a copy benchmark. This test copies an ISO (two large files), program (many small files) and game (small and large files), returning the speed and duration of each.
Anvil's Storage Utilities:
Anvil's Storage Utilities is another new benchmark designed with SSDs in mind. The standard storage benchmark measures a drive's performance by testing its transfer speeds, access times and IOPS.
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 128GB
Samsung SSD 840 Pro 128GB (RAPID Mode)
Lastly, I ran a series of tests using Iometer. This tool can be configured to benchmark a number of things. In this case, I used it to measure the SSD 840 Pro's read and write speeds and the number of operations per second. The tests were run using random bytes and a queue depth of 3.
The 128GB SSD 840 Pro's performance was very similar to what we saw in our other tests. The drive was able to read at 501.42 MB/s and write at 366.18 MB/s. With RAPID mode enabled, its read and write speeds jumped to 571.1 MB/s and 437.25 MB/s, respectively.
The 128GB SSD 840 Pro also performed very well when doing random reads and writes. In our tests, the drive was able to read at 157.86 MB/s and write at 336.9 MB/s. This by itself is impressive, but with RAPID mode enabled, its random write speed jumped to 356.93 MB/s.
According to Samsung, the 128GB SSD 840 Pro is capable of 97,000 IOPS when reading and 90,000 IOPS when writing 4K blocks. In our tests, the drive reached 40,411 random read IOPS and 86,247 random write IOPS. RAPID mode had little impact on the SSD 840 Pro's random read performance. However, with it enabled, the drive was able to reach 91,373 random write IOPS.
Even now, more than a year after its release, the Samsung SSD 840 Pro remains one of the top consumer-grade SSDs on the market. Much of this is due to the drive's impressive performance but, as you saw here, even the SSD 840 Pro can benefit from Samsung's RAPID technology. Like the other versions of the drive we've reviewed, the 128GB SSD 840 Pro performed very well in our tests. By itself, it was able to read at speeds as high as 535 MB/s and write at speeds in excess of 390 MB/s. With RAPID mode enabled the results varied a lot from one benchmark to another, but even on the low end the drive's sequential read and write speeds increased by 70 MB/s. RAPID mode also had a big effect on the SSD 840 Pro's random write performance. When tested with Iometer, the drive's random write speed increased by 20 MB/s, giving it the ability to deliver more than 91,000 IOPS at low queue depths.
If you already own an SSD 840 Pro, I recommend downloading the latest version of Samsung's Magician software and giving RAPID a try. If you don't own the drive yet, it is available at most retailers in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB capacities. Prices on Amazon.com start at $115 for the 128GB version and go up to $400 for the top of the line 512GB drive.