Model: Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA 1TB Solid State Drive
Manufacturer: Samsung Electronics
Provided By: Samsung America
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. Last summer, the company launched the 840 EVO. Unveiled at Samsung's annual SSD Global Summit, the drive was powered by the company's 3-core MEX controller and offered up to 1TB of the their second generation 3-bit/cell MLC NAND. To overcome the slow write speeds typically associated with this type of NAND flash, Samsung increased the size of the DRAM cache and implemented an innovative write acceleration algorithm called TurboWrite, which creates a high-performance write buffer in the SSD. The 840 EVO was also the first drive to support Samsung's RAPID (Real-time Accelerated Processing of I/O Data) technology. By using free PC memory as a cache, RAPID was able to push the performance of the drive beyond the limits of the current SATA specification.
Samsung has now launched the 840 EVO mSATA. Designed for ultra-thin laptop PCs, this extension of the 840 EVO line-up features a compact mSATA form factor which is approximately a quarter the size of a 2.5-inch SSD. The 840 EVO mSATA is powered by the same MEX controller found in the 840 EVO. However, it utilizes Samsung's advanced 128 gigabit (Gb) NAND flash memory based on 10 nanometer class process technology. With each package having 16 layers of 128Gb chips, only four flash memory packages are needed to form a 1TB SSD. The 840 EVO mSATA also supports Device Sleep (DEVSLP) for lower power consumption as well as self-encrypting drive (SED) technology that is TCG Opal 2.0 and IEEE-1667 compliant.
The 840 EVO mSATA is available in a wide range of capacities from 120GB up to a massive 1TB. For this review, Samsung sent us the 1TB version of the drive which comes equipped with 1GB of on-board cache and is capable of delivering up to 540 MB/s sequential read and 520 MB/s sequential write speeds as well as up to 97,000 random read and 88,000 random write IOPS.
|Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA 1TB Solid State Drive|
Dimensions and Weight
Needless to say, this is only a taste of what the 840 EVO mSATA has to offer. To give you an idea of what to expect, we'll take a closer look at Samsung's new mSATA SSD and then see how well it performs. Does the 840 EVO mSATA have what it takes? Can it deliver the performance and features that we've come to expect from Samsung? Keep reading as we find out.
The 840 EVO mSATA comes in a small black and grey box. While there aren't a lot of details on the front, the back of the box lists some of the drive's key features. Inside, you'll find the SSD, user manual and warranty statement and a couple of "Samsung SSD Activated" stickers for your computer's case.
The 840 EVO mSATA follows the JEDEC MO-300 standard for mSATA SSDs. It measures a mere 50.8 x 29.8 x 3.6 mm and is about one quarter the size of a standard 2.5-inch drive. The 840 EVO mSATA also has a 52-pin mSATA connector which supports data transfer rates up to 6 Gb/s.
Like the 840 EVO, the SSD 840 EVO uses Samsung's own S4LN045X01-8030 controller chip. Developed entirely in house, this proprietary, triple-core MEX controller excels at multi-tasking. Based on an ARM Cortex R4 (400MHz) controller, its three CPU cores can execute multiple instructions such as reading data, writing data and optimization.
For the 1TB version of the 840 EVO mSATA, Samsung used their own 19nm K9DMGY8SCM-DCK0 Toggle Mode MLC NAND flash. Looking at the pictures above, you can see that there are two of these 256GB flash memory packages on either side of the PCB. The drive also has a single 1GB K4P8G304EB-FGC2 LPDDR2 DRAM memory chip that is used for caching.
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 and 840 Pro support only Class 0, the 840 EVO and 840 EVO mSATA offer support for Class 0, TCG/Opal and Encrypted Drive.
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. I should also point out that our test system is not equipped with an mSATA port so we had to use an mSATA to SATA 6 Gb/s adapter card.
To test the performance of Samsung's 1TB 840 EVO mSATA, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1, HD Tach RW 188.8.131.52, ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46, AS SSD, HD Tune Pro 4.61, Anvil's Storage Utilities and Iometer. For comparison, I've also included test results from the Plextor PX-256M6M, OCZ Vector 150, OCZ Vertex 450, Silicon Power Slim S55, Samsung SSD 840 EVO, Seagate 600 SSD, SanDisk Extreme II, Plextor PX-256M5M, OCZ Vector, Plextor PX-256M5Pro Xtreme, Samsung SSD 840 Pro, Samsung SSD 840, Kingston Ultra Plus, OCZ Vertex 4, OCZ Agility 4 and Kingston HyperX 3K.
As I mentioned earlier, the 840 EVO mSATA is based on Samsung's latest MEX (S4LN045X01-8030) controller chip. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that it performs equally well with both incompressible (0%) and compressible (100%) data.
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 1TB 840 EVO mSATA is capable of reading at 540 MB/s and writing at 520 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 nine-fold. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the 840 EVO mSATA was able to read at 4,832 MB/s and write at a blazing 5,161 MB/s.
HD Tach RW 184.108.40.206:
Next, I used HD Tach to test the 840 EVO mSATA's read, write and burst speeds as well as its seek times and CPU usage.
Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA 1TB
Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA 1TB (RAPID Mode)
Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the 840 EVO had average read and write speeds of 428.7 MB/s and 341.8 MB/s respectively, as well as a burst speed of 372.8 MB/s. This time around, RAPID mode had very little effect on the drive's performance. Most likely, this is due to the way HD Tach bypasses the file system when performing its read and write tests.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the 840 EVO mSATA'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 840 EVO mSATA's read speeds topped out at about 556 MB/s and its write speeds at 535 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.
HD Tune Pro 4.61:
Next, I ran a series of tests using HD Tune Pro. This hard disk utility measures a drive's performance by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its access time, burst rate and CPU usage. For this review, I'm also going to use it to benchmark the 840 EVO mSATA's random read and write speeds, random access times and the number of operations per second.
Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA 1TB - HD Tune Read Benchmark
Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA 1TB (RAPID Mode) - HD Tune Read Benchmark
Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA 1TB - HD Tune Write Benchmark
Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA 1TB (RAPID Mode) - HD Tune Write Benchmark
The SSD 840 EVO performed very well when benchmarked with HD Tune. The drive had average read and write speeds of 498.1 MB/s and 365.8 MB/s, respectively, and a burst rate of about 276 MB/s. Surprisingly, RAPID mode had very little impact on the drive's read speed. However, it was slightly faster when writing.
Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA 1TB - HD Tune Random Access Read
Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA 1TB (RAPID Mode) - HD Tune Random Access Read
Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA 1TB - HD Tune Random Access Write
Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA 1TB (RAPID Mode) - HD Tune Random Access Write
The SSD 840 EVO didn't disappoint when doing random reads and writes. When reading 4KB blocks, it reached 20,452 IOPS and had an average speed of 79.894MB/s. The drive was slightly faster when writing, reaching 22,716 IOPS with an average speed of 88.738 MB/s. As you can see, RAPID mode gave the 840 EVO mSATA's random read and write performance a considerable boost. With it enabled, the drive reached 142,694 random read IOPS and 127,665 random write IOPS.
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 EVO mSATA 1TB
Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA 1TB (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 840 EVO mSATA'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 1TB 840 EVO mSATA's performance was very similar to what we saw in our other tests. The drive was able to read at 528.68 MB/s and write at 454.54 MB/s. With RAPID mode enabled, its read and write speeds jumped to 563.31 MB/s and 698.66 MB/s, respectively.
The 840 EVO mSATA also performed very well when doing random reads and writes. In our tests, the drive was able to read at 154.42 MB/s and write at 327.85 MB/s. This by itself is impressive, but with RAPID mode enabled, its random write speed jumped to 360.78 MB/s.
According to Samsung, the 1TB 840 EVO mSATA is capable of 98,000 IOPS when reading and 90,000 IOPS when writing 4K blocks. In our tests, the drive reached 39,531 random read IOPS and 83,930 random write IOPS. RAPID mode had little impact on the 840 EVO mSATA's random read performance. However, with it enabled, the drive was able to reach 92,361 random write IOPS.
While SSDs offer many benefits, there are some downsides to using flash memory. One of the biggest issues people run into is performance degradation. Over time, an SSD will run out of fresh blocks and will have to write over data the file system has marked as deleted. This procedure is very complicated and can slow an SSD's write speeds considerably.
To fix this problem, most manufacturers have added TRIM support to their SSDs. The TRIM command allows an operating system, such as Windows 7, to tell an SSD which data blocks are no longer in use. Using this information, the drive pro-actively erases these blocks and adds them to the free block pool.
To test the 840 EVO mSATA's TRIM function, I first put the drive in a "dirty" state. I used Iometer to fill the entire drive and then ran a random write test for 30 minutes. Looking at the screenshot below, you can see that the 840 EVO mSATA's average read and write speeds dropped to 268.5 MB/s and 26.7 MB/s, respectively.
Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA 1TB - Dirty
To see how well the 840 EVO mSATA could recover, I let the computer sit for about an hour and a half and then reran the test. The drive's average write speed climbed up to 403.7 MB/s. However, its read speed still lagged a bit behind, averaging out at 250.2 MB/s.
Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA 1TB - After Trim
Lastly, I used Samsung's SSD Magician software to perform a secure erase of the 840 EVO mSATA. With the drive wiped clean, it had average read and write speeds of 419.1 MB/s and 405.8 MB/s, respectively.
Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA 1TB - Secure Erase
Samsung's new 840 EVO mSATA SSD is proof that good things do come in small packages. Designed and built entirely in-house, this pint-sized drive is powered by Samsung's triple-core MEX controller and is available with up to 1TB of the company's 3-bit MLC NAND flash. Like its 2.5-inch counterpart, the 840 EVO mSATA utilizes a massive DRAM cache and Samsung's TurboWrite technology to achieve a high-level of performance. In our sequential read and write tests, the 1TB version of the 840 EVO mSATA was able to read at speeds as high as 556 MB/s and write at speeds in excess of 494 MB/s. The drive also did very well in our random write tests, producing more than 83,000 IOPS at low queue depths. Moreover, it performed equally well with compressible and incompressible data and was able to sustain these speeds, even after intensive use.
Impressive performance isn't the only thing the 840 EVO mSATA has to offer. To keep your data safe, the drive features AES 256-bit full disk encryption and is compatible with both the TCG Opal and IEEE 1667 specifications. The 840 EVO mSATA also supports the SATA Device Sleep (DEVSLP) standard which extends the battery life of a device by reducing the drive's power consumption when it's not in use. Last, but not least, the 840 EVO mSATA works with Samsung's RAPID technology. When enabled, RAPID uses free PC memory to boost the performance of the drive beyond what a single SSD is normally capable of.
- mSATA form factor
- Available in 120GB, 250GB, 500GB and 1TB capacities
- Features RAPID mode and TurboWrite technology
- Excellent sequential read and write speeds
- Very good random read and write performance
- Performs equally well with compressible and incompressible data
- SATA 6Gb/s interface
- Large SDRAM cache
- Supports TRIM, SMART and Garbage Collection
- AES 256-bit full disk encryption
- TCG Opal and IEEE 1667 compliant
- Includes SSD Magician and Data Migration software
- 3 year warranty
- Samsung's 3-bit MLC NAND is not as durable as 2-bit MLC NAND
- RAPID mode is Windows only