Samsung 840 Series 120GB Solid State Drive Review

Samsung 840 Series SSD Overview
The Samsung 840 Series keeps much the same styling as the 830 Series. It has an all black metal casing with a sort of chrome accent on the edges. On the top of the drive there is a Samsung logo and the text “Solid State Drive” if for some reason you did not know it was a solid state drive.

Samsung 840 Series 120GB Solid State Drive Samsung 840 Series 120GB Solid State Drive

On one end of the drive you have your connections which of course are SATA data and power connections. For those wondering this is a SATA 6GB/s drive. On each side of the drive are 2 mounting points. Looking at the drive from the side can see just how thin it is. This drive is 7mm thin, which means it will fit in your Ultrabook or Apple laptop.

Samsung 840 Series 120GB Solid State Drive Samsung 840 Series 120GB Solid State Drive

The back of the drive has a sticker on it that has all of the important information on it like your model number, serial number, etc. There are also 4 more mounting points on the bottom of the drive. Normally we would open this drive up, but Samsung has used pentalobe screws on it (I just ordered a tool to open the drive, but it will not be here in time).

Samsung 840 Series 120GB Solid State Drive

The drive features Samsung’s own triple-core controller. This new MDX controller has been revised since the 830 series. The three processor cores are ARM9-based and the controller has 8 memory channels. Multiple cores allows the drive not to lose performance when background tasks are being performed. The firmware will control which tasks are assigned to the cores. This controller is able to handle incompressible data without any issues, unlike SandForce-based drives which take a big performance hit when using incompressible data.

A new change to the 840 Series is the use of TLC NAND instead of MLC. TLC NAND is something we are going to start seeing show up on many solid state drives this year so here is just a little bit about it. TLC stands for “triple-level cell” which is the number of bits stored in each flash cell. Normally we see MLC NAND on consumer-based drives which holds two bits per cell. Getting into enterprise and server drives you will find SLC NAND which has only a single bit per cell. The more bits you add to a cell the more gigabytes you can get per die. The TLC NAND on the 840 Series is made using a 21nm fabrication process. The NAND flash chips are compliant with the 2.0 toggle standard.

The drive also has a DRAM cache, of course made by Samsung as well. The 120GB version sports a 256MB DDR2 cache, while the higher capacity drives have 512MB. Well enough about the drive let’s get it in our system and start testing!

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