Samsung 840 – 250GB SSD Review

It has become clear that simply conducting endless
benchmarks on SSD drives is pointless. Real users may run a few benchmarks when
they first fit their SSD drive, but most users just want a drive that performs
well in the real world. They want their drive to work "out of the
box" and run fast and smoothly.

Most of the latest SSD drives can deliver very fast
sustained reading and writing speeds, but these alone tell you very little
about how the drive will perform in the real world.

If you intend to use your SSD as your primary system drive,
with an operating system and applications installed and running from the drive,
real world performance becomes much more important than just fast sequential
read and write speeds.

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Real world copy
tests

I will now conduct a few real world copy tests. These tests
simulate what real people do with their drives. I will be conducting writing
tests, using a large single file, and I will then round off the tests by
copying a folder of MP3 audio files, and also a folder of JPG pictures.

In past reviews I simply used Windows copy and paste to copy
the files from one drive to the target drive, and then I measured the time
taken to complete the test with a stop watch. This method was flawed in a
couple of ways. Windows employs a cache, so even when the files had been
copied, some of the data was still in the Windows cache and hadn’t yet been
written to the SSD. The other flaw was that a stop watch is not a very accurate
way of measuring the time taken to complete the test.

I had also noticed that copying the small file set had
become pointless, as most modern SSDs have a rather large cache, in fact large
enough to be able to take the complete file set in this cache without having to
commit that data to NAND before the test had completed. I could have increased
the amount of data in the test, but I felt this was moving away from the real
world. For example, who would copy 2GB of data containing only very small
files?

I concluded it was perhaps better just to drop this test
completely, and just focus on the large 8GB ISO file, the folder of MP3 audio
files, and the folder of JPG picture files. I also have taken the opportunity
to increase the amount of data to be copied in the MP3 and JPG tests, to make
sure the SSD’s memory cache doesn’t obtain an unfair advantage.

The other change is, I now use an application to copy the
data, which also times how long it takes to complete the test. This application
also supports "cache write-through". What this basically means is,
there is now no caching of the files, and instead the data being copied must be
committed to the target SSD as it’s being copied.

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Obviously making such changes to the methods of testing is
not taken lightly. To make changes means a lot of extra work, as all the
comparison drives have to be re-tested with the new method. However, here at
Myce.com, we believe we should always try to improve our reviews, and if that
means updating the testing methods and some initial extra work, then that benefits
Myce community as a whole.

For the reading drive, I had to make sure that it was fast
enough not to be holding back the target drive. For the reading drive I have therefore
chosen the OCZ RevoDrive X2 PCIe SSD as the OCZ RevoDrive X2 is capable of
reading speeds of 740MB/s, and also sits on the low latency PCIe x16 system
bus.

For the tests themselves, I will show a screenshot of the
copy test for the SSD that I’m reviewing. All other results will be presented
in the form of a graph, so you can easily compare the results.  

Single large file writing test (8144.6MB)

For this test I used a single DVD9 ISO file which had been
copied to the OCZ RevoDrive X2 240GB SSD. The file was then copied to the Samsung
840 SSD and our comparison drives.

Samsung 840 - 250GB SSD Review
Samsung 840 250GB SSD

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Samsung 840 - 250GB SSD Review

The large ISO file contains quite a lot of incompressible
data, which is detrimental to the SF-2281 based SSDs. Incompressible data is no
problem for the Samsung 840, however, sequential writing performance is not a
strong point of the Samsung 840, and it’s quite a bit slower than most of the
SSDs in this test.


Write a folder of JPG picture files.

For this test I copied a folder of JPG picture files from
the OCZ RevoDrive X2 SSD to the Samsung 840 250GB SSD, and our other comparison
drives. The folder contained 7861 JPG pictures, with a total capacity of
8410.3MB.

Samsung 840 - 250GB SSD Review
Samsung 840 250GB SSD

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Samsung 840 - 250GB SSD Review

The Samsung 840 250GB SSD is once again near the bottom of
the graph.


Write a folder of MP3 audio files.

For this test I copied a folder of MP3 audio files from our
OCZ RevoDrive X2 SSD to the Samsung 840 SSD and our other comparison drives.
The folder contained 1691 MP3 audio files, with a total capacity of 9176.5MB.

Samsung 840 - 250GB SSD Review
Samsung 840 250GB SSD

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Samsung 840 - 250GB SSD Review

Once again the Samsung 840 is second last, but is a good
deal faster than the SanDisk Extreme 120GB SSD.

Summary

We already know the Samsung 840 doesn’t have the greatest
sequential writing performance, and essentially these tests are based on
writing performance.


Single drive copy tests

These tests are to simulate a single drive in a PC or
laptop. In other words, I will copy a series of files from one folder on the
tested drive to another folder on the same drive. This means the drive is simultaneously
reading and writing during the tests. I also want to make this a realistic test,
so I have used a folder of MP3 music files, and then repeated the test with a
folder of JPG picture files.

Single drive copy tests – 1,691 MP3 song files (9176.5MB total)

Samsung 840 - 250GB SSD Review
Samsung 840 250GB SSD

Samsung 840 - 250GB SSD Review

With this test the SSD has to read and write data, and the
Samsung 840 is able to pull itself up one place in our graph when compared to
our previous file copying results.

Single drive copy tests – 7,861 JPEG picture files (8410.3MB total)

Samsung 840 - 250GB SSD Review
Samsung 840 250GB SSD

Samsung 840 - 250GB SSD Review

Once again, the Samsung 840 finishes fairly near the bottom
end of the graph.


Windows start-up and closedown

For these tests, I simply used a stop watch and tested the
amount of time taken for a full installation of Windows 8 to boot to the
desktop, and then timed how long it took for Windows 8 to close down by the
normal Start Menu method.

The timing was started once the BIOS had initialised and
reached the “loading OS message”.

Samsung 840 - 250GB SSD Review
Windows 8 boot time

Samsung 840 - 250GB SSD Review
Windows 8 closedown

There is very little difference in the time taken to boot
Windows 8 between the modern SATA 6Gbps SSDs, and the same applies to the time
taken to shut the PC down.

Installing applications


Installing applications is possibly something you don’t do
that often. But should you replace your system disk, then you will most likely
have to re-install your applications. Most of the SSD drives I have tested up
until now are quite slow at installing applications, most likely because their
I/O performance was quite limited.

For these tests, we picked some popular applications and
copied the entire contents of the CD or DVD media to an OCZ RevoDrive x2 240GB
SSD. We did this to make sure that the reading speed of our CD/DVD reader would
not hamper the performance of the target drive.

We then installed these applications onto our comparison drives,
which were all running mirror image installations of our Windows 8 Professional
64-bit installation, and timed the amount of time taken to install the
application with a stopwatch on each of the drives.

MS Office 2007 Professional (full install)

MS Office is one of those applications that make you cringe
at the thought of re-installing it.

Let’s find out how our drives coped with the MS Office 2007
full install.

Samsung 840 - 250GB SSD Review

The Samsung 840 showed a reasonable turn of speed when
installing this large office suite, and finished the test in eighth place.


Adobe Fireworks CS3

Adobe Fireworks CS3 is another popular package. Let’s find
out how our drives coped with installing this application.

Samsung 840 - 250GB SSD Review

There isn’t a huge margin in the amount of time taken to
install this application with our modern SSDs. However, the Samsung 840
finishes in ninth place in this test.


Summary

Our real world tests, though not scientific in nature, I
feel are more realistic than simply running benchmarks. What is clear from these
tests is that the Samsung 840 struggles a little bit when copying files, but did
very well in the Windows 8 boot and closedown tests, and also proved to be very
capable when installing large applications.

Let’s check out application and game loading performance
on the next page of this article…..

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