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Customer Review

118 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best! If you can afford it, get it!!, 27 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Samsung 840 Series Pro 256GB 2.5 inch SATA Solid State Drive (Accessory)
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At the time of writing the Samsung 840 Pro is the best SSD available on the market. It is the reference against which all other SSDs are measured. If you're still reading, then you either need more convincing or you want some more info.

I switched my laptop from a regular hard disk to an SSD as soon as the prices of 250/256GB models dropped to "reasonable" money. I have not regretted it. In fact, after migrating my system to the SSD, I kept my old hard disk as a system backup. I recently had to go back to this backup after my Windows was corrupted after a crash (thanks Symantec, you're standards continue to underwhelm me). Boy was it slooowwww! Booting off of an SSD is not "instant on" fast (I had been hopeful before getting one), but it is measured in seconds rather than the minutes of my old hard disk (a 7200rpm Seagate Momentus).

As for the Samsung 840 Pro, I find it hard to believe, but upgrading from a 256GB Samsung 830 SSD to the 840 Pro feels faster. In fact SSDs are getting close to the limits of the 6gbps bus, so waiting around for higher performance models right now is just not worth it.

On top of that the lifespan of the Pro model is quoted at 5 years, whereas the non-pro SSDs are rated at 3 years. This is a significant increase for a small price difference.

If you're not aware of this, the memory used in SSD drives can only support a certain number of write cycles (where new data is written to a bit of memory). The more you change the contents of the drive, the faster it wears out (this is why you should NEVER defragment an SSD - you are subjecting it to a lot of write accesses and you're not increasing performance. Disk based HDs lose performance as files fragment because they have moving parts, SSDs don't. If you defragment an SSD then you're just killing it faster).

I waited until I could afford an SSD of at least 250GB before saying goodbye to magnetic storage, since the trade-off of space for performance would have made things unmanageable and I would recommend that anyone else eying an SSD do the same. I'm running a 64-bit version of Windows 7 and just looking at the Windows folder it takes up 25GB of disk space. Add to that the space reserved for virtual memory, file management and programs and even a 120GB disk is starting to look full before you've even starting loading your own data. If you're lucky enough to have a second hard drive bay in your laptop, where you can install a large, regular hard drive, you could maybe consider a 120GB, but for anyone else I'd set 250GB as the lower limit.

Finally, I'd like to talk about the contents of the box. When I bought my Samsung 830 I got the version containing a kit of everything you needed to migrate from my old disk to the SSD. This version of the 840 Pro does not have this. All that is in the box is the drive, a CD with the Samsung SSD Magician software and a user guide. The 830 also had a USB cable to plug the SSD onto a USB port for copying to and a license of Norton Ghost, which (is supposed) to be able to clone your previous drive to the SSD. A clone is an exact copy of your existing disk, where the operating system, programs and your data are all intact. All you need to do once the drive is cloned is swap out the old HD for the SSD and then bask in the increased speed.

In other words, if you intend to clone your disk, then you will need an external enclosure or some other means with which to plug the SSD to your PC (you can find kits on Amazon). You will also need some HD cloning software and for God's sake, don't use Norton (this is what killed my copy of Windows). Since I have the license I have tried Norton on several occasions and it has NEVER worked (I can't imagine why Samsung recommend it). You would do better to get a trial or free piece of software from the Internet; I highly Macrium Reflect, which is free for non-professional users, but you might also consider Acronis Migrate Easy, just because it is widely used (though it can only be trialled for 30-days).

Anyway, to sum up in one phrase, this drive is awesome and you should absolutely get one.
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Jan 2013 11:15:04 GMT
All you need is free and the best CloneZilla, or just copy files (in recovery console mode) over from drive to drive, setup drive letters, fix mbr + boot, shutdown, remove old drive, boot and voila.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Jan 2013 09:01:53 GMT
Last edited by the author on 15 Jan 2013 09:05:27 GMT
R. Stevens says:
CloneZilla is another widely used alternative for disk cloning, though I haven't used it personally. Another is Super Duper!, which I've used on Mac and, I believe, also exists for PC.

Don't forget that not everyone knows how to do half of the things you say regarding transfering manually, so using existing software is much, much easier.

Once again, the biggest hang-up for most people would be finding an external drive enclosure.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 May 2013 09:53:50 BDT
Last edited by the author on 6 May 2013 15:47:56 BDT
j s says:
Wouldn't it be possible to use the same SATA to USB cable that came with the 830 (kit versions) then, if one already had it?

(I believe the 830 came in three packaging types "Basic", "Notebook Kit", & "Desktop Kit" - what was the difference on the latter two? I'm guessing the Desktop Kit just had an extra 3.5" to 2.5" drive holder, as desktops have the larger 3.5" drive bay form factor??)

Funnily enough, if you check the 256GB Samsung 840 Pro video here on Amazon that your review was under, it says "kit versions only" in the middle when mentioning using a cable - so perhaps they are gonna do a kit version? (...or is a kit version(s) available as well, perhaps sold by non-Amazon shops?)


EDIT: just checked the Samsung website, it's only the standard 840 that has a single kit option now. Strangely the 840 Pro does not have a kit option:
- All:
http://www.samsung.com/uk/consumer/memory-cards-hdd-odd/ssd
- 830's:
http://www.samsung.com/uk/consumer/memory-cards-hdd-odd/ssd/830
- 840's:
http://www.samsung.com/uk/consumer/memory-cards-hdd-odd/ssd/840
- 840 Pro's:
http://www.samsung.com/uk/consumer/memory-cards-hdd-odd/ssd/840-pro

Wonder why this is?
_______
Also here's some useful links about the firmware versions:
- Firmware issue fixes:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/6483/update-on-samsung-ssd-840840-pro-failures
- all Samsung SSD's:
http://www.samsung.com/uk/function/search/espsearchResult?input_keyword=firmware+ssd&keywords=firmware+ssd
- 840 Pro 256GB (others sizes/models have their own specific versions - ^see "all Samsung SSD's" link above^):
http://www.samsung.com/uk/support/model/MZ-7PD256BW-downloads

In reply to an earlier post on 7 May 2013 10:47:08 BDT
R. Stevens says:
Yes, you can use the 830 kit's cable for the 840 (or any other 2.5" SATA drive, not just SSDs).

I think the Pro version might be marketed at server farms as much as to the general public and in that case they're just going to plug it into a rack, making the cable redundant. There's probably cost saving going on too, to keep the price competitive.

I checked the firmware version on my drive and it is the revised firmware mentioned in the Anandtech article (3B0Q). It is worth noting that the bug they mention was only on pre-production versions of the drive (sent out for review).

In reply to an earlier post on 7 May 2013 18:32:13 BDT
Last edited by the author on 8 May 2013 03:43:10 BDT
j s says:
Are you sure "3B0Q" is the most up to date firmware revision, as both these links suggest it's currently "4B0Q" for the 840 Pro in **256GB size**??
- under "Firmware" in Samsung's downloads centre, here:
http://www.samsung.com/uk/support/model/MZ-7PD256BW-downloads
- this post ("I use the newest firmware 4B0Q.") in the Comments (B.Cernik@inf.cz - Wednesday, March 13, 2013), here:
http://www.anandtech.com/comments/6483/update-on-samsung-ssd-840840-pro-failures/294575
_______

As a an OS X user, some Q's I realise I now have:
a) Any idea how does one go about checking firmware version on OS X?
b) If older firmware, on OS X does it actually NEED changing if using this SSD?
c) How does one update it anyway on OS X, is it possible somehow?
d) If one has to use Windows, can one do it using a virtual machine of Win7 on OS X?

This related post (n0x1ous - Wednesday, November 28, 2012) hinted that just doing the unofficial 'TRIM Enabler' hack software thingy would cover it instead?? Not sure I believe that:
http://www.anandtech.com/comments/6483/update-on-samsung-ssd-840840-pro-failures/283228

- Trim Enabler:
http://www.groths.org/trim-enabler

- OS X enabler guide:
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1505922

- TRIM advisable & works on Samsung drives:
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1575200

- ALL Samsung drives should **definitely** have TRIM enabled:
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1507367

- after OS X updates, TRIM may have to be re-enabled:
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1508225
_____

BTW, good answer on the cable. Yeah likely aimed at the more 'professional' market for the 840 Pro's, I'd suspect. Mind you including this little SATA to USB cable seems a bit stingy given they probably cost next to nothing when bought en-masse by Samsung.

...Oh, and check-out the a m a z i n g speed differences between the latest similarly priced "Crucial M500 250GB" vs this "Samsung 840 Pro 256GB" (FYI, the 840 Pro wins by far, which was quite surprising! :-):
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/807?vs=665

_____

In reply to an earlier post on 8 May 2013 12:44:09 BDT
Last edited by the author on 8 May 2013 12:47:03 BDT
R. Stevens says:
I just meant that the drive I have does not have the firmware mentioned in the review (that bricked the drive). I may not have the very latest firmware, but so far I have had no problems and I'm a fan of the 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' line of thought. I might be missing a small amount of performance on the drive, but better that than update the firmware and suffer a bunch of new bugs or spend days getting my PC running properly again if anything went wrong.

Regarding Mac OS, it looks like if you look in the System Report (either via Applications/Utilities/System Information or by clicking [Apple]/About this Mac/More info.../System Report) and click on 'Serial-ATA' under 'Hardware' you'll get the list of HDDs connected to the Mac. Select the HDD you're interested in and you'll get detailed info on the drive. There's no actual firmware heading, but it looks like the last letters of the Revision indicate the firmware version (just like the device ID in Windows). I can't guarantee this, it might just be the model number, but it is the best candidate I've found.

As for updating the firmware under Mac OSX, I'm afraid I don't have the answer as I've never tried this. It appears that Samsung have sold their HDD division to Seagate (news to me, but the Samsung US site sends you to Seagate for support) and after a brief search I can't find any reliable firmware information for the Samsung 830 SSD I have in my Mac. If you have the infamous USB to SATA cable you could update the firmware using a PC in the worst case.

As for the Samsung/Crucial compare, it just goes to show what a great job Samsung have been doing with their SSDs lately and why I'd happily recommend them. If they have sold their HDD department to Seagate, I can only hope they succeed in maintaining the same level of quality/performance.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 May 2013 19:20:07 BDT
Last edited by the author on 13 May 2013 20:11:28 BDT
j s says:
Yeah, I checked in System Info after I had installed my 256GB 840 Pro, and lucky for me It was already on "4B0Q" under Revision. Saved a whole load of hassle, which was good.
Also turned TRIM on via Trim Enabler too, which is important. Forget 'Fusion' drive for now; my mass storage is external, and Fusion-ing an internal with external could be a whole bag of hurt, especially when one is likely to upgrade sometime in the future. But does sound very much likely the standard, when these things increase in logical volume sizes available in couple of years.

I read the Samsung downloads website:
http://www.samsung.com/global/business/semiconductor/samsungssd/downloads.html
"Samsung Firmware Update Utility for Macintosh Computers" pdf, which quite frankly looked a very 'involved' process for the casual user, with lots of 'perhaps/maybe' issues that could scupper the user at any point!:
http://www.samsung.com/global/business/semiconductor/samsungssd/downloads/Samsung_SSD_Firmware_Update_Utility_User_Manual_English_for_Mac_v10.pdf

Defo, looks much much easier to just beg/steal/borrow a Win7 box, and use the Windows-only Magician software to do this.
What a pain for Mac users though! But I think it's pretty much the same for all SSD manufacturers regardless of the brand bought, so it's a common problem for Mac users across the industry.

Likely to be a moot issue anyway, as generally Apple seem to be moving to either soldered onto board or custom storage designs solutions aren't they? So user 'upgrades' are becoming a thing of the past, a la iOS style.

Posted on 27 Dec 2013 09:30:06 GMT
Steve says:
Very helpful review - I did not appreciate that SSD's had a limited read / write life - so the 5 years offered by the Pro version is particularly useful. Many thanks.

Posted on 22 Jan 2014 02:15:30 GMT
You're confusing lifespan with guarantee. Lifespan for the 840 pro which is based on MLC technology, could be decades depending on average data written to the device.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jan 2014 10:18:01 GMT
R. Stevens says:
True, true. The guarantee does give an indicator of the confidence that Samsung has in their drive's reliability over time and is easier to digest. But the 840 does have a much higher lifespan as measured in read/write cycles compared to the non-pro version and 830 series.
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