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3 new SSDs to boost your laptop's speed

Lucas Mearian | July 11, 2013
Seagate, Samsung and OCZ have launched new consumer-class SSDs. We benchmarked all three to find which one has the best performance.

For the Seagate 600, its first consumer SSD, the company chose to use the LM87800 controller from Link A Media Device (LAMD), a company that was recently acquired by memory chip giant Hynix.

The Seagate 600 has a retail price tag of about $110 for a 120GB model, $209 for a 240GB drive and $410 for a 480GB model, the one I tested.

The Seagate 600 uses 19 nanometer (nm) process multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash chips. There are eight NAND channels to the flash chips, which offers a good deal of parallel flash access to I/O channels.

The first time I fired up my Blackmagic Disk Speed Test benchmarking software and tested the Seagate 600 SSD, I was pleasantly surprised; the drive attained a maximum read performance of 512MB/sec. and 443MB/sec. write speed.

By comparison, Intel's fastest consumer SSD, the 520 Series, recorded a maximum read rate of 456MB/sec. and a write rate of 241MB/sec. Admittedly, that drive is over a year old, but it gives you an idea of how far SSDs have come in just a year.

Next, I tested Seagate's 600 SSD transfer speed using the 2GB MP4 file. It took just 8 seconds, which beat out both other SSDs by two seconds.

The Seagate 600 booted up in 12 seconds and shut down in 25 seconds. Restarts averaged 35 seconds. Again, the Seagate SSD marginally beat out the other SSDs I tested.

The Samsung 840 Pro
Samsung launched its840 Pro series, along with its less expensive brother -- the 840 series -- last year. The 840 line is meant for mass markets, while the 840 Pro is aimed at the "enthusiast" or gamer market because it provides a higher level of write performance and lower latency. The drive uses Samsung's MDX controller, which has three ARM Cortex-R4 cores.

Samsung 840 Pro
Samsung 840 Pro

One difference between the 840 Pro and the 840 is the flash memory itself. The 840 Pro uses multi-level cell (MLC) flash (as do the other two SSDs reviewed in this roundup), while the 840 uses less expensive triple-level cell (TLC) NAND.

The difference? MLC stores two bits of data per NAND flash cell and TLC stores three. Inherently, TLC is slower than MLC and will have less endurance because it is moving more bits around, thereby wearing out the flash memory more quickly. For all intents and purposes, however, both are robust and extremely fast SSDs.

You will pay a small price premium for the 840 Pro over the 840 version. For example, the 120GB version of the 840 retails for $110. The 840 Pro has a retail price of $150 for the 128GB model; $240 for the 256GB model; and $520 for the 512GB model (this last was the version I tested). But the 840 Pro is similar in price to the drives with which I compared it in this review.


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