Review Index:

Samsung Magician 4.9.7 and Samsung 840 DXT0AB0Q Firmware Tested, Read Speed Issues Finally Addressed

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Pre and Post Update Testing

Samsung launched their 840 Series SSDs back in May of 2013, which is over three years ago as of this writing. They were well-received as a budget unit but rapidly eclipsed by the follow-on release of the 840 EVO.

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A quick check of our test 840 revealed inconsistent read speeds.

We broke news of Samsung’s TLC SSDs being effected by a time-based degrading of read speeds in September of 2014, and since then we have seen nearly every affected product patched by Samsung, with one glaring exception - the original 840 SSD. While the 840 EVO was a TLC SSD with a built-in SLC static data cache, the preceding 840 was a pure TLC drive. With the focus being on the newer / more popular drives, I had done only spot-check testing of our base 840 sample here at the lab, but once I heard there was finally a patch for this unit, I set out to do some pre-update testing so that I could gauge any improvements to read speed from this update.

As a refresher, ‘stale’ data on an 840 EVO would see reduced read speeds over a period of months after those files were written to the drive. This issue was properly addressed in a firmware issued back in April of 2015, but there were continued grumbles from owners of other affected drives, namely the base model 840. With the Advanced Performance Optimization patch being issued so long after others have been patched, I’m left wondering why there was such a long delay on this one? Differences in the base-840’s demonstration of this issue revealed themselves in my pre-patch testing:

Read on for our look at this new firmware for the Samsung 840!

Pre-update testing

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Above is a sequential read-only pass repeated three times in rapid succession. Such a test performed on a pre-patched 840 EVO would have revealed repeatable slow results, but the situation was a bit different with the 840. With no writes taking place, read speeds actually self-improved, meaning that slowdowns seen by 840 owners would likely fix themselves the more the data was attempted to be read. The cause of this would be the 840 handling cell drift issues more gracefully than the (bugged) 840 EVO, which tends to lend some explanation to Samsung not being so quick to update this particular model. The above behavior would have also made it a bit harder for Samsung to replicate the issue, since running the test could impact the results of the subsequent test (that pesky Schrödinger's cat!).

Post-update testing

While our 840 sample returning to nearly full speed did put a damper on showing an instant increase after patching as we did with the 840 EVO update, our latency percentile results were still able to detect a noticeable additional bump in performance:

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…so here we see that while there were some IOs still taking longer to service, the number of them (and more importantly the total time taken by them) was reduced significantly just by updating to the new firmware. The same was reflected in IOPS averages scaling QD:

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Again, not dramatic due to the 840 speeding itself up during our pre-update testing, but still a measurable improvement. I suspect those patching lesser-used drives will see a more substantial speed gain after the update.

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I also noted increased read speeds across the whole drive in the very same test we ran before the update. The overall average increased by 56MB/s as compared with the pre-update test, again with no writing taking place.

June 30, 2016 | 05:04 PM - Posted by Damian (not verified)

Is there a new firmware for msata drives as well?

June 30, 2016 | 05:12 PM - Posted by Palorim12 (not verified)

the 840 EVO M-SATA? That FW update has been out since last year. Allyn released an article for it and used my testing as examples from Overclock:

June 30, 2016 | 05:38 PM - Posted by Damian (not verified)

Im on the lastest firmware for the 840 evo msata. When that firmware came out I had good numbers in SSDReadSpeedTest, but 8 months later my speed reads are almost as bad as they were before the update.

July 2, 2016 | 12:19 PM - Posted by Palorim12 (not verified)

Here's my 840 EVO M-SATA from a fewd ays ago, still at full speed:

June 30, 2016 | 05:20 PM - Posted by Neon

Finally! Thanks Samsung.

June 30, 2016 | 05:23 PM - Posted by Lance Ripplinger (not verified)

Awesome, thanks for the update Allyn! I didn't even realize I didn't have the latest version of Samsung Magician installed. That must be a bug in their software. When I told it to check for updates, it said it was updated. I forget the version was since I just went and installed the new one from the website from the link you provided. I have an 840 120GB model I use for my boot drive and was beginning to wonder if Samsung was ever going to address the issue. Of course, my SSD is only running on an SATA 2 port (old Intel i7-860 Lynnfield architecture), so I don't get the full benefit of the speed it can do, but that is fine. It is still way faster than a miserable hard drive.

June 30, 2016 | 05:46 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Yeah, Magicians auto-update has never been consistent for me. I think they pace out their auto-updates intentionally.

June 30, 2016 | 06:04 PM - Posted by Lance Ripplinger (not verified)

I was wondering that very thing. I just did the firmware update and ran the advanced performance optimization, and everything went without a hitch.

June 30, 2016 | 07:03 PM - Posted by Anon (not verified)

Wohoo, can't believe we finally get a new firmware for the 840. Does this mean I can stop using DiskFresh every couple of months now?

June 30, 2016 | 07:54 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano


June 30, 2016 | 07:22 PM - Posted by zMeul (not verified)

can you please do a HD Tach on a 850EVO that you have around?
quite curious if it exhibits same cell voltage drift issues

June 30, 2016 | 07:54 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

I've been tracking that since the beginning. No slow down.

June 30, 2016 | 07:58 PM - Posted by zMeul (not verified)

OK, thank you!
I recently saw someone with a 850EVO HD Tach test that showed some worrying results

I have a A-Data SP550 that's 3rd time (3rd unit) sent to RMA for cell voltage drift and if they finally approve reimbursement, I was thinking of paying the diff to a 850EVO

June 30, 2016 | 08:01 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Remember that if you run a sequential read across an SSD that was previously partially randomly written, those spots will see a slow down. This is expected and occurs with nearly all SSDs.

June 30, 2016 | 08:10 PM - Posted by zMeul (not verified)

that's not what I did
I've put a bunch of games on it and let it stew for couple of weeks

out of the 3 units, 2 exhibited read dips after the 1st week
from new to 1st week to 2nd week

it's on a SATA2 controller :( but, if it was a SATA3, the dips would be more substantial

June 30, 2016 | 07:25 PM - Posted by CrisisHawk

Wow, I had given up on this ever getting updated and had pretty much retired my 840.

Thanks for the heads-up Allyn, time to put that back into use.

June 30, 2016 | 07:30 PM - Posted by Cyclops

I guess this'll shut someone up on a certain other forums, eh?

September 13, 2016 | 02:04 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

And it only took 2 years to do it, such an amazing timely support will certainly shut them once and for all, and its not like they were right to do it in the first place, those self-entitled money spenders!

June 30, 2016 | 07:33 PM - Posted by willie242

I have a 1TB 840 EVO and the samsung magician 4.9.7 software says my
EXTODB6Q is up to date. Is the EXTODB6Q firmware the newest firmware?

June 30, 2016 | 07:56 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

This article is for the 840, not the 840 EVO. It appears you are up to date on your 840 EVO.

June 30, 2016 | 09:36 PM - Posted by remc86007

I'm impressed they've kept after this problem for so long,but if I had one of these, I would have put it up on eBay years ago.

July 1, 2016 | 02:59 AM - Posted by johnestan (not verified)

About time. I have 2 840s in my system that have obviously been suffering from the slow down issue. I've almost given up on them, and bought a new drive several times. This whole ordeal has put my off Samsung a little, but I bought a s7 anyways.

July 1, 2016 | 02:55 PM - Posted by Mandrake

Thank you Allyn. Great article. Fantastic to, finally, have a fix for this issue. Props to Samsung for that.

July 4, 2016 | 05:33 PM - Posted by Bradley Jones (not verified)

Unfortunately it doesn't seem like any of the Disk Management tools work on 840 EVO's in a RAID array, at least RAID 1. Is this your experience Allyn?

July 5, 2016 | 12:32 PM - Posted by Palorim12 (not verified)

This is for the 840 non-EVO and no the Samsung Magician tool does not support RAIDed drives.

July 5, 2016 | 12:40 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

The directions you seek are in the middle of this page here.

July 6, 2016 | 03:26 AM - Posted by shred (not verified)

Did the new firmware update on my Samsung 840, the real world improvement equaled ZERO. ATTO tests were slightly slower than past runs as well. Very disappointed after waiting ages for an 840 firmware update. I am finally giving up and pulling this POS and never buying a Samsung SSD again. Already ordered a 480gb ADATA SSD to replace it. I have had very good luck with ADATA (5), Mushkin (3), Crucial (1), Seagate (1), and Kingston (1) SSDs. The Samsung has been my lone letdown and has been getting a lot worse despite Samsung Magician's claims that all is GOOD. I'm simply done with this 840, and with Samsung SSDs, period.

July 6, 2016 | 05:04 PM - Posted by Glaring_Mistake (not verified)

ATTO tests files it has newly written so it is not the best benchmark to test if this issue was resolved.
HD Tune with Block Size set to 8MB or SSD Read Speed Tester would be more suitable to use to see if there's any improvement.

Anyway would that SSD you ordered happen to be an ADATA SP550?
If you want to avoid issues with read speed slowdowns you should probably avoid that one because it leaks electrons at a rate more similar to the 840 EVO than the 840.

July 6, 2016 | 10:19 PM - Posted by wizpig64 (not verified)

Here's some before and after hd tune tests on a couple OS drives we're currently using.

The 250gig is the first SSD I bought :^)

July 7, 2016 | 11:41 AM - Posted by Palorim12 (not verified)

Use SSD READ Speed Tester.

If you want to us HD Tune, use HD Tune Pro 5.6. You used 2.55, which doesn't bench SSDs properly. Also, make sure in the settings, you select 8mb blocks, Full Test, Most Accurate.

Did you do the Advanced Optimization in Magician on the drive?

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