It’s difficult to thrive in the solid-state drive world. Unless you’ve got just the right controller and flash memory, most performance-minded PC users will rarely give you a second glance. Samsung muscled its way into that narrow view with the SSD 830 last year; it intends to lock our attention with the new SSD 840 and SSD 840 Pro. The Pro’s 520MB/s and 450MB/s sequential read and write speeds are only modest bumps over the 830, but they don’t tell the whole story of just how fast it gets. The upgraded MDX controller boosts the random read access to a nicely rounded 100,000IOPS, and random writes have more than doubled to 78,000IOPS or 90,000IOPS, depending on who you ask and what drive you use. The improved performance in either direction is a useful boost to on-the-ground performance, as both AnandTech and Storage Review will tell you. We’re waiting on details of the ordinary triple level cell-based 840 model beyond its 120GB, 250GB and 500GB capacities, although there won’t be an enormous premium for the multi-level cell 840 Pro over existing drives when it arrives in mid-October — the flagship line should start at $100 for a basic 64GB drive, and peak at $600 for the ultimate 512GB version.
Bored by Plextor’s safe and steady M3S? Then ponder on its new performance model, the 2.5-inch, SATAIII-sporting M3 Pro. It notches up random read/write speeds by around seven percent to 75,000/69,000 IOPs, while sequential read/writes have also had a marginal bump to 540MB/s and 450MB/s. It’s not yet clear how much the new drives will cost when they reach stores in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB varieties next month, but the use of 24nm toggle flash — which squeezes more storage onto less silicon — should help to keep pricing relatively sane. Oh, and the 7mm height also means that the M3 Pro will slide happily into the compressed bowels of your Ultrabook — unless that slot has already been reserved for a Crucial. Read on for the press release.
It was just last week that we got to take home the Acer Aspire S3, the first Ultrabook to go on sale here in the States. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to the pillars laid out by Intel: its performance trails similar machines, its battery craps out early and the design, while portable, is too chintzy to make it a bellwether for skinny Windows laptops. Our verdict, in a sentence, was that you’d be better off getting a MacBook Air, or at least considering other Ultrabooks — namely, ASUS’ line of Zenbooks.
As it turns out, one showed up on our doorstep just a few days later. In many ways, the UX31 is everything the S3 is not: it has a gorgeous all-metal design and comes standard with an SSD and 1600 x 900 display (not to mention, a case and two bundled adapters). And with a starting price of $1,099, it undercuts the entry-level (and similarly configured) MacBook Air by two hundred bucks. So is this the Ultrabook we’ve all been waiting for? We suggest pouring yourself a large beverage, settling into a comfy chair and meeting us past the break. We’ve got a lot to say on the subject.