Samsung hasn't stopped impressing me in the SSD space. The early Samsung SSDs weren't very good, but ever since the introduction of the SSD 830 Samsung has been doing a brilliant job and has been setting the bar for performance, cost and reliability. The SSD 840 specifically showed what properly executed vertical integration can really do as Samsung was the first manufacturer to utilize TLC NAND in a client SSD. It took a whopping two years before the rest of the industry was able to follow Samsung's footsteps and even today SanDisk is still the only other vendor with a TLC SSD.

While getting an early lead on TLC NAND was a major win for Samsung and a showcase of its engineering talent, the real bombshell was dropped a year later at Flash Memory Summit 2013. For years it had been known that traditional NAND scaling would soon come to an end and that there is an alternate way of scaling in the horizon. As the first manufacturer in the world, Samsung announced that it had begun the mass production of its 128Gbit 24-layer 3D V-NAND.

It took another year before V-NAND found its way into a retail product, but it acquitted all of its promises when it finally did. The SSD 850 Pro is hands down the fastest SATA SSD on the market and it's also backed up by an industry-leading warranty and endurance rating – all which is thanks to V-NAND.

The SSD 850 Pro excels in performance and features, but given its high-end focus it's not a cost efficient solution for the majority of consumers. At this year's Flash Memory Summit, Samsung teased us about an upcoming TLC V-NAND SSD, which would solve the cost issue while still providing all the benefits of 3D NAND technology. The waiting is now over and the drive is (unsurprisingly) called the SSD 850 EVO.

In terms of capacities the 850 EVO lineup is similar to the 840 EVO. The only difference is that the 850 EVO drops the 750GB model, which from what I've heard wasn't a very popular model and to be honest it was kind of an odd middle capacity that generally wasn't price competitive against the 500GB and 1TB models. Initially I was told that the 850 EVO would come in 2TB capacity as well, but later on Samsung opted against it due to the limited demand. Samsung has always been after the high volume markets, so I see the logic behind the decision not to release a 2TB model just yet as its price would drive most people away. The good news, however, is that Samsung has the technology to bring a 2TB drive to the market.

Samsung SSD 850 EVO Specifications
Capacity 120GB 250GB 500GB 1TB
Controller Samsung MGX Samsung MEX
NAND Samsung 128Gbit 40nm TLC V-NAND
Sequential Read 540MB/s 540MB/s 540MB/s 540MB/s
Sequential Write 520MB/s 520MB/s 520MB/s 520MB/s
4KB Random Read 94K IOPS 97K IOPS 98K IOPS 98K IOPS
4KB Random Write 88K IOPS 88K IOPS 90K IOPS 90K IOPS
DevSleep Power Consumption 2mW 2mW 2mW 4mW
Slumber Power Consumption 50mW
Active Power Consumption (Read/Write) Max 3.7W / 4.4W
Encryption AES-256, TCG Opal 2.0, IEEE-1667 (eDrive)
Endurance 75TB (41GB/day) 150TB (82GB/day)
Warranty Five years

The first hint of the capability of TLC V-NAND is the endurance ratings. The 120GB and 250GB capacities are rated at 75TB, which is fairly average, but the 500GB and 1TB models match up with the 850 Pro with their 150TB write endurance. I'll be talking a bit more about the NAND and testing its P/E cycle rating on the following pages, but it's clear that 3D NAND technology is taking TLC NAND to a whole new level in terms of endurance. Thanks to the more durable NAND, Samsung is also upping the warranty from three to five years, which is always a welcome upgrade and I think too many vendors have been fixated on three-year warranties even though NAND endurance has never been the limiting factor.

The new MGX controller in 120GB 850 EVO

In addition to the NAND, the 850 EVO sees an evolution in the controller. The 120GB, 250GB and 500GB models now come with a newer generation MGX controller, although unfortunately I have very few details as Samsung couldn't get me the information about the new controller ahead of the embargo lift. I've heard the MGX is a dual core design, whereas the MEX in the 1TB model (and 840 EVO & 850 Pro) features three ARM Cortex R4 cores. The reason behind the change is increased power efficiency and supposedly the third core isn't needed with the smaller capacities as there are less pages/blocks to track and thus NAND management requires less processing power. I'm guessing that the MGX is also manufactured with a smaller process node and the two cores run at a higher clock speed, but for now I don't have any concrete information backing that up.

The 850 EVO also features the common Samsung feature set. DevSleep, hardware-accelerated encryption (TCG Opal 2.0 & IEEE-1667) and RAPID are all supported. With the 850 Pro Samsung introduced RAPID 2.0 that upped the maximum RAM allocation to 4GB (with 16GB or more RAM installed in the system) and as one would expect the 850 EVO supports the updated version of RAPID. In fact, with the release of Magician 4.5 (included on the CD that is found in the retail package), RAPID sees an update to 2.1 version, although this is merely an incremental update with enhanced error handling and fixed compatibility issues with Intel's Rapid Storage Technology drivers.


The always-so-important question is the price. All modern SSDs are relatively good (especially when compared against what we had three years ago), so for the majority of buyers the key factor is the price. Lately we have seen some very aggressive pricing from the likes of Crucial and SanDisk, and I was expecting that the 850 EVO would be Samsung's answer to that.

Samsung SSD 850 EVO MSRPs
Capacity 120GB 250GB 500GB 1TB
MSRP $100 $150 $270 $500

Unfortunately, the MSRPs at least are fairly high. I was told that the higher production costs of V-NAND necessitate the higher prices, which is why Samsung can't go directly against the MX100 and Ultra II, but in return Samsung offers a longer warranty, higher endurance and better performance (we will find out about the last one soon). That said, MSRPs have never been great indicators of final street prices and we may see the 850 EVO become more competitive eventually.

Test Systems

For AnandTech Storage Benches, performance consistency, random and sequential performance, performance vs transfer size and load power consumption we use the following system:

CPU Intel Core i5-2500K running at 3.3GHz (Turbo & EIST enabled)
Motherboard ASRock Z68 Pro3
Chipset Intel Z68
Chipset Drivers Intel + Intel RST 10.2
Memory G.Skill RipjawsX DDR3-1600 4 x 8GB (9-9-9-24)
Video Card Palit GeForce GTX 770 JetStream 2GB GDDR5 (1150MHz core clock; 3505MHz GDDR5 effective)
Video Drivers NVIDIA GeForce 332.21 WHQL
Desktop Resolution 1920 x 1080
OS Windows 7 x64

Thanks to G.Skill for the RipjawsX 32GB DDR3 DRAM kit

For slumber power testing we used a different system:

CPU Intel Core i7-4770K running at 3.3GHz (Turbo & EIST enabled, C-states disabled)
Motherboard ASUS Z87 Deluxe (BIOS 1707)
Chipset Intel Z87
Chipset Drivers Intel + Intel RST 12.9
Memory Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1866 2x8GB (9-10-9-27 2T)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 4600
Graphics Drivers
Desktop Resolution 1920 x 1080
OS Windows 7 x64
Inside The Drives & Updated TurboWrite


View All Comments

  • R3MF - Tuesday, December 9, 2014 - link

    my mistake, i had presumed that the Pro was not a consumer part.

    still, six months on with the arrival of tons of X99 and Z97 boards sporting m.2 slots, and the drives based on the marvell controller just months away, i'd have thought it would merit a mention.
  • hojnikb - Tuesday, December 9, 2014 - link

    There is a separate article adressing this.... Reply
  • cm2187 - Tuesday, December 9, 2014 - link

    But out of curiosity, what are you going to do with the extra performance? Who actually has any use specs higher than what the EVO already offers. It is certainly the case on some heavy load server but for end users, even enthusiasts like me, I am not sure I would get an even slightly better experience by beating the SATA 3 specs. Reply
  • R3MF - Tuesday, December 9, 2014 - link

    I presume that SATA express and m.2 were invented for no reason then?

    Bandwidth is useful, as is lower latency.
  • cm2187 - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

    Well, it's not because it is invented that it is useful. It's like having dozen of cores in a CPU. Some applications will have some use for these cores (certainly relevant on servers or for virtualization). But the vast majority of common applications are single threaded so people should rather focus on higher clock rates. I'm always happy to see higher specs but I just wonder which of my application will be faster with M2. Reply
  • Supercell99 - Sunday, December 14, 2014 - link

    Virtualization. I run VMware with several OS's running at the same time on my desktop. Being able to startup and have these run off a low latency disk is nice. Power users always have a need for high bandwidth, low latency I/O. Reply
  • hojnikb - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

    These can be used for PCI-E or SATA protoco. In fact, most m.2 drives run sata instead of pci-e Reply
  • dcaxax - Tuesday, December 9, 2014 - link

    I'm unconvinced by Samsung. My SSD 830 is doing ok, having suffered an acceptable 30% performance decline (which may be correctable via secure erase but I will not test this).

    But my 840 (non-EVO) which works in my HTPC and sees limited use outside of the hibernation file (60 of the drive is empty by the way) is now running more than 60-70% slower.

    This is just unacceptable in a system which supports trim (win 7 x64). Samsung have done nothing to rectify this, claiming these problems occur on their EVO line. Until they change their approach, I'm inclined to distrust their latest cost-saving "innovation" and give my money to crucial instead.
  • simonpschmitt - Tuesday, December 9, 2014 - link

    Dear Mr. Vättö,
    while I don't think it would necessary belong into this article R3MF has a point. What is the state of SATAExpress, NGFF, m.2, ... currently? My laptop is 18 Month old and has an unuses m.2-slot witch, to my knowledge, nobody ever put an SSD into. You seem to have an ear to the ground when it comes to the SSD-Industry. There are a few questions you might have a qualified opinion about:
    - Will we be seeing current-gen (meaning 850 EVO-gen) m.2/SATAExpress SSDs?
    - If yes, up to wich capacity in wich form factor (2242, 2280, ...)?
    - with regards to m.2: Will there be mainly PCIe (2 lanes/4lanes) drives or SATA?
    - When do you suppose these will be an economically viable alternative to 2.5" given both slots are available?

    In your personal opinion:
    - What is the point of SATAExpress when literally every SATAExpress-Device also has m.2?
    - Will there be a subjective improvement for the normal or enthusiast (non Datacenter) user with the switch to PCIe?

    A quick blurb, perhaps in the form of a short pipeline aticle, would be much appreciated.

    An other thing I always wondered about: While I am amazed with the percieved benefits of an SSD vs. an HDD game-load-times often seem not to change at all. It's more of an oddity than a real concern but my new system (i5 4200, 8GB, 840 EVO) often has the same load times than my old system (i3 330, 4GB, HDD). I always thought load times were mainly dependent on how fast the data can be read (HDD/SDD bound) and how fast it can be processed/extracted (CPU bound). Is there a factor I'm missing or do games just not take advantage of certain kinds of faster hardware.

    Perhaps you or some of the other readers can help me with my curiosity.

    Thanks, Simon
  • metayoshi - Tuesday, December 9, 2014 - link

    I can't answer all of your questions, but I can answer the gaming part.

    With regards to gaming, it really depends on the game. Many games these days are relatively optimized on loading, so running them on an HDD or SSD doesn't matter too much since they like to load parts of the game in the background. However, there are some games where having an SSD is completely noticeable. As an avid World of Warcraft player, I can tell which raid members have SSDs and which don't because those of us with SSDs simply appear in the raid much faster than those on HDDs when switching zones. I mean, it definitely doesn't hinder gameplay too much since the only thing that takes a while is actually getting into the zone. The rest of the zone is in RAM already, so getting to and fighting bosses are instantaneous. I used to have a 7200 RPM drive before too. For me, the difference is completely noticeable now that I have had an SSD for a couple of years now.

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