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
DRAM (LPDDR2) 256MB 512MB 1GB
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.

Pricing

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 9.1.1.1015 + 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 9.4.0.1026 + Intel RST 12.9
Memory Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1866 2x8GB (9-10-9-27 2T)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 4600
Graphics Drivers 15.33.8.64.3345
Desktop Resolution 1920 x 1080
OS Windows 7 x64
Inside The Drives & Updated TurboWrite
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  • Kristian Vättö - Thursday, December 11, 2014 - link

    Hi Simon,

    Sorry for taking a while to respond -- I had to focus on my finals after I got the review done, so I couldn't catch up with all the comments until now.

    The 850 EVO is still a SATA 6Gbps design, so there won't be a SATA Express version of it. There may (and likely will) be an M.2 version coming, although that would also be limited to SATA 6Gbps since M.2 can support both SATA and PCIe interfaces. As for the form factors and capacities, it's impossible to say for sure but technically the 2242 form factor could max out at 512GB and the 2280 at 2TB (assuming double-sided PCB and 16x128Gbit dies per package).

    However, the SM951/PM951 will be available sometime next year, although it will be limited to OEM channels again (RamCity saves you, again). That's the PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe M.2 drive with 3D NAND (SM=MLC, PM=TLC). I don't have any further details at this point, unfortunately.

    Regarding other PCIe SSDs, I should know more after CES when I meet with all the companies again and get an update on their schedules, but for now it looks like most designs are aiming at mid-2015 launch.
    Reply
  • akula2 - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

    850 Pros are my last Samsung SSD products to buy. For the upcoming X99 extreme workstations, I'll to go with:

    1) SanDisk Extreme Pro 960GB (today $490 vs $600 of 850 Pro). The performance of both SSDs are comparable.
    2) Mushkin Scorpion Deluxe 960GB PCI-E SSD: this one decimates all the best SSDs.
    3) Intel SSD DC P3700 800GB and 1.6TB models: The King
    Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - link

    This is the problem with Samsung. When they first came into the market, they blew the competition away with incredible performance, reliability, and pricing.

    The 840 came with TLC, promising superior pricing with good performance, but in fact pricing was out of whack, putting it way above the 830 that had just left the market. Then 840 Pro took over the high end where only fools dare to tread.

    The 850 line (Pro and EVO) raise the prices even higher. It's like Samsung thinks they're the Apple of SSD's and can do whatever they want in pricing. To hell with the competition, people will pay whatever they say.

    It's a shame. Way back, I got an 830 because it was a great value. This time around? I waited until Black Friday and picked up a Sandisk after waiting a couple of years for Samsung to remove their head from out of their butt. My 480GB Extreme Pro only cost me $185 and it will last me a good long while.

    That could have been you, Samsung. I didn't want to put another brand SSD in my machine. I wanted to have only one Samsung Magician. But Samsung pricing is completely absurd.

    So, eh, bye bye, Samsung.
    Reply
  • Supercell99 - Sunday, December 14, 2014 - link

    They acting like Intel with does Xeon chips, except, Samsung actually has other competition with SSD's. Like you, with my next SSD purchase, I will have to look at other companies as Samsung's $/GB vs the competition has continued to get worse. Reply
  • FlobianKlerk - Thursday, December 11, 2014 - link

    Last Wednesday I bought a Peugeot 205 GTi, since getting a check for $7859 this-last / 6 weeks and more than $11k last-month. Without any doubt it's the easiest-work I have ever done. I started this 8 months ago and almost instantly was making at least $86... per-hour . Look here http://orkanjobs.tk Reply
  • philipma1957 - Thursday, December 11, 2014 - link

    I would like a 1.2th ssd that is really 1.5tb with extra provisioning.
    I would like it to have good 4k random read writes more then anything.

    I have 2 1tb ssds and use them for mac minis.

    I use external thunderbolt drives and boot with the 1 tb ssd's the drive in the mini is merely a back up for me. I find I could use a little bigger then 1tb for the video recording I do. Still waiting for a bigger ssd.
    Reply
  • harrynsally - Saturday, December 27, 2014 - link

    Didn't take long for the MSRP to drop. Was on sale at Newegg and I just bought a 250GB 850 EVO for $114 shipped.

    Although I previously, purchased two Crucial 256GB MX100s, to use in a couple of older laptops, which installed and continue to run flawlessly, wanted to upgrade the HDD in a new laptop.

    Was really conflicted in not buying another MX100, but the better performance specification and 5 year warranty won out.
    Reply
  • rvb - Monday, January 19, 2015 - link

    Has anyone seen info for the write-block and erase-block sizes for the 1TB 850 Pro? I am intending to RAID 4 of them together, and I want to make sure that my RAID's stride-size is a multiple of the larger of those two values. If they are both something small like 4KiB, then pretty much any larger Pow2 value I choose will be fine. But my only other SSD purchase (OCZ Vertex 4) had a WBS of 8KiB and an EBS of 2MiB. In that case, if I'm going to be writing large files to my RAID, then I think it's useful to know that the EBS is so large, so that I can set my RAID stride-size accordingly.
    Samsung's "data sheet" for the 850 Pro series neglects to give this information... however, I do note that they only quote random-write performance in terms of 4KB transfers, which may imply that at least their WBS is 4KiB. I just wish I knew for certain, and also the EBS ?
    Reply
  • mirkogutic - Saturday, January 24, 2015 - link

    Hi, i own 2 of the 120GB Samsung EVO 850.
    Should I put them in RAID 0 or leave them as separate drives?
    It seems that Samsung Magician works only when drives are not in RAID mode.
    Also, RAPID mode works only on one drive and when not in RAID.
    Reply
  • Nilth - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    Sorry for the probably dumb question, but isn't the way turbowrite works detrimental for the ssd longevity? If I understood correctly, (almost) ALL the writes are going to pass through the same "x" GB slc buffer. Isn't that partition going to "wear out" son enough? Reply

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