There are plenty of reasons to be excited about the Samsung SSD 850 Pro.
It's the first SSD on the market that uses the innovative 3D vertical NAND (V-NAND) flash memory for top performance and ultra-high endurance. It also comes with a rarely seen 10-year warranty and, among other features, has a RAPID mode that further boosts its performance.
Naturally, though, all of that comes at a price. Depending on the capacities, the new Samsung drive -- which costs $130, $230, $430, and $730 for 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB, respectively -- is somewhere between $30 to $130 more expensive than the similarly excellent SanDisk Extreme Pro. (Pricing in other markets will be available when the drive is available for purchase on July 21, but that's roughly equivalent to about £76-£426 and AU$138 to AU$776.)
If you don't mind paying the premium, the Samsung delivers the best performance currently available on the market. It's especially great for those who regularly need to write a huge of data to the internal drive daily. But if you're on stricter budget, the SanDisk Extreme Pro is cheaper with comparable, though not exactly identical, performance.
For more options on great internal drive, check out this list of top SSDs on the market.
3D memory cell strings, ultra-high endurance
The Samsung SSD 850 Pro is a standard internal drive that supports the latest SATA 3 (6Gbps) standard and will work in any instance where a regular SATA hard drive is used. Similar to most SSDs, it's 7mm thick. Like most standard drives, it's a square device that's 2.5 inches diagonally, with the standard SATA port on one of its sides. The new drive looks exactly the same as the previous 840 Pro model.
On the inside, however, the new drive is the first that brings 3D Vertical NAND Flash memory to SSDs, called Samsung 2nd Gen 86Gbit 40nm MLC V-NAND.
Traditionally, NAND flash memory cells -- the storage units on an SSD -- are placed flat on the surface of the silicon wafer, limiting the number of cells you can cram into a square inch. In the case of the Samsung drive, cells are also stacked up to 32 layers. This allows for packing significantly more memory cells in the same amount of wafer bits, which greatly increases the density. That plus Samsung's customized firmware and the improved MEX controller, allow the drive to also offer great performance and ultra-high endurance.
Endurance is the number of program-erase cycles an SSD has before you can't write onto it anymore. (Read more about SSD endurance here.) Samsung says you can write at least 150TB of data to the 850 Pro before it runs out of P/E cycles, almost twice that of the SanDisk Extreme Pro, which has the endurance of 80TB. This means most of us won't use up the drive's endurance in our lifetime.
Samsung SSD 850 Pro specs
|Design||2.5-inch 7mm||2.5-inch 7mm||2.5-inch 7mm||2.5-inch 7mm|
|Interface||SATA3, SATA2, SATA||SATA3, SATA2, SATA||SATA3, SATA2, SATA||SATA3, SATA2, SATA|
|Sequential Read||550 MB/s||550 MB/s||550 MB/s||550 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||470 MB/s||520 MB/s||520 MB/s||520 MB/s|
|Random Read||100K IOPS||100K IOPS||100K IOPS||100K IOPS|
|Random Write||90K IOPS||90K IOPS||90K IOPS||90K IOPS|
|Power consumption (idle)||2mW||2mW||2mW||2mW|
|Power consumption (read | write)||3.3W | 3.0W||3.3W | 3.0W||3.3W | 3.0W||3.3W | 3.0W|
|Endurance (Terabytes written)||150TB||150TB||150TB||150TB|
|Suggested US retail price||$130||$230||$430||$730|
Helpful software, improved RAPID mode
As with the 840 Pro and 840 Evo, the 850 Pro allows users to manage all of its features via the Samsung Magician software.
For example, you can use the software to turn on or off over-provisioning -- a feature that uses part of an SSD's storage space to enhance the drive's performance -- encryption, and RAPID mode. RAPID mode is unique to Samsung SSDs and is the most interesting and appealing feature.
RAPID stands for Real-time Accelerated Processing of I/O Data and basically means that it uses the available system memory (RAM) on the host computer as an input/output cache to boost the performance. Since most new computer comes with a large amount of RAM, RAPID is really a welcome feature.
Previously with the 840 Pro and 840 Evo, RAPID only use up to 1GB of RAM for cache. Starting with the 850 Pro, RAPID now can use up to 4GB or 25 percent of the host computer's RAM, whichever comes first, as cache. More cache means better performance. In my testing, there's no reason why you shouldn't use RAPID mode at all.