Samsung SSD 850 Pro review: Top-notch solid-state drive for a premium price

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CNET Editors' Rating

4.5 stars Outstanding
  • Overall: 9.0
  • Setup and ease of use: 8.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Performance: 10.0
  • Service and support: 10.0

Average User Rating

4 stars 1 user review
Review Date:

The Good The Samsung SSD 850 Pro has the best performance, with ultra-high endurance. The drive comes with a lot of useful features, such as encryption, and RAPID mode.

The Bad The new SSD is expensive compared with competing drives.

The Bottom Line The hefty pricing aside, the Samsung SSD 850 Pro is one of the best, if not the best, standard consumer-grade solid-state drives on the market.

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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.

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The new Samsung SSD 850 Pro is available in up to 1TB of storage space. Dong Ngo/CNET

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

Capacities 128GB 256GB 512GB 1TB
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
Included Cache 256MB 512MB 512MB 1GB
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
Warranty 10-year 10-year 10-year 10-year

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.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Form Factor 2.5"
  • Hard Drive Type internal hard drive
  • Capacity 128 GB
  • Buffer Size 256 MB