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Samsung SSD 850 Evo review: Top performance for a low price

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Editors' note: This review was updated on July 6, 2015, when the 2TB capacity of the drive was released.

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8.8

Samsung SSD 850 Evo

The Good

The Samsung SSD 850 Evo delivers great performance with useful features, at an affordable price. The drive is available with up to 2TB of storage space.

The Bad

The drive carries a 5-year warranty instead of the 10 years the Pro model offers. The Samsung Magician software only works with Windows.

The Bottom Line

The Samsung 850 Evo has the best combination of performance, cost and capacity, making it the ideal drive for any home user.

If you've been eyeing the Samsung SSD 850 Pro but can't quite afford it, the 850 Evo is an excellent alternative. Actually, it may even be the better choice, especially since it's the cheaper of the two, while still achieving fast -- although not consistently as fast as the 850 Pro -- performance.

Though officially an upgrade to the Samsung SSD 840 Evo, the new drive shares more in common with the higher-end 850 Pro. In my testing, the drive achieved impressively zippy speeds, especially in the performance-boosting RAPID mode. Also, I didn't experience any bugs or installation issues.

There's not much to complain about the drive except that its Samsung Magician software, which is required for RAPID mode and other features, is available only for Windows. That means other platforms, such as Mac, Linux or game consoles, won't be able to take advantage of most of the drive's features.

That said, with the current price of $65, $100, $165, $374 and $800 for 120GB, 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB, respectively, the Samsung SSD 850 Evo is an easy recommendation for any home users who want to add a huge performance boost to their computer. (Note that cost of the 2TB is the suggested retail price, its street price will likely be lower.)

For more options, however, check out this list of top standard SSDs on the market.

The new 2TB Samsung SSD 850 Evo solid-state drive. Josh Miller/CNET

High endurance with 3D NAND

Following the 850 Pro, the 850 Evo is the second SSD from Samsung that uses a 3D vertical flash memory cell. Traditionally, 2D planar type NAND flash memory cells -- the storage units on an SSD -- lay flat on the surface of the silicon wafer. That's common for most SSDs on the market. With the 850 Evo, the drive's flash memory cells are stacked in up to 32 layers, which allows for significantly more cells in the same number of wafer bits. This greatly increases the density and means, among other things, more storage space for less cost.

Similar to the 850 Pro, Samsung also claims that the 3D NAND delivers very high endurance, which is the rating that quantifies the total amount of data that can be written to an SSD before the drive becomes unreliable.

Specifically, the 850 Evo's 120GB and 250GB capacities have an endurance rating of 75TB. This means you can write 40GB per day to the drive every day, and it will last for at least 5 years. The 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities' endurance is doubled (150TB) and will take even longer to run out.

Note that SSD's endurance relates only to writing as reading doesn't effect its life span at all. (For more on SSD's endurance, check out this post.) Also, 40GB is a lot of data; in general usage, most days we don't write even a fraction of that to our computer's main drive. That said, chances are you'll replace your computer a few times before the 850 Evo's endurance is expired.

Samsung SSD 850 Evo specs

Capacities 120GB250GB500GB1TB2TB
Design 2.5-inch 7mm2.5-inch 7mm2.5-inch 7mm2.5-inch 7mm2.5-inch 7mm
Interface SATA3SATA3SATA3SATA3SATA3
Controler Samsung MGX ControllerSamsung MGX ControllerSamsung MGX ControllerSamsung MEX ControllerSamsung MHX controller
Flash memory Samsung 3D V-NAND 3bit MLCSamsung 3D V-NAND 3bit MLCSamsung 3D V-NAND 3bit MLCSamsung 3D V-NAND 3bit MLCSamsung 3D V-NAND 3bit MLC
Included Cache 256MB512MB512MB1GB2GB
Sequential Read 540 MB/s540 MB/s540 MB/s540 MB/s540 MB/s
Sequential Write 520 MB/s520 MB/s520 MB/s520 MB/s520 MB/s
Random Read 94K IOPS97K IOPS98K IOPS98K IOPS98K IOPS
Random Write 88K IOPS88K IOPS90K IOPS 90K IOPS90K IOPS
Power consumtiion (idle) 2mW2mW2mW4mW5mW
Power consumption (read | write) 3.7W|3.7W3.7W|3.7W3.7W|3.7W3.7W|3.7W3.7W | 4.7W
Endurance (Terabyte written, at least) 75TB75TB150TB150TB150TB
Warranty 5-year5-year5-year5-year5-year

Otherwise, the 850 Evo looks just like a 850 Pro or the 840 Evo. It's a standard 2.5-inch internal drive that's 7mm thick. The drive supports SATA 3 (6Gbps) but will also work with SATA 2 and the original SATA.

The standard internal drive supports SATA 3 (6Gbps) and is only 7mm thick. Josh Miller/CNET

TurboWrite and RAPID mode

Similar to the case of the 840 Evo, the new 850 Evo supports TurboWrite technology. In a nutshell, TurboWrite enables the drive to operate a portion of its flash memory in a simulated high-performance mode of single-layer-cell flash memory, often found in expensive enterprise SSDs, as a buffer zone. During write operations, data from the host system is first transferred/written to this buffer zone at high speeds and then during the idle periods, the data is moved from the buffer to primary storage region. This results in much faster write performance from the user's perspective.

TurboWrite Technology works within the drive automatically so you don't need to enable it. You do need to manually enable RAPID, however, which Samsung first introduced in the 840 Pro.

RAPID stands for Real-time Accelerated Processing of I/O Data and it uses the available system memory (RAM) on the host computer as an input/output cache to boost the computer's performance. Since most new computers come with a large quantity of RAM, RAPID is really a welcome feature.

To use RAPID on the 850 Evo, you'll need to install Magician 4.5 (included on a CD, though you can also download it). The software supports the new RAPID version v.2.1 that now, according to Samsung, enhances error handling and fixes some compatibility issues. Once enabled, RAPID mode works by itself and automatically adjusts the amount of RAM it uses based on availability. Generally, RAPID mode uses up to 4GB of RAM or 25 percent of the host computer's total system memory, whichever is less.

Other than that, you can use the Samsung Magician software to manage other features and settings of the drive. For example, you can use the software to enable or disable over-provisioning (a feature that uses part of an SSD's storage space to enhance the drive's performance) and encryption, as well as apply different settings that are optimized for the drive's performance, endurance or reliability.

Affordable pricing

The 850 Evo is the cheapest Samsung SSD at launch with most capacities currently costing just slightly more than 30 cents per gigabyte. Even the latest 2TB capacity has the suggested price of just $800 (or 36 cents per gigabyte) and its street price will likely be lower. Overall, with this pricing and the great performance as detailed below, the new Samsung SSD 850 Evo is an excellent buy, and a better deal than its higher-end SSD 850 Pro.

SSD US street price

WD Black 2 Dual Drive $0.12Samsung SSD 850 Evo (500GB) $0.33Samsung SSD 850 Evo (1TB) $0.33Transcend SSD370S (512GB) $0.34SanDisk Ultra II (480GB) $0.35Samsung SSD 850 Evo (500GB) $0.36Samsung SSD 850 Evo (2TB) $0.36OCZ ARC 100 (240GB) $0.37SanDisk Ultra II (240GB) $0.38Samsung SSD 850 Evo (250GB) $0.38Transcend SSD370S (256GB) $0.39Crucial MX200 (250GB) $0.40Crucial MX200 (500GB) $0.40Samsung SSD 850 Evo (250GB) $0.40Samsung SSD 850 Pro (1TB) $0.44Samsung SSD 850 Pro (2TB) $0.45SanDisk Extreme Pro (480GB) $0.46Samsung SSD 850 Pro (512GB) $0.50Plextor M6S (256GB) $0.52OCZ Vector 180 (480GB) $0.53Samsung SSD 850 Evo (120GB) $0.54Intel SSD 730 (240GB) $0.55SanDisk Extreme Pro (240GB) $0.57OCZ Vector 180 (240GB) $0.58
Notes: Measured in cost per gigabyte based on current price on Amazon.com. MSRP used for the 2TB capacity. Lower numbers indicate better value.

Excellent performance

I tested the 850 Evo with a midrange computer running a Core i5 processor with 8GB of system memory, and it really made a big difference in the machine's performance, even when compared to other SSDs.

In sequential data transferring test, which is a test that gauges the drive's raw copy speed, the new drive scored a sustained speed of 183MBps when doing both writing and reading at the same time. When RAPID mode is turn on, it did much better, at 221MB/s. Overall, while very fast, compared to the SSD 850 Pro, however, the 850 Evo is still clearly behind.

CNET Labs' SSD data transfer performance

SanDisk Extreme Pro 250.98 450.59 457.46Samsung SSD 850 Pro 246.25 454.32 448.11Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme 236.18 269.78 270.8OCZ Vector 150 231.42 265.32 200.46SanDisk Extreme II 224.27 255.86 203.42Seagate 600 SSD 192.26 259.01 275.21Intel SSD 730 Series 189.52 265.53 266.84Samsung SSD 850 Evo 182.78 114.45 205.63WD Black 2 Dual Drive 174.65 114.66 228.2OCZ ARC 100 series 163.53 289.39 385.71Plextor M6S 155.34 144.78 227.89Transcend SSD720 145.26 230.58 269.55SanDisk Ultra II 126.49 210.21 319.23
  • As OS drive (read and write)
  • As secondary drive (write only)
  • As secondary drive (read only)
Notes: Measured in megabytes per second.

In tests with the PC Mark benchmark suite, the new Samsung SSD 850 Evo came in very close and even edged out the 850 Pro by a small margin.

PC Mark 8 overall storage performance

Samsung SSD 850 Evo (RAPID) 5013 384.38Samsung SSD 850 Pro (RAPID) 5005 368.13Samsung SSD 850 Evo 4983 276.16Samsung SSD 850 Pro 4979 267.32SanDisk Extreme Pro 4957 244.17Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme 4948 236.18SanDisk Ultra II 4922 208.55OCZ ACR 100 series 4948 203.72
  • Storage Score
  • Storage bandwith (MB/s)
Notes: Higher number means better performance.

PC Mark test also revealed that showed that the Samsung SSD 850 Evo is on par with the 850 Pro in terms of improving the application performance, especially in RAPID mode.

PC Mark 8 storage application performance

Samsung SSD 850 Pro (RAPID) 58 133.9 355.7 28.2 9.1 9.1Samsung SSD 850 Evo 58 133.4 359.2 28.2 9.2 9.2Samsung SSD 850 Evo (RAPID) 58 133.5 354.3 28.1 9.1 9.1Samsung SSD 850 Pro 58.1 133.8 369.8 28.3 9.1 9.2SanDisk Extreme Pro 58.4 133.9 361.1 28.3 9.2 9.2SanDisk Ultra II 58.8 134.6 363.1 28.4 9.3 9.3OCZ ARC 100 series 58.9 134.7 362.3 28.4 9.4 9.3Standard Laptop HDD 138.9 366 565.19 51.7 26.6 27.4
  • World of Warcraft
  • Battlefield 3
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
Notes: Measured in seconds. Shorter bars means better performance.

Overall, the Evo's performance is quite interesting. While its copy speed wasn't the best, its application performance was great,topping the chart in certain tests when used an the RAPID mode. This means if you computer has a lot of system memory (8GB or more) the Evo is an ideal drive to get.

Conclusion

The new Samsung 850 Evo isn't the fastest SSD on the market, especially in terms of copy speed, but in random access speed, which contributes to the overall performance of a computer, it's neck to neck with the top-tier 850 Pro. And, like the Pro, it's now also available in 2TB capacity.

So if you want to get the most value from your dollar, the Evo is clearly a better choice. Though its 5-year warranty time is short compared to the 10-year of the Pro, that's still one of the longest on the market. And after using both drives for months now, I believe chances are you won't need to use the warranty at all. On the other hand, if you want the top SSD with no compromises, the SSD 850 Pro is the way to go if money is not an issue.

All things considered, though, the Samsung SSD 850 Evo is for now the best deal for anyone looking to upgrade their computer to a super fast and reliable internal drive.

samsung-ssd-850-evo-2tb-2400-001.jpg
8.8

Samsung SSD 850 Evo

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 9Performance 9Support 9