Editors' note: This review was updated on July 6, 2015, when the 2TB capacity of the drive was released.
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.
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
|Design||2.5-inch 7mm||2.5-inch 7mm||2.5-inch 7mm||2.5-inch 7mm||2.5-inch 7mm|
|Controler||Samsung MGX Controller||Samsung MGX Controller||Samsung MGX Controller||Samsung MEX Controller||Samsung MHX controller|
|Flash memory||Samsung 3D V-NAND 3bit MLC||Samsung 3D V-NAND 3bit MLC||Samsung 3D V-NAND 3bit MLC||Samsung 3D V-NAND 3bit MLC||Samsung 3D V-NAND 3bit MLC|
|Sequential Read||540 MB/s||540 MB/s||540 MB/s||540 MB/s||540 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||520 MB/s||520 MB/s||520 MB/s||520 MB/s||520 MB/s|
|Random Read||94K IOPS||97K IOPS||98K IOPS||98K IOPS||98K IOPS|
|Random Write||88K IOPS||88K IOPS||90K IOPS||90K IOPS||90K IOPS|
|Power consumtiion (idle)||2mW||2mW||2mW||4mW||5mW|
|Power consumption (read | write)||3.7W|3.7W||3.7W|3.7W||3.7W|3.7W||3.7W|3.7W||3.7W | 4.7W|
|Endurance (Terabyte written, at least)||75TB||75TB||150TB||150TB||150TB|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.