Samsung 850 Pro SSD (512GB) Review
It would be fair to say that the Samsung 840 Pro was one of the best SSDs we have tested. It offered class leading performance, good build quality, a decent software suite and a good warranty. In their 840 Evo they offered many of the same benefits but priced more competitively ensuring a wide range of choices for consumers buying an SSD.
It has been over a year since the 840 Pro hit the market and competitor drives have continued to evolve since then so now it’s time for Samsung to do the same. Launching today is their new 850 Pro SSD featuring many of the aspects which made the 840 Series so attractive, mixed with some evolutions in the tech used. We will be putting it up against some of the best drives the competition can offer to see how this new model performs.
Samsung use some minimalist, yet stylish packaging on their SSD. Inside we find the drive suspended in a plastic tray and bundled with it two bits of documentation and some case stickers.
Also available for Samsung SSD users are two pieces of software. The first is a data migration tool which helps us to move our existing Operating System to the 850 Pro. The second is Samsung Magician which is now on version 4.4. Samsung Magician allows us to monitor our drive, upgrade firmware, secure erase and optimise our SSD while also allowing us to set over provisioning to our needs and enable Rapid Mode. We saw Rapid Mode on the last generation of SSD from Samsung and it has been enhanced to offer even higher performance by using our system memory as a high speed cache. We will look at the performance impacts on the results page.
The 850Pro SSD
Samsung stick with the same styling for the 850 Pro as we saw on the 840 series and simply tweak the colour scheme a touch. The casing used here is metal and measures 100×69.85×6.8mm with the maximum weight of 66g. A part sticker on the base shows some key information about the drive and we can also see the SATA3 data and power connectors on the left edge.
Four capacities of 850 Pro will be available at launch, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB. Ours is the 512GB version and like the other models it features Samsungs new 32 Layer 3D V-NAND. This new NAND delivers up to 2x the performance and density of traditional 20nm chips as by changing to a 32-layer cylindrical cell structure more cells can be stacked vertically for that smaller footprint and higher density. Sitting beside our NAND is Samsungs latest generation 3-Core MEX controller and that has access to 512MB of LPDDR2 on this model (256MB on 128GB, 1GB on 1TB). Our drive has a formatted capacity of 476GB in Windows 8.1.
In the 850 Pro series Samsung note that one of the key improvements is that the lower capacity drive has enhanced write performance, not quite to the same levels as the higher capacity drives but at 470MB/s it is more capable than the 840 Pro was in its 128GB variant. All of the drives are rated for 550MB/s read and from 256GB up to 1TB they all should hit 520MB/s write. That’s 100,000/90,000 in IOPS. This performance is then maintained by data sanitize features and TRIM in operating systems such as Windows 7 and 8 and the drive fully supports Secure Erase. Samsung offer enhanced security through AES 256-bit full disk hardware based encryption as well as supporting TCG/Opal 2.0.
Power use is rated for 3.3w max when active, 0.4w when idle and 0.2mW when at sleep. Endurance 40GB daily and 150 Tera Bytes Written (TBW) and so confident are Samsung in the reliablilty that they now offer a 10-Year warrant.
As we noted earlier in the review, the 840Pro was an SSD which hugely impressed us. Essentially it was a product which offerd a high quality experience in every aspect, including the two most important, speed and reliability. We have yet to have an 840 series drive fail on us, and that includes the one running our benching system 24/7 since launch.
With the 850 Pro we retain the same quality chassis as well as the excellent Magician software and get the benefits of the latest generation Samsung parts inside. And again, as noted earlier, the 850 Pro has a 10-year warranty… the longest SSD warranty on any consumer SSD at the time of writing by some way. A clear indication of how confident Samsung are in the build quality and long term reliability of the drive.
Looking quickly to their RAPID mode, Samsing offer a technology which allows us to boost performance of the drive in synthetic and real world use by utiliising our system memory (up to 4GB) as high speed cache. The results of this in synthetic tests are good (crazy even in some cases) and in real world use we did see some benefits with the transfer times for large files dropping by a few seconds.
Samsung do note that their new 32 layer 3D V-NAND is capable of significantly higher performance than competitng solutions. That aspect is yet to be proven as the SATA 6GB/s bandwidth is essentially saturated by many of todays drives, including the 850 Pro. What we can say for now is that Samsung manage to squeeze a little extra perfmance out of the bus, meaning this is the fastest SATA based drive that we have tested to date. This includes synthetic benchmarks, load/boot times and intensive operations such as working with HD video in a production environment.
In summary, it is very hard to find fault with the 850 Pro, other than it is limited by the SATA3 interface, so we look forward to seeing any M.2 or SATA Express version should that hit the market.