Samsung 850 EVO 500GB SSD Review

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Now that SSDs have been out for a few years, manufacturers have managed to saturate the SATA 6 GB/s interface with as much speed as it’s capable of. With that in mind, attention has been turned to greater longevity, reliability, and energy efficiency. With the new 850 EVO series SSDs, Samsung aims to do just that by utilizing their new proprietary MGX controller and 3D V-NANA flash memory. So, let’s take the Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB SSD for a spin and see what Samsung has in store.

Specifications and Features

Below are the specifications as provided by the Samsung product page. Samsung uses a completely in-house proprietary MGX controller and 3D V-NAND flash memory design. Support for TRIM, Garbage Collection, and S.M.A.R.T. are all present and accounted for. The drive is also backward compatible with all previous SATA interfaces. Samsung claims impressive read/write speeds and IOPS performance of up to 98,000 and 90,000 respectively (4K QD32), we’ll check this out during the testing phase of the review. The 850 EVO series is backed with a 5-year warranty to ensure long-term piece of mind.

Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB SSD Specifications
Usage Application Client PCs
Capacity 500 GB
Dimensions (LxWxH) 2.76 x .27 x 3.94 in.
Interface SATA 6Gb/s (compatible w/SATA 3Gb/s & SATA 1.5Gb/s)
Form Factor 2.5 Inch
Controller Samsung MGX controller
NAND Flash Memory Samsung 32 layer 3D V‐NAND
DRAM Cache Memory 512 MB
Performance
  • Seq Read Max 540 MB/s
  • Seq Write Max 520 MB/s
  • 4K Random Read (QD1) Max 10,000 IOPS
  • 4K Random Write (QD1) Max 40,000 IOPS
  • 4K Random Read (QD32) Max 98,000 IOPS
  • 4K Random Write (QD32) Max 90,000 IOPS
Data Security AES 256‐bit Full Disk Encryption (FDE)
TCG/Opal V2.0, Encrypted Drive (IEEE1667)
Weight Max 66g
Reliability MTBF: 2.0 Million Hours
TBW 75 TBW
Power Consumption Active 3.0W
Idle: Max. 50mW
Supporting Features TRIM (Required OS support), Garbage Collection, S.M.A.R.T
Temperature Operating: 32 °F to 158 °F
Humidity 5% to 95%, non‐condensing
Warranty 5 Years Limited

Below, you’ll find the features for the 850 EVO 500 GB SSD as provided by Samsung. All images and descriptions courtesy Samsung.

The engine behind the 850 EVO 500 GB SSD is its 3D V‐NAND technology with TurboWrite and a 2-core MGX controller. Samsung states these new technologies allow the 850 EVO to bring an improved user experience when compared to the 840 EVO. Samsung also claims up to 1.9x faster random write speeds for the 500 GB model. As mentioned above, the 850 EVO series SSDs offer a 5-year warranty and improved endurance numbers over the EVO 840 series.

When the 850 EVOs are in an active state, Samsung touts a 25% increase in power efficiency compared to the 840 EVO series. Because the 3D V-NAND is said to use about half the power of traditional Planar 2D NAND, it’s easy to see how the power efficiency improvements come into play. Samsung’s 3D V-NAND flash memory architecture attempts to overcome the density, performance, and endurance limitations of conventional Planar NAND architecture by stacking 32 cell layers vertically over one another. They choose this method over decreasing the cell’s dimensions and trying to fit itself onto a fixed horizontal space.

The 850 EVO drives offer secure data through advanced AES 256-bit hardware encryption. Through Samsung’s Magician software, you can utilize RAPID Mode to boost performance even further. RAPID Mode allocates unused system memory as high-speed cache, which Samsung claims can boost performance up to 2X.

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3D V-NAND Technology

Samsung’s innovative 3D V-NAND flash memory architecture breaks through density, performance, and endurance limitations of today’s conventional planar NAND architecture. Samsung 3D V-NAND stacks 32 cell layers vertically resulting in higher density and better performance utilizing a smaller footprint.

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Incredible Read/Write Speeds

Achieve incredible read/write performance to maximize your everyday computing experience with Samsung’s TurboWrite technology. You can obtain up to 1.9x faster performance than the award-winning Samsung 840 EVO. The 850 EVO delivers class-leading performance in sequential read (540MB/s) and write (520MB/s) speeds. Plus, gain optimized random performance in all QD for better real-world performance.

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Enhanced RAPID mode

Samsung’s Magician software enables RAPID Mode for up to 2x faster performance by utilizing unused PC memory (DRAM) as a high-speed cache. The newest version of Samsung Magician supports up to a 4 GB cache on a system with 16 GB of DRAM.

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Guaranteed Endurance and reliability

The 850 EVO doubles the endurance* and reliability compared to the previous generation 840 EVO and features a class-leading 5 year warranty. With enhanced long-term reliability, the 850 EVO assures long term dependable performance of up to 30% longer than the previous generation 840 EVO.

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Improved Energy Efficiency

The 850 EVO delivers significantly longer battery life on your notebook with a controller designed and optimized for 3D V-NAND that supports Device Sleep for Windows at a highly efficient 2mW. The 850 EVO supports 25% better power efficiency than the 840 EVO during write operations thanks to ultra-efficient 3D V-NAND only consuming half the energy than that of traditional Planar 2D NAND.

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Secure Data Through Advanced AES 256 Encryption

The 850 EVO comes fortified with the latest hardware-based full disk encryption engine. The AES 256-bit hardware encryption secures data without any performance degradation and complies with TCG Opal 2.0. Easily integrate into Windows with Microsoft e-drive IEEE1667 to keep your data protected at all times.

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Dynamic Thermal Guard Protection

The 850 EVO’s Dynamic Thermal Guard constantly monitors and maintains ideal temperatures for the drive to operate in optimal conditions to ensure the integrity of your data. The Thermal Guard automatically throttles temperatures down when temperatures rise above optimal critical threshold. This protects your data while maintaining responsiveness to help ensure your computer is always safe from overheating.

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One-stop Install Navigator Software

In three simple steps, the Samsung One-stop Install Navigator software easily allows you to migrate all the data and applications from your existing drive to the 850 EVO. The included Samsung Magician software also allows you to setup, optimize, and manage your system for peak SSD performance.

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End-to-end Integration Solution

Samsung is the only brand to design and manufacture all its components inhouse allowing complete optimized integration. The result – the rock-solid EVO 850, with enhanced performance, lower power consumption with an up to 1 GB LPDDR2 DRAM cache memory and improved energy-efficiency with the MEX/MGX controller – all from the #1 memory manufacturer in the world.

Packaging/Product Tour

The retail box has a picture of the SSD, model information, and the capacity on the front. Around back, we find a multilingual blurb about where to find additional information on the drive and additional branding. Inside the box, the SSD sits in a plastic bed with the product documentation and support DVD below. If you’re familiar with the 840 EVO, you might remember the casing being a light gray color. The 850 EVO has gone to a black casing similar to that of the Pro series SSDs. The SSD has minimal branding on the top and a sticker applied to the back with additional information on the drive.

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A close-up look at the Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB SSD shows the typical SATA power/data cable connectors and the bits that make it go. The last two pictures below give you an up-close look at the 3D V-NAND flash memory, MGX controller, and the 512 MB DRAM cache memory.

Power and Data Connectors

Power and Data Connectors

850 EVO Opened Up

850 EVO Opened Up

NAND, Controller, Cache Memory

NAND, Controller, Cache Memory

More NAND

More NAND

Testing and Benchmarks

Test System

Test System Components
Motherboard ASUS Maximus VII Formula
CPU Intel i7 4790K Devil’s Canyon
Memory G.SKill TridentX DD3-2400 MHz 2x8GB
SSD Various (See Below)
Power Supply Corsair HX1050 Professional Series
Video Card EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified
Cooling EKWB Supremacy EVO Water Block – 360 mm Radiator – MCP35X Pump

We have a variety of comparison samples today, which include a Samsung 840 Pro (256 GB) and EVO (500 GB). The recently reviewed 850 EVO (250 GB), 850 Pro (512 GB), and Patriot Ignite (480 GB) will also be included in the comparison group. That assortment of samples will allow us to compare the new Samsung 850 series versus the past generation 840 series and then keep things honest with the Patriot offering.

Test Method

All the comparison samples were tested on the Intel Z97 platform using an Intel controller. All the SSDs are Secure Erased (SE) before each and every benchmark run using a method appropriate for the drive being tested. This ensures we get the best results possible for each test run. Here are the benchmarks we run with a brief description.

  • Crystal Disk Mark – Run at Default Settings (5 Pass)
  • AS SSD – Run at Default Settings
  • ATTO – Run at Default Setting with QD Set to 10
  • IoMeter 2010 – Run Manually, aligned, and QD32 for the 4K Tests

Before we get started on the benchmark results, a quick look at Samsung’s Magician software is in order. Magician has four different areas with a set of options in each area to help get the most from your Samsung SSD. Under Disk Management, there are a benchmark tool, performance optimization, and a firmware update utility. The System Management area is where you can optimize your operating system to best work with a SSD and set over provisioning parameters. The Data Management area has the secure erase utility, which will return the drive to its original state and destroy all data. Lastly, the Advanced Feature area is where you can setup the RAPID Mode feature and any data encryption you need. The slideshow below displays all the different screens inside the Magician software.

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Beginning with the CrystalDiskMark (CDM) tests, the read results show very little difference between all the samples in the sequential test. The 850 EVO 500 GB did manage to beat out the 850 Pro here though. The older 840 Pro and EVO took the top two spots in the 512K test, but the 850 EVO 500 GB lost out only to the 850 Pro 512 GB drive in the 4K test. The 4K QD32 test again has the older 840 series drives coming out on top, and the two 850 EVO drives just a whisker behind.

Moving over to the CDM write tests, we again have a tightly knit group in the sequential results. Both 850 EVO drives suffered a bit in the 512K test, but rebounded nicely in the 4K test where they were behind only the 850 Pro 512 GB. The 4K QD32 test has all the Samsung drives tightly grouped with the Patriot drive bringing up the rear.

CDM Read Results

CDM Read Results

CDM Write Results

CDM Write Results

The AS SSD read results show the Patriot Ignite drive leading the pack in the sequential test with all the Samsung drives just a tad behind. The 4K test has both 850 EVO drives leading the pack by a pretty good margin. In the 4K-64THRD test, the Patriot Ignite and 850 Pro 512 GB drive flex their muscle with the 850 EVO 500 GB drive coming in just behind them.

The AS SSD sequential write test has the 850 EVO 500 GB drive coming out in the middle of the pack, but it did manage to top the 850 Pro 512 GB drive here. The 4K test showed well for both 850 EVO drives, as they only fell behind the 850 Pro 512 GB drive by a slight margin. The 4K-64THRD test has the 850 EVO 500 GB drive falling behind the Patriot Ignite and both 840 EVO drives, but it did top the 850 Pro 512 GB drive easily.

The access time results show the 850 EVO 500 GB drive winning out over all the other samples in the write test, but losing out to all, but the 840 Pro 256 GB drive in the read test.

Finally, AS SSD provides a scoring system to rate the overall performance. Nothing comes close to the 850 Pro 512 GB drive here, but the 850 EVO 500 GB drive did come in second place in the overall score.

AS SSD Read Results

AS SSD Read Results

AS SSD Write Results

AS SSD Write Results

AS SSD Access Time Test Results

AS SSD Access Time Results

AS SSD Scores

AS SSD Scores

IOMeter’s 2 MB read and write tests show the 850 EVO 500 GB falling in the middle of the pack, but it does fare well against the competition. The 4K test again shows the 850 EVO 500 GB drive hanging right with all the other drives in the write test and losing out to only the 850 Pro 512 GB drive in the read test.

IOMeter 2MB/4K results

IOMeter 2MB/4K results

In the IOMeter 4K IOPS testing, the 850 EVO 500 GB drive fell just a tad short of advertised speeds, but well within the margin of error. The 2 MB IOPS testing shows the 850 EVO 500 GB drive behind the Patriot Ignite and 850 Pro 512 GB drives in the write test, but beating out the rest of the field. The 2 MB read test has all the comparison sample tightly bunched with little difference between all the samples.

IOMeter 4K IOPS Results

IOMeter 4K IOPS Results

IOMeter 2MB IOPS Results

IOMeter 2MB IOPS Results

ATTO Disk Bench is widely used by SSD manufacturers to verify read/write speed claims. As you can see, the 850 EVO 500 GB drive had no problems reaching the advertised speeds. If you’re interested in the raw data used to produce the charts, the table below has that information.

ATTO Read Results

ATTO Read Results

ATTO Write Results

ATTO Write Results

ATTO Benchmark Raw Data – Read
850 EVO
250 GB
Ignite
480 GB
840 Evo
500 GB
840 Pro
256 GB
850 Pro
512 GB
850 EVO
500 GB
1K 18296 181065 112932 141288 150176 143586
4K 311931 271175 299155 357179 358916 357179
16K 395009 423133 407786 516332 506626 450878
64K 542406 557104 546424 553254 554393 537140
256K 548890 560378 555213 556495 560378 550143
1024K 550323 561841 554109 555383 561841 551579
4096K 550323 563151 554109 555383 561841 551579
8192K 550323 563151 554109 555383 561841 551579
ATTO Benchmark Raw Data – Write
850 EVO
250 GB
Ignite
480 GB
840 EVO
500 GB
840 Pro
256 GB
850 Pro
512 GB
850 EVO
500 GB
1K 154441 60160 102436 129316 152992 109348
4K 285845 277980 245768 313491 337166 300174
16K 454703 471500 451387 402653 481332 455901
64K 522241 537140 529091 484933 519706 516332
256K 527387 543934 533963 499112 529998 531313
1024K 527637 544125 534199 511305 531555 530242
4096K 526344 544125 534495 490293 531555 531555
8192K 526344 544125 534495 506481 532140 532140

Just to confirm performance, we like to run Anvil’s Storage Utility. Below are screenshots using 100% incompressible data and 100% compressible data. Everything appears to be in order and is inline with the performance we observed in the above benchmarks.

Anvil's Storage Utility - 100% Incompressible Data

Anvil’s Storage Utility – 100% Incompressible Data

An

Anvil’s Storage Utility – 100% Compressible Data

Conclusion

Just as the Samsung 840 EVO series SSDs offered great performance at an affordable price, the new 850 EVO series continues on with that legacy. Currently available at Newegg for $189, the 850 EVO 500 GB SSD is priced extremely well. For example, the Patriot Ignite 480 GB drive we used for comparison sells for the same price, but has 20 GB less storage capacity and doesn’t have any supporting software. So, it’s easy to see the value is definitely here.

You may remember from our review on the 250 GB version of this same SSD that it failed during a secure erase attempt. We mentioned at the time it was probably an isolated incident that most people will never encounter. The 850 EVO 500 GB drive we reviewed today was put through the exact same testing procedure and exhibited no problems at all. It flew right through everything we tossed at it with gusto.

Performance wise, the 850 EVO 500 GB easily met Samsung’s advertised read/write speeds of 540/520 MB/s. The 4K low QD performance was only outdone by the 850 Pro 512 in a couple instances, which is a direct reflection of how well the 3D V-NAND and MGX controller work.

If you’re in the market for a new SSD, the 850 EVO 500 GB unit is well worth consideration based on price and performance. At 37¢ per GB, it’s going to be tough to beat.

Overclockers_clear_approvedClick the stamp for an explanation of what this means.

Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)

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Discussion
  1. Good review LV! I just installed one of these a few days ago and it is fantastic so far, the bundled software is nice and handled the data migration well.