Samsung 850 EVO 250GB SSD Review

At the beginning of December last year, Samsung released their latest 850 series of SSDs that promises even better performance and reliability than their popular 840 series. Today, we’ll be looking at the 850 EVO 250 GB version, which is powered by Samsung’s 3D V-NAND technology. There are plenty of other unique technologies Samsung brings to the table with the release of the 850 series, so let’s go find out what this SSD is capable of!

Specifications and Features

Below are the specifications as provided to us by Samsung. As you can see, Samsung uses a completely in-house design with its own MGX controller and 3D V-NAND flash memory. TRIM, Garbage Collection, and S.M.A.R.T. are all supported, as well as backward compatibility with all previous SATA interfaces. Impressive read/write and IOPS performance are noted in the specifications, so we’ll run our tests to make sure they measure up. Lastly, the 850 EVO series is backed with a 5-year warranty.

Samsung 850 EVO 250 GB SSD Specifications
Usage ApplicationClient PCs
Capacity250 GB
Dimensions (LxWxH)100 x 69.85 x 6.8 (mm)
InterfaceSATA 6Gb/s (compatible w/SATA 3Gb/s & SATA 1.5Gb/s)
Form Factor2.5 Inch
ControllerSamsung MGX controller
NAND Flash MemorySamsung 32 layer 3D V‐NAND
DRAM Cache Memory512 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 97,000 IOPS
  • 4K Random Write (QD32) Max 88,000 IOPS
Data SecurityAES 256‐bit Full Disk Encryption (FDE)
TCG/Opal V2.0, Encrypted Drive (IEEE1667)
WeightMax 66g
ReliabilityMTBF: 1.5 Million Hours
TBW75 TBW
Power ConsumptionActive Read/Write (Average): Max. 3.7W / Max. 4.4W
Idle: Max. 50mW
Device Sleep: 2mW
Supporting FeaturesTRIM(Required OS support), Garbage Collection, S.M.A.R.T
TemperatureOperating: 0 °C to 70 °C
Non‐Operating: ‐40 °C to 85 °C
Humidity5% to 95%, non‐condensing
VibrationNon-Operating: 20~2000 Hz, 20G
ShockNon-Operating: 150G, Duration 0.5m sec, 3 axis
Warranty5 Years Limited

Below are the features associated with the 850 EVO series of SSDs. All images and descriptions courtesy Samsung.

Driving the 850 EVO 250 GB SSD is Samsung’s 3D V‐NAND technology with TurboWrite for improved performance, as well as Samsung’s in-house 2-core MGX controller. This combination, according to Samsung, allows the 850 EVO to bring an improved user experience when compared to the 840 EVO. Samsung touts up to 1.9x faster random write speeds for the 250 GB model. Additionally, the 850 EVO offers a 5-year warranty and improved endurance numbers over the EVO 840.

The 850 EVO is said to offer a 25% increase in power efficiency savings over the 840 EVO during write operations. Given that the 850 EVO uses the 3D V-NAND, the power usage claims can be believed as they use around half the power of traditional Planar 2D NAND.

The 850 EVO supports data encryption through advanced AES 256 and a RAPID Mode that can be used through Samsung’s Magician software.

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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 mostly white box provides general information about the product inside. The front has a picture of the EVO, the capacity printed on one corner, and branding at the bottom. Around back, we have a few marketing phrases and a prominently displayed 3D V-NAND emblem.

Box Front
Box Front

Box Rear
Box Rear

Once inside the box, the 850 EVO is sitting in plastic bed with the documentation and support DVD packaged underneath.

EVO Packaging
EVO Packaging

Box Contents Laid Out
Box Contents Laid Out

The SSD itself is very sleek looking with just a minimal amount of branding on the top side. The bottom of the EVO has a label attached to it that provides the part number, model number, serial number, etc.

Samsung EVO Topside
Samsung EVO Top Side

Samsung EVO Bottom Side
Samsung EVO Bottom Side

The Samsung EVO has the typical SATA and power connections. Mounting can be accomplished by using the four threaded holes at the bottom or the two threaded holes on each side of the drive.

SATA and Power Connections
SATA and Power Connections

Mounting Locations
Mounting Locations

The next two pictures show you what’s inside the drive once it’s opened up. The EVO 250 GB SSD is so small that it only takes up about 1/3 of the space inside the casing. In the pictures below, you can see the 3D V-NAND, the 2-core MGX controller, and the 512 MB of DRAM cache memory.

Samsung EVO 250 GB Internals
Samsung EVO 250 GB Internals

Samsung Evo 250 GB PCB
Samsung EVO 250 GB PCB

 

Testing and Benchmarks

Test System

Here’s the list of components used in our test bed.

Test System Components
MotherboardASUS Maximus VII Formula
CPUIntel i7 4790K Devil’s Canyon
MemoryG.SKill TridentX DD3-2400 MHz 2x8GB
SSDVarious (See Below)
Power SupplyCorsair HX1050 Professional Series
Video CardEVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified
CoolingEKWB Supremacy EVO Water Block – 360 mm Radiator – MCP35X Pump

We have a variety of comparison samples, which include a Samsung 840 Pro and EVO. We’ll also toss in the recently reviewed Patriot Ignite and a couple of older drives from OCZ and Kingston.

Test Method

Each SSD was Secure Erased (SE) before each and every benchmark run using Samsung’s Magician software utility. 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 – Ran Manually, aligned, and QD32 for the 4K Tests

Performance

CrystalDiskMark (CDM) is designed to test read/write sequential, 512K random, and 4K random performance. It’s very good way to test bandwidth under heavy load conditions. CDM uses incompressible data during its tests, so the sequential file transfer speeds will show lower performance numbers when compared to benchmarks that use compressible data, such as ATTO for instance.

Starting with the CDM read tests, the sequential test shows the top four drives all within the margin of error and easily outpacing the OCZ Vertex 460 and Kingston 3KSSD. The 512K test had the 850 EVO in the middle of the pack and losing out to both the 840 series drives, but came out on top of the Patriot Ignite. The 4K test showed the 850 EVO putting the hammer down on all the competition and threw out an impressive 55.1 MB/s. The 4K QD32 test had all three Samsung drives within the margin of error and beating out the Patriot Ignite. The older Vertex 460 and Kingston 3KSSD were no match in the 4K QD32 test.

Moving over to the CDM write testing, we find a pretty similar pattern here. The sequential test again showed the top four contenders all within a whisker of each other, but the Patriot Ignite squeezed out a victory here. The 512K test was not kind to the 850 EVO, as it only managed to top the Kingston 3KSSD in this test. The 850 EVO quickly recovered in the 4K and 4K QD32 tests and took the top spot in both of those tests.

CDM Read Tests
CDM Read Tests

CDM Write Tests
CDM Write Tests

Similar to CDM, AS SSD also uses incompressible data during its test runs. The read tests again show a tight group at the top of the sequential test, and the 850 EVO dominated the 4K test. The 4K-64Thrd test had the 850 EVO falling short of the Patriot Ignite, but topping all the other comparison drives.

The AS SSD write tests were a mixed bag. The sequential write test had the 850 EVO falling behind the Patriot Ignite and both 840 series drives. The 4K test again shows where the 850 EVO is at its best (comparatively speaking) as it dominated all the competition here. The 4K-64Thrd results were hard on the 850 EVO as it only managed to top the Kingston 3KSSD and was substantially behind the other competitors.

AS SSD reported access times that landed the 850 EVO in the middle of the pack during the write test. The read access time was more impressive, and the 850 EVO only lost out to the Patriot Ignite here. AS SSD also includes a scoring system based on overall read/write performance. The total score is the most important here, and the 850 EVO came in second behind the Patriot Ignite.

AS SSD Read Test Results
AS SSD Read Test Results

AS SSD Write Test Results
AS SSD Write Test Results

AS SSD Access Time Test Results
AS SSD Access Time Test Results

AS SSD Performance Score Results
AS SSD Performance Score Results

Our IOMeter testing is set manually to test 2MB read/write, 4K read/write, and IOPS performance. The 4K tests are ran “Aligned” and with the QD set to 32. The 2MB write test shows the advantage going to the Patriot Ignite over the other comparison samples with the 850 EVO coming in a close second. the 2MB read test is another tightly knit group with not much difference between all the samples.

The 4K write test shows almost no difference between all of the SSDs we tested, but the 4K read test has the 850 EVO dominating all comers with an impressive 397.38 MB/s.

The 2MB IOPS write test had the 850 EVO beating out both 840 series drives, but falling victim to all the other comparison samples. The 2MB IOPS read test shows very little difference between five of the samples with the OCC Vertex 460 falling substantially behind.

Moving over to the 4K IOPS testing, the top five write scores were all real close to each other with the OCZ Vertex 460 trailing behind. The 4K read results show an impressive win for the 850 EVO as it easily handled the competition.

IOMeter 2MB/4K Read/Write Test Results
IOMeter 2MB/4K Read/Write Test Results

2MB IOPS Test Results
2MB IOPS Test Results

4K IOPS Test Results
4K IOPS Test Results

ATTO is used by most SSD manufacturers to claim their read/write speeds. The 850 EVO reached the speeds that Samsung touts, but in most cases was behind the 840 series drives and the Patriot Ignite. The graphs below only show the results for the 850 EVO, but the table below provides all the raw data used to make the graph.

ATTO Read Test Results
ATTO Read Test Results

ATTO Write Test Results
ATTO Write Test Results
ATTO Benchmark Raw Data – Read
850 EVO Ignite840 Evo840 ProVertex 4603KSSD
1K1829618106511293214128822841736
4K3119312711752991553571792894132968
16K39500942313340778651633229958732283
64K54240655710454642455325451481375730
256K548890560378555213556495533963543934
1024K550323561841554109555383541685551579
4096K550323563151554109555383541685551579
8192K550323563151554109555383541685551579
ATTO Benchmark Raw Data – Write
850 EVOIgnite 840 EVO840 ProVertex 4603KSSD
1K1544416016010243612931663189914
4K2858452779802457683134912796083775
16K45470347150045138740265334819712554
64K522241537140529091484933452356261629
256K527387543934533963499112502627524802
1024K527637544125534199511305505290522502
4096K526344544125534495490293505290525057
8192K526344544125534495506481505290524060

This is the point of the review where we normally provide a screenshot of Anvil’s Storage Utility, but we ran into a bit of a problem when we tried our final secure erase using Samsung’s Magician software. After using the Magician utility to SE the drive many times during the course of our testing, this time the procedure barked at us around the 50% completion mark and failed to complete the SE operation. From that point on, we were never able to get the 850 EVO to be recognized in Windows 7. We spent a substantial amount of time checking Windows Disk Management, SATA cables, power cables, etc. We were never able to resolve the issue. The drive showed in the list of hard drives in the motherboard’s UEFI BIOS, but that’s as far as any recognition of the drive went. No firmware downloads are available for the 850 EVO as of yet, so we asked Samsung to send us a bootable ISO image of the firmware that came on the drive, but they declined to do so. Instead, they sent a bootable version of their SE utility, which didn’t work either. The utility complained of the drive being “password locked”, which is a common error after a failed secure erase. In the end, Samsung had no resolution to the issue and confirmed the drive had indeed failed.

Samsung released Magician 4.5 alongside the 850 series drives to fix some compatibility issues with IRST (Intel Rapid Storage Technology) and bump the Rapid Mode feature to version 2.1. The Magician software has a lot of features that are well worth exploring, but I’d probably recommend the secure erase procedure be done via some other method… for obvious reasons. Having said all this, it’s quite possible our issue is an isolated one, and someone else may never encounter the problem.

Conclusion

Our problems with the Magician software aside, the 850 EVO performed just as Samsung claims and even better in some cases. While the 850 EVO 250 GB drive is very fast, upgrading probably won’t appeal to enthusiast users who already own a newer, high-performance SSD. Sure, we have some new technologies Samsung implemented on the 850 EVO, but you’ll be hard pressed to notice them in real world usage when compared to the 840 series. However, if you’re looking to add a SSD to an existing system or building a new system, one of the most compelling reasons the 840 EVO 250 GB is worthy of consideration is the price. Newegg is currently selling the drive for $119, but I found it at Amazon for as little as $112. Those prices land the 850 EVO 250 GB at the lower end of the price spectrum for SSDs with similar performance numbers. Pricing is definitely not an issue.

One of Samsung’s major selling points for the 850 EVO was improved endurance and reliability compared to the previous 840 series SSDs. Unfortunately, we can’t vouch for that claim because the drive they sent us for review failed so quickly. We can only report on our experience with the product sent to us, so I can’t in good conscience give the 850 EVO our Approved award. Furthermore, because Samsung confirmed the drive failed… well, you get the picture.

Overclockers_clear_fail Click the stamp for an explanation of what this means.

Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)

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