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Samsung has been what I would consider a major player in the consumer SSD market for a couple of years now. They had at least two well known drives on the market in their 840 EVO and Pro lines, each serving a different audience. The EVO was the barely slower and best bang for the buck drive, while the Pro was the performance king of the family and still had good pricing. Both drives had a great track record for reliability. The next generation, the 850 series, greets us with second generation 3D V-NAND with the same goals as the previous generation. It’s time to take a look and see if the Samsung 850 Pro 512GB performs as well as we expect it to.
Specifications and Features
Below is a list of specifications for the 512GB Samsung 850 Pro I have on the test bench. The SATA 6Gb/s drive is a 2.5″ form factor measuring ~3.9″ x 2.75″ x .26″. The controller used is made in-house and is called the Samsung 3 Core MEX, which is a carry over from the 840 EVO. Changes were made from a software/firmware perspective in order to work well with their new 32 layer cylindrical cell, 2nd generation 3D V-NAND, which is said to have improved lifespan and performance, particularly in the random read speeds with a low queue depth (QD1).
The new 3D V-NAND is said to have twice the endurance of “a typical NAND flash SSD.” So in this generation, the stacked NAND is built to handle 80 GB/day workload, which works out to 150 Terabytes Written (TBW) over five years, yet has 10 year warranty. There are not a lot of consumers out there that will come close to averaging 80 GB/day, so you can imagine from a NAND standpoint that things will last quite a while.
As was on the 840 EVO, the 850 Pro has advanced data encryption features such as their Self-Encrypting Drive (SED) technology that includes an AES 256-bit hardware-based encryption engine helping you keep files secure. It does so at a hardware level, so as not to incur any performance degradation you typically see with software-based solutions. Check the Magician software for details on how to use these security management tools.
Power consumption on Samsung 850 Pro is an average of 3.0/3.3W(reads/writes). In sleep mode, it uses a barely readable 2mW!
|Samsung 850 Pro 512GB SSD Specifications
|100 x 69.85 x 6.8 (mm)
|SATA 6Gb/s (compatible w/SATA 3Gb/s & SATA 1.5Gb/s)
|Samsung 3 Core MEX controller
|NAND Flash Memory
|Samsung 32 layer 3D V‐NAND
|DRAM Cache Memory
|256MB (128GB) or 512MB(256GB&512GB) or 1GB (1TB) LPDDR2
|AES 256‐bit Full Disk Encryption (FDE)
TCG/Opal V2.0, Encrypted Drive (IEEE1667)
|Max 66g (1TB)
|MTBF: 1.5 Million Hours
|Active Read/Write (Average): Max. 3.3W / Max. 3.0W
Idle: Max. .4W
Device Sleep: 2mW
|TRIM(Required OS support), Garbage Collection, S.M.A.R.T
|Operating: 0 °C to 70 °C
Non‐Operating: ‐40 °C to 85 °C
|5% to 95%, non‐condensing
|Non-Operating: 20~2000 Hz, 20G
|Non-Operating: 150G, Duration 0.5m sec, 3 axis
|10 Years Limited
First, we will take a quick look at the retail packaging. On the front of the mostly black box is a picture of the drive as well as the model information and capacity of what’s inside. Flipping around the back, we see some high-level features like the encryption and power consumption as well as the specified speeds depending on the capacity of the drive.
When you open up the package the SSD comes in a thin plastic tray which the SSD fits snug inside. There are not many accessories outside of the CD and some installation instructions, but hey, what more do you need that a motherboard doesn’t already come with?
The drive is the size of any other SSD in this form factor. It has a matte black finish covering the aluminum chassis. The Samsung name dead center in their familiar font along with the red square on the bottom. The back of the unit shows the S/N and model type/capacity. Next, we spin the drive around and show it to you from a couple of different angles stopping at a shot of the SATA power and data ports.
One thing you may notice missing on here are some internal shots of the controller and NAND. The truth of the matter is that its a tiny star head screw and I did not have one that small. I tried to use a glasses repair kit, Phillips and flat head, but to no avail. I broke down and bought the right part. But by this time, I stripped it. I didn’t take out the torch… err countersink to get it out.
Samsung has software for their SSDs dubbed Samsung Magician. The latest version available is 4.5 and can be found on their website. The following slideshow will show all the screens available. It will display capacity information, performance status, performance optimizations for the drive and OS, firmware upgrades (however, the software did not pick it up), over provisioning adjustments, secure erase capability, encryption, and finally Rapid Mode information and setup.
The software is easy to figure out and use with mostly one button operation. I had no issues with anything outside of the always annoying ‘drive in frozen’ state when trying to perform a Secure Erase. So, like with any other drive, I had to power down the drive and power it back on to break that state.
Testing and Benchmarks
Here is the breakdown of the components used in our test bed.
|Test System Components
|ASRock Z97m OC Formula
|Intel i7 4790K Devil’s Canyon
|Kingston Hyper X Predator 2666MHz CL 15 @ 1866 9-9-9-24
|OCZ Agility 3 (OS)
|MSI GTX 960 Gaming 2G
Each SSD is Secure Erased (SE) using the Samsung Magician software to make sure we get the best results possible. We do this before each and every test run to give the comparison samples the best environment possible for testing. Below are the tests 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 with QD32 for the 4K Tests
We will start things off by showing the CrystalDiskMark charts below. First the writes where the Samsung 850 Pro leads the pack by a very small margin over the Patriot Ignite pulling down 530MB/s in sequential writes. Moving on to 512K size, it falls to 4th place behind the Ignite and both 840’s. When we look at the 4K and 4K with a queue depth of 32, the 850 Pro shows its might on the lower QD, but falls back to the middle of the pack with QD32.
As far as the reads go in CDM, the results were about the same really in that it leads the 4K low QD, and ends up in the middle of the pack for the rest.
Moving on to AS SSD, the first graph covers writes. With sequential writes, we see middle of the pack results. However on 4K writes, it is leading the pack again with 163MB/s. Last in this graph is the 4K 64Thrd testing. Both the EVO and the Pro didn’t have a stellar showing here and were bringing up the rear.
The read side of this benchmark shows a bit different results. Its just a hair behind taking the lead in sequential reads, middle of the pack for 4K, and leading the pack in 4K-64Thrd.
Access times are middle of the pack as well. All in all, a solid showing.
If you look at the scores, it seems that AS SSD likes to hold more value to the reads as the overall score beats out the other drives in these graphs, even though it tended to trade blows depending on the test.
ATTO is good for showing best case scenarios for drives and it’s where a lot of SSD makers pull their specifications from. Here we can see see good small file performance in writes, leading the pack through 16k. Once things start ramping up past that, it beats out the 850 EVO as it generally should and is right in the mix with the other drives, only behind the Patriot drive and the 840 Pro. Reads do well throughout as they ramped up quickly through the smaller lengths. An overall a good showing here too.
Last up is IOMeter. Here the Samsung 850 Pro does pretty well all around. With 2MB writes, it beats out the EVO and only falls behind the Patriot drive. 2MB reads are a different story as it leads the pack by a small amount. Using the oft measured 4K writes and reads, the drive showed over 370MB/s writes and 407MB/s read, leading the pack by a very small margin in both. The 560MB read value and 531MB write value beats its specifications in fact.
The second graph gives us the I/O numbers. Focusing on the 4K results, it came out to over 98,000 IOPS read and falling a hair shy of the specs. The write IOPS came in over spec with over 91,000. It hit the speeds it was spec’d out to and lead the field while doing so.
Samsung had a great thing going with its acclaimed 840 EVO and Pro drives from both performance per dollar on the EVO, straight performance on the Pro, and reliability was high on both. With the use of the 2nd generation, 32 layer 3D V-NAND, they look to improve the write life, power consumption, and overall reliability with the 850 Pro line. Only time will tell on the endurance, but their track record has been pretty good and they slap a 10 year warranty on the drive.
As far as performance, Samsung states it is one of the fastest drives out there, and in some of our testing they would not be mistaken. At times results were in the middle of the pack, but the drive cleaned up in IOMeter. So while I can’t tell you it was the fastest hands down, it is a pretty darn quick drive from the benchmarks we use.
Pricing on the Sasmung 850 Pro 512GB comes in at $289.99 at newegg.com. Comparable models like the OCZ (Toshiba) Vector 150 is priced at $277.99 for 480GB capacity, while the Intel 730 comes in at $309.99 for 480GB and is listed as a slightly slower drive in writes. So, in looking at these drives, we can see that pricing is around the middle of the pack which sits right with me, particularly for the performance you get with it, and having a 10 year warrnty. Assuming the 850 Pro line shares the same reliability that the past generation showed, you have a drive here I would look into first when choosing an SSD in this capacity.
– Joe Shields (Earthdog)