Samsung 860 Evo 1TB and 860 Pro 1TB SATA SSD
The best just got better
ground breaking in terms of reliability and will likely survive many years of heavy duty operation
Itseems like it’s been forever since the legendary Samsung 850 Pro and Evo SSDs launched. Almost unbelievably, we have to go all the way back to 2014 since we saw the first iterations of the 850 series. The competition never really managed to catch up and when you’re the top dog in the market, there’s little commercial reason to shake things up. The 850 Evo in particular is probably the best consumer SATA SSD ever made due to its unrivalled combination of value, performance, reliability and brand recognition. The 850 Pro has been the long time performance leader which makes it equally important. Now we’re well into 2018 though; the competition has finally caught up and a behemoth like Samsung is not known for allowing any challenge to its market dominance. Enter the Samsung 860 series.
AN EVOLUTION, NOT REVOLUTION
Both 860 models are equipped with the latest Samsung 64-layer 3D V-NAND. The company claims its 64-layer NAND is 30% more energy efficient compared to its previous generation 48-layer NAND. Impressive! The 860 Evo contains 3-bit TLC memory, while the Pro version uses 2-bit MLC. In simplified terms TLC is cheaper to manufacture and is better suited to consumer drives (like the 860 Evo) while the MLC found in the Pro version has better performance and durability. Samsung has also updated the controller. The new MJX controller supports low power DDR4 cache and operates at 1GHz, almost double the speed of its predecessor.
The drives have some impressive performance ratings. The 860 Pro is rated for up to 560/530 MB/s read and write speeds while the 860 Evo isn’t far behind with 550/520 MB/s. Most decent SATA SSDs are capable of sequential transfers around these levels though. The In/Out operations per second are rated at 100K/90K random read and write speeds for the 860 Pro while the Evo is capable of 98K/90K. These are excellent numbers.
The lifetime endurance rating of both drives has been massively improved. The 860 Evo 1TB is rated for 600 Terabytes written, while the 860 Pro 1TB is rated for 1200 Terabytes written. Numbers like these are ground breaking in terms of reliability expectations for consumer drives and will likely survive many years of heavy duty operation. Both the Pro and Evo come with five year warranties, but with these endurance ratings, there’s no reason not to expect the drives to work for a lot longer than five years.
Support for the 860 series is included with latest version of the Samsung Magician software. There’s benchmark, secure erase and monitoring tools along with an over-provisioning application. Over-provisioning (to create more reserve blocks) is probably not needed when you have a drive with a crazy high expected life span though. Of course both drives comes with AES encryption support.
EXCELLENT PERFORMANCE, BUT AT A PRICE
As expected, the performance of both drives is very strong, Sequential tests show little differentiation between them though obviously they are bottlenecked by the SATA 6GB/s limitation. Crystal Disk Mark results are more or less right at SATA ceiling of 560 MB/s read speeds while writes are at about 530 MB/s - right where Samsung claims they are. Random 4K reads and writes are a little more interesting. We
expected the 860 Pro to have a good sized lead here, but the margin is quite close. Perhaps firmware upgrades will wring out the final few percent of performance there.
Our second benchmark is Anvil’s Storage Utilities that assigns a score based on the overall performance of the drive across a range of workloads. Both 860 drives are atop the SATA SSD rankings. The 860 pro in particular shows off its prowess in the In/Out operations sub tests.
Finally we have AS-SSD. This is a demanding test that provides very reliable overall drive measurements. Again the Samsung drives pull clear of the already excellent performance of the Crucial MX500.
Samsung has regained the performance crown. Both the Pro and Evo perform somewhat similarly on the surface, but digging deeper reveals the Pro has a decent lead when under heavy load with lots of IOPS. This is exactly what we expect. The Evo is suited for consumers, while the Pro is better suited to a workstation or even enterprise environment. The cost certainly reflects this. CAN WE EXPECT ANYTHING MORE FROM SATA? The SATA 6GB/s standard has been a major bottleneck for SSDs for years, which leads to the question: Are we getting any realistic performance improvement between SSD generations? Outside of benchmarks, the answer is no. NVMe is the future of storage performance. So, when performance becomes a secondary product differentiator, we’re left with value as the primary purchase factor. This is where the 860 series hits a wall. Competitors like the Crucial MX500 and Western Digital 3D Blue are also pushing the limits of the SATA standard, yet cost significantly less. The 860 Pro is a little different as it’s not really positioned as a consumer drive, though it too is very expensive putting it well into the firing line of premium NVMe SSDs. The 860 Pro has some unique features though particularly relating to its NAS and RAID capabilities.
The Samsung 860 Evo is an excellent SSD, but as it stands now, it is simply too expensive to recommend when there are strong competitors like the Crucial MX500 that are significantly cheaper. All it takes is a price cut though, something Samsung will very likely do if the 860 series lifecycle is anywhere near as long as the 850 series. For now, the MX500 remains our top pick, though if the price drops, The 860 Evo would probably become our top choice again.
The 860 Pro is a little different. Its pricing is very high indeed. The 1TB model is priced higher than the much faster NVMe 960 Evo which makes the choice a no-brainer for many users. Having said that, if you need the fastest SATA SSD available, then you will be very impressed and you may well end up owning the fastest SATA SSD that will ever be made.