Last month, Samsung updated their SATA SSD retail lineup with a new generation of controllers and memory. Samsung 860 PRO arrived on our test benches first and clearly outperformed its predecessor. However, its status as a MLC-based premium price SSD means that the generation's increase is irrelevant for most consumers. The latest Samsung 860 EVO is a major partner with NAND TLC 3D and a more competitive price.
M.2 Evolution: Fourth Generation Samsung 3D-NAND, and MJX SATA Controller
The Samsung 860 EVO uses the 512Gb TLC that is off of the fourth generation Samsung NAND 3D. Most 64L TLC SSDs that compete in the consumer market still use 256Gb die for some or all models, to avoid the limitations of performance that typically occur when too few are dead to access in parallel.
Controllers at 860 EVO and 860 PRO are Samsung MJX, the latest in a long series of successful SATA SSD controllers. Samsung has not provided much information about what this generation brought to the table, but one clear highlight is support for the LPDDR4 DRD. This is probably the major source of power savings we have observed from the 860 series, and this is greatly welcomed for high-capacity models that include several GB of DRAM.
Utilizing Size, Potential High Notebook Notebook
Our Samsung 860 EVO sample for today is a 2TB model in the SATA M.2 form factor. This is the largest available M.2 capacity, although the 2.5 "model goes up to 4TB.Samsung has succeeded in making this one-sided M2 drive, which is preferred for the widest compatibility with thin ultrabooks, thanks to large per-die Capacity and the small size of their SATA controllers, Samsung has a much easier time squeezing 2TB into this drive than they do with the NVID MV 960 PRO drives. For the PRO 960 product, Samsung has to pack the drive DRAM stacked on top of the controller to have room for four NAND packages; 2TB 860 EVO M.2 instead uses just two NAND packs, each containing 16 dead.
For this review, we have to point out that it is not uncommon for us to accept the sample SSD SATA M.2 reviews, not the larger 2.5 version. Smaller form factors offer the same performance and features, but require us to take a slightly different approach to power measurement. For this review, a 2.5 "SATA to M.2 converter board is used.The main task of this board is to set the 5V power supply to 3.3V used for M.2 SSD.Some of the power is wasted in this conversion, so EVO 860 has little resistance in measurement of strength and efficiency.
2TB is still large enough for consumer SSDs, and many product lines do not include this great model. 64-layer 3D NAND is also still almost exclusively for the vertically integrated brand that produces NAND. These factors mean 2TB 860 EVO has few direct competitors. The Crucial MX500 and WD Blue 3D NAND aka SanDisk Ultra 3D is the only SLC 64L mainstream mainstream SATA. We have not tested the 2TB model of any of these product lines, so this review includes results from the 1TB model. In general, larger SSDs are faster, but we've seen some cases where multi-TB drives are a little slower than their 1TB counterparts, so the 1TB model included in this review is not in a clear position due to its capacity.
High Performance SATA SSD Market
For generations, the SATA SSD market is only able to offer a small incremental performance improvement. The faster NAND and better controllers can not overcome the 6Gbps SATA speed limit, so drives must differentiate themselves with performance at low queue depth, and with power efficiency. The Samsung 860 PRO sets some performance records, but most do not translate into striking differences for most of the consumer workload. However, the PRO 860 really improves power efficiency, and it seems no longer necessary to sacrifice efficiency to achieve the highest performance level of SATA SSD.
The new Samsung 860 EVO Drive, like the one in this review, gets the same DRAM and controller updates as the 860 PRO, but TLC-based drives have historically tended to be less power-efficient than MLC-based drives. With tighter competition than Crucial and WD / SanDisk, the EVO 860 will have a hard time standing as a TLC option that is faster than others-a position that 850 EVOs attended safely for most of the time on the market. 860 EVO needs to match the 860 PRO power efficiency improvements and at least provide some performance improvements to get the unparalleled best status in its class that the 850 EVO enjoys.
Most of these industries use 64-layer NAND 3D flash memory this year-the first time since the introduction of NAND 3D to Samsung that they faced such a close competition on paper. For most of its long life on the market, the Samsung 850 EVO is unparalleled as the best TLC-based SATA SSD. Sometimes he is able to provide a great premium price over other TLC drives and also many MLC drives. That began to change last year, when Intel, Micron, Toshiba and WD / SanDisk beat Samsung to be marketed with 64-layer 3D NAND. Most of Samsung's competitors now have high quality NAND 3D shipments that mature in volume, so Samsung competes on the playing field with a pretty good level with this generation.