We’ve seen many different interesting SSDs go through the Gadgets 360 lab in the last few months – almost all of them in the sort of high-end PCIe or M.2 cards, some with heatsinks, plus some promising incredible speed. It doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten about mainstream SATA SSDs though. These serve the worthiness end of the marketplace and are becoming less expensive on a regular basis. They’re suitable for upgraders because they’re considerably faster than spinning hard disks; enough to create most old PCs feel completely new. For many who value speed but don’t necessarily have to live on the leading edge, money could be put towards capacity instead.

That is the audience that Samsung has at heart using its new SSD 860 Evo series, which replaces the much-loved SSD 850 Evo after just over 3 years. Samsung is by far the world’s biggest supplier of SSDs and gets the benefit of manufacturing its NAND flash storage chips and controllers. Actually, Samsung calls itself the world leader in memory technology, and several other manufacturers – including its biggest opponents – use Samsung chips within their storage and memory products. We’re wanting to see how the business has leveraged all that in its latest product.

Samsung SSD 860 Evo specifications and features
The SSD 860 Evo and its own slightly superior counterpart, the SSD 860 Pro, are both SATA SSDs and so are targeted at mainstream users. They’re positioned below the enthusiast-class SSD 960 Evo and SSD 960 Pro, which are considerably faster NVMe drives. The most crucial new features with the SSD 860 siblings is that Samsung has begun using 64-layer 3D flash chips, which it calls V-NAND (short for vertically stacked NAND). The prior SSD 850 models were launched with 32-layer V-NAND and refreshed with 48-layer chips mid-life. The increased density permits higher capacities, however, not necessarily any performance gains.

Samsung offers the SSD 860 Evo in the typical 2.5-inch hard disk drive form factor in addition to SATA M.2 modules and even mSATA modules, which are very uncommon these days. That is great news for all those looking to upgrade several types of desktops, laptops, and perhaps even embedded PCs. The cheapest capacity is 250GB, which ultimately shows that Samsung doesn’t consider the 120-128GB market worth targeting anymore. Capacities scale up to whopping 4TB for the two 2.5-inch option, however the M.2 form factor only permits up to 2TB, and mSATA tops out at 1TB.

The sort of flash used here’s TLC NAND, which signifies that three bits are placed per cell. Each variant of the SSD 860 EVO includes a different amount of LPDDR4 cache memory that scales up with capacity – our 1TB review unit has 1GB. Samsung uses its controller called MJX, and the main one in the brand new SSD 860 Evo is claimed to have improved algorithms for faster and better operation.

Sequential read and write speeds are claimed to be 550MBps and 520MBps respectively, which are just about in line with how many other manufacturers claim, because that is roughly so far as the legacy SATA protocol could be pushed. Instead of speed, Samsung is hoping to stick out by quoting endurance figures starting at 150TBW for the 250GB variants going completely up to 2,400TBW for the 4TB variant. TBW (Terabytes Written) describes the quantity of data you can write to a drive prior to the flash chips get started to degrade. The warrantee period is five years or before TBW limit is reached; whichever is sooner. If you are worried about data security, 256-bit hardware-based AES encryption is supported.

Our 2.5-inch 1TB review unit found its way to a straightforward cardboard box without accessories; not screws or a shim for mounting instead of a thicker 2.5-inch hard disk drive. It weighs just 62g and includes a light metal body without particular design flair since it will likely be hidden away in the PC anyway.

Samsung SSD 860 Evo performance
Installing the two 2.5-inch SSD 860 Evo is really as simple as plugging in the SATA power and data cables. We were ready to go very quickly, and Windows 10 reported a formatted capacity of 931.39GB. Our test bench contains an AMD Ryzen 7 1800X processor, MSI X370 Xpower Gaming Titanium motherboard, 2x8GB of Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000 RAM, an AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 graphics card, a Kingston HyperX Savage SSD as the boot drive, and an Antec HCG-850M power.

We started with CrystalDiskMark 6, and we got scores of 562.5MBps and 531MBps for sequential reads and writes respectively, by using a saturated queue depth of 32. This reflects the perfect possible utilization conditions, definitely not the way the drive will perform in day-to-day situations. Samsung’s own SSD Magician program includes a simplistic built-in benchmark and gave us practically identical scores of 563MBps and 532MBps. Random reads and writes at a queue depth of 8 found 397.9MBps and 369.4MBps respectively.

Moving to the diagnostic testing tool SiSOFT Sandra, we saw some interesting results. In this group of benchmarks, both sequential and random speeds were reported as 530MBps, while both sequential and random writes came in at 503MBps. Random speeds usually dip well below sequential speeds, which means this can be an impressive result. That is overall a far greater showing compared to the SATA WD Blue, which is another common choice in the mainstream SSD segment.