Samsung 850 Pro SSD: Australian Review

Buying an SSD can massively increase the speed of your PC, improving boot times, program loading speed and slashing power consumption. But what makes one solid-state drive different to another? All the changes you can't see. Samsung's new 850 Pro makes some significant behind-the-scenes upgrades to become the SSD you should buy today.

Gizmodo loves technology. Our product reviews are presented thanks to Dick Smith.

What Is It?

Specifications
  • Capacities: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
  • Max Read: 550MBps
  • Max Write: 470MBps (128GB) or 520Mbps
  • Interface: SATA III 6Gbps; compatible with SATA II 3Gbps
  • Warranty: 10-Years
  • Form Factor: 2.5-inch Ultra-slim (7mm), no 3.5mm adapter

The Samsung 850 Pro is the latest and greatest SSD to hit the market from one of the oldest and most established memory manufacturers around. Samsung might be better known to most consumers as the brand behind some of the best smartphones and TVs around, but it's had a much longer history in making NAND flash — the fingernail-sized chips that contain billions of transistors and gates and store your precious data.

The 850 Pro is interesting mainly because the design of those transistors and gates is a significant departure from the way flash memory has been produced for decades. Without getting too technical, Samsung has entirely changed the layout of the memory modules inside its flash storage to make them more efficient and faster to operate. This is the first drive on the market to use V-NAND flash (also known as 3D NAND), and Samsung is the only memory maker that can do it.

What Is It Good At?

The 850 Pro's V-NAND flash, developed and designed and produced in-house by Samsung, isn't like the flash memory in other solid-state drives. It's vertically and horizontally stacked, which is a more efficient structure for fast switching; by using a more effective memory design overall Samsung is able to significantly increase the three core aspects of what makes a good SSD: performance, reliability, and power consumption.

If you're running any garden-variety desktop PC, adding the 850 Pro in won't even measure on a mains power meter; the 2.5W max power consumption of the 1TB drive barely registered against the several hundred other watts of my test system's other components. What you will notice is the drop in power consumption when you use the 850 Pro to replace a traditional spinning-disk drive. Both these scenarios are hugely more important for anyone thinking of using the 850 Pro in a laptop, where you will see battery life improvements.

Oh, and the 850 Pro is fast. Proper fast. In CrystalDiskMark, where the mid-range Crucial M550 managed 542/491MBps, the 850 Pro wiped the floor with it with numbers that are near-perfect for the SATA3 standard. You really won't find a faster SSD around unless you're willing to pay obscene amounts of money for a PCI-Express version. Until SATA Express becomes widespread, the 850 Pro seems to be the point at which outright sequential disk performance will start to plateau.

Samsung 850 Pro (1TB): Performance

Storage: CrystalDiskMark (Sequential Read): 552MBps CrystalDiskMark (Sequential Write): 523Mbps

What Is It Not Good At?

The 128GB version of the 850 Pro, due to its smaller amount of onboard RAM, fewer NAND packages and less over-provisioning, is the slowest of the lot in testing, only cracking 470MBps write speeds instead of the 520MBps of the 256GB and above drives. This is a slight disappointment for consistency's sake, but it also means the 256GB is the natural leader in price/performance. If you're constrained by your budget, it's not like the 128GB is slow by any means, but with the 850 Pro 256GB seems to be the sweet spot (as with other mid- to high-end SSDs).

At a technical level, The 850 Pro has a big limitation that it can't get around: the bottleneck that is the SATA3 bus. SATA3 can only handle a theoretical maximum data rate of 750MBps, and the overhead of the SATA standard reduces that to 600MBps. At its maximum real-world throughput SATA3 is only really capable of 550MBps, which is why you see all these current high-end SSDs capped at 550MBps read speeds (and near that for writes). The Samsung 850 Pro easily reaches that barrier even with the cheapest, slowest-writing 128GB model — but it's capable of more.

Being a brand new, high-end solid state drive the Samsung 850 Pro is expensive. $189 for 128GB, $379 for 256GB, $749 for 512GB and $999 for 1TB is what you'll pay in Australia. That's a lot of money, although it is interesting to see the 1TB drive cheaper per gigabyte than the 512GB model.

Should You Buy It?

Samsung 850 Pro SSD

Price: AUD$189/$379/$749/$999

Like
  • Incredibly fast transfers.
  • Build quality.
  • Low power consumption.
Don't Like
  • Comparatively slow 128GB version.
  • Strong mid-range competitors.
  • Expensive price, especially for 512GB.

The Samsung 850 Pro is, by all metrics, one of the fastest and most powerful SSDs on the market.

If you want the best, though, this is the drive to get — and when you're building or upgrading a computer to stand the test of time, it makes excellent sense to spend that little bit extra to make your new PC last longer and run more effectively in the meantime.

There's a lot of work going on behind the scenes with the 850 Pro that you can't see in benchmarks and simple upfront testing, too — it looks to have ironed out most of the kinks, like long-term reliability and continued write endurance. With that in mind, I think the 850 Pro well deserves its crown as the best consumer SSD currently on the market.

The lack of mSATA variant is a little mystifying, though, since the 850 Pro would fit well in with a high-end Ultrabook in the power savings it offers. If you have a larger laptop, or a desktop PC, looking for a hard drive speed upgrade, there's no reason not to choose the 850 Pro apart from its price tag.


Comments

    Does it have effective power-fail data integrity, unlike previous models and most models of SSD which can corrupt the whole SSD if power fails during a write operation?

    Also, comparing 542 / 552 for reads and 491 / 523 for sequential writes isn't exactly "wiping the floor" compared to the Crucial M550. What "real world" usage would a user notice any difference between the speed of this SSD and the M550?

      Agreed wiping the floor it didn't, given that the author states the Crucial M550 is mid-range unit. Does that imply other drives are faster. This is not a balanced article.

      Last edited 07/07/14 2:31 pm

        Mid-range in price/specs/features. The M550 doesn't come with the same software suite as the 850 Pro, for example.

          IOPS!!! God dammit, IOPS!!!

            Agreed, sequential read/write speeds have stopped being all that relevant a long time ago. Good IOPS and 4K random read/write performance is a lot more useful and does a better job of showing actual real world performance.

      Comparing SSD Read/Write times using MB/s is like basing the performance of two cars off only their KW output. There is a lot to consider in the comparing SSD drives but essentially when bench-marking and doing comparisons you should be looking almost exclusively at Peak IOPS and Sustained IOPS.

      As far as I am aware Samsung currently leads the market with their Pro series SSD's in regards to both Peak and Sustained IOPS making them ideal for Gaming PC's and 2D/3D CAD/CAM workstations.

    There's some difference in power usage between SSDs and 3.5 HDD. But the difference between SSD and 2.5 HDD - what you'd actually be using in a laptop - is negligible, so you wouldn't really see any significant battery life improvement,

      That's not true. Anecdotally, changing from a 250GB 5400RPM drive in my 2011 MacBook Pro to an SSD -- I think it was the Corsair Force120 at the time -- massively improved the battery life. I think it was around 8hrs light usage vs 6hrs.

        I wonder if some of the power savings may also come from a cooler running laptop when using an SSD and hence less need to run the cooling fan.

      I was wondering about that, I recently replaced a 2.5 HDD with an SSD and it didn't seem to increase battery life.

        I wonder then haw old is your BATTERY. A not so old battery will hold more charge than a older battery after a full charge...I agree that a much cooler running laptop will use less power,but take in mind what sort of programs were you running at that time....

      I found that battery life on my laptop to be better, but not by much ~ +45mins on windows but more on linux for some reason. What makes SSd's a must buy for me is that it makes less noise (none of the old clicks and hum noise) and is bloody fast compared to the old 2.5inch

      Not true at all, I get an extra 1-2 hours going from the 7200RPM 'performance' HDD to an SSD in my laptop. I know get around 7-8 hours instead of 5-6 hours, so quite noticeable. Plus I get more work done in the same amount of time.

    Should this be marked as advertising? Yet another samsung product with little discussion and nothing for a few days magically appearing in the sticky area like its the latest hot topic...

      "Gizmodo loves technology. Our product reviews are presented thanks to Dick Smith."
      So yeah, I think it should.

      I posted a similar comment, and it never got approved. I wonder if they're a little embarressed by how blatant it is.

      It's not that i wouldnt buy one, I love having SSDs in my PC and lappy, but a more objective review would go a long way.

    Going by Anandtech the drive should be realeased on the 21st of july.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/8216/samsung-ssd-850-pro-128gb-256gb-1tb-review-enter-the-3d-era

    128mb version $135.00 plus postage from Umart..! :)

    I would like to see a test done with BMD's "Blackmagic Disk Speed Test" app, as it gives the real performance when working with uncompressible data.

    drive has around 100K iops for those that wanted to know

    19th september release for 1TB hdd going by online retailers.

    I got the 128Gb model for someone a few weeks ago and was really impressed, it was booting into windows 8.1 before the monitor even picked up the video signal to display a picture from a cold boot. I'd love to grab the 1Tb for myself but can't really justify the price atm.

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