Samsung 850 EVO 4TB SSD Review

Mixed Workloads, Steady State And Software Performance

80 Percent Sequential Mixed Workload

Our mixed workload testing is described in detail here, and our steady state tests are described here.

The 4TB 850 EVO fails to meet the same high marks as the 2TB EVO in the mixed sequential workload test. The 4TB still performs very well, and it even outperforms the 850 Pro 2TB.

80 Percent Random Mixed Workload

In our experience, firmware tuning plays a larger role in mixed workload performance than the hardware running it. The new 850 EVO 4TB comes to market with a different firmware revision than the 2TB model. Most updates fix a stability issue or tune performance for 100% read or write workloads. Mixed workloads are often a tuning afterthought during firmware development, and those updates typically come after the reviews hit the web.

Sequential Steady State

I started to wonder if it is even possible to get the Samsung 850 EVO 4TB into a true sequential steady-state condition after running this test. Even with the drive full, it still has access to another 96GB of the spare area for background activity, garbage collection and possibly SLC-programmed buffer space. Like the other mixed workload tests, the 2TB EVO is a little faster than the new 4TB model.

Random Write Steady State

In this test, we precondition the drive with 100% random data and do not record the performance results. We continue writing 4KB blocks to the drive after the drive is full. We see two hours worth of data in the first chart, and the second chart shows the final 200 seconds in steady state.

We see a very large block of red from the Samsung 850 EVO 4TB in the first chart. That's the drive's massive spare area filling with 4KB data. The steady-state random write performance nearly peaks at 10,000 random write IOPS after we finally fill the drive (including the spare area) with data. This performance is an impressive steady-state result, and both of the EVO products match the high-performance 850 Pro. All three of the 850 series SSDs deliver twice the performance of the OWC Mercury Electra 2TB.

PCMark 8 Real-World Software Performance

For details on our real-world software performance testing, please click here.

The Samsung 850 EVO 4TB brings it all together. It delivers the largest capacity and the highest real-world application workload performance of any other SATA SSD available. Providing the SLC TurboWrite buffer with this much space for accepting incoming data is unprecedented, and the application workload charts show the power of Samsung's V-NAND flash memory.

The two Samsung 2TB SSDs delivered excellent performance, and we didn't think it would be possible to match the results with another SATA SSD. The new 850 EVO 4TB proved us wrong.

The Intel SSD 750 480GB is one of the highest performing SATA SSDs in this test with 314 MB/s of bandwidth. The new Crucial MX300 with Micron's new 384Gbit TLC only reaches 267 MB/s, and the SanDisk Extreme Pro 960GB, which we often call the best SATA SSD ever made, scores 278 MB/s. There are the best SATA SSDs, and then there is the new 850 EVO 4TB, which weighs in at 331.5 MB/s. 

PCMark 8 Advanced Workload Performance

To learn how we test advanced workload performance, please click here.

There is more to the story than just light workload performance results. Under heavy and moderate loads, and with the drives full, the new 850 EVO 4TB steps further away from the other products. The large spare area and SLC buffer allow the 850 Evo to outperform the Samsung 850 Pro 2TB and the SanDisk Extreme Pro 960GB. You can compare the performance of the smaller capacity SSD here

Total Service Time

The 4TB EVO lacks the strong latency performance of the SanDisk Extreme Pro and OCZ Vector 180 during heavy use, but they are the only two SATA SSDs with lower latency during the most demanding workloads. The 4TB EVO matches the latency of the other products and delivers nearly identical service times when the drives are full and running a lighter workload during the recovery phase.

Disk Busy Time

Disk busy time, which measures the amount of time that at least 1 IO is outstanding, is an interesting measurement for several reasons. A lower score indicates snappy performance, but the drive can also drop into a lower power state to conserve energy when all of the tasks are complete, so less busy time can reduce power consumption. The access patterns run as they would on your system, but in a trace form. The 850 EVO 4TB completes the workload in the least amount of time during most of the tests. 

Notebook Battery Life

Our Lenovo Y700 notebooks are bearing fruit as we test more drives on the new platform with the latest version of MobileMark. We moved to the new system because it supports both SATA 2.5-inch and PCIe NVMe SSDs. In the chart, we mingled several SATA-based products with the Samsung 950 Pro 512GB, which is our go-to M.2 NVMe SSD.

The inclusion of the 850 EVO 1TB SSDs is noteworthy. One utilizes 2nd generation 32-Layer V-NAND, while the other employs the latest 3rd generation 48-Layer V-NAND. Comparing the two 1TB EVO products allows us to see lower power consumption with 48-Layer NAND, which is one of many other benefits. The 48-layer 850 EVO uses half the number of NAND flash die to reach the same capacity as the previous generation.

The Samsung 850 EVO 4TB lands just shy of 360 minutes in our test with a high-performance gaming notebook. In the limited number of drives we've tested to date (around 30) we've found that 360 minutes is the average for SSDs.

MobileMark 2014 gives us more detail on overall system performance with the different products. The performance chart is essentially a drive efficiency rating in a system-wide reduced power state. One pattern that sticks out right away is that PCIe-based NVMe solutions take a large performance hit under battery power. This reduction is because the system slows the PCIe bus, along with the CPU and memory clock speeds, to reduce power consumption. The Samsung 850 EVO 4TB performs very well in this test.

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  • sillynilly
    What a beast!
  • lucas_7_94
    And i'm here with the 250GB...

    In term's on technology, this is amazing, small, fast, good storage, hope the prices will be a little cheap!!
  • Faisal_Almalki223
    Great technological evolution for SSDs! In a really short time too...
    But the only culprit is the price, but overtime it might drop down to a logical price that appeals to us end users.
  • logainofhades
    At that price, they can keep it. I will just sit here with my 480gb Sandisk Ultra II and Toshiba 4tb HDD, for now.
  • teamninja
    For regular people a 250 gb SSD will work perfectly well and a HDD for storing photos and videos will do fine.... considering a 4 TB HDD cost 1/10th of this...
  • phantomferrari
    Personally if I had the money to spend I would wait. Since the SM961 was released based on a new controller and now micron/intel and others are starting to push out 3d nand products id wait until the 860 series (which should be out by the end of the year) a new controller and more competition (which samsung really doesnt have now when it comes to 3d nand) should make for cheaper drives :)
  • Metteec
    Nice review. Glad the low TBW was pointed out. Samsung would sell a few more if they increased it to 1,200TB, the same ratio TBW to size as their smaller 850 EVO drives. The future is grand for SSD storage; would not want to be a disk-based storage company right now.
  • derekullo
    If you are writing 1.2 petabytes of data, you are buying the wrong drive. lol
  • Walter_IT
    "This jump isn't a shot across the bow to hard disk drive manufacturers; it's a boot on the throat".

    I disagree.
    In fact, I am having a hard time thinking which kind of consumer could make use of such SSD, at these prices.
    I just so happened to be looking for a 4-bay NAS for home storage, and for ~$1600 I can get 24TB in Raid5 configuration. All inclusive, and with a fairly decent NAS (Qnap TS451).
    A 6TB consumer HDD sells for $160. So we're talking about nearly 10X lower cost for 50% more capacity. Yes, of course, the HDD is massively slower, but HDD are still way faster than anyone needs, for streaming videos. Which if you need 4~6TB, and you are a consumer, it is probably what you need the disk for.

    So the advantages of this drives boil down to:
    a) Single disk setup
    b) Large storage on a laptop
    Point a) is “convenient”, at best, but would anyone pay ~$1200 for such convenience? (With $300 you can get a 500GB SSD + 6TB HDD).
    Point b) may make a difference … however, seeing how the few laptops that ship with SSD have options for 128GB or 256GB, the 4GB is really wishful thinking. And, again, this carries more than $1K premium. Not for everyone, that’s for sure.

    IMHO, this is great technological advance, that goes in the right direction, but I see no practical use, and very little market, for it. Again, IMHO.
  • CRamseyer
    The statement was made looking at the long term. Samsung could sell this drive today for $700 if it wanted. It uses the same controller and die arrangement as the 2TB drive. The additional 2GB of DRAM is a rounding error for most.

    Think of it as a proof of concept for many people right now at a $1500 price point. What happens when Samsung moves to 60-layer TLC flash with 384Gbit density (estimated)? The $700 moves down to $400.

    If you don't think HDD companies are scared of flash then why are they buying IP and assets as fast as possible?
  • Walter_IT
    1888934 said:
    ... If you don't think HDD companies are scared of flash then why are they buying IP and assets as fast as possible?


    Oh, I have no doubt that they are scared, and they do need to do something to be relevant 5 years from now, but that doesn't change the fact that "nobody" is going to buy a 4TB consumer SSD at $1500, and the ones that will, probably will do so not knowing what they're doing.
    Samsung could sell this drive at $700 ... I don't believe it. Maybe in a couple of years, when the process is stable, and the yield have gone up, and the cost of RnD is amortized. Then again, who knows: these are only speculations. Facts is: this drive exists today, and it is as expensive as 2 drives that existed yesterday with half capacity.
    On large capacity, where, presumably, speed is not as relevant, there's a 20X cost difference still today. Until that difference drops to 1.5X, 2X, maybe, HDD will still make sense.

    The future looks tough for HDD, but we knew this before this drive was announced, and this announcement changes very little, if anything (from that perspective).
  • mosc
    I don't think this is the death of HDD's but I do think this is the first release where you can actually plot out pretty clearly based on the forcasted process improvements when HDD's will stop being made. 2 years from now I'm sure Samsung will have an 8TB drive in this size and it will probably cost about $1500, still a lot more than an HDD. 2 years after that you can probably get such a thing for $750 and two years after that something like $300. In 6 years you're talking 8TB SDD's for $300 when a HDD probably tops out at 12TB and something like $200. I can't imagine the market will hold that extra capacity value out much longer than that.
  • Walter_IT
    1791229 said:
    I don't think this is the death of HDD's but I do think this is the first release where you can actually plot out pretty clearly based on the forcasted process improvements when HDD's will stop being made. 2 years from now I'm sure Samsung will have an 8TB drive in this size and it will probably cost about $1500, still a lot more than an HDD. 2 years after that you can probably get such a thing for $750 and two years after that something like $300. In 6 years you're talking 8TB SDD's for $300 when a HDD probably tops out at 12TB and something like $200. I can't imagine the market will hold that extra capacity value out much longer than that.


    I would love for that to happen and, who knows, maybe it will, but I seriously doubt it.
    This estimate (http://imagescdn.tweaktown.com/news/4/2/42280_023_experts-claim-ssds-price-hdds-2016-beyond.jpg) says it will take till 2023 for the cost-per-GB to be comparable to that of HDD.
    I don't think it is realistic: we have already seen major slowdown of the shrinking, so I don't think we'll keep the -30%/year reduction much longer. I hope I'm wrong, but 50% reduction in 2 years seems very difficult to maintain going forward.
    But, let me insist: in terms of price-per-GB, this new 4TB drive does not make any difference, as it costs exactly as much as 2 SDD with half its capacity.
  • CRamseyer
    Hard drives will not die. The flash fabs can't even make enough bits to cover the demand today for storage. HDDs will continue to thrive in the data center and in home servers (NAS).

    I think some of the comments overlook the next step. During Micron investor calls we've learned that second gen 3D (From Micron) should sample in early 2017. The layers increase from 32 to 64. For MLC flash that means 512Gbit and for TLC that means a massive 768Gbit. For TLC that is a 96GB die. A current gen 256GB SSD that sells for $60 today uses 8 packages with two 128Gbit die per package.

    The same configuration, 8 packages with two die per package, nets us 1,536GB next year. They won't sell that for $60 right off the bat but you get the idea. Moving to the other end of the scale with a configuration like the Samsung 850 EVO. Eight packages with 16 die per package. That nets us a 12,288GB (12.2TB) SSD.

    So, like I said in the article. The next steps from here are more like leaps in capacity than baby steps.
  • Van der Berg
    It is very nice to see a 4TB model of the Samsung 850 EVO. It is a good review again and one day we will have this in our PC. Only the price is now to high
  • Igor_10
    I'd like to know what is the best choice if you need buy speed one? Is that Intel 750 1.2TB, Samsung 850 EVO or SM961 1024GB? I'm pretty confuse because when you compare SM961 with S. 850 EVO the first one is faster?