Samsung 850 Pro SSD Review: 3D Vertical NAND Hits Desktop Storage

Results: PCMark 8's Expanded Storage Testing

Futuremark's PCMark 8 expanded storage tests are awesome. With so much data and a comprehensive testing regimen, we can really drill down on drive performance.

First, the raw block device (there is no partition) is preconditioned twice by filling the entire accessible LBA space with 128 KB sequential writes. Once that is completed, the first Degradation Phase randomly writes blocks between 4 KB and 1 MB in size to random LBA spaces on the drive. Since the writes aren't 4 KB-aligned much of the time, the SSD's performance drops quickly. After all, non-4 KB-aligned accesses create overhead and generally increase write amplification significantly.

The first Degradation Phase begins with 10 minutes of those punishing random offset writes, after which each PCMark 8 activity trace is played against the SSD being tested. The successive degradation rounds are similar, except an additional five minutes are tacked onto each iteration. After eight repetitions, that write period expands to 45 minutes.

Next comes the Steady Phase. Each of five Steady Phases writes 45 minutes worth of random offset data prior to trace playback, pushing the drive even harder and making it more difficult to perform housekeeping duties. With fewer blocks available for writing, latency increases substantially.

Lastly, PCMark 8 moves into a Recovery Phase, which consists of five idle minutes before trace playback. Repeat that five times, and the test concludes.

For more information on the test and how it works, check out Plextor M6e 256 GB PCI Express SSD Review: M.2 For Your Desktop.

Storage Consistency With PCMark 8's Adobe Photoshop (Heavy) Trace

Because there are 18 individual rounds packed with 10 traces each, we need to focus. We'll choose one trace, Adobe Photoshop (Heavy), and keep tabs on it through the entire extended run.

Bandwidth

The Bandwidth chart simply reflects per-iteration throughput for my preferred Adobe Photoshop (Heavy) trace.

The 850 Pros are interesting in that they don't bottom out until they're several rounds into the testing. In comparison, the 256 GB 840 Pro looks old and sad. Even the 840 EVO fares better. During the Degrade and Steady phases, it's SanDisk's X210 that appears to hold on best, though.

As the Recovery phases progress, all three 850 Pros spike and never look back. This behavior is unusual as well, though this time in a good way (like losing your wallet and someone tracking you down to return it).

Latency

In this test, we take that same Adobe Photoshop (Heavy) trace and use average read and write latency to illustrate responsiveness. I'll sprinkle in competing drives for flavor, too.

The yellow line represents Samsung's older 840 Pro at 256 GB, and it's clearly not doing well (since low latencies are good; tall bars are not). The 128 GB 850 Pro is outmoded by Intel's SSD 730. However, Samsung's two larger capacities hang right in there.

The 128 GB 850 Pro doesn't handle this workload as deftly. But Samsung's 256 and 1024 GB models excel. Still, they fall a bit short of SanDisk's X210 until the Recovery phases hit. Frankly, I should have been more aggressive about recognizing the X210 back when I reviewed it.

Best and Worst Score Reference

The best scores of the 18 rounds are reported, along with the worst. Here they are for comparison.

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42 comments
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  • MoulaZX
    I 'just' ordered 2x Samsung EVO 120GB a few hours ago, then I stumbled onto this article. Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Every freaking time I run into this, be it Storage, CPU, or GPU.... -_-
  • cryan
    Quote:
    I 'just' ordered 2x Samsung EVO 120GB a few hours ago, then I stumbled onto this article. Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Every freaking time I run into this, be it Storage, CPU, or GPU.... -_-


    I don't know if this really changes anything for you. Two EVOs are still going to be better than one 850 Pro in [most] every way. But I understand the sentiment!

    Christopher Ryan
  • lp231
    193769 said:
    I 'just' ordered 2x Samsung EVO 120GB a few hours ago, then I stumbled onto this article. Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Every freaking time I run into this, be it Storage, CPU, or GPU.... -_-

    You just ordered a few hours ago. Just cancel your order if you really want this 850 Pro.
  • tomfreak
    10yrs warranty, may be finally I have a reason to buy SSD. lol
  • g-unit1111
    502873 said:
    10yrs warranty, may be finally I have a reason to buy SSD. lol


    I can guarantee that in 10 years you won't own that drive anymore. :lol:
  • 10tacle
    I still have several 8-10 year old drives laying around between 80GB-150GB. I mostly use them as external drives for backing up USB thumb drives and other files that aren't large volume.
  • helper800
    Hoping for some SATA 12gbs (or more) transfer speeds in the coming years.
  • razor512
    Will overclocking the bus that the sata controller is on impact the performance?

    Can you test on an AMD platform which makes it easier to over clock that bus and some of the connected components?
  • BestJinjo
    Looking forward to future generations of 3D Vertical Nand on M.2 / M.2 Ultra interface. Too bad SATA 3 is all maxed out and the next generation standards are not yet mainstream for the masses which is holding back SSD performance. As far as this drive goes, it's only slightly faster than MX100 but costs double. I don't think it's worth it. MX100 512GB sounds like a perfect stop-gap until M.2/SATAe drives arrive with 1-1.5TB/sec throughput. Perhaps Samsung will give us 95% of the performance for a fraction of the price in the 850 EVO.
  • MoulaZX
    Quote:
    Quote:
    I 'just' ordered 2x Samsung EVO 120GB a few hours ago, then I stumbled onto this article. Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Every freaking time I run into this, be it Storage, CPU, or GPU.... -_-
    I don't know if this really changes anything for you. Two EVOs are still going to be better than one 850 Pro in [most] every way. But I understand the sentiment! Christopher Ryan


    Not quite. One is for my Desktop, the other is for my Father's Desktop.

    For my Desktop, I'll be stepping up from 2x OCZ Vertex 2 60GB in RAID 0. Hope it'll be worth it...
  • MoulaZX
    Quote:
    Quote:
    I 'just' ordered 2x Samsung EVO 120GB a few hours ago, then I stumbled onto this article. Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Every freaking time I run into this, be it Storage, CPU, or GPU.... -_-
    I don't know if this really changes anything for you. Two EVOs are still going to be better than one 850 Pro in [most] every way. But I understand the sentiment! Christopher Ryan


    Not quite. One is for my Desktop, the other is for my Father's Desktop.

    For my Desktop, I'll be stepping up from 2x OCZ Vertex 2 60GB in RAID 0. Hope it'll be worth it...
  • cpy
    Why does tom hardware looks like website from 1990? This page is narrow as hell!
  • Flying-Q
    Quote:
    Why does tom hardware looks like website from 1990? This page is narrow as hell!

    That would be to give more room for the sidebar adverts.
  • Novuake
    Impressive, didn't think some of these numbers were possible via SATA3.

    But the limit has now been reached in almost every way.

    Which solution will stick? Anyone care to guess?
  • crawlgsx
    Eh, unimpressed. Sure its a nice bump but when I look at how long the 840 Pro has been on the market and compare it to the increase to the soon coming 850 Pro, to say the least it doesn't make me want to run out and replace my 840's.
  • cryan
    Quote:
    Hmm, what's next for SATA? SATA4? SATA 3.2 (SATA Express) doesn't look like a long term solution. PCI-E is fine, but SATA is still so convenient.


    I disagree. SATA Express melds the convenience of SATA and pcie performance. With NVMe and Gen 3 PCIe, I think there WILL be much to like.

    Christopher Ryan
  • RedJaron
    That much speed for that little power draw? Impressive.
  • arneberg
    SATA Express haw to wide Cables as bad as the old IDE Cables M.2 or PCIE cards
  • xenol
    Part of me doesn't care about bandwidth. I've had Windows 7 load up much faster (as in the throbber didn't get to finish) on a laptop with a SATA 3Gbps interface than a desktop using the 6Gbps interface. And most of the time file accesses are small, but many.

    I'd rather start seeing IOPS crank up to RAM levels.
  • WyomingKnott
    The main reason not to go to SATA 4 and double the throughput rate again is not a signalling issue. SATA was designed for rotating magnetic media. There are limitations that are removed in the rising standards, although the next generation of storage will probably find those brilliant improvements to be a bottleneck!
  • dgingeri
    I like the look of this drive, but it's not quite enough to get me to upgrade from my 840 Pro/ 840 EVO combo, especially at those prices. The warranty is a nice feature, though. This drive looks like the best we can ever expect from SATA3.

    I have a board that has a 2 lane M.2 PCIe slot. Once I see a drive that performs as well or better than this in that form factor at 500-512GB, I'll go for that, and no sooner.
  • coolitic
    It's about dang time.
  • rantoc
    With 10 years warranty Samsung really have belief in the product, guess ill wait a couple of months to see if it has reliability issues before considering striking a deal or two
  • mapesdhs
    MoulaZX writes:
    > For my Desktop, I'll be stepping up from 2x OCZ Vertex 2 60GB in RAID 0.
    > Hope it'll be worth it...

    What model is your motherboard? If your system is just SATA2, the EVO may
    or may not be quicker, kinda depends. I did loads of RAID0 tests using various
    numbers of Vertex2E 120GB drives (tad quicker than the 60GB, but relevant
    nonetheless). See:

    http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/misc/ssd_tests.txt

    Compared to a single 840 250GB or Vector 128GB, the 2xV2E/120 RAID0 was
    quicker for sequential I/O, slower for 4K random read, 2X faster for 4K random
    write, roughly the same for 4K/64-thread read/write (AS-SSD), faster for CDM
    512K read, and slower for CDM 512K write (ignore the ATTO results, they're a
    bit whacko anyway).

    Alas I didn't have time to run the real-world app-start/load tests on the RAID0
    configs, and I've not yet run the same tests with a SATA3 setup. Useful data
    for users of older SATA2 systems though I hope, and here's some extra data
    testing a Vector 256GB with various types of SATA2/3 so you can compare to
    the Vector's SATA2 results above (note that the Vector shows up fairly well
    in the 850 Pro review, so it's a good model for this sort of general testing):

    http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/misc/sata_vector_tests.txt


    Overall, I think you'll be happy with the EVOs, though TBH I'm surprised you
    didn't go for a couple of MX100 256GB units; I would have I think. Mind you,
    for reliability I'd probably change my mind at the last minute & buy Samsungs.

    Ian.