Being able to write the world's first review of the new Samsung 850 was enough for us to break out the 128GB-class drives, but that doesn't mean we recommend low-capacity SSDs. The price difference between a 128GB and a 256GB-class SSD is usually very small, which means you pay more money per gigabyte for the smaller drive.
We found a great example at Newegg. The 850 EVO 120GB retails for $100, but the 850 EVO 250GB is yours for just $114. That means you pay $0.83-per-GB for the 120GB drive, but only $0.45-per-GB for the 250GB SSD.
The difference in price between two capacities can't happen with the Samsung 850, though. The series only comes in one capacity, but we don't expect that to last very long. Samsung didn't do much to differentiate the 32- and 48-layer 850 EVO SSDs, but we suspect the 850 may be a way to set the 64-layer V-NAND products apart. In larger capacities, the fastest V-NAND yet could offer better performance than its predecessors, at least under some conditions.
Knowing the 850’s placement in the Samsung stack would tell us more about the drive, and what to expect, so we reached out to Samsung USA for more information. They suggested that we should confer with Samsung China because that group is responsible for the release. That didn't go far. Without knowing the 850's market position, we can't reliably say if American and European audiences can expect to see this series. Small 64GB SSDs still sell for mainstream PCs in China, so 128GB drives are still popular.
In May, rumors surfaced that Samsung might remove the "Pro/EVO" branding, which denotes the difference between MLC (Pro) and TLC (EVO) SSDs, from its products because all of its new products will use 3-bit per cell (TLC) NAND. The appearance of 980 and 970 on the NVMe Integrator's List adds some credence to the rumor, but we also found an unreleased 860 EVO on the SATA Integrator list. That doesn't agree the non-Pro/EVO rumor mill.
The Samsung 850 should eventually sell in other markets, and it will likely appear on Newegg and Amazon through third-party sellers. The 120GB drive delivers the same performance we found in the 850 EVO, but it ships with a three-year warranty instead of a five-year warranty. The 850 120GB is a preview of what to expect from Samsung in the future even if we don't know exactly which direction the company is headed.
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