Samsung 860 Pro SSD Review

Conclusion

For several years Samsung has priced the Pro series out of reach for mainstream users and enthusiasts alike. The NAND shortage prevented MLC SSDs from receiving the same price cuts as the TLC models, so the pricing gap only grew as the shortage progressed. For most consumers, the less-expensive and faster 850 EVO was enough. We haven't tested the new 860 EVO, but it's a safe assumption that the Pro will still be the expensive option while the EVO will be a better fit for most of us.

Samsung's 860 Pro will suffer the most from the rise of low-cost NVMe SSDs that provide a good user experience with cheaper 3D TLC flash. The drive works best in a workstation that reads, writes, and renders multimedia files. It's still a very fast boot device if you want a single high-capacity drive for both general use and some professional work. The 860 Pro will likely go unchallenged in that niche from SATA SSDs, but NVMe has a big performance advantage and the 860 Pro's pricing puts it in contention with those products. For instance, the 860 Pro 1TB sells for the same $479.99 as the 960 EVO 1TB.

SATA's massive install base is the 860 Pro's biggest advantage. There are far more systems still in use today that do not support NVMe than there are systems that support the new protocol.

Some applications also require more than just speed. The 860 Pro is the most endurant SATA SSD available. It's also one of the few high-capacity models available. Samsung's Linux optimizations paired with the Pro's endurance and capacity advantages open avenues for non-traditional use-cases, such as slotting SSDs into your NAS.

High-performance NAS like the QNAP TVS-1282 utilizes tiered storage to increase productivity in a shared storage environment that stores your hot data on the flash layer and your cold files on lower-speed disks. This type of systems is usually found in multimedia companies where an entire group shares a storage pool to work on projects, but these use-cases are a prime target for this class of SSD.

We've spilled a lot of ink lamenting the rise of TLC NAND, so we're happy to see Samsung bring high-speed MLC flash back for another round. The 860 Pro serves a premium market and has its place, but most of us would be more enthusiastic about an NVMe SSD with MLC flash. Samsung should release a new 970 NVMe SSD with 64-layer NAND and the Phoenix controller in April. That means we won't have to wait very long to see if Samsung will satiate the enthusiast community with a high-performance MLC SSD that costs less than Intel's Optane SSD 900P.

MORE: Best SSDs

MORE: How We Test HDDs And SSDs

MORE: All SSD Content

This thread is closed for comments
13 comments
    Your comment
  • mikewinddale
    "The 860 Pro's shocking price comes with an equally shocking endurance rating."

    I'm still wondering what the secret sauce is in my Kingston KC400 SSD, which has an 800 TBW rating for the 512 GB drive (0.87 DWPD) (https://www.kingston.com/datasheets/SKC400S37_us.pdf). Controller is Phison 3110 (S10), and I'm not sure about the flash, but I think it's MLC. There are very few online reviews of this drive, so I don't know if its insane endurance comes at the expense of performance, or what. Closest I can find is an online review of the controller: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/toshiba-tlc-mlc-micron-mlc-phison-s10,4190.html
  • diagrafeas
    "Samsung should release a new 970 NVMe SSD with 64-layer NAND and the Phoenix controller in April. That means we won't have to wait very long to see if Samsung will satiate the enthusiast community with a high-performance MLC SSD that costs less than Intel's Optane SSD 900P."

    Thought that 970 was kept for BGA SSD. The new range should be 980 EVO/PRO.
    Don't compare with Optane. Completely different technology and user base.
  • gasaraki
    Not worth it really. If you look at the MX500, the performance is right under the new 960 Pro but at a much lower price point.
  • 2Be_or_Not2Be
    138134 said:
    Not worth it really. If you look at the MX500, the performance is right under the new 960 Pro but at a much lower price point.


    I think it matters when your specific use case is one that involves a lot of constant writes where you can would hit TBW limits. So high I/O servers (like databases, heavy-traffic file servers, virtual hosts w/high-activity guests) could definitely use the higher endurance. Not all servers, of course - a mostly read-only web server wouldn't necessarily need the higher endurance rating.
  • Martell1977
    I not a fan of the size naming convention. I have a 850 EVO 512gb, but the real size is 465gb. Would be nice if in these reviews you listed actual storage size. It is a shame that there isn't a standard that prevent vendors from naming a drive 1 size but delivering another.
  • cryoburner
    421295 said:
    I not a fan of the size naming convention. I have a 850 EVO 512gb, but the real size is 465gb. Would be nice if in these reviews you listed actual storage size. It is a shame that there isn't a standard that prevent vendors from naming a drive 1 size but delivering another.

    There is a standard that nearly all storage devices have followed for decades, using standard SI prefixes...
    1 gigabyte = 1,000 megabytes = 1,000,000 kilobytes = 1,000,000,000 bytes

    Windows, on the other hand, reports what are actually gibibytes (GiB), where...
    1 gibibyte = 1,024 mebibytes = 1,048,576 kibibytes = 1,073,741,824 bytes

    As a result, 512 GB equals approximately 477 GiB. The 850 Evo is actually advertised as a 500 GB drive though, which works out to about 466 GiB. So, the drive's stated capacity is just as described, it's just that Windows is reporting drive capacities and file sizes using what are actually binary prefixed units, when the OS should arguably be using the same units that drive manufacturers have been using to describe their storage devices for decades.
  • docswag
    582021 said:
    421295 said:
    I not a fan of the size naming convention. I have a 850 EVO 512gb, but the real size is 465gb. Would be nice if in these reviews you listed actual storage size. It is a shame that there isn't a standard that prevent vendors from naming a drive 1 size but delivering another.
    There is a standard that nearly all storage devices have followed for decades, using standard SI prefixes... 1 gigabyte = 1,000 megabytes = 1,000,000 kilobytes = 1,000,000,000 bytes Windows, on the other hand, reports what are actually gibibytes (GiB), where... 1 gibibyte = 1,024 mebibytes = 1,048,576 kibibytes = 1,073,741,824 bytes As a result, 512 GB equals approximately 477 GiB. The 850 Evo is actually advertised as a 500 GB drive though, which works out to about 466 GiB. So, the drive's stated capacity is just as described, it's just that Windows is reporting drive capacities and file sizes using what are actually binary prefixed units, when the OS should arguably be using the same units that drive manufacturers have been using to describe their storage devices for decades.

    I just wanted to add on this a little. On the ssd itself there is 512 GiB of storage. However, the ssd uses some of that for over provisioning. Most ssd manufacturers use the amount that the GB to GiB conversion gives for over provisioning, so the ssd only makes 477 GiB (512 GB) of flash available to the OS and uses the rest for over provisioning, so you technically have 512 GiB of flash but you can only use 512 GB.

    I'm pretty sure that's how it is on the ssds with capacity as an exact power of 2 (e.g. 512gb). With the 850 Evo in reality you have 512 GiB and you can only access 500 GB. 9.1% of the nand is used for over provisioning.
  • DookieDraws
    The 860 EVO M.2 is showing incorrect drive sizes. Should be GB, not TB. But hey, 500TB for only $169? Sounds good to me! :)

    250TB $94.99

    500TB $169.99
  • gamebrigada
    2384751 said:
    "The 860 Pro's shocking price comes with an equally shocking endurance rating." I'm still wondering what the secret sauce is in my Kingston KC400 SSD, which has an 800 TBW rating for the 512 GB drive (0.87 DWPD) (https://www.kingston.com/datasheets/SKC400S37_us.pdf). Controller is Phison 3110 (S10), and I'm not sure about the flash, but I think it's MLC. There are very few online reviews of this drive, so I don't know if its insane endurance comes at the expense of performance, or what. Closest I can find is an online review of the controller: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/toshiba-tlc-mlc-micron-mlc-phison-s10,4190.html


    Kingston almost exclusively uses Toshiba NAND.

    The KC series is Kingstons business class drive, and at 66 cents per gig, is competing against Samsungs PM863 series drives, which have a rating of 1.3 DWPD. Those samsung drives are however pretty hard to come by on the open market, and generally much more available at about the same price as the KC series often much cheaper if you make an arrangement with a VAR. The SM863 series have an even larger endurance rating of 3.6 DWPD albeit at a slightly higher price. Kingston has very little presence on the enterprise/SMB markets, so they sell the drives everywhere. Samsung's drives are heavily bought up by HP/Dell/Lenovo for Workstation/Server/Storage uses. Those customers have so much control over that market, that several times a year you actually can't buy the drives because they are entirely sold out.

    However, the Kingston drives have no place in the enterprise market and have little adoption because of how little control kingston has over the specs in the long term. There have been several occasions where Kingston changed spec mid-production without a model number difference where the changes produced huge performance deficits against earlier models. This is inexcusable in enterprise where these drives run in RAID configs, and a different drive in an array will cause all sorts of havoc. This is why enterprise customers always go with manufacturers such as Samsung/Toshiba/Intel that have a lot of control over the specs and don't rely on buying components on the open market. Kingston is very similar to what OCZ used to be back in the day and face the same challenges.

    As for the magic sauce that is high endurance ratings? The endurance rating for SSD's is pretty much a made up number for general minimum expectations of the drive by the manufacturer. Its more of a statistical guess from testing. For Samsung, the enterprise drives differ from the 8*0 PRO series in a couple ways. They have super-capacitors that allow the drives to finish writing cache to nand and safely shut down in case of power failure. They are also heavily over-provisioned, which allows them to maintain the healthy amount of storage even when things start to go sideways. Samsung under-rates their drives, and there are a series of individual testers that for grins do endurance testing on the samsung drives to come up with comical numbers. The Samsung 840 Pro 250GB drive lasted 2.4PB of writes, which equates to 5.26 DWPD for 5 years. Since then, Samsungs drives have only become more resilient. The 850 Pro 256GB drive lasted a whopping 9.1PB of writes, which equates to 19.47 DWPD. It will be a couple years before we see an experiment like that end with the 860 series drives.
  • DerekA_C
    so sick of Samsung finding new ways to keep ssd at a F***ing ridiculous price there clearly has not been a shortage in the tech NOT once it is a damn lie look at the GPU market now that is a real shortage where it actually says sold out constantly last 6 months I've never seen any ssd from any company say world wide shortage sold out hmmm....
  • wuethrichtech
    concluding the market is leveling for flash preformance based on a new gen of a drive where the previous basicly pegged the interface bandwidth is one of the most noobish things ive ever read. if you wanna stick with full hardware assemblies judge that by an interface that isnt maxed (i havent looked in months but I doubt anyone has pegged pci-e 16x in any gen.

    Or read data sheets and figure out flash channel connections to average latency and throughput of random data.

    you have to understand they could probably max every spec by adding an incremental price increase but the goal of a biz is to make the most appealing drive at the lowest production cost to maximize profit. When you look at the market and then apply the percent of people who can conceptualize a mb/s in terms of a photo or mp3 count... a lot can these days. The percent that understand the importance of 4k random r or w is a sharp drop and any spec beyond that like iops is into log graph decay. Thus those specs only matter to a point..esp when everyone is more or less capable of conceptualizing write endurance/burn out might = bye bye baby pics...or tressured pics to replace the lack of other end of baby equation. anyone can wrap their heads around more is SAFER there so its a huge selling point to the ever dwindling but still large class of people who can afford to both reproduce and buy ssds
  • Martell1977
    2551446 said:
    582021 said:
    421295 said:
    I not a fan of the size naming convention. I have a 850 EVO 512gb, but the real size is 465gb. Would be nice if in these reviews you listed actual storage size. It is a shame that there isn't a standard that prevent vendors from naming a drive 1 size but delivering another.
    There is a standard that nearly all storage devices have followed for decades, using standard SI prefixes... 1 gigabyte = 1,000 megabytes = 1,000,000 kilobytes = 1,000,000,000 bytes Windows, on the other hand, reports what are actually gibibytes (GiB), where... 1 gibibyte = 1,024 mebibytes = 1,048,576 kibibytes = 1,073,741,824 bytes As a result, 512 GB equals approximately 477 GiB. The 850 Evo is actually advertised as a 500 GB drive though, which works out to about 466 GiB. So, the drive's stated capacity is just as described, it's just that Windows is reporting drive capacities and file sizes using what are actually binary prefixed units, when the OS should arguably be using the same units that drive manufacturers have been using to describe their storage devices for decades.
    I just wanted to add on this a little. On the ssd itself there is 512 GiB of storage. However, the ssd uses some of that for over provisioning. Most ssd manufacturers use the amount that the GB to GiB conversion gives for over provisioning, so the ssd only makes 477 GiB (512 GB) of flash available to the OS and uses the rest for over provisioning, so you technically have 512 GiB of flash but you can only use 512 GB. I'm pretty sure that's how it is on the ssds with capacity as an exact power of 2 (e.g. 512gb). With the 850 Evo in reality you have 512 GiB and you can only access 500 GB. 9.1% of the nand is used for over provisioning.


    As I said, they need to standardize. OS makers and storage makers need to get together and agree to a standard calculation method or rename their drives to reflect what the user will be shown.
  • meyer1211
    I guess they didn't tell you what the lithography pitch is. I'm glad they fixed that red!