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Samsung 870 QVO SATA SSD Review: Taking Baby Steps With QLC (Updated)

New hardware brings higher capacity, but minuscule performance gains

Samsung 870 QVO 8TB
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

By introducing the 870 QVO, Samsung's second-generation QLC flash-based SATA SSD, the company believes it is setting the standard for high capacity consumer storage. But, while Samsung may have the highest-capacity SATA SSD when the 8TB model drops this August, we shouldn't forget the competition: Sabrent has dethroned Samsung with the unopposed 8TB NVMe Rocket Q in the M.2 form factor, and it's on the market today. That's not to mention that the 870 QVO lands with rather high pricing and a short warranty to back its cheap and slow QLC V-NAND.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Samsung’s new V5 9x-Layer QLC V-NAND flash and MKX ‘Metis’ controller boost the 870 QVO’s read performance over its predecessor, but the company still needs to improve the drive if it wants to compete with TLC alternatives, especially given Samsung’s premium pricing strategy. You have to settle for slower performance to get access to Samsung’s highest-capacity consumer storage, and the price of the 8TB model still potentially weighs in at up to $900. At that price, you can get the high capacity you need at a relatively low price-per-GB compared to the Rocket Q, but the 8TB Samsung 870 QVO still isn’t cheap, and neither are the lower capacity models.  

Samsung says the 870 QVO is meant for value seekers. At $130, the 1TB QVO has very tough competition and we wouldn’t say we see a big value proposition at its current pricing. Priced much more competitively at roughly $115, TLC SATA competitors like the Crucial MX500, SK Hynix S31 Gold, and WD Blue 3D are currently much better buys than the 870 QVO. In fact, most carry longer five-year warranties and sport higher endurance ratings in the same capacities. The Crucial MX500 even boasts similar AES 256-bit encryption support. 

The 2TB Samsung 870 QVO also doesn’t make much sense, except maybe for a diehard Samsung loyalist; both the MX500 and WD Blue 3D undercut it by $20-$25. Also, the 4TB WD Blue 3D may be more expensive than the 4TB 870 QVO, but it's a faster drive.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

If you were thinking of using this QLC SATA SSD as your workstation drive, think again. The highest-capacity 870 QVOs are good choices for storing games or plain old bulk storage, and if you have the budget, we’d even wager it would be fine for most backup purposes, too. Just don’t write system images to the drive every day – it can only sustain up to 0.33 drive writes per day. Write speed tanks when the drive is taxed with heavy write workloads, slowing performance significantly. In our testing, even performing a rather standard system restore caused the 870 QVO to slow to a crawl. Our 1TB QVO model dropped to just 80 MBps after the Intelligent TurboWrite cache filled, leading to roughly the same performance as older hardware.

If you really want to speed up your workstation, NVMe is the way to go. NVMe SSDs deliver roughly twice the responsiveness of a SATA SSD like the 870 QVO. If you're looking for that type of responsiveness, skip the QVO and go for an NVMe SSD if budget, capacity, and form factor requirements permit. 

The NVMe WD Blue SN550 maxes out at just 1TB, but it offers much better performance and endurance for the price. And, for just $10 more, you can upgrade to a faster Adata XPG SX8200 Pro if you're considering a 1TB or 2TB drive. Finally, if you want that sweet 8TB of capacity today, Sabrent’s Rocket Q is available for purchase while Samsung’s is still somewhere in production.

MORE: Best SSDs

MORE: How We Test HDDs And SSDs

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  • deesider
    Samsung says it doesn't like to jump ahead and introduce a product to the market prematurely
    What - which Samsung is this?!
    Reply
  • Adz_au
    Is there another QLC comparison/comparable drive, other than Samsung?
    Reply
  • 2Be_or_Not2Be
    There are a number of terrible QLC-based drives, like the Intel 660p, Sabrent Rocket Q (shame on Sabrent for associating the model name of their better-performing Rocket drive w/TLC!), etc.. I put them on the same low-performance tier as DRAM-less SSDs - that is, the tier of "do not buy". You're basically not saving any money over much higher-performing TLC-based alternatives (not DRAM-less) the way they are pricing the QLC drives.

    I would only use a QLC-based SSD for large storage wherein you can make backups to it that happen overnight or some time when you don't care about the much slower performance of the drive. Also, your use case dictates that you can only fit a SSD instead of a cheaper (and larger) 3.5" HDD (or two).
    Reply
  • Sn3akr
    2Be_or_Not2Be said:
    There are a number of terrible QLC-based drives, like the Intel 660p, Sabrent Rocket Q (shame on Sabrent for associating the model name of their better-performing Rocket drive w/TLC!), etc.. I put them on the same low-performance tier as DRAM-less SSDs - that is, the tier of "do not buy". You're basically not saving any money over much higher-performing TLC-based alternatives (not DRAM-less) the way they are pricing the QLC drives.

    I would only use a QLC-based SSD for large storage wherein you can make backups to it that happen overnight or some time when you don't care about the much slower performance of the drive. Also, your use case dictates that you can only fit a SSD instead of a cheaper (and larger) 3.5" HDD (or two).

    Form a pure performance standpoint you're slightly right right.. But it all depends on the use case!

    For Youtubers/streamers recording and making videos those lower level disks makes a bad purchase, but for storage, movies, games libraries and backup their excellent value.

    Most people don't overwrite their movie libraries, game libraries or backups that often, and the main downside of TLC is their endurance.. But if you use it for weekly backup, they should be good for about 20 years of backup before you hit the 1000 rewrite MTBF (and i know NOBODY that runs 20 year old HW), Reading is not the problem for these discs, it's writing.

    I run a 660P for my steam library, and I'm more than happy with the performance. I know its a few seconds slower than the fastest SSD's, but most people won't notice the difference.
    A game like Metro Exodus, will load as follows:
    High end NVME SSD : 18,27 sec
    Low end SATA SSD : 24.08 sec (slower than 660p)
    HDD : 45,13 sec
    you'll save (MAYBE) about 5 seconds of loadtime, but the price/performance is out of proportion in that scenario, as 5x SSD speed doesn't mean 5x load times. and with the low amount of rewrites, it will last plenty of time..

    For my OS and more write intensive tasks, I run faster disks with lower capacity, but higher endurance.

    When buying a new SSD consider this..
    Long term storage (game libraries, backup, movies library) QLC will do just fine, and real world performance will be almost identical.

    For video/foto editing, rendering, CAD etc with lots of writes, a disc with higher endurance will be preferable.. And when done with your project.. Store it on QLC :whistle:

    Also.. If benchmarks means the world to you.. Go buy the most blazing fast you can afford, just don't be disappointed if you games don't load faster.
    Reply
  • daeros
    I bought a Micron 5100 ECO 4tb drive almost 2 years ago, new, for $300US. It's a TLC drive, and has both DRAM for cache and a capacitor for power loss. The issue with the QVO now is the same as it was then - there's no value there. I can spend less and get more with other manufacturers.
    Reply
  • MoxNix
    High price, low endurance, terrible warranty and very poor performance, that's what you get with low end (QLC or DRAMless) SSDs. Decent TLC *with DRAM solutions that perform better, last longer and have better warranties are available at similar prices. The only thing this drive has over them is you can get it in a larger capacity and that simply isn't worth all the drawbacks that come with it.

    There's plenty of competition for high performance SSDs now. Samsung can't price gouge the high end the way they used to anymore so they're trying to make it up with overpriced low end junk instead.

    For that matter, their price fixing RAM prices has fallen apart too and now this. They must be really desperate to gouge buyers any way they can.
    Reply
  • mdd1963
    The 2 TB Crucial MX500 is a better deal, and probably faster...
    Reply
  • chickenballs
    $130 for a 1tb SATA ssd with QLC nand in 2020 is just laughable. I paid just over $130 for the mp510 1tb nvme ssd
    That O stands for Overpriced.
    Reply
  • Adz_au
    Sn3akr said:

    ........
    Most people don't overwrite their movie libraries, game libraries or backups that often, and the main downside of TLC is their endurance.. But if you use it for weekly backup, they should be good for about 20 years of backup before you hit the 1000 rewrite MTBF (and i know NOBODY that runs 20 year old HW), Reading is not the problem for these discs, it's writing.

    For video/foto editing, rendering, CAD etc with lots of writes, a disc with higher endurance will be preferable.. And when done with your project.. Store it on QLC :whistle:

    Also.. If benchmarks means the world to you.. Go buy the most blazing fast you can afford, just don't be disappointed if you games don't load faster.
    You shouldn't store anything you want to keep on flash memory. It all has a tendency to go bad (bit rot) if not plugged in, in as little as two weeks, you can start to lose your data in corruption.
    A HDD is still superior for storage, yet not perfect. Magnetism will deteriorate over time. Long-Life DVD/B-Ray storage is the best currently for consumers.
    Certainly NOT Flash RAM for backups/long term storage though. A big no-no.


    https://www.quora.com/Is-an-SSD-the-better-option-than-an-HDD-for-backing-up-files-photos-audio-data-The-drive-will-only-be-used-externally-and-will-not-be-powered-on-or-attached-to-a-PC-continuously-1?share=1
    Reply