Samsung refreshed its popular 850 EVO series with slim m.2 and mSATA flavors. The new pint-sized offerings are perfect for laptops and Ultrabooks and come in capacities of 120 GB, 250 GB, and 500 GB for both m.2 and mSATA. The mSATA EVO also offers a capacious 1 TB model.
The drives interface via mSATA and m.2 connectors, but they're still SATA-based SSDs. The new variants offer similar performance specifications to the 2.5" model, and speed varies with capacity. Maximum sequential speeds weigh in at 540/520 MBps read/write, and random performance peaks at 97,000/89,000 read/write IOPS.
The new SSDs continue to leverage the now tried-and-true Samsung TLC 3D V-NAND. The Samsung-proprietary 32-Layer 3D NAND offers more endurance, performance, density, and lower cost in comparison to typical 2D NAND. Last week, a flurry of 3D NAND announcements came out, but for now Samsung is the only company in the world shipping finished 3D NAND products.
Samsung boosts endurance and performance with its TurboWrite feature, which is a fast write buffer for incoming writes. The Magician software provides monitoring and management tools for the SSD, along with the optional Rapid Mode, which is a RAM-based caching feature geared for the speed-junky crowd.
Samsung was the first SSD manufacturer to bring TLC NAND to consumer SSDs, and many skeptics questioned whether TLC offered enough endurance for the broader SSD market. Time has proven TLC to be a durable solution, especially when combined with innovative engineering techniques, such as the TurboWrite feature, that reduce wear on the underlying NAND.
TLC has continued to gain popularity largely because of its solid performance and low price point. According to DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce, TLC accounted for 37 percent of NAND shipments in the last quarter of 2014, and it predicts that TLC will total half of the world's NAND output by the end of this year.
The 850 EVO offers an endurance threshold of 75 TBW (TeraBytes Written) for the 120 GB and 250 GB models, and 150 TBW for the 500 GB and 1 TB models. The five-year warranty is competitive with other m.2 and mSATA products, but for the 2.5" segment many SSDs, such as the Samsung 850 PRO, feature a longer 10-year warranty period.
The new drives cost slightly more than a standard 2.5" model and come with MSRPs of $100, $150, $270, and $500 for the 120 GB, 250 GB, 500 GB and 1 TB SSDs. Look to these pages soon for our full review.