Samsung SSD 860 PRO Arrives With New 64-Layer MLC NAND and MJX Controller

Samsung released the 850 PRO way back in July 2014 (our review) and the series was quickly found to be an ideal drive for PC gamers, enthusiasts and storage snobs needing a SATA SSD. We've pretty much saturated the SATA III interface and as a result of that there hasn't been anything too terribly exciting in the SATA SSD market in recent years. Enthusiasts looking for bleeding edge storage technology have moved on to PCIe NVMe storage drives, but those drives cost more and have capacity limitations. After a long 4-years the folks over at Samsung figured now is the time to freshen up what they have to offer the SATA SSD market by launching the 860 PRO and 860 EVO series. We got our hands on a 2TB Samsung SSD 860 PRO for testing, so we'll be focusing on the 860 PRO series today. The new Samsung SSD 860 PRO series is made up of only 2.5" SATA III drives in capacities of 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB and a whopping 4TB. Samsung is focusing on larger drive sizes due to the surge in consumers with high-resolution photos and 4K and even 8K videos. Under the hood the new 860 PRO series uses the latest 512Gb and 256Gb 64-layer V-NAND, up to 4GB LPDDR4 mobile DRAM and a new MJX controller. That combination of parts is good for up to 560 MB/s sequential read and 530 MB/s sequential write speeds. Samsung also claims that the 860 PRO provides up to 25% better sustained performance compared to that of its predecessor (850 PRO). Samsung SSD 860 PRO Samsung SSD 860 PRO Series Features:  The model that we'll be taking a look at today is of course the Samsung SSD 860 PRO 2TB 2.5-inch model that is sold under part number MZ7KH2T0HAJR for $949. This model has an endurance rating of 2,400 TBW and features 2GB of DRAM for cache. Samsung SSD 860 PRO SATA SSD We won't be opening up this 7mm thick drive for photos as it might hurt the thermal performance as we plan on testing this drive on a new test suite down the road. Samsung was able to tell us that there are eight flash packages, 2GB of LPDDR4 memory for cache and the Samsung MJX controller. Let's take a look at some benchmarks of this drive!

The SSD Benchmark Test System & TRIM Support

Before we look at the numbers, let’s take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (version 1709 build 16299) and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. This means windows defender, windows update, disk fragmentation and everything else that would interfere with testing was disabled. Windows 10 also had the power option set to high performance and we also disabled c-states and Turbo mode on the Intel Core i5-8400 to ensure our numbers are spot on and repeatable. ASUS ROG STRIX Z370-F GAMING Motherboard The Intel Z370 platform that we used to test the storage drives was based around the ASUS ROG STRIX Z370-F Gaming motherboard with BIOS 0606  that came out on January 4th, 2018. We used Intel Chipset Driver v10.1.1.45, Intel Management Engine Interface v11.7.0.1045 and Intel RST v15.9.0.1015 drivers. This is important to point out as they include some of the fixes for Meltdown and Spectre design flaws that have recently rocked the PC Market. The Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 16GB 3200MHz memory kit was run with CL15 memory timings and a Samsung SSD 850 PRO 512GB SATA SSD was used as the primary drive.

Intel Z370 Test Bench

Intel LGA 1151 Test Platform
Component Brand/Model Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Core i5-8400

Motherboard

ASUS STRIX Z370-F Gaming

Memory

Corsair Vengeange LPX 3200MHz 16GB

OS Drive

Samsung 850 PRO 512GB

Power Supply

Corsair RM850x

Operating System

Windows 10 64-Bit

CrystalDiskInfo 7.5.1 Readout:

The readout on CrystalDiskInfo 7.5.1 shows that the Samsung SSD 860 PRO series supports S.M.A.R.T., NCQ, TRIM and DevSleep. The drive we received had firmware version RVM01B6Q installed and that is the version that we used for general testing and benchmarking. The overall capacity shows up as 1.86 TB on the Samsung SSD 860 PRO 2TB SATA III SSD in Windows 10 version 1709. Please remember that 1GB = 1,000,000,000 bytes. A certain portion of capacity may be used for system file and maintenance use, thus the actual available capacity may differ from the labeled total capacity. Does The Samsung SSD 860 PRO SATA III SSD Series Support Trim?  Most SSDs today support the TRIM command, but we still run a quick test to ensure that the command is being properly passed through to the SSD and being done. A great free utility called TRIMCheck can be run to ensure that TRIM is functioning properly. According to TRIMCheck v0.7 ,the Samsung SSD 860 PRO series does execute the TRIM command correctly! Let's have a look at the performance!

Anvil Storage Utilities & AIDA64

Anvil Storage Utilities 1.1.0

Along with the move to a new platform, we decided to make a change in one of the benchmarks. There's a relatively new benchmark called Anvil Storage Utilities that is in beta but close to production. It's a very powerful tool that measures performance through a variety of tests which can be customized. Since some of the tests more or less duplicate what we get from other benchmarks we use already, we decided to use the IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) testing on 4kb file sizes at a queue depth of 1, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 and 128. IOPS performance is something SSD makers tout quite a bit but we generally don't do a lot of IOPS testing because frankly a lot of users can't relate to IOPS metrics as well and it tends to be more meaningful to the enterprise/server crowd. Still, it is another performance indicator with relevance and while some drives post good MB/s numbers, their IOPS scores aren't always commensurate which this test will prove out.

Anvil SSD Benchmark with 100% Compression (incompressible data):

Benchmark Results: The Anvil SSD Benchmark showed that with 100% compression (incompressible data) the Samsung SSD 860 PRO 2TB SATA drive was able to achieve a score of 5,368.90 points with 529 MB/s read and 496 MB/s write speeds when it comes to the measured sequential performance with 4MB file sizes. 

Anvil SSD Applications Benchmark at 46% Compression:

Benchmark Results: With the compression at 46% to help mimic real world applications better we found the overall score dropped slightly down to 5,349.11 points.  Benchmark Results: We used Anvil to check the 4K Random Read performance and found we topped out at 98,900 IOPS using the 46% compression preset that best matches typical applications.  The Samsung SSD 860 PRO is rated as having a maximum 4K Random Read IOPS of up to 100K at QD32 and we are very close to that! The QD1 to QD4 performance numbers are commonly used and the Samsung 860 PRO series showed impressive performance gains over the previous 850 PRO and 850 EVO drives that we compared it against.  Benchmark Results: When it came to 4K Random Write performance, the Samsung 860 PRO 2TB drive topped out at 86,900 IOPS at QD16 and hit 86,000 IOPS at QD32. That is just below the drives rated 90k IOPS for maximum 4K Random Write QD32 performance. 

AIDA64 Disk Benchmark

We've had some people ask for AIDA64 linear write tests to be done, so we fired that utility up and found that with the standard 8MB block size. When you take a look at extended sustained write performance over the course of nearly 30 minutes that wrote over 580 GB of data to the drive we saw no performance drop over this period of time. This is a very hard on a drive and most people will never write over 500GB to a drive without a break.  The write speeds topped out at 502 MB/s with the lows reaching down to 499 MB/s. The average speed is right around 501 MB/s, so very solid performance from this 2bit MLC drive.

ATTO & CrystalDiskMark

ATTO v3.05

ATTO is one of the oldest drive benchmarks still being used today and is still very relevant in the SSD world. ATTO measures transfers across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and places the data into graphs that can be very easily interpreted. The test was run with the default runs of 0.5KB through 64MB transfer sizes with the total length being 256MB.

ATTO - Samsung SSD 860 PRO 2TB:

Benchmark Results: ATTO showed the Samsung SSD 860 PRO 2TB drive reaching speeds of up to 564 MB/s read and 534 MB/s write in the standard overlapped I/O benchmark. This drive is rated at up to 560 MB/s max sequential read and 530 MB/s max sequential write, so we exceeded both of those scores on our test platform. We did notice that the read score was lower than the write score at 8 KB and this anomaly was repeatable on other platforms.  Benchmark Results: Compared to some other SATA III SSDs we can quickly see that there isn't much difference with regards to sequential read/write performance.     

CrystalDiskMark 6.0.0 x64

CrystalDiskMark is a small benchmark utility for drives and enables rapid measurement of sequential and random read/write speeds. Note that CDM only supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with a queue depth of 32 (as noted) and shows the highest score of five runs.

CystalDiskmark - Samsung SSD 860 PRO 2TB:

Benchmark Results: The Samsung SSD 860 PTO 2TB drive reached 563MB/s read and 532 MB/s write in the standard sequential write test and Random 4K performance was 44.85 MB/s read and 110.2 MB/s write.  Let's look at some other benchmarks!

AS SSD Benchmark

AS-SSD (2.0.6485.19676) Benchmark:

We have been running the AS-SSD Benchmark app for over some time now and found that it gives a broad result set. The programmer has worked very hard on this software and continues to make updates often so if you use it, show him some love and send him a donation. There are now three tests that are found within the tool and we'll show the results from all three of them.

AS SSD - Samsung SSD 860 PRO 2TB:

Benchmark Results: On AS SSD, the Samsung SSD 860 PRO 2TB drive had an overall score of 1,220 points with sequential read speeds of 529 MB/s and 499 MB/s write. 

AS SSD  Copy - Samsung SSD 860 Pro 2TB:

Benchmark Results: The copy benchmark test results were on par with what one expects from a SATA III SSD with speeds ranging from 481 MB/s in the program and game tests to 545 MB/s in the ISO benchmark. These are impressive results for a high-end SATA SSD!  Benchmark Results: We are big fans of the copy benchmark tests, so we charted the 860 PRO against the 850 EVO, 850 PRO and Toshiba TR200 to see how it performs. It led in the ISO and Program test cases, but fell slightly behind in the Game copy test.  

AS SSD  Compression - Samsung SSD 860 PRO 2TB:

Benchmark Results: For this benchmark chart you would ideally want to see a straight line as you don’t want any compression performance loss as the test goes from 0% compressible to 100% compressible data during the benchmark test period. The Samsung SSD 860 PRO 2TB had virtually no dips on the write side and only showed one performance drop on the read side.

Final Thoughts & Conclusions

The Samsung 850 PPR and 850 EVO were the first consumer Solid State Drives (SSDs) with V-NAND technology and went on to be some of the best selling SATA III SSDs drives. Samsung believes that the new 860 PRO and 860 EVO will be even better due to improvements in speed, reliability, compatibility and increased capacities. Samsung made these advances by switching over to the latest 512 Gb and 256 Gb 64-layer V-NAND Flash memory, utilizing up to 4GB of LPDDR4 DRAM and using the new MJX controller. Our testing shows that the 860 PRO 2TB that we have tested today, is one of the best SATA III SSDs that we have ever tested. We topped drives rated 560 MB/s sequential read and 530 MB/s sequential write speeds and came close to matching the drives 100k 4K Random IOPS performance target. This is certainly a refined SATA III drive in a market that has felt done for a number of years since SATA III has a theoretical bandwidth limitation of 600 MB/s and we've been hitting that performance wall for years. Samsung SSD 860 PRO Retail Box When it comes to reliability, Samsung drives are widely regarded as the best around and they are doubling down with the 860 PRO series. Samsung has roughly 8x increased the Total Bytes Written (TBW) on the 860 PRO over the 850 PRO! They top that off with a 5-year limited warranty, so you have some good peace of mind here. We should point out that the Samsung SSD 850 PRO series has a longer 10-year limited warranty, but lower TBW ratings. The argument between having a longer warranty length in years versus a higher TBW rating has been going on for some time and it looks like Samsung is trying to focus on a better TBW rating this time around. The 860 PRO 2TB model that we looked at today has a 2400TBW rating, so over a course of 5-years (1,825 days) you could write just over 1.3 TB of data to the drive per day! If you have a heavy daily workload that you need to run on a consumer level SSD the 860 PRO series specifications should give you confidence that you'll get many years of reliable service. That Samsung 2bit MLC 64-layer V-NAND looks like it is some good stuff!

Samsung SSD 860 PRO SATA Pricing 

When it comes to pricing the Samsung 860 PRO 2TB model that we looked at today is $949.99 or about $0.47 per GB. For those that want more storage space there is the 860 PRO 4TB model, but you'll need to cough up $1,899.99 or $0.47 per GB for that model as well. The 4TB model is price well over what most will pay for an SSD, but if you need tons of storage space on a PC, laptop, workstation or NAS you might be in need of something like that. Samsung says the 860 PRO 4TB will hold 114 hours and 30 minutes of 4K Ultra HD video. At $1,900 you are looking at $16.59 per hour of video footage. Doesn't sound that bad when you do the math like that! The Samsung SSD 860 PRO series is easily recommended and is our top choice for a SATA SSD for those looking for the best money can buy. LR Editors' Choice Legit Bottom Line: Samsung raises the bar yet again for what one can expect from SATA SSDs with the 860 PRO series!