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Samsung 860 EVO, 2TB and 4TB SSDs

Samsung 860 EVO 4TB SSD

Get Samsung SSD at MacSales.com and Samsung EVO at B&H Photo. For those looking for capacious portable and ultralight storage, see the Samsung T5.

For high performance needs, see the OWC Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 series.

Thanks to B&H Photo for loaning the 2TB and 4TB Samsung 860 EVO SSD for testing. Drives tested in the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Drive Dock.

MPG reviewed the predecessor Samsung 850 EVO 2TB SSD 18 months prior to this review. Since then, Samsung upped their game. Compared to the EVO 850, the EVO 860:

  • EVO 860 is faster, hitting data rates that approach the limits of SATA III (see test results).
  • 860 EVO is rated for up to 8X more terabytes written than the 850 EVO—far more durable. For most users, the longevity is way beyond what will ever be needed.
  • 860 EVO includes a 4TB EVO 860 option.

Use cases

The Samsung 860 EVO 2TB 2.5" SSDs are (technically speaking) consumer-grade SSDs whose huge capacity holds great appeal for those looking for a lot of fast storage. Laptop users, users of devices like the OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini, etc. Its price and capacity are a terrific value for such purposes.

But don’t let ‘consumer grade” turn you off—while these are not enterprise grade SSDs, the longevity has been increased 8X over the 850 EVO (according to Samsung), and performance is outstanding for a 2.5" SATA drive.

Still, the EVO 860 SSD is not designed to take a pounding 24X7 in a server environment or extreme heavy usage environment, but rather as a device for storing a lot of data with very good performance which should last for the life of the Mac/PC (I deem that 5 years).

  • Up to 4TB Storage Capacity (250, 500, 1000, 2000, 4000 GB options)
  • SATA III 6 Gb/s Interface
  • 2.5" Form Factor
  • Up to 550 MB/s Sequential Read Speed
  • Up to 520 MB/s Sequential Write Speed
  • AES 256-Bit Hardware-Based Encryption
  • V-NAND Technology
  • Power draw: 3.0W
  • SMART and TRIM support.
  • Operating Temperature: 32 to 158°F / 0 to 70°C
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Longevity

The Samsung 860 EVO uses 3D V-NAND flash, which is not as robust as MLC flash. However, Samsung claims 8X the lifespan as compared to the EVO 850.

If that is correct, that means 8 X 40GB per day = 320GB per day X 5 years = 584 TB of write lifespan. At 500 MB/sec, that’s 13518 hours of writing ((8*40*365*5)*1000*1000/500)/(24*60*60) = 13518 hours = 563 days of continuous writing at maximum data rate.

Test results follow below.

Samsung 860 EVO 4TB SSD

Sustained transfer speed , single SSD

Performance testing by DiskTester, part of diglloydTools.
disktester fill-volume

Tested using the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Drive Dock (about $248) on the 2015 MacBook Pro.

Testing with the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Drive Dock allowed full performance (shown). With USB 3.0 and 3.1 enclosures, performance dropped by 80 to 100 MB/sec, so the Samsung 860 EVO is best used internally, or in an enclosure with Thunderbolt or a USB enclosure that allows full speed (if one exists). Quite a pity, since it fits nicely in the (2017 model) OWC Elite Pro Mini enclosure and/or the OWC Elite Pro Dual Mini (both tested and seen to be 80 to 100 MB/sec slower USB-A or USB-C).

The Samsung 860 EVO shows outstanding performance:

  • Sustained read speed is the highest that MPG has ever observed in a 2.5" SATA III SSD and not far off the theoretical maximum for SATA III (600 MB/sec).
  • Sustained write speed is also the highest that MPG has ever observed in a 2.5" SATA III SSD.
  • The difference in speed is trivial and within measurement error.
  • Variation in speed is tightly controlled, which seemingly makes the drive suitable for continuous video capture unless there is some other factor that MPG is unaware of.

This is a very very fine performance by the Samsung 860 EVO.

Samsung 860 EVO 2TB write/read: 518 / 548 MB/sec
Samsung 860 EVO 4TB write/read: 519 / 547 MB/sec

Incompressible data was also tested with the same results—no difference in performance. Test results are speeds through the macOS file system (real world).

Sustained transfer speed of 2TB and 4TB Samsung 860 EVO across entire drive capacity
in OWC Thunderbolt 2 Drive Dock, 2015 MacBook Pro

Transfer speed vs transfer size, single SSD

Performance testing by DiskTester, part of diglloydTools.
disktester run-sequential-suite --iterations 5 --test-size 4G

This is a good performance in context: SATA drives have more transaction overhead than the internal flash drives on the native PCIe bus. But it cannot compare to a PCIe flash drive as found in the iMac 5K and MacBook Pro Retina.

The 4TB model is shown with red/green for writes/reads, orange/blue for the 2TB model.

The Samsung 860 EVO shows outstanding performance (for a SATA III SSD):

  • Read speeds max-out at around 548 MB/sec, matching (within 0.4%) the 550 MB/sec seen in the fill-volume test.
  • The 4TB models writes substantially faster for 32K and 64K transfers and a little slower for 128K and 256K transfers.
  • Variation in speed is tightly controlled, which seemingly makes the drive suitable for continuous video capture unless there is some other factor that MPG is unaware of.

Incompressible data was also tested with the same results—no difference in performance. Test results are speeds through the macOS file system (real world).

Transfer speed vs transfer size of 2TB and 4TB Samsung 860 EVO
in OWC Thunderbolt 2 Drive Dock, 2015 MacBook Pro

Conclusions

The Samsung 860 EVO offers outstanding performance and a high value proposition (capacity vs price).

Get Samsung SSD at MacSales.com and Samsung EVO at B&H Photo.

Samsung 860 EVO 4TB SSD
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