Back in December, Samsung launched the 850 EVO series of SSDs in the standard 2.5” form factor. Along with the 850 PRO, these were the first SSDs to utilize Samsung’s new 32-layer 3D V-NAND technology. When combined with Samsung’s TurboWrite technology, the 850 EVO’s can attain some amazing data transfer speeds. Samsung is now expanding its lineup of 850 EVO form factors to include M.2 and mSATA versions. We just recently published a review of the M.2 version, and today we have on hand both 120GB and 1TB models of the mSATA 850 EVO to give a testing bench test drive.
The mSATA form factor has been out for a good bit now, and we are already seeing laptops with mSATA drives or slots, and desktop motherboards that include an mSATA slot. Alternatively, there are a number of adapters available that allow you to add an mSATA drive to your system via an empty PCIe slot (although such cards only use the slot as a means to anchor the card, and are not electrically connected to any PCIe lanes – the card has standard SATA power and data connections, and connects to one of your motherboard’s SATA ports). Before they became available in larger capacities, we were seeing a number of smaller capacity versions being utilized as caching drives, utilizing caching software such as NVELO’s Dataplex (NVELO is now owned by Samsung). Now then, let’s dive into the testing and analysis of the 120GB and 1TB mSATA 850 EVO SSDs.
SPECIFICATIONS, PRICING AND AVAILABILITY
The Samsung 850 EVO mSATA form factor is being offered in four capacities – 120GB ($79.99), 250GB ($129.99), 500GB ($229.99), and 1TB ($449.99). The 120GB, 250GB and 500GB all utilize Samsung’s MGX NAND controller, while the 1TB version utilizes their MEX NAND controller – all are paired with Samsung’s 32-layer TLC 3D V-NAND. According to the specs on Samsung’s 850 EVO mSATA product page, the 850 EVO mSATA attains sequential read speeds of (up to) 540MB/s, with sequential write speeds of (up to) 520MB/s. Random 4K (QD1) read speeds are stated as (up to) 10,000 IOPS, with random 4K (QD1) write speeds at (up to) 40,000 IOPS. Moving to random 4K reads with a queue depth of 32 (QD32), the spec is (up to) 97,000 IOPS (120GB model only – 95,000 IOPS), and random 4K (QD32) writes are at (up to) 88,000 IOPS for all capacities.
The 850 EVO comes with AES 256-bit Full Disk Encryption (FDE), TCG/Opal V2.0 compliance, and support for Encrypted Drive (IEEE1667), which can be easily activated with instructions from within Samsung’s Magician software. DevSleep (device sleep) mode is also offered to enhance lowered power consumption. Samsung will be updating their Magician software to version 4.6 soon, in which Rapid Mode can be enabled for this SSD. Furthermore, TRIM is supported when there is OS support. These drives feature S.M.A.R.T. drive health and monitoring attributes and garbage collection, and are covered by a five year warranty. Among the value and mainstream-tiered SSDs a five year warranty is pretty nice compared to most that have only a three year warranty.
PACKAGING AND COMPONENTS
The box that the SSD ships in is a very clean white design. This makes the green and black mSATA SSD and the lettering on the front stand out against the blank background. The back is mostly gray, white, and black, drawing your attention back to the front and the distinct color graphics showing off the Samsung mSATA 850 EVO SSD. As is typical for Samsung, the overall packaging is very professional and eye catching.
Also included in the package is a combination warranty coverage summary and user manual. As our review samples were early production drives, the packaging indicated that the 850 EVO mSATA comes with a three-year warranty; however that has since been corrected so that later packaging reflects the true five-year warranty.
Both of our review samples have a fairly standard label covering the components on the “front” side of the mSATA SSDs. These labels indicate part number, model number, serial number, capacity, voltage ratings, icons indicating compliance with various standards, as well as both bar codes and QR codes.
Looking at the “rear” of the 850 EVO mSATA SSDs, we see that the Samung “3D V-NAND” sticker is covering two NAND chips on the 1TB model (on the left), while there are none on the 120GB model (on the right).
Above are the controllers for the mSATA 850 EVOs, 120GB left and 1TB right. The controller utilized on the 120GB model (as well as for the 250GB and 500GB versions) is Samsung’s dual core MGX controller. The 1TB model, however, utilizes Samsung’s three core MEX controller.
The 120GB 850 EVO mSATA SSD utilizes a 512MB LPDDR3 SDRAM chip, which is also used on the 250GB and 500GB models. The 1TB 850 EVO mSATA SSD utilizes a 1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM chip.
Looking at the image above to the left, we see the 3D V-NAND chips of the 120GB model, which are laser-stenciled as “SEC 443”. There are only two 64GB NAND packages on the PCB of the 120GB model. Once formatted there is 112GB of usable space. To the right we see the higher capacity 3D V-NAND chips of the 1TB model, which are laser-stenciled as “SEC 446”. There are four 256GB NAND packages on the PCB of this model and once formatted there is 931GB of usable space.