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Samsung 870 EVO Review

Consistency is King

Matthew Keith Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

Whether you're a PC, console, or mobile gamer, nothing is more frustrating than purchasing a new title, hitting the install button and getting the error message that you need more storage. Thankfully in recent years, we have seen a boom in the many ways we can store data and, more importantly, our favorite games. 

I recently had the new Samsung 870 EVO SSD find its way to my PC and spent some time benchmarking, transferring files and running games over and over just to see how the latest addition to the EVO line holds up. So grab that coffee kick back and check out our review of the Samsung 870 EVO SSD. 

Specifications

  • Pricing: 
    • 250GB: $39.99
    • 500GB: $69.99
    • 1TB: $129.99
    • 2TB: $249.99
    • 4TB: $479.99
  • Interface: SATA 6Gbps
  • Form Factor: 2.5-inch
  • Storage Memory: Samsung V-NAD 3-bit MLC (TLC)
  • Controller: Samsung Controller
  • DRAM: 
    • 4GB LPDDR4 (4TB)
    • 2GB LPDDR4 (2TB)
    • 1GB LPDDR4 (1TB)
    • 512MB LPDDR4 (250/500GB)
  • Capacity: 4TB, 2TB, 1TB, 500GB, 250GB
  • Sequential Read/Write Speed: Up to 560/530 MB/s
  • Random Read/Write Speed: Read 98k, Write 88K IOPS
  • Management Software: Samsung Magician

Not Your Grandpa’s SSD

Much like its predecessors the 870 EVO looks and feels solid and durable. To be honest, the look hasn’t changed much since the line was first introduced but it really doesn’t need to: What’s important here is what’s happening on the inside, not the shell.

This latest SSD features Samsungs improved V-NAND and controller, allowing it to push the 870 to faster read/write speeds. As the specs sheets suggest the 870 EVO is capable of faster read and write speeds of and 530MB/s respectively. This coupled with a larger SLC cache (essentially the cells that store data), allows the SSD to maintain these peek speeds without breaking a sweat.

The 870 EVO also boasts a significant sustained performance boost over the 860 as well as higher endurance noted with a larger TBW (Terabytes Written) lifespan. In the case of the 2TB that I’ve been testing, it’s rated for 1,200 TBW, which if you do that math, is a lot of file transfers for a standard consumer SSD -- that’s 500 GB a day for more than six and a half years.

The new EVO also comes with new and improved Samsung Magician software. This powerful software suite handles everything from measuring drive performance on any drive (internal and external) connected to your system to displaying drive diagnostics. Slap in some great encryption and secure erase features and the Magician is a sweet toolkit to help you maintain the drives in your PC. 

In the Lab

After much science-ing, I can say without a doubt that the claims Samsung makes about its latest entry are founded and grounded. After running multiple benchmarks, I saw consistent read speeds around the 530MB/s mark with a few peaks hitting 560MB/s. Similarly, on the write side of the benchmarks, there was an average of about 510MB/s with a few tests hitting the 530MB/s mark. 

For comparisons, I ran the same benchmarks on my 850 EVO. While there were some similarities in read speeds the write speeds were dramatically slower on the older 850 which although expected, I was surprised at just how dramatic the difference was. Even when compared to the WD SSD that I purchased earlier this year, the 870 EVO still managed to push ahead slightly on both read and write. 

One of the most interesting observations made during the benchmark however was the consistently high-speed rates the 870 could maintain. This of course is made possible by Samsung’s new Intelligent TurboWrite tech that constantly measures and maintains read/write speeds. 

Rubber Meet Road

As fun as running endless benchmark tests and comparing numbers are, they really only tell part of the story. It’s in everyday situations where tech really gets tested. So to help produce this kind of rigorous real-life testing the only solution I could think of was to play lots and lots of video games… for science. 

Joking aside I spent a few hours moving large files back and forth both to the new 870 EVO as well as the existing 850 EVO. The difference was impressive. Moving an entire game folder like World of Warcraft (71.3GB) or Doom Eternal(55.7GB) was a dramatically different experience between the drives. In the case of the former moving the data to the 870 was a process that took 2:30 min whereas on the 850 it clocked in at 10:20 min which incidentally is just enough time to make a coffee and grab a muffin from my kitchen. Moving Doom Eternal was a similar experience with the 870 clocking in at just under 2:00 min while the 850 came in at almost 5:00 min. 

In regards to writing speeds, the 870 maintained a consistent 510MB/s for the duration of both transfers. The 850 on the other hand struggled to maintain a consistent transfer rate and averaged about 115MB/s for both transfers. This further reinforces Samsungs claims of a new and improved V-NAND and controller producing a higher consistent write speed. In a real-life setting, there is a measurable difference.

On the read side of the testing, things like accessing multiple files at once, running several programs installed on the 870 at the same time, and general multitasking handled much better than on my other SSDs. This was a bit harder to empirically test but there was a notable difference when opening multiple documents, accessing multiple video files or loading multiple productivity software at the same time.

What was most impressive though, was the consistency of the data transfer rates. Once the drive came up to full write speeds it maintained those for the duration of the write time. In fact, I kept checking to see if there were any dips in transfer rates and impressively there really were not. As a result, eta on remaining time was much more accurate and consistent.

But I’m A Gamer

The big question here though is what does this mean for gamers. Do these faster write speeds make a huge difference with load times in-game? Unfortunately not; most of the “load time” you experience has more to do with your read speeds. While the write times were impressively faster, the read speeds are really only marginally better in the context of gaming. Still incredibly fast but not much faster than other SSDs on the market. 

As previously mentioned the improved read times only really impact accessing multiple pieces of data at the same time. In the case of gaming, where most of your resource is poured into that one major task, the differences in-game are marginal.    

To test this I installed both WoW and Doom Eternal on both the 850 and 870. I timed both the initial load time to the menu as well as a level load time for each game. The results were almost identical with both drives; as in I was measuring the difference in milliseconds. This is by no means a slight against the 870 EVO, the drive performs like a champ, you just won’t see it much while playing a game.

Where you will see it, however, is in those large file transfers, install times and in daily read/write experiences. When you couple that with the consistently high write speed, the 870 EVO is an amazingly versatile drive for the everyday consumer and gamer alike.

Final Thoughts

The Samsung 870 EVO is a solid SSD for gamers and everyday users. It offers consistently fast read and write speeds, an impressive 1,200 TBW and comes in a host of sizes to meet your storage needs. In regards to durability, I’ve been running my 850 EVO for just over 5 years and it’s still going strong. Couple all this together with the impressive and free Magician software and you’ve got a great solution for your storage needs. Currently, the 870 MSRP is $39.99 for the 250GB, $69.99 for the 500GB, $129.99 for the 1TB, $249.99 for the 2TB and $479.99 for the 4TB. At the end of the day, the Samsung 870 EVO maintains its spot as one of the top-tier SSD for its class.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.
9.0Amazing
Pros
  • Consistently high read/write speeds
  • Historically excellent reliability and outstanding endurance ratings
  • Better multitasking experience
  • Magician Software is powerful
Cons
  • Would have been nice to see faster read speeds for individual files


Nexfury

Matthew Keith

Hailing from the Great White North, Matt's been playing games since the Sega Master System was new. About 20 minutes after picking up his first controller he discovered he had an opinion on the matter. Ever since he has been looking for ways to share it with others! Matt's a pastor, gamer, writer, geek, co-host of @Rollthelevel podcast, husband, father, and loving every minute of it!