Samsung has done it again, rolling out large capacity SSDs to consumers with their QLC technology that allows more bits to be crammed into each storage cell, giving you more bang for your buck. Most of the SSDs that you’ve been buying are likely TLC drives, which store 3 bits of data per cell, which is very respectable, to say the least, but it does mean that you can only fit so much data in so much physical space. Adding an entire extra bit in each cell allows Samsung to deliver 33% more storage capacity in the same form factor. But does it come at a cost? It does, but not as bad as you may think.
- MSRP: $130 ($110 Amazon)
- Capacity Reviewed: 1TB (1TB, 2TB and 4TB Available)
- Bits Per Cell: Four (Quad)
- Interface: SATA 6Gb/s, compatible with 3Gb/s & 1.5 Gb/s interface
- Sequential Read: Up to 550Mb/s
- Sequential Write: Up to 520Mb/s
- Random Read (4KB, QD32): Up to 96,000 IOPS
- Random Read (4KB, QD1) Up to 7,500 IOPS
- Random Write (4KB, QD32) Up to 89,000 IOPS
- Operating Temps: 0 - 70?
- Form Factor: 2.5” SATA III
- Dimensions: 3.94” x 2.76” x 0.27”
- Weight: 0.19lbs
Some people may claim that QLC is slower than TLC or SLC (single bit per cell) when it comes to writing the bits themselves, which isn’t true. It simply takes longer to write four bits than it does three, two, or one. While the QVO comes with a 1GB cache per 1TB of storage capacity, many of the multi-bit per cell drives make up for this by treating extra storage space as a single bit per cell space as a defacto cache of sorts, making up for write time deficiencies. This is why an SSD full to the brim and maxed on storage capacity won’t perform as well as one with free space left to use. The reason I bring this up is because the QVO has one drawback that I found, and that’s it can slow down if you transferring HUGE amount of data back to back - say downloading 40-50GB downloads back to back to back. You max out the cache and start to suffer the bottleneck of writing 4-bit cells versus three or less with previous generations of drives. I’ve been gaming and heavily using my PC for years now and it’s not something I’ve ever done so I’m unconcerned, but it is a consideration to take into account.
What it looks like after maxing out the cache on the Samsung QVO 860.
All testing was completed on an MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC w/ Ryzen 5 2600X Overclocked to 4.4Ghz on all cores. 32GB HyperX Predator 3200 DDR4, MSI 2080 Duke, ThermalTake 800W PSU, and a Kingston A1000 NVMe as the boot drive.
ATTO is one of the oldest benchmark tools around for disk testing and typically represent the best case scenario for drive performance. Using raw or compressible data, ATTO iterates different read and write scenarios on the drives ranging from 512 bytes to 64 megabytes. Consistent with other SATA SSDs we’ve tested at MMORPG.com, at 64KB we break the 500MB/s mark for write, the minimum we like to see for an SSD, with peak performance being reached by 128KB.
Crystal Disk Mark
Next up is Crystal Disk Mark, which is my preferred tool for benchmarking drives. Again, looking at best case scenarios, CrystalDiskMark allows us to look at our sequential operations. Down to brass tacks, I was a little surprised to see a higher write speed out of the QVO compared to other drives we’ve reviewed, but slower read times. I was expecting the opposite, given that writing four-bits per cell takes longer - as we discussed - but reading 4 bits from one location would be faster than reading 3 or less before needing to switch addresses. Computer wizardry strikes again!
Real World Testing
I’m including our standard real-world testing scenarios below. If you’ve read my drive reviews before you’ll recognize my standard folder transfer of The Witcher 3. I use this folder because it contains a good mix of large and small files, giving us a good example of real-world data a user might need to transfer. An average Mb/s is taken by dividing the overall time by the folder size.
The second thing we like to do at MMORPG.com is to give you an idea of how long it will take to load up your favorite MMOs! Obviously, we can’t hit them all but I like to get the most popular ones today. The load times are calculated from the character select screen until in-game with control of my character. The Samsung QVO performed incredibly well in these pure-read scenarios, outstripping the competition in quite a few cases. What we lost in write, it seems, was made up in real-world read times.
When it comes down to it, the Samsung QVO 860 bring solid, though not the best, performance to the table with a capacity to price ratio that blows the competition out of the water. While it’s not the prime choice for something like a boot drive, the QVO 860 provides the capacity, speeds, and price range to bring SSD storage to a wide range of PC users and gamers.
- Large Capacity SSD for cheap
- Respectable Read/Write Speeds
- Write speeds bottom out if the cache is maxed out
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.