Model: Samsung 860 QVO 1TB Solid State Drive
Manufacturer: Samsung Electronics
Provided By: Samsung America
Samsung Electronics has been a leader in the electronics industry for more than 30 years. Since the introduction of their first television in 1970, this Korean company has grown to become one of the world's leading electronics manufacturers, offering everything from tiny semiconductors to large home appliances. Samsung is no stranger to the storage industry either. Along with an assortment of DVD and Blu-ray Disc drives, the company offers both hard drive and flash based storage solutions for the portable and desktop computer markets.
The latest addition to Samsung's already impressive line of solid state drives is the 860 QVO (Quality and Value Optimized). This new consumer-oriented drive is powered by Samsung's proven MJX controller and is available with up to 4TB of their latest 4-bit MLC V-NAND flash. To compensate for the slow write speeds typically associated with 4-bit (QLC) NAND, the 860 QVO is equipped with Samsung's Intelligent TurboWrite technology, which uses a large SLC buffer to accelerate sequential write speeds. The drive also features an AES 256-bit hardware-based encryption engine and is compliant with various advanced security management solutions such as TCG Opal 2.0 and Encrypted Drive (IEEE-1667).
The 860 QVO is available in 1TB, 2TB and 4TB capacities. For this review, Samsung sent us the 1TB version of the drive, which is capable of delivering up to 550 MB/s sequential read and 520 MB/s sequential write speeds as well as up to 96,000 random read and 89,000 random write IOPS.
Needless to say, this is only a taste of what the 860 QVO has to offer. To give you an idea of what to expect, we'll take a closer look at Samsung's new SATA SSD and then see how well it performs. Does the 860 QVO have what it takes? Can it deliver the performance and features that we've come to expect from Samsung? Keep reading as we find out.
The 860 PRO comes in a small black and yellow box. While there aren't a lot of details on the front, the back of the box advertises some of the drive's key features including its V-NAND technology and 3 year warranty. Inside, you'll find the SSD as well as a small installation guide and warranty statement.
Like Samsung's other 2.5-inch SSDs, the 860 QVO is very well constructed. The drive's outer casing is made entirely out of aluminum and is very strong and lightweight. Instead of the black and red color scheme found on the 860 PRO, the 860 QVO is dark gray in color. The Samsung logo and square have also been "blacked out", which adds to the drive's already stealthy look.
Like the 860 EVO and 860 PRO, the 860 QVO uses Samsung's new MJX controller. The company hasn't provided a lot of specifics regarding the controller's technical specs. However, they have stated that in addition to providing faster communication with the host system, the MJX provides much wider compatibility with other devices. This includes improved queued trim which enhances Linux compatibility.
For the 1TB version of the 860 QVO, Samsung used their own 4-bit MLC V-NAND flash chips. Looking at the pictures above, you can see that there is a single 1TB NAND flash package on the top of the PCB. The drive also has a 1GB LPDDR4 DRAM memory chip that is used for caching.
The Samsung Magician software is designed to help users easily manage the health and performance of their Samsung SSD. From the main screen, users can check the condition of their drives and view information like the firmware, total capacity and the total bytes written. With the 860 QVO, the screen also shows whether or not AHCI is activated as well as the speed of the SATA interface its connected to.
From the main screen, users can also enable RAPID (Real-time Accelerated Processing of I/O Data) Mode. When enabled, RAPID mode is inserted as a filter driver in the Windows storage stack. The driver actively monitors all storage-related activity between and among the operating system, user applications and the SSD. The RAPID technology analyzes system traffic and leverages spare system resources (DRAM and CPU) to deliver read acceleration through intelligent caching of hot data and write optimization through tight coordination with the SSD.
Using Magician, users can check to see if there are any compatibility issues between their Samsung SSD and system. The software also provides information about a user's system including the OS, CPU, amount of memory and the model and BIOS version of the motherboard.
Samsung's Magician software can also be used to benchmark the performance of a storage device. Looking at the screenshot below, you can see that it tests the sequential and random read and write performance of a drive.
Magician also gives users the ability to improve the performance of their drive by forcing TRIM to run. In addition, users can optimize the performance and lifespan of their SSD by setting aside extra free space.
The Secure Erase feature provides the option to delete all data on an SSD in a way that it can never be recovered, restoring the drive to its original performance. Magician gives you the option to do this from within Windows. Otherwise, if your SSD is in a frozen state, you can create a bootable USB drive.
Last, but not least, you have the Data Security feature. From here, users can check to see which security settings have been enabled and read about these features.
The test system used in this review is equipped with an Intel Core i7-6700K CPU, GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-UD3 motherboard, 32GB (16GB x 2) of Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 memory, Samsung 960 PRO 512GB SSD and a GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1060 WINDFORCE OC 6G graphics card. For the operating system, I installed a fresh copy of Windows 10 Enterprise.
To test the performance of Samsung's 860 QVO SSD, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark, HD Tach RW, ATTO Disk Benchmark, AS SSD, HD Tune Pro, Anvil's Storage Utilities, Iometer and PCMark 8. For comparison, I've also included test results from the Samsung 860 PRO, Crucial MX500, Plextor M8V, Crucial BX300, ADATA Ultimate SU900, Plextor S3C, Toshiba OCZ VX500, ADATA Ultimate SU800, Plextor S2C, Crucial MX300, Plextor M7V, PNY CS1311, OCZ Trion 150, PNY CS2211, Plextor M6V, Crucial BX200, OCZ Trion 100, Kingston HyperX Savage, Crucial MX200, OCZ Vector 180, Kingston BX100, Samsung 850 EVO M.2, Samsung 850 EVO mSATA, AMD Radeon R7, Silicon Power Slim S80, Samsung SSD 850 EVO, OCZ ARC 100, SanDisk Ultra II, Crucial MX100, SanDisk Extreme Pro and Samsung SSD 850 PRO.
As I mentioned earlier, the 860 QVO uses Samsung's MJX controller chip. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that it performs equally well with both incompressible (0%) and compressible (100%) data.
First, I ran a few quick tests using CrystalDiskMark. This benchmark tool measures the performance of a storage device by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its random read and write speeds using blocks 512K and 4K in size.
According to Samsung, the 1TB version of the 860 QVO is capable of reading at 550 MB/s and writing at 520 MB/s when tested with CrystalDiskMark. While the drive had no problems reaching its rated read speed, it came up a bit short in CrystalDiskMark's sequential write speed test.
The 860 QVO performed equally well when using highly compressible 0x00 (0 Fill) data. This time around, the drive was able to read at 558.6 MB/s and write at 516.0 MB/s.
HD Tach RW 188.8.131.52:
Next, I used HD Tach to test the 860 QVO's read, write and burst speeds as well as its seek times and CPU usage.
Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the 860 QVO had average read and write speeds of 466.3 MB/s and 98.5 MB/s respectively, as well as a burst speed of 421.2 MB/s. The screenshot also shows the transition from TurboWrite to what Samsung calls "After TurboWrite" speeds. The 860 QVO starts writing at about 450 MB/s and then drops to a mere 80 MB/s when the consecutive write operation exceeds the size of the SLC buffer.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the 860 QVO's sequential read and write speeds. The tests are run using blocks ranging in size from 0.5KB to 8192KB and the total length set to 256MB.
When tested with ATTO, the 860 QVO's read speeds topped out at about 560 MB/s and its write speeds at 524 MB/s.
AS SSD is a benchmark designed specifically for solid state drives. The application contains five synthetic tests which are used to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of a drive.
AS SSD also includes a copy benchmark. This test copies an ISO (two large files), program (many small files) and game (small and large files), returning the speed and duration of each.
HD Tune Pro 5.00:
Next, I ran a series of tests using HD Tune Pro. This hard disk utility measures a drive's performance by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its access time, burst rate and CPU usage. For this review, I'm also going to use it to benchmark the 860 QVO's random read and write speeds, random access times and the number of operations per second.
The 860 QVO performed relatively well when benchmarked with HD Tune. The drive had average read and write speeds of 516.6 MB/s and 254.3 MB/s, respectively, and a burst rate of 76.2 MB/s when reading.
When reading 4KB blocks, the 860 QVO reached 25,716 IOPS and had an average speed of 100.456 MB/s. The drive was faster when writing, reaching 27,008 IOPS with an average speed of 105.500 MB/s.
Anvil's Storage Utilities:
Anvil's Storage Utilities is another new benchmark designed with SSDs in mind. The standard storage benchmark measures a drive's performance by testing its transfer speeds, access times and IOPS.
Lastly, I ran a series of tests using Iometer. This tool can be configured to benchmark a number of things. In this case, I used it to measure the 860 QVO's read and write speeds and the number of operations per second. The tests were run using random bytes and a queue depth of 3.
The 860 QVO's performance was very similar to what we saw in our other tests. The drive was able to read at 534.10 MB/s and write at 500.23 MB/s.
The 860 QVO's random read and write performance was hit and miss when tested with Iometer. While the drive was able to write at an impressive 342.10 MB/s, its read speed averaged out at only 76.82 MB/s.
According to Samsung, the 1TB 860 QVO is capable of 96,000 IOPS when reading and 89,000 IOPS when writing 4K blocks. In our tests, the drive reached 19,666 random read IOPS and 87,577 random write IOPS. Increasing the queue depth had little impact on the 860 QVO's random write performance. However, with the queue depth set to 32, the drive was able to reach 36,568 random read IOPS.
Vantage PCMark 8 - Storage Test:
PCMark 8 is a complete benchmark for Windows. It includes five benchmark tests, each designed around a specific scenario. The storage benchmark measures drive performance using real-world traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and a selection of popular games.
PCMark 8 also includes a consistency test which measures the performance consistency and degradation tendency of a storage system. The test reports the performance level at the start, the degraded steady-state, and the recovered state as well as the number of iterations required to reach them. For this test, we are focusing on the Adobe Photoshop (Heavy) trace and will look at both the bandwidth and latency of the drive
The 860 QVO's performance was hit in miss in this test. During the degradation and steady phases, the drive's bandwidth dropped below 100 MB/s, pushing its latency well above the 400ms mark. The 860 QVO recovered quickly though, jumping back up to 300 MB/s.
While SSDs offer many benefits, there are some downsides to using flash memory. One of the biggest issues people run into is performance degradation. Over time, an SSD will run out of fresh blocks and will have to write over data the file system has marked as deleted. This procedure is very complicated and can slow an SSD's write speeds considerably.
To fix this problem, most manufacturers have added TRIM support to their SSDs. The TRIM command allows an operating system, such as Windows 7, to tell an SSD which data blocks are no longer in use. Using this information, the drive pro-actively erases these blocks and adds them to the free block pool.
To test the 860 QVO's TRIM function, I first put the drive in a "dirty" state. I used Iometer to fill the entire drive and then ran a random write test for 30 minutes. Looking at the screenshot below, you can see that the 860 QVO's average read and write speeds dropped to 300.1 MB/s and 15.4 MB/s, respectively.
Samsung 860 QVO - Dirty
To see how well the 860 QVO could recover, I let the computer sit for about 30 minutes and then reran the test. The drive wasn't able to reach the factory fresh performance shown in our earlier tests. However, its average write speed jumped up to 325.3 MB/s.
Samsung 860 QVO - After Trim
Lastly, I used Parted Magic to perform a secure erase on the 860 QVO. With the drive wiped clean, it had average read and write speeds of 469.3 MB/s and 498.2 MB/s, respectively.
Samsung 860 QVO - Secure Erase
High capacity SSDs are nothing new for Samsung. The company was one of the first to introduce a 1TB model and has continued to push the envelope ever since. Unfortunately, even with the 860 EVO and its 3-bit MLC V-NAND, the price of these high capacity drives has put them out of reach for most consumers. As a result, many people use a low-capacity SSD for booting and a high-capacity hard drive for data storage. Samsung is looking to change this with the 860 QVO. Built on the company's new 4-bit MLC V-NAND, the 860 QVO delivers both high capacity and performance in a single, affordable drive.
While 4-bit MLC (QLC) does let you store more data in the same physical space, this sometimes causes diminished performance. To offset this, Samsung has equipped the 860 QVO with its Intelligent TurboWrite technology. In everyday PC usage environments, the drive's performance is much like that of the 860 EVO. In our tests, the 1TB version of the 860 QVO was able to read at speeds as high as 560 MB/s and write at speeds in excess of 511 MB/s. It also had no problems holding its own in our random write tests, but, for whatever reason, lagged behind many of the other drives when doing random reads.
Of course, high capacity and performance aren't the only things the 860 QVO has to offer. Along with support for technologies like RAPID and Intelligent TurboWrite, the drive features AES 256-bit full disk encryption and is compatible with both the TCG Opal 2.0 and IEEE 1667 specifications. The drive also supports the SATA Device Sleep (DEVSLP) standard which extends the battery life of a device by reducing the drive's power consumption when it's not in use. Last, but not least, the 860 QVO is covered by a 3 year warranty with an endurance rating of up to 1,440 terabytes written (TBW) for the 4TB model.
The 860 QVO will be available on December 16, 2018, with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) starting at $149.99 for the 1TB model.
- Equipped with 4-bit MLC V-NAND technology
- Available in 1TB, 2TB and 4TB capacities
- Good sequential read and write speeds under most conditions
- Good random write performance
- Features Intelligent TurboWrite technology
- Large DRAM cache
- Supports TRIM and garbage collection
- AES 256-bit full disk encryption
- TCG Opal 2.0 and IEEE 1667 compliant
- DEVSLP power mode
- Includes SSD Magician software and Data Migration Tool
- Reasonably priced
- 5 year warranty
- Write speed drops considerably when SLC cache is full
- Lackluster random read performance
- Lower endurance than other 860 series SSDs