Samsung 850 EVO mSATA & M.2 SSD Review
Many moons ago there was an article based on solid-state memory and how it would change everything we do if they could get it to work correctly. Many were amazed at the thought of drives having no moving parts, a major reduction in size, and energy consumption. Since that time we have seen an explosion of manufacturers, capacities, NAND technology advancements, and a historic plummet in pricing per GB. So without any further delay, let’s us know about Samsung 850 EVO mSATA & M.2 SSD.
Samsung has been at the forefront of NAND development, manufacturing processes, and sells of enterprise and consumer-grade drives. There were many factors that prevented these early SSDs from being a viable replacement to platter drives, MTBF, speed, capacity, and of course cost are the most prominent.
Samsung keeps things very simple and easy to understand with even a passing glance. Make, model, size, and interface can be located within a matter of seconds when deciding if this is the correct driver for your needs.
The drive comes nestled into a plastic preform with the instructions and warranty info tucked underneath.
Specifications And Features:
- Samsung 3D V-NAND technology
- 120GB, 250GB, 500GB and 1TB capacities
- SATA but not PCIe compatible
Don’t let the picture fool you, mSATA drives are tiny with a standard dimension of only 51 x 30 x 0.8mm, compared to the diameter of a US quarter at 24.26mm. The 850 EVO SSD is able to fit in even the thinnest of notebooks, mini PCs, and portable devices while only consuming a max of 3.5w. At idle only 50mW is used and an even lower 2mW is used during sleep mode. These power savings go to keep you entertained for longer periods before recharging is required.
The Samsung MGX controller is used for the 150, 250, and 500GB models and a Samsung MEX controller for the 1TB model, both achieving the same estimated read/write of 540/520MB/s. Unlike most drives, there isn’t a variance from size to size or device to device with the 850 EVOs. Even the M.2 has almost identical specs. This may be due to Samsung reaching a ceiling on the SATA 6Gbps interface. I really don’t think we will see drives perform much faster using SATA. Time to move over to PCIe.
After the label is removed you can see the Samsung controller and V-NANDs. Surprisingly the older technology (mSATA) comes in higher capacities(1TB) at this point than the newer and sought-after M.2 drives(512GB). I am sure this will only be temporary as M.2 is positioned to take the lead in small form factor and performance boot drives in desktops.
As mentioned on the last page, almost all of the specs will match up to the full-size 850 EVO and the mSATA version EVO because of the same combination of controller and V-NANDs being used across the board.
Pricing for mSATA and M.2 drives have often been higher than their 2.5″ counterparts but Samsung appears to be placing these in a very competitive position. Both versions follow the same pricing guidelines of $79.99 for a 120GB, $129.99 for a 250GB, and $229.99 for a 500GB model. The mSATA is also available in a massive 1TB version for $449.99.
This is the only known 1TB mSATA drive available. Based on what we have seen from the EVO M.2 and mSATA combined with the price points, Samsung is driving a hard bargain that many will not be able to resist and may not want to.
NGFF(Next Generation Form Factor) AKA M.2 looks to address any of the shortcomings found in mSATA so it can take over as the interface of choice. Why one of the premiere SSDs brands on the market opted to not make the 850 EVO M.2 a PCIe variety is a mystery. There should be a version for those that want the best, the fastest, with the highest MTBF and are willing to pay for it. Maybe it is on the horizon.
M.2 SSDs come in 3 main sizes for desktops and a very wide range for portable devices. The 850 EVO M.2 is a “2280” spec SSD. Meaning it is 22mm wide and 80mm in length. Some of the other M.2 devices are 2230,2242,2260 and the longest at 22110. The additional length is needed as M.2 drives are required to have chips on only one side.
M.2 may be on its way to taking over as the preferred interface for SSD technology but that does not mean a tremendous amount of notebooks and desktops that couldn’t take advantage of the mSATA version of the 850 EVO. We were glad to see Samsung not leaving those folks behind.
The M.2 and mSATA 850 EVOs can perform on par with the 2.5″ version (Review Here) by saturating the interface. We have reached the peak of what is possible with SATA 3 at 6Gbps. These drives show off Samsung’s 3D NAND technology but do not offer anything revolutionary on the user’s end of things. We welcome more M.2 drives to a market that lacks a lot of selection.