Samsung SSD 870 EVO

Given all else it’s known for across the galaxy, Samsung is certainly no stranger to the world of internal solid-state drives (SSDs). The company continues to be a leading force in the industry, producing some of the best SSDs we’ve reviewed year in and year out. Pairing a few industry-standard features with a few more industry-leading speeds, the Samsung SSD 870 EVO (starts at $49.99; $529.99 for the 4TB version we tested) comes within inches of successfully bridging the gap between SATA and PCI Express drives with stellar results in program and game launching, as well as booting into Windows 10. Whether you need a new boot drive, a massive digital tome to store all your games (looking at you, Call of Duty: Warzone), or just a solid storage option all around, the zip-quick Samsung SSD 870 EVO is a premier option in the world of SATA SSDs, and easily wins our Editors’ Choice award as our favorite performance-minded SATA drive.

Samsung Brings Out the Big Guns

The Samsung SSD 870 EVO is a SATA SSD launched in the standard 2.5-inch form factor. It’s based on Samsung’s own V-NAND 3-bit triple-layer-cell (TLC) flash using Samsung’s in-house controller, and it’s launching in five different storage-volume sizes: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB. (Check out our SSD dejargonizer to clarify those acronyms if you need the SSD terminology breakdown.) 

Samsung has never shied away from being a premium-priced contender in the storage space, and the story is no different with the launch of the Samsung SSD 870 EVO…

Above, you can see that the 1TB Samsung SSD 870 EVO does command a higher price when compared with leading options like the 12-cent-per-gigabyte ADATA SX8200 Pro. However, that gap does tighten a bit once you get up to the 4TB version we tested, which tops out at just 13 cents per gigabyte.

Samsung rates the 4TB drive we tested to hit a sequential read speed of up to 560MBps, with sequential-write speeds topping out at 530MBps, pretty standard stuff for SATA 3.0 at this stage in the game.

Samsung SSD 870 EVO Box 2Samsung Magician software package, which continues to set the standard to which all other storage manufacturers should aspire.

Samsung Magician Drive Management SoftwareIntel Core i9-10980XE Extreme Edition CPU.

Samsung SSD 870 EVO TopGeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition as its discrete graphics card. (Read much more about how we test SSDs and what the results mean.)

PCMark 10 Overall Storage Test

First up is the overall PCMark 10 storage test, from UL, running the full storage suite. This score represents how well a drive does throughout the entire PCMark 10 run. It’s the sanctioned score presented by UL’s software at the end of each run. Next are some more granular measures derived from PCMark 10’s background “traces.” These following PCMark 10-derived tests represent a simulation of how quickly a drive is capable of launching a particular program (or, in the first case, booting Windows 10). The Windows 10 trace simulates the full Windows 10 operating system startup procedure and records how quickly the drive can feed the kind of data requested.

After that is a game-launching test set, which simulates how quickly a drive can read shallow-depth small random 4K packages; 4K is one of the more commonly used file-block sizes for game installations, though that composition does depend on the title you’re playing.

Finally, the drives are put through a very important test for creative types. As anyone who regularly works in programs like Adobe Premiere or Photoshop can tell you, a constant pinch point is the time it takes for these programs to launch. Note that the 4TB version of the drive we reviewed is at the top of the charts; we also received a 1TB sample of the SSD 870 EVO and tested that too, with the results just below the 4TB.

The numbers we saw out of the overall PCMark 10 score are quite promising, putting this SATA drive in the same leagues as M.2 PCI Express 3.0 NVMe drives like the ADATA Spectrix S40G or Crucial P2.

Going down the list, however, that’s where the similarities end. The Samsung SSD 870 EVO quickly starts to outpace those drives in the tests where it matters most, like booting Windows, loading game levels, or launching creative programs like Adobe with simulated projects housed inside.

In each of these tests, the Samsung SSD 870 EVO proved itself not only as a leader among SATA drives, but also a regular competitor with both PCIe 3.0 and PCIe 4.0-based NVMe M.2 drives. While both of those standards are great for what they do (hitting all-time sequential throughput records), their added bandwidth doesn’t always translate to better 4K random read and write scores, which is what a large percentage of SSD buyers in this category tend to care about most.

As for the PCMark 10 Copy Tests tab (the last tab in the chart above), those numbers tie in with the next test set…

Speed and Copy Tests

The PCMark 10 copy tests are also derived from PCMark 10 traces. At first, these numbers might look low compared with the straight sequential-throughput numbers achieved in benchmarks like Crystal DiskMark 6.0 and AS-SSD, charted below. But that’s due to the way this score is calculated and the nature of (and differences between) the source data sets.

Moving on from PCMark 10-derived numbers, the Crystal DiskMark 6.0 sequential tests simulate best-case, straight-line transfers of large files. Last up is a series of file and folder transfers done in the SSD benchmarking utility AS-SSD. This trio of tests involves copying large files or folders from one location on the test drive to another…

Of course, even with all those big wins in our games and programs testing, ultimately the SSD 870 EVO is still based on SATA, and SATA has a speed ceiling that even the best controllers and NAND flash in the world can’t break through.

In sequential Crystal DiskMark speeds, the SSD 870 EVO hits Samsung’s own rated spec without a sweat, while 4K results were just a bit stronger, but still a bit slower than expected when comparing the 4TB and 1TB variants of the same drive.

The drive also loses slightly to the Samsung 870 QVO in our AS-SSD copy tests, though not by enough to be perceptible to most users in real-world use.

Samsung Gives SATA a Perk-Up

While there aren’t a ton of innovations on offer with Samsung’s SSD 870 EVO, the incremental improvements that Samsung has made both to its flash technology and its controllers looks to have translated into some decent gains for the drive’s 4K random read and write performance.

Samsung SSD 870 EVO 4TB Box January 19, 2021

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