Samsung 860 QVO 1TB Review
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The evolution of SSDs differs a great deal from that of other key components, such as CPUs and GPUs. In those and other areas, we are used to a steady march forward. New production processes are commonly thought to improve performance and efficiency continuously. Solid state drives and NAND Flash memory is a bit more complex in that regard.
The NAND Evolution Paradox
All other things being equal, a smaller production process (as measured in nanometers), results in worse durability and performance – and adding bits per cell (from SLC, via MLC and TLC to QLC) exacerbates these problems at an exponential rate. This article explains the background in more detail. Basically, it’s a cost-cutting exercise involving some very sophisticated engineering. The reasons are mainly to use the higher densities to lower the production cost. In time, this should lead to even lower prices on QLC drives than today’s budget TLC SSDs.
In any event, it’s now 2019 and SSDs that use quad-level cell (QLC) NAND are not only widely available but often perform better than MLC drives did ten years ago, even if they’re literally not created equal. Samsung’s 860 QVO is one of the first SSDs to target the large market for consumer 2.5″ SATA drives. At this writing, Samsung is still mostly competing with its own EVO and PRO models, so pricing is not overly competitive. There are also 2TB and 4TB capacities, but here we’ll take a look at the entry-level, 1TB model.
860 QVO Vs. EVO Vs. PRO
Last update on 2019-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The specs indicate that there’s not much of a difference in performance between the QVO and the EVO/PRO. But once the 860 QVO runs out of SLC-mode cache – or Intelligent TurboWrite, as Samsung calls its implementation – write speeds will drop to mechanical hard drive speeds at around 80 MB/s. This is a rare occurrence in end-user systems though, as it will take many minutes of sustained writes to get there.
What might be more important for most potential buyers is the 860 QVO’s endurance and warranty terms, as both are well below the higher-end alternatives. Endurance is unlikely to be an issue for most users, even in the event that the 860 QVO is used as a system drive. The 360 TBW rating equals about 0.3 drive writes per day (DWPD) throughout the warranty period, which is extremely unlikely to happen in any situation that this drive is intended for.
However, there’s no escaping the fact that the warranty period is shorter and that real-world performance will not be on par with the 860 EVO (TLC NAND) or the high-end 860 PRO, one of the last remaining MLC drives on the consumer market.
860 QVO Benchmarks
Anvil’s Storage Utilities
Anvil’s Storage Utilities is a comprehensive benchmark that measures all the key aspects of an SSD, including access times, transfer rates and IOPS, with a focus on 4K chunks of data.
AS SSD Benchmark
The AS SSD benchmark measures sequential read and write speeds using incompressible data. Here, we see again that the sequential read and write speeds are not overly impressive, but still within the margin of error of what can be expected.
At the default settings, CrystalDiskMark (CDM) uses random data, but you can also use compressible data (0Fill). Samsung’s MJX controller has no problems with either. In CDM, the 860 QVO’s sequential results are really impressive – exceeding the rated read/write specs by far at more than 560 MB/s and 530 MB/s, respectively.
For anyone looking for a competent SSD with a decent capacity and a price tag to match, the 1TB Samsung 860 QVO will be a tempting option. The 860 QVO performs better than many TLC-based drives, and even some of the older MLC ones. However, considering the cheaper and less durable NAND, it wouldn’t hurt if it was even more affordable compared to the 860 EVO and PRO. At its current price, it’s therefore also tempting to spend a little extra for an 860 EVO.
Samsung has an excellent track record in terms of reliability, but it’s still unfortunate that the warranty is three years instead of the usual five. Prices could fall further once there are more QLC-based competitors to the QVO on the market.
The 1TB Samsung 860 QVO is a solid mainstream SATA SSD that offers more than decent performance. However, at the current prices and lack of competition in the QLC SATA segment, the 860 EVO may look more attractive.
- Good SATA performance
- Samsung's reliability track record
- Decent endurance for a QLC drive
- 3-year warranty
- Not inexpensive enough