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Samsung 750 EVO 120GB and 250GB 2.5" SATA SSD Full Review - The Return of 2D NAND

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction

The steady increase in flash memory capacity per die is necessary for bringing SSD costs down, but SSDs need a minimum number of dies present to maintain good performance. Back when Samsung announced their 48-layer VNAND, their Senior VP of Marketing assured me that the performance drop that comes along with the low die count present in lower capacity models would be dealt with properly. At the time, Unsoo Kim mentioned the possibility of Samsung producing 128Gbit 48-layer VNAND, but it now appears that they have opted to put everything into 256Gbit on 3D side. Fortunately they still have a planar (2D) NAND production line going, and they will be using that same flash in a newer line of low capacity models. When their 850 Series transitions over to 48-layer (enabling 2TB capacities), Samsung will drop the 120GB capacity of that line and replace it with a new OEM / system builder destined 750 EVO:

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The SSD 750 EVO Series is essentially a throwback to the 840 EVO, but without all of the growing pains experienced by that line. Samsung assured me that the same corrections that ultimately fixed the long-term read-based slow down issues with the 840 EVO also apply to the 750 EVO, and despite the model number being smaller, these should actually perform a bit better than their predecessor. Since it would be silly to just launch a single 120GB capacity to make up for the soon to be dropped 850 EVO 120GB, we also get a 250GB model, which should make for an interesting price point.

Specifications

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Baseline specs are very similar to the older 840 EVO series, with some minor differences (to be shown below). There are some unlisted specs that are carried over from the original series. For those we need to reference the slides from the 840 EVO launch:

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Read on for the full review of these two new models!

Our initial review of the 840 EVO was limited to the sampled 500GB and 1TB capacities, but this time we need to pay attention to the smaller figures. The 250GB model is still able to saturate SATA with its TurboWrite buffer, despite having a slower rated TLC speed of 270 MB/s. The further reduction in available dies of the 120GB model reduces those figures to 410 MB/s for cached writes and 140 MB/s for sustained transfers overflowing the SLC cache. Speaking of cache:

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Despite the capacity difference, both the 120GB and 250GB models come equipped with the same generous 3GB of TurboWrite cache.

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The bracketed [] numbers above are from the 850 EVO, which uses more efficient / faster 3D VNAND. Since the planar NAND used here was launched prior to that newer technology, it does not see the same power efficiency and endurance benefits. That said, 6mW DEVSLP is still nothing to sneeze at, and such a small draw has a near negligible impact on mobile standby / idle battery drain.

Packaging

Remember, Samsung is marketing the SSD 750 as an OEM / system builder drive. Our samples arrived without packaging, but Samsung passed this image along for us to include in the review:

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OEMs would be ordering these on bare trays, but this will likely be the system builder / 'white box' packaging. This is the same familiar packaging seen over the last several generations of Samsung SSDs.


February 16, 2016 | 04:15 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

it'll soon be 10 cents per gb! ;-p

February 16, 2016 | 04:44 PM - Posted by Chaitanya Shukla

I thought Samsung had decided to kill of the 120/128GB models as 250/256GB SSDs cost less than 100$.

February 16, 2016 | 06:18 PM - Posted by Bill (not verified)

I don't see the point of 120gb HDD's anymore, at least not at only $20 less than a 240gb. Sure, they are just going to be used for boot drives only, but the 240's always seem to perform better so you'd want to go that route for a boot drive anyway and reap the benefit of being able to put more of your most used apps on it.

February 16, 2016 | 06:34 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

They look ridiculous when opened up. I guess we need a different form factor for SSDs.

February 16, 2016 | 06:39 PM - Posted by Jann5s

hehe, I totally agree, 2.5" doesn't make any sense for these drives. Luckily we have m.2

February 16, 2016 | 08:41 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Yeah this is what mSATA and M.2 are for :)

February 17, 2016 | 03:30 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I am almost surprised they didn't just put an m.2 SATA device in there with a little adaptor.

February 16, 2016 | 08:20 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I don't know if I can trust Samsung after that massive Evo debacle, at least not without waiting a year or two while everyone beta-tests this drive. The three year warranty doesn't really inspire much confidence either. Kind of puts me off SSDs entirely.

February 16, 2016 | 08:45 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

I agree with you, and we will leave data on these for safe keeping / future retests, but Samsung specifically pointed out to me that the 750 EVO will not see a repeat of the slow down issue seen on the 840 EVO. I believe them for four reasons:

  • This controller carries over the same firmware tweaks that corrected the issue on the 840 EVO.
  • The 750 EVO uses a newer revision flash that would have been tweaked with any hardware changes necessary to further prevent the issue.
  • Samsung are no doubt specifically testing for this issue as part of their QC / validation.
  • A repeat of the 840 EVO issue would be extremely damaging to their reputation.
February 17, 2016 | 04:02 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have two 840 EVO 250 GB running as extra drives on this system (with an 850 EVO 500GB as system drive) and I still see the slowdown after the firmware fix. Every 3-4 months or so I have to run the Advanced Performance Optimization in Magician, the firmware itself is not enough for older files.
Now I have hammered these drives a bit using them as temp/caching for torrents etc. but still...

February 17, 2016 | 01:27 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

But who on earth would buy a 120GB SSD at today's prices? I wouldn't even touch a 250GB drive now, the cost per GB has fallen so much, but at least that should be the new entry level, just drop the 120GB unit and do the cheapskates a long term favour.

February 17, 2016 | 01:33 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

120GB actually still works when you consider typical desktop folks using mostly productivity apps, especially if they have the bulk storage handled by their home NAS. Can't disagree on that $20 difference to double the capacity though. It's almost a no brainer decision.

February 17, 2016 | 03:11 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"Lets compare those prices to what we saw for the 840 EVO launch back in July of 2014"

You mean 2013.

February 17, 2016 | 05:20 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Fixed. Thanks!

February 17, 2016 | 11:43 PM - Posted by Brian Hoyt (not verified)

Even more interesting pricing wise is launch 840 Evo 512 GB vs 950 Pro. 950 Pro is less for like 5x performance in 2.5 years. Can we get another 5x in next few years?

February 18, 2016 | 12:40 AM - Posted by Simms (not verified)

How do you feel about raid 0 with 2 (or 4 because of price) 750's

February 21, 2016 | 06:02 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

These should do just fine in RAID-0, and a 4-SSD array of these would be 1TB for $300. Also, it might actually outperform a single 950 Pro when it comes to low latencies seen in SSD RAID.

February 18, 2016 | 02:06 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I wish companies would stop cranking-out these cookie-cutter SATA-limited drives and start focusing on PCIE nvme.

I'd love to replace the slow PM951 m.2 PCIE drive that shipped in my new XPS15 with an 850 Pro, but the price per GB is still too high.

Some competition would be nice to drive prices down, and really, every SSD these days pegs SATA, so why keep 'innovating' in that space?

February 18, 2016 | 06:41 PM - Posted by Beesem (not verified)

It's all in the name of driving down $/GB. I agree that we would all like to see m.2 PCIE nvme $/GB come down as well, but I think a lot of the more casual users and OEMs are just looking for the lowest $/GB, and with SATA maxed out that's more than enough performance for that class of user.

February 19, 2016 | 04:29 PM - Posted by ChrisC (not verified)

They cant drop SATA as then the market shrinks by a massive amount, probably 90%+, blame intel for choosing to not provide nvme bios updates for older chipsets.

February 20, 2016 | 12:59 AM - Posted by Josh Durston (not verified)

Maybe I missed it, but will there be an M.2 form factor?

February 20, 2016 | 05:03 AM - Posted by HERETIC (not verified)

"I don't see the point of 120gb HDD's anymore,"

"But who on earth would buy a 120GB SSD at today's prices? I wouldn't even touch a 250GB drive now,"

"I wish companies would stop cranking-out these cookie-cutter SATA-limited drives and start focusing on PCIE nvme."

"Maybe I missed it, but will there be an M.2 form factor?"

Guys-go back to page 1-
"Samsung will drop the 120GB capacity of that line and replace it with a new OEM / system builder destined 750 EVO:"

These drives are mainly for OEM's-And they pay much less than we do.I'd much prefer to see a 120 GB SSD in a $300 lappy than
5400 RPM Spinning rust....
It's not certain yet what availability of these drives will be in retail..............................................

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