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Samsung 860 QVO 1TB and 4TB SATA SSD Review - Samsung Goes QLC

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung
Tagged: ssd, slc, sata, Samsung, QLC, 860 QVO, 2.5

Introduction

With recent QLC SSD launches like the Intel 660P and Crucial P1, folks may have been wondering when Samsung would jump on the QLC bandwagon. I'm happy to report that your wait is now over:

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Samsung has opted to name this new product 'QVO'. The Q presumably stems from the use QLC flash, which can store four bits per cell.

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While QLC writes are far slower than what we are used to seeing from a modern SSD, SLC caching is the answer to bridging that performance gap. The 860 QVO employs Samsung's Intelligent TurboWrite, which has a minimum 6GB static cache plus a dynamic cache of up to 72GB. This dynamic cache varies based on available QLC area which can be reconfigured to operate in SLC mode. Do note the 'After TubroWrite' speeds of 80 and 160 MB/s - that's the raw QLC speeds that you will see if the cache has been exhausted during an extended write period.

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The rest of the specs are about what we expect from a SATA SSD, but I do have a concern with those QD1 4KB random read ratings of only 7,500 IOPS. This is on the low side especially for Samsung, who typically dominate in low QD random read performance.

Read on for the full review!

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Opening the SSDs we find comically small PCBs that are not even fully populated with flash packages.

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Both the 1TB and 4TB models had only half of their flash locations populated, meaning the 1TB PCB can easily support 2TB, and the 4TB can easily support 8TB (though there is no 8TB model announced).

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Jumping right into the test results (details of how the suite works here), we see weighted random read results coming in close to the 7,500 IOPS spec, which is disappointing given that is half of the performance of the 860 EVO 1TB. I've included the 660P and P1, which are NVMe QLC SSDs. While NVMe/PCIe does allow for higher throughputs, it does not work miracles for QD1 performance, meaning Samsung's QLC appears to have higher read latency than Intel / Micron QLC flash.

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Here is a closer look at the low QD read performance. Note how much lower the two QVO SSDs fall compared to the rest of the pack.

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Things are a bit better with sequential performance. Note this is a burst test that hits the cache, so we won't see the 'After TurboWrite' speeds here (we will later).

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Respectable performance for a SATA SSD during the Mixed Burst test.

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No surprises during the TRIM test, either.

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Now for what I view as an important part of any QLC SSD evaluation - cache performance. We need the cache to be as effective as possible since running out of it means hitting that 80/160 MB/s brick wall. This test is performed with the SSD half full, meaning there should have been some dynamic cache available. That appeared to not be the case during the first run, where we saw 6GB of cache followed by that 80 MB/s QLC speed. Things changed after that first run (and an additional 5-minute idle period), and every subsequent run saw full speed for subsequent 60s writes.

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We're not exactly sure what happened with the 4TB here, as the cache behavior was radically different from the 1TB model. There appeared to be no dynamic caching at all, never exceeding 6GB. The cache became more inconsistent during the runs towards the center of the chart (this is expected as there are shorter idle periods). The 4TB SSD was only half full during this test, so there should have been more than enough available capacity to absorb 60s passes at full speed, but that just didn't happen here.

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Endurance is naturally lower than that of the EVO, but still plenty for typical client usage. Warranty comes in at 3-years.

Pricing:

  • 1TB - $150 ($0.15/GB)
  • 2TB - $300 ($0.15/GB)
  • 4TB - $600 ($0.15/GB)

Now we're talking! 15 cents per GB MSRP for *any* decent SSD is certainly music to my ears. Sure the performance is not Pro-like, but at those prices, it's not hard to justify some concessions. I would like to see caching performance improve on that 4TB model though, and if Samsung hopes to push more QLC product, they will need to improve those low QD random read latencies.

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November 27, 2018 | 02:28 PM - Posted by Jann5s

Will they make a drive like this in m.2 format?

November 27, 2018 | 03:33 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Unsure yet, but Samsung tends to push out the M.2 SATA versions later on, presumably if demand is sufficient to warrant it.

November 27, 2018 | 03:20 PM - Posted by Mobile_Dom

whilst those pure QLC writes are kinda brutal, this would still make a great media drive get 4 of the 4TB drives into a 2.5" NAS, you're got 8tb (if you RAID1 it) of reduntant, fast (when reading) reliable storage, cant complain;

November 27, 2018 | 04:00 PM - Posted by BoiseTech

Uhh... yeah.... at $2400....

For that same price you could get 20 4tb WD Red drives, have 40tb and the same performance at Raid 10.

November 28, 2018 | 08:36 AM - Posted by Anonymous0 (not verified)

To get that many RAID-compatible SATA ports would cost you many hundreds more. The case would also weigh as much as a car. I've got 40TB of rust in my server (mix of 4, 5, and 8TB drives) and it's a loud, hot, angry monster.

You could shove tons of these little SSDs into an ITX/1U build, use significantly less power, and get much better performance all around.

November 28, 2018 | 01:02 PM - Posted by ThereAreBetterOptionsThanAllSSDsOnly (not verified)

Performance is not the main issue with backups while having that data remain over the long term error free is. So QLC and TLC is not the way to go for cold data storage. Spinning Rust(Non RAID 0 Only) is great for shorter term backups of data that still can be accessed in a resonable access time with Tape Backup still the most used for longer term true multi-copy off site backups.

SSD are for hot data not cold storage, if NAND can be used as a tiered storage solution paired with spinning rust then that's the only storage usage model that makes sense. So SSD/NVM Tiered storage paired with Spinning Rust is the better option for longer term storage with all the stale data transferred to the spinning rust, data mirroring(at least RAID-1 better) also enabled so everything has at least one or more copies across one or more extra drives.

"it's a loud, hot, angry monster."

Really if the NAS/server does not use the latest power saving features and also comes with some tiered storage solution then it's way behind the times. Maybe you are due for an update to a new NAS/Server. Or maybe a tiered storage solution with some SSD/NVM at the top of the tier for the hot data hosting will keep that server cooler without having to get rid of any spinning rust.

All those NAND only producers are going to be under greater pressure once 2nd generation XPoint becomes available and there are 2 suppliers of XPoint in the market by the end of 2019. Intel and Micron are taking their different paths after 2nd generation XPoint is RTM. And XPoint takes the top tier right below DRAM as the next fastest all around storage solution that's NVM unlike DRAM with any NAND solutions coming in second place to XPoint's better random access while Spinning Rust will still be of use for longer term storage relative to TLC/QLC NAND. If you are long term storing many terabytes of data then Tape for off site backup still has its use for more than one copy(one in the fire safe, and others in other locations) and the most security against disaster.

November 28, 2018 | 03:13 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

WD Red 8TB NAS HDD now on sale for $225 w/ promo code:

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=1Z4-0002-00B89&Tpk=1Z4-...

"Extra savings w/ promo code EMCEERW22, limited offer"
(promotion expires at midnight ending 11/30/2018)

As I recall, these WD Reds have a unique spindle bearing
that effectively minimizes platter wobble and
also reduces overall vibration in a NAS enclosure.

Allyn reviewed these WD Reds many months ago.

November 28, 2018 | 02:31 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

4 x 12TB HDD = 48TB
8 x 12TB HDD = 96TB

https://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&DEPA=0&Order=...

There are a TON of 8-port SATA/SAS add-in controllers
to choose from now e.g. 2 x SFF-8087 @ 4 SAS/SATA drives.

Here are three 12TB SAS HDDs at Newegg:

https://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&DEPA=0&Order=...

I realize that SAS does not get much attention
among PC prosumers and enthusiasts; nevertheless,
SAS is a very well developed technology which
now supports 12Gb/s transfers (albeit still using
the 8b/10b "legacy frame").

November 28, 2018 | 02:32 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

14TB HDDs:

https://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&Order=BESTMAT...

November 28, 2018 | 02:38 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

15TB HDD reviewed here:

https://www.pcper.com/news/Storage/Western-Digital-Launches-15-TB-Ultras...

November 28, 2018 | 06:03 PM - Posted by Sampson Jackson (not verified)

P-Touch Peezy?

November 27, 2018 | 04:09 PM - Posted by Isaac Johnson

1tb and 2tb 860 evos are on sale for less than that right now, (and that's also around the price of the MX500s). Hopefully the plan isn't for these to replace the evos.

p.s. I just had to do like 6 captchas to prove I'm not a robot. It seemed a little excessive.

November 27, 2018 | 06:13 PM - Posted by JediMaster-Allyn (not verified)

You can get Crucial's MX500 1TB for $139.99

November 27, 2018 | 06:39 PM - Posted by Dvon of Edzore

Not sure if Crucial ever fixed the TRIM bug Allyn uncovered in his review. When I visited Crucial's support page for the MX500, there were no firmware updates available.

November 27, 2018 | 06:58 PM - Posted by Isaac Johnson

Firmware updates are pushed through their storage management software, it's been updated at least once since that review. Not sure what they fixed/changed though.

November 28, 2018 | 02:20 PM - Posted by Paul A. Mitchell (not verified)

Thanks again, Allyn:

I also appreciate all of the comments above.

Can someone who's knowledgeable advise
whether or not BDXL blu-ray discs
are preferred to long-term tape backups?

There are a few slim ODD blu-ray burners
available now, and ASUS sells an external
ODD blu-ray burner which requires 2 USB ports.

As a fail-safe option, I'd like to have
at least one working drive image of our
C: Windows system partitions saved to
optical media. Here's the ASUS web page
for that external blu-ray burner:

https://www.asus.com/us/Optical-Drives-Storage/SBW06D2XU/

November 28, 2018 | 05:45 PM - Posted by TimesWhatForBackupSpeed (not verified)

At what speed compared to LTO 6, 7, or 8 Tape Drive speeds for the backup times do the BD dirves offer.

November 28, 2018 | 03:00 PM - Posted by DanE4 (not verified)

Not worth it since QLC has less write endurance, it's slower, though cheaper. Thus, either 2-bit MLC or 3-bit TLC NAND flash memory is recommended

November 30, 2018 | 07:05 AM - Posted by 5centsAgigOrRiot (not verified)

its significantly cheaper to produce, while maintaining comparable performance metrics, which is the entire point, in turn making it worth it. ssds are overkill for anything other than your c drive, which makes write endurance a non starter, at least imo. im sure there are niche use cases out there, but not nearly enough around which any self respecting company, or at least one that wishes to "exist", let alone be profitable, would develop its business strategy.

December 7, 2018 | 11:42 PM - Posted by Windrunner (not verified)

Depends on if you're running a gaming rig or a proper workstation. About the time I have three virtual machines runnign alongside Unity, Blender, Photoshop, an ungodly number of firefox windows with an equally awful number of tabs, a tutorial streaming and several instant messaging programs open while Onenote is pulling down stuff in the background, I find that it's really easy to run out of space or performance on a single drive without spending a ludicrous amount of cash.

December 8, 2018 | 05:31 AM - Posted by ChrisC (not verified)

cheaper to produce but doesnt look like the savings are been passed onto the consumer, just a fraction of them.

December 8, 2018 | 05:29 AM - Posted by ChrisC (not verified)

When I brought my 860 1TB EVO, the 1TB QVO was just £6 cheaper. There needs to be a far bigger price difference then that for this bargain basement nand.

Usually I just buy MLC ssd's but it seems the manufacturers keep pushing for the cheap stuff, so I brought a TLC drive, I wont buy a QLC until I have to tho.

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