Samsung 870 EVO review: Quality mass storage for the masses

Samsung's first new SSD of the year is, as you might expect, very good.

Samsung 870 EVO
(Image: © Windows Central)

Seeing a product announcement a week after CES 2021 closed its virtual doors may be a little peculiar, but here we are with Samsung's first new SSD of the year. The 870 EVO isn't a superfast PCIe 4.0 SSD that will break performance records, instead, it's back down to the now, quite old hat, SATA standard. But Samsung is always there when talking about the best SSDs whatever you're looking for.

SATA SSDs do continue to be important. In a world where nobody wants to rely on slow, noisy, janky old mechanical hard drives, the SATA SSD is the new mass storage device for the PC builder of today. And if previous Samsung SSDs are anything to go by, the 870 EVO is going to be extremely popular. But is it any good?

Yes. It is.

Samsung 870 EVO specifications

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CategorySpec
Capacity250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB
InterfaceSATA 6Gb/s
Sequential readUp to 560 MB/s
Sequential writeUp to 530 MB/s
Random readUp to 98,000 IOPS
Random writeUp to 88,000 IOPS
NANDSamsung V-NAND 3-bit MLC (TLC)
ControllerSamsung
Cache memory512MB LPDDR4 (250GB/500GB)
1GB LPDDR4 (1TB)
2GB LPDDR4 (2TB)
4GB LPDDR4 (4TB)
WarrantyFive years
Endurance150TBW (250GB)
300TBW (500GB)
600TBW (1TB)
1,200TBW (2TB)
2,400TBW (4TB)

Samsung 870 EVO against the competition

Samsung 870 EVO

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Being a SATA SSD there's only so much performance that's possible, just down to the technology. Nevertheless, there are some that fare better than others across the spectrum.

This chart compares the listed read/write speeds of the 870 EVO against not only some of Samsung's own predecessors but other manufacturers with similar products, too.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Samsung 870 EVOSamsung 860 EVOSK Hynix S31Crucial MX300Samsung 850 EVO
Read560 MB/s550 MB/s560 MB/s530 MB/s540 MB/s
Write530 MB/s520 MB/s525 MB/s510 MB/s520 MB/s

Performance gains would always be mild, but what you don't see from the chart above are the capacities available and the respective pricing. SSDs continue to become better value with higher capacities at lower prices, and in that regard the 870 EVO certainly has the edge over the 860 EVO and 850 EVO before it. The 870 EVO is actually on par with the 870 QVO QLC SSD I reviewed in 2020

Samsung 870 EVO performance

Samsung 870 EVO

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Without continually banging the same drum, performance is something you can make a fairly decent estimate of without running any tests. Nevertheless, what a manufacturer puts on the box shouldn't be taken as gospel, so let's see what the 870 EVO achieves in a series of benchmarks.

First up, CrystalDiskMark. For comparison, the new 870 EVO is on the left with its predecessor, the 860 EVO is on the right.

The two are almost the same in sequential read and write tests, but the 870 EVO has the edge when it comes to more complex tests. The 870 EVO is much better positioned for random read performance compared to the 860 EVO.

Following up with first, the ATTO benchmark, testing performance across a range of file sizes, and then using Samsung's own Magician application to test read and write speeds.

Samsung 870 EVO

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

All of the tests tell a similar story. Samsung's claimed figures are right on the money, and, as expected, there's a minimal gain over the 860 EVO in terms of outright performance.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Temperatures on the 870 EVO remained low even during benchmarking, never going above 22C (71F). It was tested on an open-air test bench, but it's unlikely being inside a PC case would have any serious impact on this.

For comparison, the Samsung 970 EVO NVMe SSD on the same bench ran almost double this temperature under regular use.

The 870 EVO is also rated for up to 2,400TBW and is covered by Samsung's excellent five-year limited warranty.

Samsung Magician

Samsung Magician 6.1

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Samsung Magician is a basic but useful application that supports any of the company's SSDs. Besides running a performance check and optimizations, Samsung has a feature called Rapid Mode which is supported on most of its SATA SSDs.

Rapid mode engages the available resources on your PC, such as the RAM, to help it intelligently cache data you access often, thus creating the appearance of faster data transfer. It doesn't make the SSD any faster, and the limits of the hardware are still the limits, but it's a clever trick that could make a difference in your system.

The software has undergone a pretty big visual overhaul in recent times, too, and it's actually very pleasant to use. If you're getting a Samsung SSD for your system it's an essential download (opens in new tab), not least because it'll make sure your drives always have the latest firmware.

Should you buy the Samsung 870 EVO?

Samsung 870 EVO

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

I feel like this part of the review should be copied and pasted by now when looking at Samsung SSDs. Because, as always, the answer is yes. And unlike the 870 QVO which launched last year, it doesn't just make the most sense when buying the highest capacity, more expensive versions. Then again, the 870 QVO is also targeted at a different type of user.

As an upgrade to the 860 EVO, the 850 EVO, or even any other SATA SSD, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I've said it before and I'll say it again, upgrading SATA for SATA doesn't make a lot of sense. At least, not unless you have a drive failure and it needs replacing.

But for new system builders, this is an SSD to put on the shopping list. I've been using Samsung SSDs for many years and have never once been let down or disappointed in any way. And the 2TB model I have here is good value, too. When the 860 EVO launched you were paying the same for 1TB as you now are for 2TB with the 870 EVO.

But that's not so much of an issue anymore. SSDs are still more expensive than mechanical hard drives, but when you have a package like this on the table there's absolutely no reason not to invest.

The Samsung 870 EVO is set to go on sale in January 2021 with prices starting at $50.