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Lifewire / Zach Sweat
Quick read and write speeds
Great software included
SATA 3 hinders performance somewhat
A bit more expensive than competitors
Not a huge increase over the 850 EVO series
Samsung is a great SSD manufacturer, and the 860 EVO is easily one of the best around for the price.
We purchased the Samsung 860 EVO 2.5-inch SSD so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
For quite some time now, Samsung has been putting out high-quality SSDs, and its 860 EVO is simply one of the best in terms of value and speed. If you’re currently in the market for one, read our review below to see if this is the right choice for you. Currently, there are a few variations of this SSD, but we tested the 2.5-inch, 1TB version specifically—though all three variations will net roughly the same results.
Most hard drives and SSDs are not designed with any sort of visually pleasing attributes in mind, after all, they’ll likely be tucked away inside your computer and out of sight. However, the Samsung SSDs are actually pretty sleek and well designed.
Samsung has been putting out some of the best SSDs around, and the 860 EVO is perhaps one of the best in terms of value.
The 2.5-inch version of this drive is constructed from a clean, black brushed metal with a logo on the front and an indicator for where the interface is located. On the flip side, there’s some additional info about the SSD via a large sticker. Since this is a 2.5-inch SATA 3 style drive, you’ll also notice the SATA interface here that connects to your motherboard.
Given the size of the drive, this SSD is best suited for increasing the storage of your laptop, but it also works flawlessly with a full-sized PC that accepts 2.5-inch hard drives. In addition, you can also purchase an external enclosure for cheap and use it as a portable hard drive for your computer or even a gaming console, where it performs even better than the stock hard disk drives found in today’s consoles.
The 860 EVO is quite simple to set up but may require a bit of hand-holding for those who have never added storage to their computer. First things first, remove your new SSD from its packaging and take off the protective film.
This next step will largely depend on what your current setup is, but the steps are essentially the same for the most part. Because this particular size and format is most often used in laptops, we’ve opted to go that route for the instructions. We also did not need to make an image of our OS, but if you plan on replacing your current hard drive where the OS is installed, you’ll need to look up a quick guide on how to do so.
Just know that Samsung’s specs for the 860 EVO are indeed accurate and within their estimates, meaning you’re getting what you paid for.
With new SSD unboxed and ready to go, your next step will be opening up your computer and gaining access to the motherboard (also ensure that it is unplugged and shut down completely, you may also need to remove the battery). For us, this was fairly easy. Simply remove the screws at the base and gently take off the plate to expose the laptop’s internals. For your specific laptop, we suggest doing a quick Google search for this process or watching a YouTube video on the instructions. Additionally, there is a handy little guide in the booklet included with your SSD that runs you through how to do this with pictures and all.
Now that you’ve got your laptop opened up, locate the 2.5-inch SATA slot on the motherboard. It should be easy to spot because the slot is exactly 2.5 inches (hence the name) and matches your new SSD. Next, slide the SSD gently into the slot until it’s fully engaged. Be careful not to use too much pressure. It should be a bit snug, but don’t force it. Once it’s installed, replace your laptop’s bottom plate and put everything back together.
For these tests, we used CrystalDiskMark for benchmarking, but you can also use Samsung’s Magician software to test your new drive. This software is pretty solid and also allows users to monitor the drive's condition, erase data and more, including a handy migration tool if you’re replacing an old HDD.
In addition to basic performance tests, Magician also features something called “Rapid Mode” that lets the SSD utilize resources (like RAM) to intelligently cache data you frequently use. This speeds up the data transfer (in appearance only, it does not make the drive outright faster) to give your system a slight boost. It’s a cool feature and just another bonus included with the Samsung software.
All said and done, the Samsung 860 EVO series SSD is one of the best options in the market today.
For reference, Samsung claims the 860 EVO will net the following specs for performance:
Testing the SSD on an Intel CPU (there can be some small variations here depending on the CPU model/manufacturer), we recorded the following results using CrystalDiskMark:
As you can see, the claims Samsung put out are largely accurate (the read speed was even a touch quicker), which is great to have confirmed. If all this data is a bit daunting to you, just know that Samsung’s specs for the 860 EVO are indeed accurate and within their estimates, meaning you’re getting what you paid for.
Given the overall performance, reliability, included software and quality reputation of Samsung in the SSD world, we feel these prices are well warranted.
Price will obviously vary based on the format you select and the storage size you’ve chosen, so here’s a quick breakdown of each option you can buy:
860 EVO 2.5-inch
860 EVO M.2
860 EVO mSATA
Given the overall performance, reliability, included software, and the quality reputation of Samsung in the SSD world, these prices are quite well warranted, despite there being cheaper alternatives.
Perhaps the largest competitor in this realm to Samsung is Western Digital. Both of these brands are well established in the SSD world and make solid products. The EVO and Blue series are each in the same price bracket for consumers, so let’s compare the two.
WD claims the Blue 1TB 2.5-inch drive will hit sequential read speeds up to 560MB/s and sequential write speeds up to 530MB/s. Compared to the 860 EVO, these numbers are just slightly higher, but probably not noticeable in most real-world applications.
WD also includes WD SSD Dashboard and Acronis Software with theirs, compared to Samsung’s Magician. While both of these essentially do the same thing, many users point out that the Samsung software is more intuitive. As for warranty and support, both manufacturers include a limited 5-year warranty, with Samsung having slightly better support according to online reviews.
It’ll be for you to decide whether the roughly $20 difference for Samsung is justified based on the above information, but it’s safe to say both are pretty solid options when selecting a 1TB consumer SSD.
Best entry-level SSD for the price.
All said and done, the Samsung 860 EVO series SSD is one of the best options in the market today. With solid speeds, exceptional endurance, and quality software and support to back it all up, we can easily recommend this SSD to potential buyers looking to expand their storage or upgrade an old HDD.
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