The Samsung 860 Pro solid-state drive (SSD) is the latest update to its flagship 850 Pro that came out four years ago. The new drive now has top capacity, fastest SATA performance, and is made to last. There’s a lot to love about it, except one thing: it’s not available in the much faster m.2 (NVMe) design.
This lack of support for the new standard turns the Samsung 860 Pro into a bit of a dilemma. It is a little pricey for casual users while enthusiasts might want to skip it and go with an NVMe drive instead.
Samsung 860 PRO: Familiar feature set
The 860 Pro looks identical to the 850 Pro and shares the same feature set and the familiar Samsung Magician desktop application. The software makes it easy to manage the SSD’s features and settings, such as over-provisioning, firmware updates, and more.
Like most Samsung SSDs since the 840 Pro, the 860 Pro supports RAPID mode, which, once turned on, automatically uses an available portion of the computer’s system memory as cache to further boost its performance.
RAPID worked well in my testing just make sure your computer has 8GB of RAM or more to really take advantage of it. Note that this feature as well as Samsung Magician software, is only available to Windows, even though the 860 Pro is Mac-compatible.
Specs-wise, the Samsung 860 Pro now uses an updated version of 2-bit MLC V-NAND, similar to the one used in the 850 Pro but redesigned to last much longer and uses slightly less energy. The new drive also has an updated controller and uses faster DDR4 as its built-in cache memory.
The 860 Pro is currently is the most expensive consumer-grade SATA SSD on the market, averaging close to 50 cents per gigabyte. You can easily find many SSDs that can be had for half the cost.
Samsung 860 PRO’s hardware specifications
The 860 Pro has an extremely high endurance rating — the amount of data you can write to it before it dies. The larger the capacities the higher the endurance is. For example, Samsung says you can write up to 300 terabytes (more than 3000GB) to the 256GB version all the way to 4800 terabytes if you have the 4TB capacity.
To put this in perspective, if you write 165GB — equivalent to 7 uncompressed Hi-Def Blu-ray movies — per day and every day to a 256GB 860 Pro, it would take 5 years for its endurance to run out. With the 512GB version, it would take 10 years, and so on.
On average, most of us don’t write more than a few GB a day to our computer’s internal drive. Many days, we don’t write anything at all. That said, it’s safe to say you’ll change your computer many times before you’ll need to replace an out-of-write 860 Pro.
The truth is, most of us can rarely ever deplete any SSD’s endurance, making the 860 Pro’s super longevity a bit redundant. But long-lasting never hurts.
What might hurt a little bit is the warranty time. Samsung backs the 860 Pro with a 5-year warranty, which is generous until you find out that the company gave the 850 Pro, which had much lower endurance, a ten-year.
Samsung 860 PRO: Fast performance
The SSD 860 Pro is the fastest SATA SSD I’ve tested but only by relatively small margins. Since SATA 3 caps at just 6Gbps, most new 2.5-inch SSD, after overheads, delivers close to the standard’s ceiling speed. This means the performance differences between most SATA SSDs fluctuate within just a few percentage points at most.
A few years ago that was a big deal. Now the proliferation of NVMe SSDs — such as the 960 Pro that can easily triple or even quintuple the copy speed of even the fastest SATA SSD — has rendered the performance gaps between the 860 Pro and its peers somewhat insignificant.
Indeed, after having used a 960 Pro drive for a while, I now could hardly notice the performance changes between the SATA drives I tested for this review anymore, especially when I just need to move data around.
Among standard SATA SSDs, the Samsung 860 Pro SSD is as good as it gets. That said, if you have a SATA-based machine, this new drive is an excellent fit. This is especially true if you’re building a new computer or that computer still runs on a regular hard drive.
However, considering its price and the limit of the SATA standard, you’ll get better value opting for a more affordable drive, like the 860 Evo, even the 850 Evo, or any other mainstream or performance SATA SSDs released in the past few years for that matter.