Samsung’s stay in the NAND flash storage market has been largely unchallenged. The Samsung SSD- EVO and PRO drives come in all shapes and sizes, and almost always top the performance charts in their respective segments. The prices of these SSDs are also very competitive to boot.

Samsung SSD 850 120GB

The latest sata based Samsung SSD has neither any suffix nor the PRO or EVO naming scheme. It is a new entry-level SATA SSD featuring Samsung’s latest 64-layer 3D TLC NAND, which makes it most comparable to the Samsung SSD 850 EVO.

Samsung SSD

If you are one of those people who install the OS on the SSD, then you probably might have noticed that the Samsung SSD 750 EVO started disappearing a year ago. That’s because it was discontinued. The 750 EVO initially debuted with 120GB and 250GB capacities, but a 500GB version was added as SSD prices began to soar due to a global shortage of NAND flash memory.

The 850 120GB uses the same old Samsung S4LN062X01 “MGX” controller as the 850 EVO and the 750. You can’t really blame them for that, as after all these years it’s still one of the best controllers in the SSD market, offering a great balance between power and performance.

Samsung SSD

The 750 EVO had the controller and DRAM in the same package. But the 850 uses the original controller packaging with the DRAM next to it on the circuit board, and the PCB too is the same as the Samsung SSD 850 EVO.

During a time when the 120GB space is being vacated by all manufacturers, this new product comes as a surprise. The Samsung 850, both EVO and PRO have been discontinued, just like the 750. The same goes for the competition. The only recent SSDs we have seen in this segment are the micron TLC based ADATA Ultimate SU800, the HP S700 Pro and the Crucial BX300.


Mixed Random Performance

Samsung SSD

In the first benchmark, the Samsung 850 is slower than the 850 EVO, but edges out ahead of the 750 EVO, and is well ahead of the competition.

Mixed Sequence Performance

Samsung SSD

Pretty much the same result again. The 850 lands on the heels of the 850 EVO, while being marginally faster than the 750 EVO and beating the competition quite comfortably.

Sequential Read Performance

Samsung SSD Samsung SSD

During the 128kb burst test, the 850 leads all the 3D TLC Samsung drives. The PNY CS1311 and the ADATA SP550 drives on the other hand battle it out with the 850 PRO. The situation is however reversed in the longer sequential test, where the 850 is the slowest Samsung drive, with the HP S700 and ADATA SP550 also leaving it in the dust.

Sequential Write Performance

Samsung SSD Samsung SSD

In the 128kb burst test for write performance, the Samsung 850 more or less is in the same league as the other Samsung drives, while keeping the competition in check. In the longer sustained test, while it’s the second fastest 120GB SSD, the 850 PRO is way ahead thanks to its MLC NAND. Again in this bench, the Smasung drives establish their dominance, with the exception of the HPS700.

 Random Read performance

In the random read tests, the 850 while faster than all the non-Samsung drives, can’t quite keep up with it’s predecessors. The Micron 3D TLC-based SSDs turn out to be the slowest drives in this bench.

Random Write Performance

While in the Burst random test, the ADATA SU800 and HP S700 Pro drives are the fastest drives of the segment, the Samsung drives lie in the middle of the spectrum. However, not surprisingly in the sustained test, the Samsung drives regain their supremacy. While the 850 Pro is untouchable, the new 850 is the fastest 120GB TLC based NAND flash drive.

Bottom line

As I said earlier, the 120GB SSD segment is being abandoned by manufacturers for various reasons, mainly the problems associated with TLC drives at this size. Budget SSDs these days mainly rely on TLC, and TLC relies on SLC caching for peak performance. But at 120GB, you don’t get enough space for caching. Plus the value for money at this storage size is much less in comparison to the next higher drive size. For example, $50 for 120GB and $70 for 240GB. While the 850 beats the 750 EVO pretty much everywhere, it also manages to keep up with at least the 120GB variant of the 850 EVO, at times edging out ahead of it as well.

But as mentioned above, it’s not really a good overall deal if you take into account the higher capacity drives. I would only recommend this if you absolutely need a 120GB drives for whatsoever reason. Whatever that reason might be, regardless the 850 seems like the best drive in this segment.

So far, the 850 120GB SSD has only been officially released in China , but it is available in other Asian markets including from some online retailers. There doesn’t seem to be a fixed date for the official release in the Americas.

Leave a Reply