Samsung 750 EVO 120 & 250GB SATA III SSDs Review

Samsung 750 EVO 120 & 250GB SATA III SSDs Review

Planar TLC is still a cheaper route than 3D TLC. The 750 EVO is Samsung's answer to the value TLC market. But how does it perform? Let's find out.

@JonCoulterSSD
Published Tue, Feb 16 2016 9:00 AM CST   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 96%Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Drive Specifications, Pricing and Availability

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Recently, we've seen a wave of value-oriented TLC drives come across our bench. All of these SSDs have one thing in common; they are planar NAND based. There are two reasons they are all planar based. First, only Samsung is shipping products that are 3D flash based, and they do not sell their 3D flash on the open market. Secondly, planar TLC flash is still considerably less expensive to produce than 3D TLC flash. The majority of this wave of planar TLC drives have another thing in common, and that's very poor performance. Whenever we get a new TLC SSD in for review, we anticipate the overall performance will be underwhelming at the least and average at best.

Samsung TLC SSDs, however, invoke quite the opposite kind of anticipation. Based on what Samsung has delivered over the last few years when we get a new Samsung TLC SSD product in for testing, we have no doubt that it will deliver class leading performance. The 750 EVO isn't exactly brand new; it has already been selling in Japan for a couple of months now. When we first heard of the 750 EVO, we contacted Samsung, and they told us that they had no plans to sell the 750 EVO in markets outside of Japan. It is likely that this new wave of super low-cost planar TLC SSDs coming into competition for market share has caused Samsung to reevaluate the decision to limit sales of the 750 EVO to the Japanese market.

With the 840 EVO becoming an EOL (End Of Life) product line and competitors flooding the market with super low-cost planar TLC SSDs, Samsung decided to bring to market a new planar TLC based SSD designated the 750 EVO. The 750 EVO is built around Samsung's second-generation 16nm planar TLC flash. Samsung informed us that the 750 EVO will more than likely have limited retail availability, but as we've experienced many times, nothing is set in stone with Samsung. As it stands now, the 750 EVO will have limited retail availability, with the vast majority of units being sold to system integrators. Samsung says we should expect to see some retail units making it into brick and mortar stores like Fry's Electronics and MicroCenter, but the retail proliferation of the 750 EVO likely will not be widespread.

Samsung informed us that the 750 EVO 120GB and 250GB, if they make it to retailers, would likely carry a price tag of $54.99 for the 120GB model and $74.99 for the 250GB model. This is a very low introductory price point that will inevitably go lower as time passes. There are a few planar TLC-based SSDs out there that carry a slightly lower price tag, but for the most part, those have proven to deliver performance that is below what we have come to expect from a typical SSD; especially at 120-240GB capacity points.

It has become the norm that 120-240GB planar TLC SSDs really underperform when writing data. This doesn't sit well with Samsung. To combat sub-par write performance that seems almost inherent at lower capacities, Samsung built the 120GB and 250GB 750 EVO around a proprietary controller that is specifically designed for low capacity points. Samsung states: "The new MGX controller is designed for low capacity model considering client PC usage patterns. Sequential read/write performance and random low-level QD performance are directly related to the computing experiences of client PCs. Samsung optimized the MGX controller for these characteristics." The MGX controller isn't totally new, as we've seen it before on the 850 EVO in 120-500GB capacities.

The 750 EVO comes with all the trimmings we've come to expect from Samsung's TLC SSDs. The 750 EVO employs a "TurboWrite" SLC write acceleration layer, supports full drive encryption, TRIM, background garbage collection, and S.M.A.R.T monitoring. To us, the 750 EVO sounds like it is an 850 EVO with planar TLC flash instead of 3D flash, so we are anticipating robust performance based on how well our favorite SATA based SSD, the 850 EVO, performs.

Let's take a close look and see if our anticipation of class-leading performance from the 750 EVO is well founded.

Specifications:

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Samsung's 750 EVO SATA III 2.5" x 7mm FF SSD is available in two capacities: 120GB and 250GB. Performance for both capacities is listed at up to 550MB/s sequential read and 520MB/s sequential write. Maximum random 4K performance for the 120GB capacity point is listed as up to 94,000 read IOPS and 88,000 IOPS write. The 250GB capacity point checks in at up to 97,000 IOPS read and 88,000 IOPS write. 4K QD1 random performance is listed at up to 10,000 IOPS for read and up to 35,000 IOPS for write.

Warranted endurance for the 120GB model is up to 35TB, and 70TB for the 250GB model. Reliability (MTBF) at both capacity points is 1.5 million hours. Active power consumption for both models is listed at 2.4W read and 2.8W write. Idle power consumption checks in at 50mW; Device Sleep 6mW. The 750 EVO is AES 256-bit FDE capable and fully compatible with Samsung's Magician Software drive management suite. Samsung backs the 750 EVO with a limited three-year warranty.

Drive Details

Samsung 750 EVO 120 & 250GB SATA III SSD

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Our review samples arrived as bare drives only. Both feature Samsung's typical all black enclosure, with a gray square that denotes the drives are EVO series SSDs.

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The rear of the all black cast aluminum alloy enclosure features a manufacture's label that lists the part number, model number, serial number, shipping firmware, capacity, and various other bits of relevant information.

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Cracking open the enclosure reveals a tiny PCB inside. The PCB is held in place with two locator pins. To us, this looks like an mSATA SSD with connectors placed on the side instead of the front of the PCB.

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Both capacities are identical on this side of the PCB, featuring Samsung's ARM-based MGX controller and one 128GB flash package.

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The opposite side of the PCB on the 250GB model has an additional 128GB flash package.

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The MGX controller that powers the 750 EVO. The 256MB DRAM cache is now integrated into the controller.

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Samsung's 128GB 16nm planar TLC flash package.

Test System Setup and Properties

Jon's Consumer SSD Review Test System Specifications

We would like to thank ASRock, Crucial, Intel, Corsair, RamCity, IN WIN, and Seasonic for making our test system possible.

Drive Properties

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The majority of our testing is performed with our test drive as our boot volume. Our boot volume is 75% full for all OS Disk "C" drive testing to replicate a typical consumer OS volume implementation. We feel that most of you will be utilizing your SSDs for your boot volume and that presenting you with results from an OS volume is more relevant than presenting you with empty secondary volume results.

System settings: Cstates and Speed stepping are both disabled in our systems BIOS. Windows High-Performance power plan is enabled. Windows write caching is enabled, and Windows buffer flushing is disabled. We are utilizing Windows 10 Pro 64-bit OS for all of our testing except for our MOP (Maxed-Out Performance) benchmarks where we switch to Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit.

Synthetic Benchmarks – ATTO & Anvil Storage Utilities

ATTO

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.47

ATTO is a timeless benchmark used to provide manufacturers with data used for marketing storage products.

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Sequential read/write transfers max out at 556/533 MB/s. Keep in mind this is our OS volume, and it is filled to 75% of its total capacity.

Sequential Write

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Both capacities lead the field and perform nearly identical, which is remarkable when you consider the 120GB model has a single flash package for a NAND array. The 250GB model has slightly better low-end performance. The BP5e catches the 750 EVO's at 16KB transfers and finishes the test in a similar fashion.

It is important to note that all of the comparison drives in our test pool are 2-4x the capacity of the 750 EVO's that are the subjects of this review. You would think that this would give the comparison SSDs a performance advantage, but as you will see, it does not.

Sequential Read

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Again, both 750 EVO capacity points display a similar performance curve. The 750 EVO 250GB has slightly better small file performance than the 120GB model, but both are surpassed by the BP5e at 4KB and larger file sizes. Both 750's are matching the performance of the more powerful 850 EVO 500GB.

Anvil Storage Utilities

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1.0

Anvil's Storage Utilities is a storage benchmark designed to measure the storage performance of SSDs. The Standard Storage Benchmark performs a series of tests; you can run a full test or just the read or write test, or you can run a single test, i.e. 4k QD16.

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Scoring

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Anvil's scoring gives a good indication of a drive's overall performance. The EVO's lay waste to the competition. It's already beginning to look as if our expected class-leading performance was indeed well founded.

Interestingly enough, the 120GB 750 EVO is able to outperform its larger sibling. This may be because the 120GB model has double the DRAM to NAND ratio of the 250GB model. The 3D flash powered 850 EVO 500GB is able to generate slightly better performance as expected.

(Anvil) Read IOPS through Queue Depth Scale

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The 120GB 750 EVO displays the best QD1 performance of all of the drives in our test pool. The 250GB model catches and surpasses the 120GB model at QD2. The 500GB 850 EVO just edges out the 250GB 750 EVO for the best overall performance. The 480GB BP5e delivers respectable performance, and the SP550 and BX200 aren't even in the same league.

(Anvil) Write IOPS through Queue Scale

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The EVO family of SSDs all deliver exactly the same class-leading performance as one another. The BP5e can't keep up with the EVO's, but it is easily able to outperform the SP550 and the BX200.

Again, I will point out that it is remarkable that the 750 EVO's can deliver this much performance with much smaller capacity points than the rest of the drives in our test pool.

Synthetic Benchmarks - CrystalDiskMark & AS SSD

CrystalDiskMark

Version and / or Patch Used: 3.0 Technical Preview

CrystalDiskMark is disk benchmark software that allows us to benchmark 4k and 4k queue depths with accuracy. Note: Crystal Disk Mark 3.0 Technical Preview was used for these tests since it offers the ability to measure native command queuing at QD4.

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The EVO's crush the competition where it counts most, 4K random performance. The little 120GB 750 EVO delivers even better 4K QD1 performance than the more powerful 850 EVO. QD1 read performance of the 250GB 750 EVO is off a little, and we know this because it did better with Anvil's which has never happened before. We are certain that if we ran the test again, the 250GB 750 EVO would deliver more than 50MB/s QD1.

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At QD4 and QD32, the 120GB 750 EVO is outperformed by the rest of the drives in our test pool, but QD4 and QD32 performance isn't nearly as important as QD1 performance, which is where the 750 EVO's shine. 4K QD1 write performance is where the EVO family can deliver more performance than any SATA based SSD on the market, MLC-based drives included.

AS SSD

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.7.4739.38088

AS SSD determines the performance of Solid-State Drives (SSD). The tool contains four synthetic as well as three practice tests. The synthetic tests are to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD.

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MDD's BP5e is able to outperform the 750 EVO's with this brutal synthetic benchmark, but I will again remind our readers that the BP5e has the advantage of 2-4x in capacity and 4-8x the flash packages. The more powerful 850 EVO 500GB wins this test. Let's move to trace based moderate workloads and see if the new 750 EVO's can deliver the kind of overwhelming moderate workload performance we have come to expect from Samsung SSDs.

Benchmarks (Trace-Based OS Disk) - PCMark Vantage, PCMark 7 & PCMark 8

Moderate Workload Model

We categorize these tests as indicative of a moderate workload environment.

PCMark Vantage - Hard Disk Tests

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.2.0.0

The reason we like PCMark Vantage is because the recorded traces are played back without system stops. What we see is the raw performance of the drive. This allows us to see a marked difference between scoring that other trace-based benchmarks do not exhibit. An example of a marked difference in scoring on the same drive would be empty vs. filled vs. steady state.

We run Vantage three ways. The first run is with the OS drive 75% full to simulate a lightly used OS volume filled with data to an amount we feel is common for most users. The second run is with the OS volume written into a "Steady State" utilizing SNIA's guidelines. Steady state testing simulates a drives performance similar to that of a drive that been subjected to consumer workloads for extensive amounts of time. The third run is a Vantage HDD test with the test drive attached as an empty, lightly used secondary device.

OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used

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OS Volume 75% Full - Steady State

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Secondary Volume Empty - FOB

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There's a big difference between an empty drive, one that's 75% full/used, and one that's in a steady state.

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The important scores to pay attention to are "OS Volume Steady State" and "OS Volume 75% full." These two categories are most important because they are indicative of typical of consumer user states. When a drive is in a steady state, it means garbage collection is running at the same time it's reading/writing. This is exactly why we focus on steady state performance.

This is an example of planar TLC done right. The 750 EVO's smoke the planar TLC based competition, when data is on the drive and when the drive is in a steady state. The 120GB 750 EVO is able to generate slightly better performance than the 250GB model which in our opinion is a remarkable feat. Empty performance is essentially irrelevant, but we show it anyway just because we like to see massive results just as much as the next guy.

PCMark 7 - System Storage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4.0

We will look to Raw System Storage scoring for evaluation because it's done without system stops and, therefore, allows us to see significant scoring differences between drives.

OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used

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This test backs up our Vantage results. The EVO's all deliver class-leading moderate workload performance. In this case, the 250GB 750 EVO outperforms the 120GB model, as we would expect. The 850 EVO wins the test with a score of over 8000, but the 750's are right there nipping at its heels. The non-EVO portion of our test pool gets handily outperformed yet again.

PCMark 8 - Storage Bandwidth

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.4.304

We use PCMark 8 Storage benchmark to test the performance of SSDs, HDDs, and hybrid drives with traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, and a selection of popular games. You can test the system drive or any other recognized storage device, including local external drives. Unlike synthetic storage tests, the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark highlights real-world performance differences between storage devices.

OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used

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PCMark 8 is the most intensive moderate workload simulation we run. With respect to moderate workloads, this test is what we consider the best indicator of a drive's performance.

Moderate workload performance is really by far the most important aspect of a consumer SSD, and this is why we prefer the EVO series over anything on the market, because it delivers like no other. Even the mighty 850 Pro cannot match the EVO's in this test. The non-EVO drives in our test pool are once again overwhelmed.

Benchmarks (Secondary Volume) – Max IOPS, Disk Response & Transfer Rates

Iometer – Maximum IOPS

Version and / or Patch Used: Iometer 2014

We use Iometer to measure high queue depth performance. (No Partition)

Max IOPS Read

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Max IOPS Write

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We are not sure how Samsung got 88K write IOPS for their specifications because while both drives start out at 89,000 IOPS with our test configuration, after 10 seconds, they both drop, all the way down to 50K for the 120GB and 66K for the 250GB model. This just goes to show that IOPS at QD32 don't matter much in terms of real-world performance. We need to look no further than the BP5e to prove this point. The BP5e has stellar maximum IOPS, but it cannot deliver near the moderate workload performance of the 750 EVO.

Iometer – Disk Response

Version and / or Patch Used: Iometer 2014

We use Iometer to measure disk response times. Disk response times are measured at an industry accepted standard of 4K QD1 for both write and read. Each test runs twice for 30 seconds consecutively, with a 5-second ramp-up before each test. We partition the drive/array as a secondary device for this testing.

Avg. Write Response

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Avg. Read Response

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The 850 EVO generates the best read/write response times. The 750's are both hot on its heels, though. If we focus on read response times, Samsung's advantage over the competition is glaring. The EVO's read latency at QD1 is 45-55% better than the competing drives that comprise our test pool.

DiskBench - Directory Copy

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.6.2.0

We use DiskBench to time a 28.6GB block (9,882 files in 1,247 folders) composed primarily of incompressible sequential and random data as it's transferred from our DC P3700 PCIe NVME SSD to our test drive. We then read from a 6GB zip file that's part of our 28.6GB data block to determine the test drives read transfer rate. Our system is restarted prior to the read test to clear any cached data, ensuring an accurate test result.

Write Transfer Rate

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Read Transfer Rate

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So far there has been very little to distinguish the 850 EVO as a more powerful SSD than the 750 EVO. Our transfer testing, however, clearly display's the strength of Samsung's V-NAND technology and why it is superior to planar on all fronts with the exception of cost per gigabyte.

The BP5e is able to deliver significantly better sustained write transfer rates than the 120GB 750 EVO, but keep in mind that this is accomplished with 4x the capacity. However, at the 250GB capacity point, the 750 EVO is able to beat up on the BP5e with a 51 MB/s better sustained write transfer rate.

Benchmarks (Secondary Volume) - PCMark 8 Extended

Futuremark PCMark 8 Extended

Heavy Workload Model

PCMark 8's consistency test simulates an extended duration heavy workload environment. PCMark 8 has built-in, command line executed storage testing. The PCMark 8 Consistency test measures the performance consistency and the degradation tendency of a storage system.

The Storage test workloads are repeated. Between each repetition, the storage system is bombarded with a usage that causes degraded drive performance. In the first part of the test, the cycle continues until a steady degraded level of performance has been reached. (Steady State)

In the second part, the recovery of the system is tested by allowing the system to idle and measuring the performance after 5-minute long intervals. (Internal drive maintenance: Garbage Collection (GC)) The test reports the performance level at the start, the degraded steady-state, and the recovered state, as well as the number of iterations required to reach the degraded state and the recovered state.

We feel Futuremark's Consistency Test is the best test ever devised to show the true performance of solid state storage in an extended duration heavy workload environment. This test takes on average 13 to 17 hours to complete and writes somewhere between 450GB and 14,000GB of test data depending on the drive. If you want to know what an SSDs steady state performance is going to look like during a heavy workload, this test will show you.

Here's a breakdown of Futuremark's Consistency Test:

Precondition phase:

1. Write to the drive sequentially through up to the reported capacity with random data.

2. Write the drive through a second time (to take care of overprovisioning).

Degradation phase:

1. Run writes of random size between 8*512 and 2048*512 bytes on random offsets for 10 minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat 1 and 2 for 8 times, and on each pass increase the duration of random writes by 5 minutes.

Steady state phase:

1. Run writes of random size between 8*512 and 2048*512 bytes on random offsets for 50 minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat 1 and 2 for 5 times.

Recovery phase:

1. Idle for 5 minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat 1 and 2 for 5 times.

Storage Bandwidth

PCMark 8's Consistency test provides a ton of data output that we use to judge a drive's performance.

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We consider steady state bandwidth (the blue bar) our test that carries the most weight in ranking a drive/arrays heavy workload performance. Performance after Garbage Collection (GC) (the orange and red bars) is what we consider the second most important consideration when ranking a drives performance. Trace-based steady state testing is where true high performing SSDs are separated from the rest of the pack.

The BP5e takes one back from the EVO's with better heavy duty steady state performance. This is directly related to overprovisioning. The BP5e is heavily overprovisioned in comparison to the EVO's and with this brutal test that makes a massive difference in steady state performance.

The EVO is a moderate workload juggernaut but shows some weakness with steady-state heavy workloads. The 850 EVO recovers full performance after one 5-minute interval of garbage collection as does the 120GB 750 EVO. The 250GB 750 EVO needs more time to recover fully.

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We chart our test subject's storage bandwidth as reported at each of the test's 18 trace iterations. This gives us a good visual perspective of how our test subjects perform as testing progresses. This chart sheds a little more light on how the drives perform as they progresses through the testing phases.

Total Access Time (Latency)

We chart the total time the disk is accessed as reported at each of the test's 18 trace iterations. The MDD BP5e maintains excellent latency across all 18 phases of this brutal test which will result in the BP5e being able to write more random data in 470 minutes than the EVO's as we will see in on display with our data written chart.

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Disk Busy Time

Disk Busy Time is how long the disk is busy working. We chart the total time the disk is working as reported at each of the tests 18 trace iterations.

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When latency is low, disk busy time is low as well.

Data Written

We measure the total amount of random data that our test drive/array is capable of writing during the degradation phases of the consistency test. Pre-conditioning data is not included in the total. The total combined time that degradation data is written to the drive/array is 470 minutes. This can be very telling. The better a drive/array can process a continuous stream of random data, the more data will be written.

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Combined read/write latency, capacity and overprovisioning are the biggest factors that determine the outcome of this portion of the test. Over-provisioning goes a long way with this test. Even the BX200 can write much more data than the EVO's because it is over-provisioned more. In a strange turn of events, the SP550 is able to win a test. However, if we were to OP the EVO's with the same amount of OP as the competing SSDs in our test pool, the outcome would be much different.

Benchmarks (Secondary Volume) – 70/30 Mixed Workload

70/30 Mixed Workload Test (Sledgehammer)

Version and / or Patch Used: Iometer 2014

Heavy Workload Model

This test hammers a drive so hard we've dubbed it "Sledgehammer". Our 70/30 Mixed Workload test is designed to simulate a heavy-duty enthusiast/workstation steady-state environment. We feel that a mix of 70% read/30% write, full random 4K transfers best represents this type of user environment. Our test allows us to see the drive enter into and reach a steady state as the test progresses.

Phase one of the test preconditions the drive for 1 hour with 128K sequential writes. Phase two of the test runs a 70% read/30% write, full random 4K transfer workload on the drive for 1 hour. We log and chart (phase two) IOPS data at 5-second intervals for 1 hour (720 data points). 60 data points = 5 minutes.

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What we like about this test is that it reflects reality. Everything lines up, as it should. Consumer drives don't outperform Enterprise-Class SSDs that were designed for enterprise workloads. Consumer drives based on old technology are not outperforming modern Performance-Class SSDs, etc.

The EVO's all display tight consistency which is what we want to see from our SSDs. Again, OP plays a key role in this testing, with a little more, the EVO's would perform much better. The SP550, although it has a better average throughput than the 750 EVOs, is all over the place with massive variability throughout the test. This is not what we want to see, because consistency is very important.

Maxed-Out Performance (MOP)

Maxed-Out Performance

This testing is just to see what the drive is capable of in an FOB (Fresh Out of Box) state under optimal conditions. We are utilizing Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit for this testing. Same Hardware, just an OS change.

750 EVO 250GB

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750 EVO 120GB

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I will point out that the 4K QD1 random write performance that the 750 EVO is capable of delivering is mind blowing. That is as good as it gets for SATA.

Final Thoughts

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It seems like Samsung is always first with new technology in the SSD realm. Samsung has been selling TLC-based products for years while the competition is just now introducing their first-generation TLC-based products. Samsung's TLC SSDs are refined second and third generation products that, simply stated, cannot be matched at this time by anyone.

Samsung outsources nothing at all to create their SSDs, except for maybe the enclosures, but then again, it wouldn't surprise me a bit if Samsung actually owns an aluminum mine somewhere. Complete in-house production gives Samsung a massive advantage over their competitors. Complete quality control, in-house R&D, lowest production costs, and streamlined implementation of technological advances are just some of the benefits that come to mind. All of these advantages add up to Samsung delivering exquisite SSDs that simply have not been matched in terms of performance by anyone in the consumer space for quite some time.

As anticipated, the 750 EVO delivers the goods. The 750 EVO takes planar TLC to a new level of performance in the consumer space. Performance that is good enough, in our opinion, to almost make MLC irrelevant. We are delighted with the SSD experience that Samsung's 750 EVO SATA III SSD delivers. While running the 750 EVO as our OS disk loaded up with data to 75% of its capacity, the drive provided a user experience that rivals any SATA SSD we've ever used. We were particularly fond of the 120GB model; we've never seen an SSD that small in capacity crank out performance like it does, and it only costs 50 bucks.

With a tuned-in Windows 10 64-bit OS install taking up as little as 11GB, there is still enough space left for the majority of typical users to live life in the fast lane at a cost that is mainstream. At this time, we are uncertain about the retail availability of the 750 EVO. But, we can tell you this much, if you see it out there, buy it - you will be glad you did.

Pros:

  • 4K QD1 Random Performance
  • Sequential Performance
  • Low Price Point

Cons:

  • Low TBW
TweakTown award
Performance99%
Quality including Design and Build95%
General Features95%
Bundle and Packaging95%
Value for Money98%
Overall96%

The Bottom Line: Samsung's 750 EVO is the best performing planar TLC drive on the market. Extremely affordable, this drive should be on your short list, if you can find it.

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CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

Jon became a computer enthusiast when Windows XP launched. He was into water cooling and benching ATI video cards with modded drivers. Jon has been building computers for others for more than 10 years. Jon became a storage enthusiast the day he first booted an Intel X25-M G1 80GB SSD. Look for Jon to bring consumer SSD reviews into the spotlight.

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