Samsung 860 Pro 1TB SATA III SSD Review

Samsung 860 Pro 1TB SATA III SSD Review

Samsung hits the ground running with 64-layer 2-bit V-NAND goodness, producing the fastest SATA SSD we've ever tested.

@JonCoulterSSD
Published Tue, Jan 23 2018 9:00 AM CST   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 98%Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications, Pricing & Availability

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For well over three years Samsung has dominated the SATA SSD market with their potent 850 Series SSDs. When first introduced, nothing delivered performance that was even close to what the 850 Series served up. Over time though, the competition has been inching closer, but still no one has been able to snatch the SATA SSD performance crown from Samsung. We didn't think Samsung would offer another SATA SSD beyond the 850 Series, but here it is...the 860 Pro.

Samsung designed a new controller to power the 860 Pro. This controller is designated MJX. Samsung's new MJX controller offers many improvements over previous models including expanded system compatibility, a refined ECC algorithm and improved queued TRIM for Linux systems. Powered by Samsung's MJX controller and paired with Samsung's latest 64-layer 2-bit V-NAND technology, the 860 Pro delivers endurance that is up to 8x better than the 850 Pro.

Samsung states that the 860 Pro's new feature set assures long-term dependable performance with minimal degradation. Compared to its predecessor, the 850 Pro, the 860 Pro provides up to 25% better-sustained workload performance, along with class-leading sequential read/write speeds of up to 560/530 MB/s.

When you buy a Samsung SSD it comes with all the trimmings. The 860 Pro Series is fully compatible with Samsung Data Migration and Samsung Magician software. Both are free for 860 Pro users. Samsung Data Migration software allows you to easily migrate your OS and all of the data contained on your system disk to your new 860 Pro with a couple of clicks. Samsung Magician software is SSD toolbox software that makes monitoring and maintaining your Samsung SSD a simple task. With Magician, you can automatically update firmware, check your SSDs health status, overprovision the drive, optimize the OS for SSD use, check performance, secure erase and encrypt your Samsung SSD.

On the surface Samsung's 860 Pro looks to be the best performing SATA SSD ever made, let's get into the review and see for ourselves if it actually is.

Factory Specifications

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The 1TB model we have in the lab sports the following specifications:

  • Sequential Read: up to 560 MB/s
  • Sequential Write: up to 530 MB/s
  • Max 4K QD32 Random Read: up to 100,000 IOPS
  • Max 4K QD32 Random Write: up to 90,000 IOPS
  • 4K QD1 Read: up to 11,000 IOPS
  • 4K QD1 Write: up to 43,000 IOPS
  • Endurance: 1,200 TBW
  • MTTF: 2 Million Hours
  • Warranty: 5-Year Limited Warranty
  • Avg. Active Power: 2.2W
  • DEVSLP 2.5mW
  • ECC
  • SMART
  • TRIM
  • Garbage Collection
  • Software: Samsung Magician, Samsung Migration Software

Availability: Currently selling at retail outlets.

Pricing: 1TB $479.99

Samsung's 860 Pro is available in capacities ranging from 256GB - 4TB

Drive Details

Samsung 860 Pro 1TB SATA III SSD

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The 860 Pro ships in an attractive red and black themed box. There is an image of the enclosed drive on the front. The drive's capacity, V-NAND and SATA interface are advertised here.

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The rear of the packaging advertises the drive's 5-year limited warranty.

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Included with the drive is a printed installation guide.

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The top and sides of the drive's enclosure is made cast aluminum.

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The bottom of the drives enclosure is formed from sheet aluminum. There is a manufacturers' label that lists the particulars of the SSD.

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The enclosure is held together with three pentalobe screws, two of which are located under the label on the back of the drive's enclosure. The small PCB is held in position by two locator pins.

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This side of the PCB houses Samsung's MJX controller, a DDR4 DRAM cache package and two of the drive's four 256GB V-NAND packages.

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This side of the PCB houses two of the drive's four 256GB V-NAND packages.

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A close-in view of the drive's major components.

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

Samsung 860 Pro 1TB SATA III SSD OS Disk 75% Full

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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. We are utilizing Windows 10 Pro 64-bit OS for all our testing. Empty Windows 10 benchmark screenshots are shown on our MOP (Maxed-Out Performance) page.

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.

Please note: When comparing our results to those of other review sites, look at page 10 Maxed Out Performance-Windows 10 which is done with the disk empty.

Synthetic Benchmarks - ATTO & Anvil's

ATTO

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.47

ATTO is a timeless benchmark used to provide manufacturers with data used for marketing storage products. With ATTO, we are looking at maximum sequential performance with compressible data as well as the performance curve.

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Compressible sequential read/write transfers max out at 563/532 MB/s. Both figures meet or exceed factory specs. Keep in mind this is our OS volume, and it is filled to 75% of its total capacity.

Sequential Write

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The 860 Pro gives us what we are looking for. A nice smooth performance curve that ramps up quickly. The 860 Pro's performance curve is identical to the 850 Pro 2TB.

Sequential Read

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We are looking for a nice smooth performance curve and good small-file performance. The 860 Pro gives us what we are looking for and again follows identically the performance curve of our 2TB 850 Pro.

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. With Anvil's, we are focused on the total score.

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We consider 10K IOPS at QD1 random read a milestone that very few SSDs are capable of delivering. Only the best can do it. The 860 Pro's factory spec sheet gives a figure of up to 11K random read IOPS at 4K QD1 - we are hitting 12.6K which is a huge improvement over the 850 Pro. This is where performance matters most and is hardest to achieve, especially without an SLC buffer.

Scoring

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Anvil's scoring typically provides us with a good indication of a drive's overall synthetic performance. Whenever we get a score of over 5,000 we take notice. The 860 Pro sets a new lab record for SATA SSDs by delivering an astounding score of 5,877.

(Anvil) Read IOPS through Queue Depth Scale

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With a partition on the drive and 75% full, we are not able to hit factory max random read specs. Close enough though. If we had a higher capacity model, we believe we could hit 100K IOPS under these same conditions.

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Intel's 545s delivers better random read performance at QD1-QD2. At QD4 and higher, the 860 Pro eviscerates the competing drives in our test pool. Here we can see the huge improvement in random read performance the 860 Pro has over the 850 Series.

(Anvil) Write IOPS through Queue Scale

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With a partition on the drive and 75% full, we are not quite able to hit factory max random write specs. Close enough though. If we had a higher capacity model, we believe we could hit 90K IOPS under these same conditions.

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The 860 Pro delivers the best performance curve for a SATA SSD that we've seen to date. Once again, we see a significant improvement over the 850 Series.

Synthetic Benchmarks – CDM & 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. With this version of CDM, we are focused on 4K random performance at QD1 and QD4.

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Focusing in on 4K QD1 and 4K QD4, we can see that the 860 Pro is only outperformed by the Intel 545s at QD1. However, the 545s is reading from its SLC cache layer meaning it can only deliver this kind of random read performance at QD1 when data is already cached. With this in mind, the 860 Pro's performance at QD1 is more realistic and more impressive. Looking at QD4, we see that the 860 Pro again sets another lab record for SATA. At 184 MB/s the 860 Pro is delivering performance that is at or near many NVMe SSDs currently on the market.

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At QD1, the 860 Pro delivers yet another lab record for Windows 10. Samsung stated that the 860 Pro is their most powerful SATA SSD to date and that is proving to be a true statement - even when compared to previous models with a huge capacity advantage. At QD4, the 860 Pro matches the best we've seen even from SSDs with the advantage of an SLC buffer.

AS SSD

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.8.5611.39791

AS SSD determines the performance of SSDs. 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. We focus on total score when evaluating AS SSD results.

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AS SSD is a demanding test. With AS SSD we are looking for a minimum score of 1000. Yet again, the 860 Pro sets a lab record for SATA. Keep in mind that with the limited bandwidth of the SATA III interface, a few points are a big deal because most SSDs are bottlenecked by the limitations of the interface.

Benchmarks (OS) - Vantage, PCMark 7, PCMark 8 & SYSmark 2014 SE

Consumer Workloads

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 drive's 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. We are looking for a minimum score of 50K when the drive is in a steady state.

With this testing, the 2TB 850 Pro's capacity advantage results in slightly better performance than we are getting from the 860 Pro. We didn't have a 1TB 850 Pro in the lab for comparison, so we had to use the 2TB model which is slightly faster than the 1TB model. Samsung's Pro series has always dominated this testing and the 860 Pro is no exception.

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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Whenever a SATA SSD scores 7K or above with PCMark 7 it is in an elite class. When a SATA SSD exceeds 8K it is in Samsung class. Yet again, the 860 Pro sets a new lab record for SATA and for Samsung. We see a nice improvement over the 850 Pro 2TB which is the fastest model in the 850 Pro Series.

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. We focus on the total score first and then storage bandwidth when evaluating PCMark 8 results.

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 overall performance.

We looked back at our records and found that the 4TB 850 EVO scored slightly higher and delivered a slightly better storage bandwidth of 338.78, so this is not a lab record for all SATA SSDs, but the 1TB 860 Pro does set a lab record for 1TB class SSDs. Once again, we can see a huge improvement over the 2TB 850 Pro even though it has a huge capacity advantage.

BAPCo SYSmark 2014 SE System Performance

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.0.0.70

SYSmark 2014 SE is considered the gold standard for testing system performance because it is an application-based benchmark. This test gives us the ultimate in real-world results because it utilizes actual applications running on the system, instead of playing back recorded traces. If you want to know what kind of impact a particular SSD will have on your system's overall performance; this test will show you.

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Our systems are much more powerful than the calibration system (1000-point baseline) used by BAPCo, so we ran an OCZ TL100 120GB SATA III SSD to establish a comparison point relative to our test systems. We will be running this test going forward and we will add drives to our chart as we test them.

We haven't tested a lot of SATA SSDs with SYSmark, but we are comfortable in saying that the 860 Pro likely delivers the best overall system performance of any SATA SSD. The 860 Pro achieved two lab milestones by scoring over 1,600 in Responsiveness, and over 1,700 in Overall Rating.

Note: we are replacing our PCMark 8 Extended testing with SYSmark because we believe SYSmark is much more relevant for consumer SSD testing.

Benchmarks (Secondary) - IOPS, Response & Transfers

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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The numbers we are getting here match exactly what we saw from our Anvil's IOPS testing. This indicates that the 860 Pro does not slow down at all when data is on the drive.

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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This testing bypasses any SLC buffer that may be on the drive which is why the buffer-less 860 Pro is delivering better 4K QD1 random read response than Intel's 545s. This backs up our earlier assessment that the 860 Pro's QD1 random read performance is more realistic than what we were seeing from the 545s with our CDM testing. This is because data is only read at SLC speeds if it has already been written to and still resides in the drive's SLC buffer. The read response delivered by the 860 Pro is again a new lab record for SATA when running Windows 10.

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 drive's 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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When testing write transfer rates we have a rule of thumb. If any SSD cannot achieve 200MB/s with our write transfer test, that SSD will not receive a TweakTown recommendation. There are many TLC SSDs that do not pass our minimum, but we didn't include those on our chart. Additionally, we recently updated to Windows 10 Anniversary Edition and with that update, sustained write performance greatly increased. This means our previous transfer tests cannot be compared with those run on the newer version on Windows 10. This is the reason we have drive's that differ from the rest of the review on this chart.

The 860 Pro delivers the best-read transfer rate for any SATA SSD we've tested to date. The drives on our chart that are powered by Micron and SanDisk 3D flash deliver better write transfer rates than the 860 Pro.

Benchmarks – 70/30 Mixed Workload & Sustained Sequential Write

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 at QD32. Phase two of the test runs a 70% read/30% write at QD32, 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 860 Pro doesn't outright win this test, but it does two things better than any of the drives in our test pool. The 860 Pro delivers the tightest, most consistent pattern we've ever seen from a SATA SSD. The 860 Pro is also trending upward at the highest rate we've seen to date. We are of the opinion that if we were to run this test for a longer period of time, the 860 Pro may surpass all of the SSDs on our chart when running in a steady-state.

Sustained Sequential Write

Version and / or Patch Used: Iometer 2014

Heavy Workload Model

We write to the drive for 1 hour with 128K sequential writes at QD32. We log and chart megabytes per second data at 5-second intervals for 1 hour (720 data points). 60 data points = 5 minutes.

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MLC flash always delivers consistency that cannot be matched by TLC flash. This testing proves that the 860 Pro will never slow down or be subject to variability when writing sequential data. The 2TB 850 Pro delivers 2 MB/s better performance, but we are confident that is due to its capacity advantage.

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 empty volumes of Windows 10 64-bit and Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit for this testing.

Windows 10 MOP

Samsung 860 Pro 1TB SATA III SSD

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Windows Server 2008 R2 MOP MOP

Samsung 860 Pro 1TB SATA III SSD

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Final Thoughts

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Like we stated in our opening remarks, we didn't think we would see another SATA SSD coming out of the Samsung camp because the 850 Series was still the undisputed king of SATA storage. We figured that the 850 Series would just be quietly upgraded with Samsung's 64-layer V-NAND. Not so. Samsung remains fully committed to pushing the boundaries of the SATA interface. The 860 Pro represents Samsung's commitment to delivering the very best in the legacy space. Samsung engineered and produced their new MJX controller for this very purpose.

Samsung feels that the 860 Pro is their fastest SATA SSD to date. Our benchmarks clearly show that it is the best performing SATA SSD ever made; shattering lab records right and left. But, it's not just about speed with the 860 Pro, it's also about consistency and endurance. The 860 Pro delivers even better consistency than the already class-leading 850 Pro. The 860 Pro also addresses the only weakness of the 850 Pro. The single thing that could be said that a competitor could do better; endurance. The 860 Pro is now the undisputed king of endurance in the consumer space, delivering up to 8x the endurance of the 850 Pro. Even more amazing is the fact that Samsung accomplished this class-leading endurance without introducing overprovisioning into the mix.

With the 860 Pro, Samsung was able to accomplish the hardest trick in the book for a flash-based MLC SSD - increase low queue depth random read performance significantly. With the 860 Pro, it's not faux low queue depth random read performance that is read back from an SLC cache, it is the real deal, all the time, for the entire capacity of the drive. We proved this with our response testing, where the 860 Pro delivered another lab record for lowest random read response time for a SATA SSD. The 860 Pro is the best of the best. You can feel it when you use it. In-fact, the 860 Pro delivers a better user experience than you will get from many NVMe SSDs currently on the market. This is exactly what our SYSmark testing results prove.

In a world dominated by inferior TLC SSDs, it is refreshing to see that someone is still willing to offer cutting-edge MLC powered SSDs. The goodness of MLC does come at a relatively high price per GB, but we believe it is money well spent. We are certain that anyone who pays the price for ownership will see the quality, feel the performance and consider the money paid well spent.

Whenever an SSD is the world's best in its class, it is TweakTown recommended.

Pros:

  • Overall Performance
  • Endurance
  • Low QD Random Read Performance

Cons:

  • Price (Maybe)
TweakTown award
Performance99%
Quality98%
Features98%
Value98%
Overall98%

The Bottom Line: The price may be a bit steep, but in this case you get what you pay for. The very best.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

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AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

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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.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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