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Samsung's 850 EVO 2TB SSD reviewed

There's a monster in my drive bay
— 3:05 PM on September 29, 2015

Samsung has some making up to do in enthusiast circles. A series of recent of SSD-related gaffes have earned it the ire of many consumers. Performance degradation on the 840 EVO SSD and a botched firmware update process for the 850 Pro aren't issues that can easily be swept under the rug. Samsung probably has to hit a couple out of the park before it can expect some of its more jaded customers to return to the fold.

Fortunately, the company usually does just that. The aforementioned 850 Pro firmware update issue aside, the 850 series has enjoyed widespread success—a fact reflected by market data. Trendfocus reports that Samsung drives accounted for a hefty 43.8% of the SSD market share in the second quarter of 2015. 850-series drives have been available in capacities from 120GB to 1TB for some time now, but there's a new kid on the block. It's Samsung's largest SSD to date, the two-freakin'-terabyte 850 EVO. Behold:

Pretty unassuming-looking, right? It comes in the same understated 2.5" form factor we've seen with smaller 850 EVOs. The characteristic gray square on the case lets you know that you're looking at an EVO and not a Pro. (Samsung has also released a 2TB 850 Pro, but we're not reviewing that drive today.)

These two leviathans occupy a freshly-carved-out niche as the only 2TB 2.5" SATA SSDs available on the market. Regardless of past issues with Samsung SSDs, you have to respect what the company's engineers have achieved here.

Crack the case open and the difference between the EVO 2TB and its less capacious brethren still isn't immediately apparent. Like its 1TB sibling, the 2TB EVO houses eight NAND packages—four on either side of the PCB. What's new is the number of dies in each package. The EVO 2TB employs the same 32-layer 128Gbit 3D V-NAND chips found in smaller 850-series drives, but Samsung has stuffed 16 of them into each package rather than eight.

To handle this massive capacity, Samsung ships the EVO 2TB with an additional gigabyte of DRAM, for a total of 2GB. An upgraded Samsung MHX controller takes advantage of that DRAM increase. The MEX controller in the other 850 EVOs can't work with more than 1GB of RAM.

The 850 EVO 2TB comes with all the bells and whistles we've come to expect in an EVO drive. On the peformance side, TurboWrite allows the controller to treat some of the NAND as an SLC cache to improve write speeds. Installing Samsung's Magician software also grants access to RAPID Mode, which requisitions a chunk of main system memory to use as an even faster storage cache. We won't test with RAPID enabled for this review, but check out our coverage of it in the 850 Pro review for more details. For the security-conscious, AES 256-bit hardware encryption and e-drive support are both available to keep your data from prying eyes.

The 850 EVO 2TB sells for about $750 at Newegg right now. That price puts it among the most expensive SSDs you can buy, but remember that the huge capacity makes the EVO pretty competitive on a cost-per-gigabyte basis. Some back-of-the-napkin math brings us to a $0.37-per-gigabyte figure, which is about the same as comparable drives from Crucial like the MX200.

Samsung backs all the 850 EVO variants with a five-year warranty, and the 2TB model is rated for 150TB of writes. That's plenty of endurance for a standard client workload.

Now, let's see what this whale of a drive can do.