Samsung has yet to disappoint us with one of its SSDs. Three years ago, the 470 series topped our performance charts and gave the Crucial RealSSD C300 a run for its money. A year later, Samsung followed up with its 830 series, whose extreme performance bested most of the SandForce SF-2281 drives flooding the market at the time. Last year, of course, we received the venerable 840 Pro, which remains one of the most attractive options if you're interested in top-end performance and reliability.
Now more than a few generations into the game, Samsung has prepared its best offering to date, pairing TLC storage with two caching mechanisms, including one called RAPID that can tap into RAM. We weren't impressed with the Evo series or its caching technologies in every test, especially when working with a single large file, but it held its own in most, including our program copy and real-world application tests, while it managed to top the graph in our game copy test as well as several synthetic benchmarks.
RAPID also proved to be very beneficial in PCMark 7, delivering strong gains in two of the four tests we included and providing the best results we've recorded in the starting applications test. Taking that into consideration, we don't doubt that the Evo's SLC buffer mitigates whatever performance disadvantages might be associated with the drive's TLC memory. Between the raw performance of its NAND parts and the clever design behind its RAPID technology, the Evo can look like a PCIe SSD in certain conditions.
That's unheard of for what could be considered budget-oriented flash drives. The 120GB model is a good value at $109 or $0.90/GB, but we recommend investing in the largest model you can reasonably justify for your needs and budget.
Along with more storage at a better price, splurging on a bigger model will get you faster performance. The 250GB version is currently set at $183 ($0.73/GB) and the 500GB model is going for $370 ($0.74), which nets you twice the TurboWrite SLC buffer at 6GB versus 3GB.
Folks with deeper pockets should be pleased to discover how affordable the higher capacity models are, with the 750GB Evo fetching $530 ($0.70/GB) and the 1TB variant costing only $650 ($0.65/GB) -- some of the best price per gigabyte ratios we've seen for high-end flash drives. Nonetheless, SSD prices continue to fall and competition is stiff. For example, the 960GB Crucial M500 is $590 ($0.61/GB), though Samsung's Evo series is faster and retains enough of an advantage to warrant your attention.
Pros: Quick and dependable yet roomy and affordable -- everything we've been waiting for in an enthusiast solid state drive.
Cons: Honestly, not much. RAPID caching occupies up to a gig of system memory (for a good reason), and it's not as affordable as the Crucial M500 but you can't have it all.