Samsung 870 QVO SSD

Samsung 870 QVO SSD

Pros

  • Blazing fast speed for SATA SSD
  • High capacity - up to 8TB!
  • Good value in the right circumstances
  • Samsung quality on show in cache and improved longevity
  • Great media streaming experience in NAS

Cons

  • Still expensive when compared to HDDs for raw storage capacity
  • Quad-level cells make drive less desirable for some applications
  • 3 year warranty could be longer

The arrival of consumer Solid State Drives (SSDs) on the mass market several years ago marked the beginning of a revolution in home data storage. The performance benefits of even the slowest SSDs over spinning disk hard drives (HDDs) was significant enough to drive the steady adoption of SSDs as system drives, while the slower, but much higher capacity HDDs were retained for their large storage capacity. Like many people, that is the setup I have been running on my builds for about six years. But is the Samsung 870 QVO SSD about to change the status quo?

Disclosure: Samsung provided Blog of Dad with the 870 QVO 1TB SSD for the purpose of review and ongoing use. All opinions expressed in this review are my own, based on my experiences with the drive. Visit my Disclosure Statement for more information. 

Samsung 870 QVO SSD

The main goal of the QVO series of Samsung SSDs appears to be bringing high capacity SSDs to the mass market at a price that consumers can stomach. It is a noble goal and one I genuinely applaud.

To do this, Samsung have focussed on developing Quad-level cell (QLC) drives, which write four bits of memory information per cell, as opposed to the Triple-layer cell (TLC) setup of most consumer SSDs. QLC allows for greater storage capacity, but it does come with compromises (discussed later in this review). By utilising this technology, Samsung have been able to release the first 8TB SATA SSD into the consumer market!

 

Samsung 870 QVO SSD

 

It is important to note that, even with the significant improvements in capacity and continued drop in price, the 870 QVO SSDs still don’t compete with traditional HDDs at a dollar-per-gigabyte level… yet. I’m sure that time will come, but in the meantime it is worth assessing whether the performance gain of the 870 QVO series is worth a little extra of your next upgrade’s budget.

 

QLC Positives and Negatives

The biggest benefit of the QLC format is the impressive storage capacity that can be achieved. 8TB is larger than any other consumer-grade SATA SSD, and is up there with the larger HDDs on the market. In fact, 8TB is larger than the largest capacity 2.5″ form factor HDDs on the market! It opens up a world of possibilities for SSD use. Even at the smallest 1TB size, the capacity on offer is adequate for a large portion of casual users. The other main benefit of using QLC is the reduced cost when compared to TLC drives.

Of course, there is also compromise that comes with squeezing more into each cell – namely in the form of performance and longevity sacrifices. Putting it simply, packing more information into a single cell means it takes longer to work with that that data. Also, QLC drives are physically less capable of the same number of write cycles as TLC drives.

Samsung QLC Optimisation in the 870 QVO SSD

Samsung, being Samsung, aren’t about to release a substandard product to the market for the sake of saving a few $$$, so it is worth looking at what they have done to counter the drawbacks that can come with a QLC setup.

Firstly (and most importantly), Samsung have offset the speed penalty of QLC by deploying an Intelligent TurboWrite SLC caching mechanism. For my review 1TB version, this constitutes up to 42GB of cache (the higher capacity drives have up to 78GB of cache).

What this means is that Samsung have mitigated the speed penalty of QLC by using the cache to hit the maximum limits of the SATA connection – up to 560 MB/s sequential reads and 530 MB/s sequential writes. In normal, everyday use the 870 QVO is just as fast as any other SATA SSD on the market. The caveat is that, once the cache has been maxed out, sequential write performance drops to 80MB/s (160MB/s on the higher-capacity 870 QVO drives.).

As for reliability, Samsung state that the 870 QVO doubles its reliability over its predecessor (860 QVO). For the 1TB version, the 870 EVO has a warranty of 360 Terabytes Written (TBW), or 3 years (whichever comes first). For my usage needs (and most average consumer needs), the 360 TBW is more than adequate (huge, in fact!). I would, however, like to have seen a couple more years added to the warranty for peace of mind.

 

What all this means is that we are presented with a horses for courses scenario – the Samsung 870 QVO SSDs might not be the best choice in every scenario, but it certainly has its place. For example, it probably isn’t the best choice for video editing or other tasks that rely on writing large amounts of data to the drive at one time, but it is a very compelling choice for a budget-friendly high capacity, high speed mass storage drive.

 

Samsung 870 QVO SSD

 

Samsung 870 QVO SSD – Real World Test

Those of you familiar with Blog of Dad know I don’t do fancy benchmarking or standardised tests. There is most definitely a place for those kinds of reviews and I have plenty of respect for them. It is interesting to see how things compare in a standardised environment, but (as with children) standardised tests are not the be-all-and-end-all. Real word, unpredictable environments are where you and I will operate these things, so that is where I come from in my reviews. I encourage you to read a variety of reviews when making your purchasing decision.

Samsung sent me the 1TB version of the 870 QVO SSD to put to the test in a family environment. I wanted to know how it would perform as a HDD replacement in my family PC, but also if it was a worthwhile addition to my Synology NAS.

Samsung 870 QVO SSD – The Family PC Mass Storage

Installing the Samsung 870 QVO SSD in a computer is a simple task. It is made especially easy if the computer is a DIY project. Pre-built, big brand computers may be lacking free connections. This doesn’t mean it can’t be installed in such a device, you just may need to replace something that is already there rather than install the 870 QVO in addition.

I have several free SATA connections and the appropriate power connection, so installation was easy. As I wasn’t installing the 870 QVO as a system disk, it was simply a matter of plugging it in and turning on the computer. The disk was recognised immediately and a quick format had it ready to use. For those of you looking to replace a system disk, the Samsung 870 QVO website advises that the renewed migration software on the drive takes care of the process. I didn’t test this feature.

The transfer of files from the old WD Blue 3TB HDD was easy, although I couldn’t send everything across because I have more than 1TB of data on the old HDD. I sent a few folders across to test things out and the speed was fine – more limited by the speed of the old HDD than the new 870 QVO. Of course, if I were to try and fill the new QVO straight away, the cache would be exhausted and things would slow down somewhat during the initial transfer.

I think that the speed penalty on an initial transfer of data would be a small price to pay compared to the ongoing benefits of a large capacity, extremely fast SSD drive for storage. Realistically, it is not something you or I would do on a daily (or weekly, or even monthly basis). The fact is that, with 42GB (or up to 78GB on larger models) of cache, data transfer in a daily-use situation is going to be as speedy as just about any other form of SATA SSD on the market. This, to me, makes the use of a QLC drive by Samsung a sensible idea and one that is designed to cater to the needs of the average user. Power users might notice the difference in certain data-writing-intensive scenarios, you and I will most-likely just notice the raw speed improvement over our previous HDD.

Creating, opening, using and saving files in any task, from word processing to photo editing to gaming, is where users will most likely notice the biggest difference. It is surprising how accustomed most of are to waiting for HDDs to do their thing. It is just part of the experience and it is not until we have the pleasure of using an extremely fast SSD like the Samsung 870 QVO that we actually realise how much of our time is wasted… waiting… and waiting…

The immediate nature of the 870 QVO is a breath of fresh air when moving from a spinning disk HDD to the SSD. It is noticeable in just about everything you do.

For most, then, the sticking point here will be price. Given I already hoard more data than the 1TB (RRP $209) can handle, I would need to look at the 2TB, minimum. That comes in at a reasonable RRP of $419, although that is still considerably more expensive than a traditional HDD. Those focussed solely on price will probably still opt for the HDD, but from a value perspective I believe the Samsung 870 QVO SSD has plenty to offer those who seek a drastically faster computer experience. Another cost-friendly option may be to purchase a 1TB 870 QVO and use it to supplement the mechanical HDD, with current or regularly accessed files on the SSD and older, less used data on the HDD. Either way it is well worth looking at how you could squeeze some form of 870 QVO into the next upgrade or new build.

Samsung 870 QVO SSD – The Family PC NAS Media Drive

Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices are wonderful things. The more I use my Synology DS420+, the more I wonder why I took so long to join the NAS party! One of the things I appreciate most about my Synology DS420+ NAS experience so far is how versatile the machine is – how adaptable to the needs of individual users it can be. The addition of the Samsung 870 QVO 1TB SSD to the DS420+ has reinforced this appreciation for what a NAS can do.

 

 

The idea of using a Samsung SSD as storage in my Synology DS420+ started when I was browsing the Synology Compatibility list. In amongst the usual suspects such as the Seagate IronWolf and WD Red spinning disk drives (HDDs), I spotted the Samsung 860 QVO (the predecessor to the 870 QVO).

I found this idea intriguing. Not so long ago, the idea of using SSDs for NAS storage seemed pretty far fetched. However, with every new iteration of the SSD format, this comes closer to reality.

Now, I’m not for one second suggesting that everyone should rush out and buy four 8TB 870 QVOs to populate their NAS. That would be extremely expensive and ultimately probably not meet your actual needs. Remember that the 860 QVO (the 870 QVO hasn’t appeared in the compatibility checker yet) is listed by Synology as a consumer-grade device. It is not specifically designed for NAS storage. I still have two of my four bays in the DS420+ populated with NAS-grade WD Red 4TB HDDs, and it will stay that way for a while yet.

Where things get exciting is when you consider the Samsung 870 QVO as a stand-alone media drive within the NAS. That leaves the NAS-oriented HDDs to lumber on with the background tasks of backup and mass file storage (in a RAID configuration for redundancy), while the 870 QVO handles the storage and active distribution of media around the house.

 

 

In my setup, I’m completely happy with this drive not being part of a RAID configuration, because I don’t feel the need for the extra redundancy that RAID provides. All of my media files still exist both on the family PC and on the backup drives (and even on a third, off-site backup), so losing the files through drive failure is not a great fear. The Samsung 870 QVO is S.M.A.R.T supported, which means that its health can be monitored through the DS420+, which should give me enough of an indicator of any impending catastrophes.

The result of using the Samsung 870 QVO as a media drive in my DS420+ is a silky smooth media playback experience that I absolutely love! Navigating the massive amounts of photos and videos via Plex on my television or phone is fast and smooth. Thumbnails appear in an instant as I flick between folders or scroll through vast rolls of photos. Clicking on a chosen image leads to a full-screen, high resolution version of the image loading in the blink of an eye. The same goes for Moments – watching the thumbnails flow in smoothly as I rapidly scroll through vast libraries of photos is almost hypnotic.

Video playback begins after the shortest of loading screens and consistently plays smoothly. I will note that I only have the capacity to play videos in 1080p so I can’t comment on the drive’s performance with 4K video playback. The specifications of the drive, however, leave me with little doubt that the 870 QVO would be up to the task.

One point I should make is that the 870 QVO has not yet officially been added to the list of compatible drives on the Synology compatibility checker. However, given that the 860 QVO is listed as compatible for a vast range of devices (just about every Synology NAS from the 14 series to the new 20 series), I would be pretty confident that it is only a matter of time before the  870 QVO appears. I certainly haven’t come across any compatibility issues in my testing.

Returning then to the question of value and a $209 (RRP) outlay for the media playback capability of this 1TB drive in the family NAS is money well spent. Are we at the point where SSDs can finally replace HDDs for all mass storage needs? Not yet. Are we at the point where a SSD can be a useful and intelligent addition to a well-rounded NAS setup? Yes. Yes we are!

 

Final Thoughts

The Samsung 870 QVO is the next step in the high-speed, high-capacity, low-cost march towards storage domination. While it is not quite at the point of wiping the spinning disk hard drive of the face of the planet, the 870 QVO will surely resign quite a few more HDDs to the electronic waste bin. The price point for the 1TB, when viewed through the lens of the impressive performance gains, makes it a strong contender for space in a home PC build. As for my new 1TB 870 QVO drive? It has found its home in my NAS, where its exceptional performance has added an outstanding new layer of awesomeness to the already brilliant NAS experience.

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