Samsung EVO 850 MSATA review – Expert Reviews

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Samsung fills a niche with one of the fastest MSATA SSDs around – the EVO 850 is blisteringly quick
Capacity: 250GB, Cost per gigabyte: £0.35, Interface: MSATA, Claimed read: 540MB/s
Variants of the superb EVO 850 have been a long time coming, having first been confirmed back in July last year at Samsung’s SSD Forum in Korea, but the smaller, more flexible M.2 and mSATA versions have now arrived. Ultrabook users and owners of new motherboards should read our EVO 850 M.2 review, but for everyone that’s been waiting to put their mSATA slot to good use, read on to find out if the EVO 850 mSATA is a worthy replacement for a traditional SSD.
For anyone unfamiliar with the form factor, mSATA is a derivative of the SATA connection that has been commonplace for hard disks, SSDs and optical drives for at least the last ten years. It weas originally designed for netbooks and laptops where space was at a premium, but quickly found its way onto enthusiast motherboards as an alternative to conventional 3.5in or 2.5in disks. The space saving cards are a godsend for anyone working with a mini-ITX or home theatre chassis, as you don’t have to worry about routing cables from the power supply or SATA ports – mSATA SSDs are entirely bus powered and plug directly into the motherboard. However, most motherboards typically only have one mSATA slot, and this doubles as a PCI-Express Mini-Card slot, which is most often filled with a wireless card. If your motherboard came with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth out of the box, you may need to sacrifice that connectivity if you’re looking to add mSATA storage. 
Compared to a regular 2.5in SSD, the EVO 850 mSATA is incredibly small
The EVO 850 mSATA is basically a standard EVO 850 SSD squeezed down onto a circuit board no larger than a Zippo lighter. It uses an identical Samsung-manufactured MGX controller and 3D V-NAND flash memory, which is stacked vertically to squeeze greater capacity cells into a smaller space. Samsung also claims V-NAND is 30% more energy-efficient than traditional 2D NAND, which could provide a battery life bonus for anyone looking to upgrade a laptop – particularly if they are moving from a mechanical hard disk.
Upgrading a laptop that already uses mSATA storage is a different matter. Samsung doesn’t include any kind of upgrade kit with the EVO 850 mSATA; arguably this makes sense because mSATA ports are more common on desktop motherboards than they are on current laptops and Ultrabooks, but it would have been nice to have some kind of caddy or external enclosure for making storage transfers a little easier out of the box. As it is, you’ll need to invest in an mSATA enclosure, such as the £31 SAT2MSAT25 from uk.startech.com, and some cloning software like EaseUS Disk Copy, which you’ll have to factor into the price of the SSD itself.
Many Ultrabooks don’t actually use mSATA storage at all, opting instead for smaller, thinner M.2 SSDs. You should definitely check whether your laptop is compatible before buying. Indeed, it may not be upgradeable at all; some laptops we’ve seen use flash memory chips soldered onto the motherboard, while others require special tools to even gain access to the internals. All of the Ultrabooks in the office at the time of writing required a Torx screwdriver to get inside. 
full-size SSD adapters like this Startech model will let you upgrade even if you lack an mSATA slot
Whether you’ll be installing it in a laptop or a desktop PC, there’s no question that the EVO 850 mSATA is exceptionally fast. Samsung rates it for 540MB/s sustained read and 520MB/s sustained writes, and connected over a SATA 6Gbps mSATA interface, it managed to exceed both in our 100MB large files test. Write speeds of 679.9MB/s and read speeds of 732.8MB/s are beyond almost every other SSD we’ve reviewed to date, and a clear indication that the EVO 850 is lightning fast when it comes to single file transfers. Our small files test was always more likely to test its sustained throughput, so it’s no surprise that the write and read speeds both take a tumble. 86.6MB/s writes and 75MB/s reads are still respectable, although they appear to fall short of the standard EVO 850.
With no tools or software in the box for laptop or Ultrabook users looking to upgrade, the EVO 850 mSATA isn’t quite as flexible as we would like, but desktop PC users looking to squeeze in some extra storage will appreicate the impressively fast read and write speeds. Best of all, prices are very reasonable compared to full-size SSDs. The 500GB model we reviewed here will set you back £180, which is barely any more than the regular EVO 850 2.5in. If your motherboard supports the standard, there’s no reason not to opt for this over a full-size model. 

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