My experience with the Samsung 850 EVO 2TB SSD, and how it fits into my hybrid home lab strategy

Posted by Paul Braren on Jul 28 2015 (updated on Nov 6 2015) in
  • Storage
  • Virtualization
  • ESXi
  • Productivity
  • Wow. 2TB SSDs. They're here at last! Samsung is first out of the chute, delivering their 850 EVO 2TB SSD models to consumers now, and the 850 PRO 2TB variant coming in early August. There is a relatively unknown and pricey newcomer called Fixstar, but their 3TB and 6TB models are currently still on pre-order.


    My consumer focused 850 EVO 2TB became available on Newegg last week (where I bought mine), but now also available on Amazon and Wiredzone.

    Once I've used this 2TB SSD some more, I'll be adding updates below.

    That picture at the top, snapped that myself last night, showing my very new Samsung 850 EVO 2TB SSD. Just in time for tomorrow's Windows 10 release!

    The Pro model ekes out only a very slight performance advantage, but doubles the 5 year warranty to 10 years. The EVO uses 3D V-NAND. The PRO uses 3D V-NAND too, but calls it 3D Vertical NAND, and adds Tantalum Capacitors for improved power loss protection, and bumps up from 150TBW to 300 TBW (Terabytes Written).

    FYI, Samsung also announced 4TB Enterprise models PM863 and SM863 that use the same basic chip package, but also using the backside of the PCB, and rates it for even higher write volumes. Priced accordingly. Nice overviews of Samsung SSDs on recent PC Perspective Podcast lately, with a comparison between EVO and PRO, and Consumer versus Enterprise.

    These little Samsung 850s are the usual 2.5" laptop form factor, but a merely 7mm high, so keep that in mind for your installation. There are no screws or adapters in the box, just the drive itself, some pamphlets, and a CD with Samsung Magician.


    Samsung 850 EVO 2 TB 2.5" SSD

    Samsung 850 PRO 2 TB 2.5" SSD


    Home lab storage stategy overhaul

    It will be fun to see how this drive runs ATTO Disk Benchmark, on a fresh install of Windows 10 Pro, on my compact and efficient and powerful virtualization lab/workstationSupermicro SuperServer 5028D-TN4T. This is all a part of trying to dramatically take my home's watt burn down by end of summer, eliminating the need for 2 older, more thirsty systems.

    This overhaul will consolidate all my SSDs and 3.5" 4TB and 6TB drives, into that compact and capable SuperServer. Planned on-site and off-site daily automated backups of PCs and VMs will likely use a combination of NAKIVO and Veeam Endpoint Backup FREE.

    Hybrid Storage Strategy

    What's the ultimate goal here? Well, I tipped you off recently, when I mentioned that a single SSD can be in hydra-like roles:

    1. booted normally, with Windows 10 installed directly on it
      Already tested on a smaller SSD, works great, of course, using fresh install of Build 10240.

    2. booted inside a VMware ESXi 6.0 VM
      Yes, this same SSD passed through to the VM as a RDM, and the triple-4K-ready GPU is also passed through (aka, VT-d/VMDirectPath).

    3. booted inside a laptop
      For occasional road-trips, I'll have the same exact experience as I have at home, with the exception of the triple monitors, of course. Or I'll just securely remote in. It kind of depends upon how that Windows 10 Pro licensing/activation works out.

    So yeah, that's my plan, to put this little 2TB SSD into this double or even triple role, this week! Should be interesting, come on back and check for updates to my story that I'll add below.

    Backstory, with some mSATA bumps in the road


    I currently use (and abuse) my Samsung 840 EVO 1TB mSATA drive, with known issues in read-speed that Samsung hasn't yet firmware fixed for mSATA variants. That 1TB SSD is my daily-driver, my Windows 8.1 C: drive these past 10 months. I also have a 1TB spinning D: drive in that same laptop. Yeah, I do a fair bit of video editing for the TinkerTry YouTube Channel.

    My brief experiment with RAPID Mode on that mSATA drive may have led to some issues with regular backups. I've also outgrown 1TB, and I've apparently now also have some write speed issues as well. Samsung quickly offered to RMA it, using an admittedly archaic process of faxing and/or attachments. I'll have that replacement 1TB mSATA SSD soon, destined for use as a 1TB VMFS datastore for my vSphere 6.0 home lab.

    This favorable Samsung warranty treatment is part of why I'm sticking with Samsung for now. Wouldn't make much sense to bail just because of one failure, when my extended family laptops and home lab have had a good overall experiences with 6 SSDs these past 4 years.

    I've owned 5 brands of SSDs, all the way back to the Intel X-25M with no TRIM. It's just easier to use one set of tools, and to have a drive that so many hundreds of thousands of folks have. That way, it also just becomes easier to track firmware and apply updates.

    Once I have my daily-driver Windows 8.1 build manually rebuilt in Windows 10 on the new 2TB SSD, I'll then secure erase the slow-writes 1TB mSATA SSD, then ship it back to Samsung RMA.

    Out with the guts of old vZilla, with LSI 9265-8i RAID and a lot of spinning drives, only the biggest 4TB and 6TB drives to be re-used in the new SuperServer.

    Why not mSATA, or even M.2?

    My motherboard has an M.2 interface. But there are no affordable M.2 AHCI or NVMe 2TB drives on the near horizon. So I went with the "legacy" SATA3 interface, one last time, which does cap speeds to under 550Mbps or so. Having also been bit by mSATA firmware getting left behind, that form factor wasn't something for me to hold out for either. I'd rather be on something that lots of folks are also using.

    Also helps that Samsung is the only company shipping a 2TB model that fits my current and pressing home lab rebuild needs quite nicely.

    Click image to view specs of Supermicro SuperServer 5028D-TN4T at Wiredzone

    Why not RAID?

    Having left behind all LSI 9265-8I RAID, and Intel RAID, which never worked with VMware anyway, I've greatly simplified management of my gear. I've also reducing watt burn and downtime, and eliminated the chance of reliving a RAID5 double-drive-failure, hours before a business trip. I realize that I will have to ensure I have adequate backups, as already mentioned above.

    Moving toward SSDs for everything except backups

    This drive consolidation effort, and this big 2TB SSD purchase, are just two more steps in the right direction. I'll be using SSD for most of my home lab projects, and re-purposing smaller capacity SSDs that lived in vZilla, for good use in the extended family-member's soon-to-be-Windows 10 laptops.

    At a cost of 40 cents per gigabyte, I'm well aware that I'm paying the price of being an early Samsung 850 EVO 2TB SSD adopter here, getting this drive just in time for the Windows 10 release. That painful $800 initial cost is likely to diminish in the coming months. My memories of that pain will also be likely to diminish, assuming I get this all working nicely...

    JUL 29 2015 Update

    The build went very well, very well. And with Windows 10 now out, Windows Pro and Windows 10 installed just fine, using pretty much the same procedure as seen here.


    Nov 06 2015 Update

    After several months of ownership, still very happy with my 850 EVO 2TB. No issues to report, this is good!

    See also my new article about storage strategy here:


    See also at TinkerTry

    See also