Samsung had released the 860 QVO SSD line in the end of 2018 as their entry level and most affordable SSD. Samsung has been a leader of solid state storage for almost a decade and has brought much of that technology down to a price range that everyone should jump on. I’ve got my hands on the 1TB model, the lowest capacity that Samsung makes alongside a 2TB and 4TB model.
The QVO is currently only available with the SATA III interface, and I haven’t heard of any plans to make it available in other interfaces, but I’d imagine that there would be a M.2 variant at some point down the line. The SATA interface makes it the most widely adaptable across the world, as most computers still utilize that interface and it is easily adaptable to USB to be used as an external hard drive.
For this little test review, I’ve used an affordable Sabrent USB 3.0 to 2.5″ SATA adapter (roughly $9) along with the Samsung 1TB 860 QVO to compare to the more expensive 1TB Samsung 860 PRO while connected to my 2013 Mac Pro over USB 3.0.
I used CrystalDiskMark or AmorphousDiskMark (basically runs CrystalDiskMark on a Mac) to run a benchmark on a couple different size files to help show any differences based off of a certain capacity or specification. The biggest difference with the QVO and the PRO is the amount of cache that each contains, with the PRO model having more. Because of that cache difference, you’ll be able to see a speed difference in longer sustained writes to the drives, with the top of the line PRO series being able to continuously write faster. But really that’s not going to matter if you compare the QVO to any sort of traditional hard drive, it’ll be exponentially faster.
These drives are being limited by the USB bus on my system (there are a lot of other things running at the same time, but this makes the test reflect a little bit more of the real world scenario). When used internally, the speed will more than likely jump upward toward 500MB/s and higher for both sequential reading and writing.
Traditional hard drives will transfer exceedingly slow in comparison. Just as a comparison, I’ve tested a 2.5″ WD Black 500GB 7200RPM Performance hard drive for laptops (one that is better than typical external hard drives you can purchase off the shelf) just to give you an idea as to what one of the best traditional hard drives can do…
It is almost too easy to compare the numbers. The numbers can’t accurately reflect how fast your computer will load, but it’ll give you an idea that it’ll be BLAZING fast if you’re upgrading from one of these drives. Once you’ve used a machine with a SSD installed internally, it’s really hard to go back to anything that has a traditional hard drive.
Most of the transactions that occur when booting a computer or starting up an app works around the 4K size– so you might even have a computer that is up to 130x faster than what you would have with a laptop or desktop with a traditional drive.
Best uses for this Samsung 860 QVO drive
Working Lightroom Catalog storage
This drive is a good candidate for to be used as an external hard drive when paired one of those Sabrent USB adapters like the one I used for the benchmark. Putting the Lightroom Catalog and associated photos on one of these drives can really help with speeding up access to the pictures in Lightroom. It’ll also make it easier for you to tote around and open your catalogs on different computers. Since it doesn’t have any moving parts, it won’t suffer the same death and corruption that most external hard drives encounter due to drops and vibration — that doesn’t make it invincible though, so please have a good backup system in place (or just get another QVO just for backups)!
Because of the low cost for this drive and more than adequate performance, one could utilize this as a primary replacement drive for their laptop or desktop, as long as the computer currently utilizes a SATA interface. This is what I recommend the most.
While the drive is backwards compatible with SATA II and SATA I, it’ll perform as intended speed over SATA III allowing the computer to get close to that ~550MB/s ceiling.
The roomy 1TB can hold just about everything that most people need on their main drives — and if you opt for the 2TB or 4TB, you’re probably not going to need anything else for quite a long time! I’ve lived off of 1TB on my main drive and haven’t come close to the max (I do have a Drobo to hold all my media though).
Real life use against the PRO model? Well, I’ve put at least 200 Samsung 860 PRO SSDs into laptops and have upgraded 25% of those into larger QVO drives have heard that they haven’t noticed anything distinctly different — and they’re using the machines for video rendering and 3D modeling. If it is good enough for their intense use; it’s probably more than enough for us photographers and videographers as a main drive. If you’re copying large amounts of files back and forth, as its main purpose, it’ll be slower than the PRO series or the mid-tier EVO series. Still can’t beat the bang for the buck though.
If you’ve shot any sort of video, you know that it takes up a lot of space — and often times, some of these 20GB video files can take an eternity to transfer. Storing your videos on one or several of these drives would be a wonderful solution. I’d definitely opt for a couple of the larger drives and still retain a good backup methodology.
External storage for fun or games
If you’ve already got a SSD in your drive or you’re just in need of a fast external drive for everyday use, these aren’t a bad option. It’ll be great for travel and for cold-storing files that you want to just hold on to. If you’re a gamer, you can also use this to store your gaming files (looking at you Xbox and PS4 users). Need a reliable drive for important data like taxes? Get an adapter or an enclosure and use a drive like this.
Where to pick one up
Grab the Samsung 860 QVO 1TB for $117.99. I have paid as low as $107 for this model, but I’ve seen it as high as $122. The price seems to fluctuate quite a bit, but it is still the most affordable for the performance and capacity.
Grab the Samsung 860 QVO 2TB for $227.99.
Grab the Samsung 860 QVO 4TB for $547.99. I have seen these come and go on Amazon, but B&H seems to have a steady stock of these.
Grab the Samsung 860 QVO 1TB and the Sabrent USB 3.0 (5Gbps) adapter bundle for $126.98 on Amazon.