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Samsung SATA SSD's Amazing Reliability

Written on March 7, 2016 by Matt Bach
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At Puget Systems, we spend a lot of effort tracking the failure rates of the parts we sell to make sure that each is living up to our quality standards. We pay very close attention to both sudden and gradual increases in failure rates, but we often don't give the most reliable components the credit they deserve. Today, we want to publish a short article to specifically call out one line of products for being the most reliable component we have ever sold: Samsung SATA SSDs.

Samsung SATA SSDs are by far the most reliable PC component we have ever sold at Puget Systems.

We have been selling Samsung SSDs since 2013, with the majority of our sales coming from their SATA-based 840 and 850 EVO/PRO lines of drives. We have also sold their M.2 drives, but they don't yet live up to the quality standard of the Samsung SATA drives so for the sake of this article we are going to leave those out. Samsung is known for using the latest in technologies to advance both the performance and capacity of their drives, but what we really want to focus on in this article is their incredible reliability.


In the chart above, we have our overall failure rate for Samsung SATA SSDs in total as well as divided up between the EVO and PRO product lines. To act as a comparison, we also have the overall failure rate for the WD platter drives we carried which is a mix of their Blue, Green, Red, RE, and SE drives. Rather than going through this chart in detail, we want to simply make a few points:

  1. Since we started carrying the EVO drives in 2013, only a single Samsung EVO drive has ever failed (it caused the system to not POST) and that happened back in 2014
  2. From the start of 2015 - including 2016 so far - only a single Samsung PRO drive has failed. However, this failure occurred when a customer enabled RAPID mode and the drive became corrupt, so it is entirely possible this was due to a software fault rather than a problem with the Samsung drive itself
  3. In 2013, Samsung SSDs were 4x more reliable than WD platter drives (which are very high quality drives in and of themselves). In 2014, this number increased to 5x. In 2015, they were technically 42x more reliable since only a single Samsung SSD failed that year

If you total up all our sales of Samsung SATA SSDs since 2013 the total overall failure rate comes in at a tiny .18% or only 1 in every 550 drives having a problem. And if you only look at the failure rate since the start of 2015, this is reduced to just .03% which is less than 1 in about every 3,300 drives having a problem! This makes Samsung SATA SSDs by far the most reliable component we have ever sold. Just to put this into perspective, since 2013 WD platter drives have a failure rate of about 1 in 70 (1.41%) and Intel CPUs - which are the next most reliable component we have sold - have an average failure rate of roughly 1 in 240 (.42%). Both of these failure rates are actually very good, but Samsung SATA SSDs are actually twice as reliable as Intel CPUs and almost eight times more reliable than WD platter drives!

This isn't to say that Samsung SATA SSDs are perfect - in fact, there was a performance problem with the 840 EVO drives that took several firmware updates to fix. In addition, there is still a lot of questions as to whether SSDs or platter drives are better for medium to long-term storage. However, the overall .18% failure rate we have seen since 2013 is almost unheard of for any PC hardware component which is why we felt they deserved a special article just to praise Samsung for the great job they are doing with their SATA solid state drives.

Tags: Samsung, 850, 840, PRO, EVO

In what sense do Samsung's M.2 units "not yet live up to the quality standard of the Samsung SATA drives"? Higher failure rates?

Nice to hear the SATA units are so reliable, though: I've got a few EVO units myself.

Posted on 2016-03-08 01:28:09

The overall failure rate is just a bit too high still. Not really unexpected since M.2 is so new and the PCI-E Samsung drives are really pushing the limits of the technology. It is getting better though - In 2014 the Samsung M.2 drives had a 6% failure rate, but that was down to 3.7% in 2015. So far in 2016 we actually haven't had a failure yet, but we're only 3 months in so that doesn't really mean a whole lot. 3.7% isn't really all that bad actually, but it simply isn't anywhere near the reliability of the Samsung SATA drives.

Posted on 2016-03-08 01:35:58

I see! Thanks for sharing.

If you want to share more: which M.2 drives are involved in these stats? The XP941 is the only Samsung M.2 I know from 2014, and then from late 2015 onward the SM951 and 950 Pro would enter in, correct? Have you noticed any difference in failure rates between those series?

Also: are you phasing out the XP941 and SM951? The only reason I can imagine for keeping either on offer is AHCI support for older motherboards or those with troublesome NVMe drivers.

Posted on 2016-03-08 14:47:13

We've sold mostly the Samsung XP941 (when it first came out), and have since moved to the 950 Pro. The SM951 was in a weird time when the Intel 750 was a better fit for us (we didn't have many M.2 needs that couldn't be handled by a PCI-E card) so we didn't actually sell many of those. Now that our laptops and more and more motherboards have M.2 x4 slots, however, we are definitely selling more M.2 drives. So right now, the Samsung 950 Pro is the only M.2 PCI-E drive we are selling.

As for failure stats, the biggest thing to keep in mind is that they are relatively new technology (so there will be some quirks) and that we haven't sold a ton of these drives - so it is possible for one or two outlying cases to really skew the numbers.With that said, I don't mind sharing the overall failures for the two Samsung M.2 lines we have numbers for. The XP941 we only sold ~50 of and had an overall 5.26% failure rate (3 drives). The 950 Pro we have sold ~70 of and so far has a 2.74% failure rate (2 drives). 2.75% isn't too far above the failure rate for platter drives so it is definitely looking better as the technology matures.

Posted on 2016-03-08 16:48:35

And the performance race is not over yet: Intel has presented the Optane technology: http://www.techradar.com/ne... So, SSDs are getting better and better each day. But still the prices for 1000TB is too high: http://hardware.nl/processo... They promised (not Intel but OCZ or some other manufacturer) that a GB of the SSD will cost nearly the same as on the HDD. Let's cross our fingers, because that would be extremely great.

sukhbir singh badal

Posted on 2016-03-08 06:56:30
John

sample sizes?

Posted on 2016-06-06 23:05:43

I'm not sure what exact date range Matt was using when he wrote this, but at the moment our total number of Samsung SSDs from the start of 2013 till today is 7,774 drives. Western Digital hard drives over the same period: 6,978. So definitely large sample sizes :)

Posted on 2016-06-06 23:19:53
John

That is a good sample size. Kinda scary (or good for EVO owners) that the failure rate is considerably higher for the PRO SSD. The pro has a 100% premium price wise. I am building a high availability server and was thinking of RAID 1'ing two of the pros. maybe better off with the EVOs?. what would be cool would be a simple and inexpensive parity ECC raid controller that would use 3 drives and vote on the data, like parity.

Posted on 2016-06-07 15:20:09

We have seen a few more failures with the Pro drives, that is true - but not so many that I would consider them unreliable. The Pro models have longer warranties from Samsung and are rated for a higher write endurance than the EVO models, for example, which could be beneficial in your application. They also shouldn't cost twice the price of the EVO drives... or at least they didn't last time I looked at open market pricing (Newegg, Amazon, etc).

Posted on 2016-06-07 17:19:56
John

thank you. the only difference besides what you mentioned is the controller. MGX vs MEX. I don't know the difference. the nand is the same 3d stuff. different ECC? overprovisioning differences etc? On paper, it is very hard to justify the pro for reliability sake, especially after your report. I am not so concerned with TBW or warranty. the evo (5 years) is fine for this. you get plenty or warning with that. the 1tb EVO even shares the same controller! I don't know the other aspects of your survey, but 7,000+ sample size yields a very high confidence interval.

Posted on 2016-06-07 17:31:11

Yeah, for what it is worth I tend to recommend the EVO to most users. I err on the Pro side for systems where extended use (longer than 5 year lifecycles) or intensive numbers of writes are likely.

Posted on 2016-06-07 18:00:30
Alex Kreis

Any specifics on the Samsung EVO 840 or 850 EVO 1TB units? The 850 seems newer, but is it better than the 840? They are both 1TB, so I'm looking at reliability. 850 is more costly right now as well (Amazon shows 1GB 840 EVO for about $307, 850 for about $427).

Posted on 2016-06-13 23:29:55

We lumped the 840 and 850 lines together in this failure analysis, but I went back and checked to see which drive line failed more. Turns out that the one EVO drive that failed on us was actually a 840 EVO drive. So technically, the 850 EVO has been more reliable for us than the 840 EVO line, but since the difference is between one failure and no failures I would really call it a wash. When you get down to that low of a failure rate it is really hard to blame the drive. So really, in terms of reliability I think both the 840 and 850 lines are excellent.

Posted on 2016-06-14 00:01:43
Alex Kreis

Thanks Matt for the reply. Agree that one failure doesn't mean anything significant. Sounds like either drive would be a good option. I saw an article years ago showing that Intel had the most reliable SSD drives, but that was several years old and things can change. Do you folks sell any Intel SSD drives, and how do they compare to Samsung (percentage of failures)?

Posted on 2016-06-14 00:49:13

We don't sell nearly as many Intel SATA SSDs, and the ones we do sell are primarily their server drives. So it's not a perfect comparison to the consumer Samsung drives we sell, but I went ahead and looked up the last three years, and I saw:

2013: not enough drives sold to be confident in the results
2014: 2.15% (all on the same order though, so very likely something like a bad PSU killed the drives)
2015: 0%

So overall, the server Intel SSDs look just as good as the Samsung drives. Again, I can't really speak for Intel's consumer drives but I suspect they are also very reliable.

Posted on 2016-06-14 17:19:06
Alex Kreis

Thanks again Matt. I'll probably try the Samsung this time, they seem pretty reliable and their speed is very good.

Posted on 2016-06-14 19:34:08
Artimus Weisser

I go with Samsung SSDs every time because of their reliability and Samsung's V-NAND has proven itself to be an industry leader in reliability and performance :)

Posted on 2017-05-17 00:51:38
Matthew

How does this compare to other SSD brands (kingston, adata, critical, WD,...) current products?
Also how do their spec compare (especially after wear in)?
Looking for any research or articles?

Posted on 2019-03-08 16:41:15