For several years Samsung has priced the Pro series out of reach for mainstream users and enthusiasts alike. The NAND shortage prevented MLC SSDs from receiving the same price cuts as the TLC models, so the pricing gap only grew as the shortage progressed. For most consumers, the less-expensive and faster 850 EVO was enough. We haven't tested the new 860 EVO, but it's a safe assumption that the Pro will still be the expensive option while the EVO will be a better fit for most of us.
Samsung's 860 Pro will suffer the most from the rise of low-cost NVMe SSDs that provide a good user experience with cheaper 3D TLC flash. The drive works best in a workstation that reads, writes, and renders multimedia files. It's still a very fast boot device if you want a single high-capacity drive for both general use and some professional work. The 860 Pro will likely go unchallenged in that niche from SATA SSDs, but NVMe has a big performance advantage and the 860 Pro's pricing puts it in contention with those products. For instance, the 860 Pro 1TB sells for the same $479.99 as the 960 EVO 1TB.
SATA's massive install base is the 860 Pro's biggest advantage. There are far more systems still in use today that do not support NVMe than there are systems that support the new protocol.
Some applications also require more than just speed. The 860 Pro is the most endurant SATA SSD available. It's also one of the few high-capacity models available. Samsung's Linux optimizations paired with the Pro's endurance and capacity advantages open avenues for non-traditional use-cases, such as slotting SSDs into your NAS.
High-performance NAS like the QNAP TVS-1282 utilizes tiered storage to increase productivity in a shared storage environment that stores your hot data on the flash layer and your cold files on lower-speed disks. This type of systems is usually found in multimedia companies where an entire group shares a storage pool to work on projects, but these use-cases are a prime target for this class of SSD.
We've spilled a lot of ink lamenting the rise of TLC NAND, so we're happy to see Samsung bring high-speed MLC flash back for another round. The 860 Pro serves a premium market and has its place, but most of us would be more enthusiastic about an NVMe SSD with MLC flash. Samsung should release a new 970 NVMe SSD with 64-layer NAND and the Phoenix controller in April. That means we won't have to wait very long to see if Samsung will satiate the enthusiast community with a high-performance MLC SSD that costs less than Intel's Optane SSD 900P.
MORE: Best SSDs
MORE: All SSD Content