950 pro review: The Samsung 950 Pro PCIe SSD Review (256GB and 512GB)

Samsung 950 Pro SSD Review — Tom’s Hardware

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NVMe in the M.2 form factor is finally a reality for desktop enthusiasts. Retailers begin selling Samsung’s 950 Pro today, and we already have three drives in-hand.

Early Verdict

The Samsung 950 Pro sets a new bar for high performance storage and brings it to market at a low price point. Samsung didn’t need to lean on power hungry enterprise controllers or ridiculous adapters + cables either to enable NVMe technology in desktops. The number of NVMe capable notebooks is very small but eventually the 950 Pro will work as an upgrade to lower quality m.2 SSDs shipping in OEM systems. The m.2 form factor is elegant, powerful, and the right price for Z97, X99 and Z170 motherboard owners.

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    The 950 Pro delivers class leading performance at a good price point, thermal envelope and low power consumption. Advanced software features seal the deal but we’re still waiting to see Rapid Mode for this product.

  • The 950 Pro needs a 1TB model to satisfy power users and a 2TB model for gamers with large Steam / Origin libraries. Magician Software with Windows 10 support is lacking at this time but Samsung is working on it.

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Samsung continues to lead the SSD market. Its new 950 Pro delivers blistering performance in an elegant package. This beauty is a beast, but you might be surprised to learn that it’s also affordable.

Today marks an important milestone in storage history. The Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) protocol will replace AHCI across a large number of devices, improving the user experience as it reduces latency. This is all thanks to the first product designed specifically for client use, Samsung’s 950 Pro.

For years, storage enthusiasts watched other subsystems enjoy massive performance increases at the hands of new technology and advanced manufacturing. Hard drives, and even SSDs, just couldn’t scale at the same pace as CPUs, RAM or GPUs. AHCI-enabled solid-state drives did shrink the gap, but quickly became limited by legacy interfaces designed for mechanical disks.

NVMe changes the rules. Recently, Intel divulged that the protocol was designed for 3D XPoint. But that didn’t stop SSD manufacturers from adapting it to more traditional flash-based storage products. Intel already introduced a high-end NVMe-based drive to the client segment by utilizing an expensive and power-hungry controller from its data center portfolio. But the 950 Pro is different. Its M.2 form factor facilitates lower power consumption than Intel’s SSD 750, which is limited to the 2.5″ and add-in card form factors due to a 12V requirement. Enterprise-class technology like that often finds its way onto the desktop, even though it can be clumsy. For instance, many data center devices need more air flow. When you bring them over to enthusiast PCs, it becomes necessary to augment your cooling and cope with the resulting noise.

The 950 Pro also differs from the SM951 and SM951-NVMe. This new model is a retail product, and it comes with tools developed by Samsung to improve your user experience. Samsung will make the drivers readily available, along with the company’s SSD toolbox software called Magician. The company also has an in-house cloning tool you’ll get access to. In comparison, the SM951s are designed for OEM customers, and gray market products usually lack official drivers and software. Many enthusiasts have purchased the SM951-NVMe, only to fall back on Microsoft’s built-in drivers. Without the NVMe software that HP recently published , you leave roughly 30% of the SM951-NVMe’s random performance tied up in the driver stack. Not every user knows to jump through those hoops. Retail products like the 950 Pro simplify support greatly.

Technical Specifications

Samsung 950 Pro 256GB


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Samsung 950 Pro (512GB)


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The 950 Pro is available in two capacities: 256 and 512GB. Samsung tells us that a 1TB model will launch early in 2016, and it’ll employ Samsung’s 48-layer MLC V-NAND, which stacks more memory cells without decreasing the number of usable dies per wafer. The two 950 Pros introduced today use Samsung’s 32-layer MLC V-NAND. The 48-layer stuff won’t enter production until later this year.

At the 950 Pro’s heart is a Samsung UBX controller, the same one found on the SM951 and SM951-NVMe. This is Samsung’s catch-all PCIe-to-NAND flash controller for 2015, it seems. An enterprise-oriented version with host power-fail protection is expected later this year as well, and it’ll be called the SM953 . The UBX controller is manufactured on a 32nm node and consists of three ARM Cortex-R4 cores running at 500MHz. The controller can address eight channels with eight-way interleaving. Error correction comes in the form of BCH, so we don’t expect Samsung to utilize three-bit-per-cell flash without heavy modifications.

Expect the 512GB 950 Pro to be faster than the 256GB model, delivering up to 2500 MB/s sequential read and 1500 MB/s sequential writes. Its random performance specs are also impressive. At a queue depth of one, random reads can hit up to 12,000 IOPS according to Samsung. Those sequential numbers come from an enterprise-class workload, so you shouldn’t expect to see 2.5 GB/s on the desktop. Still, the SSD is very, very fast.

The 950 Pros should also support AES 256-bit FDE with eDrive and TCG Opal. This wasn’t enabled on our review sample; however, retail drives are expected to receive a firmware update either before release or not long after. AES encryption is not enabled on the SM951 either, but we’ve yet to hear anyone complain about the omission.


Samsung’s 950 Pro 256GB has an MSRP of $200. The 512GB model should sell for $350. The obvious comparison to the 950 Pro is Intel’s SSD 750 400GB. Newegg currently has that drive priced at $360, and we have both of Intel’s client-oriented NVMe products in today’s charts for performance comparisons.


The 950 Pros include five-year warranties limited by the total amount of data written to the drive. Samsung’s 256GB version is capped at 200 terabytes written (TBW) and the 512GB drive doubles that to 400 TBW. Both 950 Pros increase the TBW limit over the 850 Pro by 50 TBW (256GB comparison) and 100 TBW (512GB comparison).


Magician software to enable Rapid Mode was not available in time for our review. However, Samsung says it’ll release the utility soon. The company also has its own drive cloning software for retail-branded SSDs. It will be interesting to see how Samsung handles booting from the NVMe driver on a cloned operating system. You may need to fiddle with BIOS settings and the original operating system to get a smooth transition. This would include installing an NVMe driver in Windows 7. The Microsoft driver built into Windows 8.x and Windows 10 is a bit easier.

Software tools aside, the 950 Pro only ships with the M.2 2280 form factor drive and two Samsung SSD stickers for the outside of your notebook or desktop PC.

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Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom’s Hardware US. He tests and reviews consumer storage.

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950 Pro review: Samsung’s first PCIe M.2 NVMe SSD is an absolute monster

Tech —

Samsung focuses on bleeding-edge performance instead of the budget SSD market.

Orestis Bastounis

Orestis Bastounis

The 950 Pro isn’t Samsung’s first consumer M.2 SSD, or even the company’s first PCIe M.2 drive. It is, however, Samsung’s first consumer M.2 and NVMe drive that uses the full performance of four PCIe 3.0 lanes. It is also an upgrade from its predecessor, the SM951, in that it uses 3D V-NAND rather than planar NAND.

Somewhat disappointingly, the 950 Pro comes in only two capacities for now: 256GB or 512GB, with a 1TB model promised for next year. Samsung is resolute in only producing single-sided M.2 devices to keep the drive’s thickness to a minimum, so the 1TB drive will have to wait until 48-layer 3rd-generation V-NAND is available. Thankfully, no 128GB model will be sold, indicating that 128GB SSDs may be on their way out.

UK pricing is pegged at £150 for the 256GB model and £270 for 512GB; in the US, it’s $200 and $350, respectively. As always, expect some variation between retailers with these prices, and in these early days, prices may be slightly higher than what Samsung is quoting. We’re told that the 950 Pro will hit retailers today; we’ll update this story with some links when they first appear.

Updated: Scan now has the 512GB 950 Pro in the UK—but they’re charging a rather shocking £320 for it, which is well over the RRP. In the US, Newegg has the 512GB drive at $350.

If you just want the 950 Pro benchmarks, you can skip the following section. If you want a bit of background on the state of the SSD market, and why Samsung seems to be absolutely dominating at the moment, read on!

The state of Samsung

Samsung is the world’s largest producer of NAND flash memory, and is (still) the only firm to sell SSDs with a controller and firmware developed in-house, using NAND flash memory manufactured at its own fabrication plants.

Working on everything in-house has already paid dividends for Samsung. With the 850 Pro, released last year, the company was first to bring 3D flash memory technology to market, which it calls V-NAND. Put simply, with 3D NAND flash memory, the memory cells are stacked in three dimensions, with a far greater number of connections between them than is possible with a 2D planar arrangement. One of its biggest potential advantages is greater densities from a single chip, but also it seems Samsung hasn’t been forced to use ever smaller process nodes like its competitors. The 850 Pro is based off 40nm NAND flash memory, while other firms are forced into using smaller 20nm, 19nm, and 16nm chips to increase densities.

In response to Samsung’s performance in the solid-state storage arena, the rest of the industry is consolidating its forces. Intel has strengthened its relationship with Micron, announcing its own 48-layer 3D flash memory, and what appears to be a very interesting technology called 3D XPoint. Said to be non-volatile and 1,000 times faster than NAND, while still offering a higher density than DRAM, Intel is describing 3D XPoint as a whole new category of memory, due to ship next year. But as of now, few concrete details are known about 3D XPoint products.


Separately, Toshiba—another large producer of NAND flash memory—is slowly moving towards the same route of vertical production. It now owns OCZ Storage Solutions, and as seen with the recent entry-level OCZ Trion 100 SSD, which uses a Toshiba-designed TC58 controller, is moving towards an SSD made entirely in-house. They’re not quite there yet though, particularly since OCZ still operates relatively independently of Toshiba.

Samsung’s current flagship 2.5-inch SATA SSD, the 850 Pro, is probably the most advanced SATA drive on the market. With 32-layer V-NAND, read and write performance that hovers around 550MB/sec, a 10-year warranty, and capacities that go up to 2TB (and a 4TB model due out next year) it’s a very impressive device. But all this technology doesn’t come cheap: the 850 Pro is one of the most expensive 2.5-inch SSDs on the market.

A more budget-friendly drive, the 850 Evo, aims for a more mainstream price point. It likewise uses V-NAND, but with 3-bit MLC flash memory for cost reduction and a large SLC cache, rather than 2-bit MLC as with the 850 Pro.

Herein lies a problem for Samsung. Other firms are competing with ever-cheaper products at entry-level prices. Crucial (a subsidiary of Micron) released the MX100 last year, which it has now followed up with the BX100 and MX200 drives, all of which cost less than Samsung’s drives, and for most people are absolutely sufficient. There’s a chance that such a race to the bottom could see Samsung’s market share slowly eaten away by ever-cheaper drives.

While Samsung has the advantage on paper, it’s difficult to argue that the performance advantage of the 850 Pro is worth the cost; in a blind test, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between the 850 Pro and another cheaper SSD. Even in synthetic benchmarks, the gap between the 850 Pro and other drives isn’t enormous.

You might think that Samsung’s next step would be to produce a cheaper drive, to compete with the Crucial and co.—but no, it’s quite the opposite: With the 950 Pro, announced today, Samsung is doubling down on performance. I think that’s our cue to get back to the review.

Too many TLAs

The new 950 Pro occupies a slightly odd space in the company’s overall SSD lineup. Samsung’s alternative consumer M.2 SSD, the 850 Evo M.2, is not in the same performance category as the 950 Pro. M.2 SSDs can use either the PCIe bus or SATA bus, and the 850 Evo is a SATA 6Gbps drive—it’s no faster than a normal 2. 5-inch SSD. Its main advantage is the smaller M.2 card form factor, which is of benefit in NUCs, Mini-ITX builds, or in ultra-thin laptops.

Spiritually, the 950 Pro is much closer to the NVMe variant of the four-lane PCIe SM951, which has on the market since earlier this year. Samsung originally intended for the SM951 to be an OEM-only product, included with retail PCs. Up until the launch of the 950 Pro, though, it was the best performing M.2 SSD on the market—and so, rather understandly, retailers have been selling them separately to PC building types. Being an OEM drive, the SM951 has a shorter warranty period, fewer support options from Samsung, and will not work with their Magician SSD management software.


With the launch of Skylake and the Z170 chipset, four-lane PCIe 3.0 M.2 storage is now available in a mainstream computing platform (assuming you categorise Haswell-E and X99 as intended for servers or workstations). Now is the perfect time for Samsung to launch a consumer PCIe M. 2 SSD that makes use of this available performance, and the company has done just this with the 950 Pro.

The drive itself comes in the 80mm-long 2280 format. Every Z170 motherboard we’ve seen supports M.2 devices of this size, but the larger 110mm 22110 size is not universally supported. As with (we presume) all M.2 SSDs, it uses an M-key connector, which is mandatory for four-lane PCIe speeds. (For more information about the M.2 connector and its «keys,» read our in-depth explainer.)

Notably, Samsung has opted to not bundle a PCIe adaptor card with the drive, something Kingston does with its Predator Hyper X M.2. While that would make the 950 Pro usable in any desktop computer right out of the box, it would mean higher pricing and more packaging.

The 950 Pro uses a 500MHz triple-core «UBX» controller, a small upgrade from the 400MHz «MEX» controller in the 850 Pro. Both capacities have 512MB of LPDDR3 memory (an upgrade from LPDDR2 in the 850 Pro) and both support the NVMe 1. 1 protocol. AES 256-bit encryption is supported with TCG Opal and eDrive support promised, but only in a future firmware update.

The 950 Pro also has a technology called Dynamic Thermal Throttling, or DTT. While temperatures are not a particular concern for desktops, inside cramped smaller form factors they can be. Additional heat generated by a tiny M.2 storage device could cause problems. DTT is described by Samsung as a method for “controlling the temperature of the device to reduce overheating and maintain a high level of sustained performance.” There isn’t much additional info yet though, and this is not something we were able to test.

While the 850 Pro launched with an astonishing 10-year warranty, the 950 Pro only carries five years. But the quoted TBW (total bytes written) is higher on the 950 Pro than on the 850 Pro, with 200TB for the 256GB model and 400TB for the 512GB. This is a 33 percent increase over the 150TB offered by the 256GB 850 Pro and 300TB with the 512GB variant, which works out at roughly 109GB of writes per day for the 256GB model, and 218GB per day for the 512GB model, over a five year period. In nearly all «normal use» scenarios, it’s unlikely you’ll run into longevity problems with the 950 Pro (or really, any modern SSD).

Support for the 950 Pro is currently absent from version 4.7 of Samsung’s Magician software, but before launch Samsung sent us a beta of the 4.8 version of its software, which is due to be released soon. Samsung’s «Rapid Mode» memory cache system currently does not work in Magician 4.7 under Windows 10 either, and this is also to fixed in 4.8.

Magician is worth mentioning as it is (or will be) part of the overall offering. Other SSD manufacturers offer their own toolbox software as well, but Samsung’s effort is of a very high quality. It shows, at a glance, SMART data and drive health, with quick links to firmware updates, secure erase, and a benchmarking tool (which predictably, is slightly generous with the figures it gives Samsung-branded drives).

Samsung’s specifications state the 256GB 950 Pro uses up to 6.4W of power when active, with the 512GB model using up to 7W, with averages of 5. 1W and 5.6W. Idle consumption is quoted at 70mW. It also supports DevSleep mode, with ultra-low consumption of just 2.5 mW. These figures will raise eyebrows as they’re higher than the 850 Pro, which Samsung quotes at 3.0W when in active use for the 1TB model.

Samsung is quoting sequential read speeds of (up to) 2,200MB/sec for the 256GB 950 Pro, and 2,500MB/sec for the 512GB model. 4KQD32 write IOPS are pegged at 85,000 for the 256GB drive and 110,000 for the 512GB, with read IOPS of up to 270,000 and 300,000 respectively.

Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB PCIe Review

It’s been five years since Samsung stormed into the solid state scene with the SSD 470 Series. Call them early days of SSD adoption, the company successfully faced foes such as the Crucial RealSSD C300 and OCZ Vertex 2.

After this stellar first run, Samsung followed through with the SSD 830 Series, offering great value at $1.50 per gigabyte versus $2.22 per gig for an Intel SSD 510 of the same capacity. A year later the SSD 840 Pro brought fame and fortune to the lineup along a larger 512GB drive ($1.17 per GB). Then last year saw the arrival of 1TB SSD 850 Pro drives, and you can now buy a 2TB version for $0.50 per gig.

We’ve finally reached the point where you can buy high capacity SSDs, although they are largely bound by the bandwidth limitation imposed by the SATA 6Gb/s interface, with top performing Samsung’s SSD 850 Pro offering sequential read and write speeds of 550 to 520MB/s.

A solution to this problem was revealed midway through 2014 with Intel’s Haswell refresh. The Z97 chipset packed support for the M.2 and SATA Express interfaces, both of which were designed to take mainstream SSD performance to the next level.

So far SATA Express has been a complete bust while M.2’s uptake has been slow, but things are in full swing now. Samsung was the first manufacturer to show what M.2 was capable of with its OEM XP941 PCIe SSD. Using four PCI Express lanes the XP941 was good for read and write speeds of 1,170 to 950MB/s.

Earlier this year the XP941 was replaced with an even faster Samsung M.2 SSD, the SM951 which boasted read and write speeds of 2,150 to 1,500MB/s and was later upgraded to support the new NVMe command set, offering even greater performance.

Since the arrival of the these initial M.2 SSD products, we’ve been waiting for a more affordable mainstream release, and that’s exactly what the SSD 950 Pro delivers. Made exclusively in the M.2 2280 form factor, the SSD 950 Pro comes in 256GB or 512GB capacities.

The 512GB model boasts a sequential read speed of 2.5GB/s and a write speed of 1.5GB/s making the 950 Pro reads superior than the SM951 NVMe. It’s also more affordable at $350 for the 512GB model, which is widely available to the public unlike previous OEM-only drives.

The Samsung 950 Pro is available in just two capacities, with no affordable 128GB option in sight. The 512GB model costs $350 which is a relatively high $0.68 per gigabyte, while the 256GB model costs $190 for an even more costly $0. 74 per gigabyte.

Featuring the same UBX 3-core controller found in the SM951, the 950 Pro receives native PCIe and NVMe support. For those of you wondering, the 850 Pro series used the MEX controller, a native SATA 6Gb/s controller.

Surprisingly, the SM951-NVMe was paired with Samsung’s 16nm 64Gbit MLC NAND flash where as the mainstream 850 Pro series received the more advanced Samsung 3D V-NAND (32-layer 86Gbit MLC) flash. This is where the 950 Pro has been upgraded, as the UBX controller has been paired with Samsung’s 3D V-NAND (32-layer 128Gbit MLC).

Therefore technically there is nothing «new» about the 950 Pro series, it just combines all the best bits that Samsung has brought to market so far.

For those of you not up to speed with V-NAND technology here is a quick explanation. Samsung’s V-NAND overcomes density limitations, performance and endurance of planar NAND by stacking the layers vertically, rather than decreasing the dimensions of the cells to try to fit them on a fixed horizontal space. The result is higher density, better endurance and superb performance in a smaller footprint than conventional planar NAND architecture

The claimed sequential performance is staggering as the 512GB model boasts a read throughput of 2.5GB/s and a write speed of 1.5GB/s. The 256GB model is quite a bit slower but still blistering fast compared to any SATA SSD with a read speed of 2.2GB/s and a write speed of 900MB/s.

To achieve this kind of performance the 950 Pro series uses the PCIe 3.0 x4 interface which provides 32 Gbit/s or 3.93GB/s of bandwidth. The XP941 for example used the PCIe 2.0 x4 interface which limited it to a maximum throughput of 20Gbit/s (2GB/s) and this simply won’t be enough for the 950 Pro.

This is interesting as the Z97 chipset, which first introduced the M.2 slot on the desktop, only supports up to eight PCIe 2.0 lanes with the rest of the PCIe lanes being hogged by graphics cards. All this changed with Skylake as the Z170 can support twenty PCIe 3. 0 lanes through the chipset, so putting aside four of those lanes for an M.2 slot to power the 950 Pro isn’t an issue.

The 950 Pro series is backed by a five-year limited warranty, the warranty is limited by how much data can be written. The 256GB version is capped at 200 terabytes written (TBW) while the larger 512GB model doubles that to 400 TBW. This means both models see an increase in the TBW limit over the 850 Pro by 50 TBW (256GB comparison) and 100 TBW (512GB comparison).

To ensure overheating does not become an issue like it did with the XP941, Samsung has equipped the 950 Pro series with Dynamic Thermal Throttling Protection technology, which monitors and maintains the drive’s optimal operating temperature. The throttle feature automatically drops the temperature of the SSD when it reaches a certain threshold, protecting the data and drive while ensuring continual responsiveness.

As an added safeguard, the 950 Pro includes the Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (S. M.A.R.T.) feature. This valuable feature tracks the health status of the SSD, monitoring it to detect and report on a variety of reliability indicators. S.M.A.R.T. is designed to anticipate failures and warn users of impending ones, enabling users to proactively replace an ailing drive, preventing data loss and unexpected outages.

Samsung SSD 950 Pro review

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Our Verdict

A very, very fast SSD that shows a strong future for M.2, but its speed advantage over SATA doesn’t mean too much for gaming.

More often than not, the latest piece of PC hardware is only a minor upgrade over its predecessor, offering slightly better performance and small improvements, but nothing that dramatically changes the game. It’s rare for new technology to outperform its predecessors so significantly it instantly makes them look dated.

The Samsung SSD 950 Pro is one such product. It features a whole new set of storage technologies that overcome the bottlenecks caused by older standards, which date back to a different era of PC tech. And with them, it improves performance enormously—at least some aspects of performance.

Like traditional 2.5-inch SSDs, the 950 Pro is based off NAND flash memory. But there are some big differences between the 950 Pro and traditional SSDs. Instead of SATA, the 950 Pro uses a different connector called M.2, which is built directly onto a PC’s motherboard. M.2 uses the PCI-Express bus for a much faster connection to the CPU than SATA, overcoming a major bottleneck in storage performance. SATA is limited to a theoretical maximum of 600MB/sec, a ceiling that many 2.5-inch SSDs have now reached, and cannot be overcome without a big change in the underlying technology.

The first generation of consumer motherboards to feature an M.2 slot was Z97, which arrived in early 2014 in conjunction with the second-generation ‘Devil’s Canyon’ consumer Intel processors like the Core i7-4790K. Since then, two more chipsets have arrived with M.2 support: X99, a high-end workstation / server chipset which is compatible with six-core and eight-core LGA2011 v3 processors, and Z170, which is the chipset that arrived this year with Intel’s new generation of consumer processors such as the Core i7-6700k, codenamed Skylake.

So to use the 950 Pro, you’ll need a motherboard in your PC that’s based on one of those chipsets. It’s a bit more complex than that, however, because there are some performance differences between them. M.2 in Z97 uses four PCI-Express 2.0 lanes which run at 500MB/sec each. X99 and Z170 use PCIe 3.0 lanes, which run at 1GB/sec each. This will obviously affect the speeds you get from the drive.

The 950 Pro has a few more tricks up its sleeve. In the same way the old SATA standard badly needed replacing, the old AHCI protocol, which governs the commands a PC can issue to storage devices, was designed in 2004, long before SSDs were really a consideration. It similarly needs an update. AHCI’s replacement is called NVMe. NVMe not only increases the number of commands that can be placed in a queue from 32 to 65536, it now allows for multiple queues, again up to 66536. Quite a leap. It also reduces latency, due to fewer register calls per IO command.

M.2 uses the PCIe bus for a much faster connection than SATA, overcoming a major bottleneck in performance.

The final aspect of the 950 Pro that’s worth mentioning is its use of Samsung’s 32-layer 3D flash memory technology, called V-NAND, as in the 850 Pro. V-NAND is quite different to typical planar NAND, as it stacks flash cells vertically and horizontally, rather than just horizontally, allowing for a much greater number of connections between them, better longevity and greater density.

The drive itself is a single-sided 80mm (also known as 2280) M.2 device, ensuring compatibility with as many motherboards as possible. There are just two capacities available: 256GB and 512GB, with a 1TB drive promised next year that will make use of 48-layer, higher density V-NAND. It’s quite possible to build double-sided M.2 devices but for now, Samsung is sticking with a single-sided format to make the drive as small as possible to fit into slim laptops.

All this technology schooling is to prepare you to understand how and why the 950 Pro’s performance differs from typical SATA SSDs, so let’s jump into some numbers.

Samsung quotes some really impressive performance figures for the 950 Pro. In their review guide, they say the 256GB model can manage 2,200MB/sec read and 900MB/sec write, while the 512GB model is capable of a monstrous 2,500MB/sec read and 1,400 MB/sec write. That’s between four and five times faster than a standard SATA SSD, and faster than other consumer PCI-Express SSDs.

An amazing leap forward, as are the quoted read IOPS (input/output operations per second). Samsung quotes up to 270,000 read IOPS and 85,000 write IOPS for the 256GB model and up to 300,000 read IOPS and 110,000 write IOPS for the 512GB model.

And we found that these quoted performance results matched what we saw in synthetic benchmark tests.

Crystal Disk Mark even showed slightly better figures, with read results of 2,278MB/sec and 2,537 MB/sec for the 256GB and 512GB 950 Pro models, respectively, while a 4K QD32 test in IOMeter showed read IOPS of 272,345 for the 256GB model and 351,253 for the 512GB model.

These figures are much higher than the 850 Pro, but the 256GB write IOPS notably aren’t much faster, as the 850 Pro result was 82,000, just 3000 IOPS less than the 256GB 950 Pro.

But for a closer look at the 950 Pro and gaming performance, we tested both drives to see their loading times with a PC game that gobbles up a large amount of storage: GTA V, which has a huge 60GB install.

We used a stopwatch to measure the time it took from clicking the icon on the desktop to the main menu appearing, and again timed how long it took from selecting the ‘Start Game’ option in the menu until the ‘Go to the guard’ message appears on the screen during the first scene of the game.

It’s not a completely scientific test, and these sequences have loading screens and fixed-speed animation, so the overall time depends on more than just the SSD’s performance.

But it seems these loading times were just about the same on the 950 Pro as they were on the 850 Pro. In two of the tests, there’s no real difference between the drives at all, and in the other two, when loading the main game itself, there’s a difference of around a second. Although with the 512GB models, it’s the 850 Pro, not the 950 Pro, that works out to be faster. But with less than 2 seconds difference, it’s still within the margin of error, and the real conclusion to be had is that the massive difference in sequential read and write speeds between SATA and PCI-Express SSDs does not mean a massive difference in real-world performance.

This slightly changes how we feel about the 950 Pro. Having those raw performance figures from a storage device that’s smaller than the average human finger is technically astounding, but it won’t really change much about how you use your computer or play games. Windows doesn’t boot particularly faster, and games don’t load much quicker. From what we’ve seen, frame rates are unaffected.

But we’re still blown away by the raw benchmark results. M.2 offers great sequential performance, the speeds are brilliant and a 950 Pro will make a nice additional purchase when building a Skylake-based gaming PC. But it doesn’t offer significant improvements to real-world performance, especially when gaming, and therefore this performance is a luxury, rather than essential.

Samsung’s SSD 850 Pro came with a massive 10-year warranty. The 950 Pro’s has been dropped to five years, although it offers greater overall longevity than the 850 Pro. The 256GB 950 Pro has quoted endurance levels of 200TBW, while the 512GB model goes up to 400TBW. This is an improvement over the 850 Pro, which already offered some of the most impressive endurance of any consumer SSD.

Pricing is $200 (£150) and $350 (£270) for the two capacities, although you’ll see different prices online as stock stabilizes. The pricing is reasonable, given that the 850 Pro is already one of the more expensive SATA SSDs you can buy. Older PCI-Express SSDs launched at much higher pricing than their SATA counterparts, particularly those that come in the traditional PCI card format.

You could save a few cents by opting for a cheaper SSD and ploughing those savings into a better graphics card, which will have a much bigger effect on gaming, advice that we think is absolutely worth following for anyone building a PC within a modest budget.

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Samsung SSD 950 Pro review

A very, very fast SSD that shows a strong future for M.2, but its speed advantage over SATA doesn’t mean too much for gaming.

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Samsung SSD 950 Pro Review (256GB & 512GB)

Written by

Matthew Lambert

November 11, 2015 | 10:23

Tags: #3d-nand #best-m2-ssd #m2 #nvme #samsung-ssd-950-pro-review #ssd #v-nand

Companies: #samsung

1 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review (256GB & 512GB)2 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — Test Setup3 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — CrystalDiskMark4 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — Steady State and Consistency5 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — Sequential Performance6 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — Random Performance7 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — Mixed Workloads8 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — PCMark 89 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — Performance Analysis and Conclusion

Manufacturer: Samsung
UK price (as reviewed):
256GB: £146. 86 (inc VAT); 512GB: £270.46 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): 256GB: $199.99 (ex Tax); 512GB: $349.99 (ex Tax)

We have now resolved the issue with our SSD test system that prevented us from obtaining results for Samsung’s SSD 950 Pro in time for the official reviews embargo lift. As such, this article will clarify what the issue was, briefly discuss the specs and features of the new drives and then dive into the results. For greater detail on the drives themselves please see our original preview article.

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The issue we had is worth drawing attention to since no faulty components were involved. We use an X99 motherboard for SSD testing, specifically the Asus Rampage V Extreme. However, when we originally tested the SSD 950 Pro drives both were being capped in performance. A later installation of a beta version of the Samsung Magician software revealed that the PCI-E link speed was being limited to 5Gbps, i. e. PCI-E Gen 2.0 instead of Gen 3.0, which the drives need to operate at full speed.

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The problem turned out to be something as simple as our overclock settings. We use Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 modules rated at 2,800MHz, and we were using their built in XMP profile for our system’s overclock. However, this automatically sets the base clock to 125MHz, which is a requirement when using high frequency memory (i.e. above 2,666MHz) on X99. However, this also affects the speed of other parts of the CPU, not just the cores, and one of those parts is the onboard PCI-E Gen 3.0 controller. In turn, in order to maintain PCI-E stability at this clock, our motherboard was downgrading the PCI-E interfaces to Gen 2.0. You can force the graphics slots back to Gen 3.0, but there’s no such option for the M.2 slot, which makes sense since storage devices require perfect stability. We have not been able to confirm exactly how other motherboard manufacturers handle the situation, but it’s probably safest to stick to 2,666MHz DDR4 on X99 when using a PCI-E 3. 0 storage device. It should also not be a problem on Z170, where the PCI-E controller’s clock is separate to the CPU BCLK.

Samsung SSD 950 PRO Specs 256GB 512GB
Interface M.2 PCI-E 3.0 x4 (up to 32Gbps)
Formatted capacity 238.47GiB 476.94GiB
Controller Samsung UBX
NAND dies 128Gbit Samsung 32-layer V-NAND MLC
NAND packages 2 x 128GiB 2 x 256GiB
DRAM 512MB Samsung LPDDR3
Warranty Five years
Endurance 200 TBW (~110GB/day) 400 TBW (~220GB/day)

With that clarified, let’s take a brief look at the SSD 950 Pro (again, for a more detailed look, see here). It comes in either 256GB or 512GB flavours, but only in the single-sided M. 2 2280 form factor. They also use the PCI-E 3.0 x4 interface and the NVMe protocol. With Samsung’s UBX controller and LPDDR3 cache, they’re very similar to the NVMe version of the OEM SM951 SSD. However, they make a switch to Samsung’s second generation V-NAND dies, specifically 128Gbit 32-layer MLC dies, though performance is still mostly the same as the SM951. A 1TB SSD 950 Pro is planned for next year once the third-generation, 48-layer V-NAND dies roll out.

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What you do get over the SM951 is a better looking black PCB and extra features, including a proper Samsung-backed five year warranty with a solid endurance rating that’s a third higher than the 850 Pro, albeit in a warranty period that’s half as long – it’s a shame Samsung hasn’t retained the 10 year period for the 950 Pro. You also get full software support in the Samsung Magician software as well as hardware accelerated encryption with TCG Opal 2. 0, to be enabled through a future firmware update.

Samsung SSD 950 PRO 256GB 512GB
Max Sequential Read 2,200MB/sec 2,500MB/sec
Max Sequential Write 900MB/sec 1,500MB/sec
Max Random Read (4K QD1) 11K IOPS 12K IOPS
Max Random Write (4K QD1) 43K IOPS 43K IOPS
Max Random Read (4K QD32) 270K IOPS 300K IOPS
Max Random Write (4K QD32) 85K IOPS 110K IOPS

The cost per formatted gigabyte of these drives is about 62p/GB (256GB) and 57p/GB (512GB), which is certainly high given that we now have SATA SSDs hitting less than 25p/GB, but they do combine many of the latest technologies and features into a consumer-friendly package with what looks to be very high performance. By the same basis, they’re also considerably cheaper than the only other widely available consumer-grade NVMe drive, the Intel SSD 750 (around 70 to 80p per formatted GB).

1 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review (256GB & 512GB)2 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — Test Setup3 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — CrystalDiskMark4 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — Steady State and Consistency5 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — Sequential Performance6 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — Random Performance7 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — Mixed Workloads8 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — PCMark 89 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — Performance Analysis and Conclusion


Corsair Neutron Series NX500 Review (400GB)

Corsair delivers a PCIe x4 SSD in an HHHL add-in card form factor — can it deliver the goods?

August 10, 2017 | 14:00


Crucial MX300 and MX300 M.

2 Reviews (525GB & 1TB)

The first drive to feature Intel and Micron’s 3D NAND, the MX300 comes in 2.5in and M.2 flavours.

January 13, 2017 | 12:03

Samsung announces ultra-fast 960 Pro, Evo M.2 NVMe SSDs

Up to 2.1GB/s write, 3.5GB/s read.

September 21, 2016 | 10:08

MSI MPG Velox 100R Chassis Review

October 14 2021 | 15:04

Samsung SSD 950 Pro Review (256GB & 512GB)

Performance Analysis

The CrystalDiskMark figures show extremely strong fresh-out-of-box results. The sequential numbers are from a queue depth of one, and even here the SSD 950 Pro is well above 2GB/sec on reads. For writes, both drives perform beyond their stated figures, with the 512GB drive being especially impressive at 1,536MB/sec, which is more than 300MB/sec more than Intel’s SSD 750 1. 2TB. Random performance favours Intel’s drive overall, however, particularly at high queue depths, though the Samsung drives are better with low queue depth random reads.

For a drive with no additional overprovisioning, the 950 Pro performs extremely well in steady state. That said, the 256GB isn’t as fast as the equivalent SSD 850 Pro, but the 512GB drive was significantly quicker. That said, neither drive could match the Intel SSD 750, which is helped in large part by its massive overprovisioning. Still, the performance consistency of the 950 Pro is also excellent, with minimal performance variation, low response times and no signs of thermal throttling even after a full hour of sustained writes – these are drives that will hold up very well over time.

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Sequential performance under Iometer is very strong, especially with reads. On writes, the 256GB drive may not be as quick as the 512GB or Intel’s SSD 750 series, but with writes easily hitting over 900MB/sec it offers more than double what many SATA-based SSDs do.

Random reads at QD1 are only up there with the top SATA drives, but at QD4 the 950 Pro scales up and pulls away, although Intel still rules the roost here. It does too on random writes, although here the 950 Pro has a decisive advantage over SATA SSDs, though it’s the 512GB drive that can flex its muscles the most under heavier workloads.

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The excellent sequential performance is maintained when both reads and writes are performed together. At 75/25 and 50/50 percent read/write distributions, the drives are without competition. At 25/75 percent, the Intel drive manages to catch the 256GB 950 Pro thanks to the latter’s weaker write performance but the 512GB drive is about 200MB/sec quicker still – it also smashes through the limits of SATA in every test. With mixed random workloads, the tables are flipped and Intel has a clear lead. Still, the 512GB 950 Pro is better than all the SATA SSDs, though the 256GB one is beaten by a couple.

It’s hard to argue with the PCMark 8 workload results. These tell us that in typical desktop workloads, be they light office tasks or more demanding production ones, the 950 Pro is simply excellent – it gets the top two places every time. Also, the 256GB model does not appear to be held back in spite of its lower performance elsewhere. Even in the most write-intensive workload, Photoshop Heavy, the 256GB is just a fraction of a second slower.

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Even in write intensive tasks the 512GB model is barely ahead. Overall there’s 30 seconds between this drive and slowest SATA drive in the Photoshop test, and 10 seconds ahead of the best — the OCZ Arc 100 240GB. That’s only across a six minute workload, so clearly if this is something you regularly do, the 950 Pro is worth the extra outlay. Granted, the real-world difference between these drives still won’t be big or even noticeable in many cases, particularly in lighter workloads, but the Photoshop Heavy test does give the NVMe drives a signficant lead.


Through the combination of a high-bandwidth PCI-E 3.0 x4 interface and the NVMe protocol, the 950 Pro achieves excellent performance in all metrics. It is without doubt the best M.2 SSD there currently is, and the 512GB model is, in our opinion, the best enthusiast-class SSD overall too. That said, Intel’s SSD 750 does make a decent argument for itself if your workload is dependent upon sustained, high queue depth random accesses, but that’s getting more into workstation/prosumer territory.

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The choice of form factor is also appropriate. Currently, support for M.2 2280 devices with a PCI-E 3.0 x4 connection is widespread among mid-range and high-end Z170 and X99 motherboards, and even for older motherboards you can buy PCI-E add-in card adaptors. Yes, the capacity is limited to four times lower than what Samsung can achieve in 2.5in, but the focus is more on performance than capacity. Not only would a high capacity 2.5in device be very expensive, it would also use a U.2 connector, which very few motherboards have. Thermal throttling is another concern for M.2 drives (hence the lack of double-sided parts), but in our setup at least the SSD 950 Pro appeared to be unaffected. Granted, we were testing in an ATX case (panels on) with good airflow and a relatively low ambient temperature, but it’s still promising. Even in a more constrained environment like a small form factor build, it’s unlikely to be that big of an issue since demanding tasks tend to come in bursts leaving the drive with plenty of idle time in which to cool down.

In terms of cost, the SSD 950 Pro is also well priced considering its performance and feature set. It certainly has the upper hand on Intel, the only other company producing an NVMe SSD for the consumer market. The 950 Pro is a good showcase of NVMe’s potential and ability to move the SSD market forward, but the advantages are definitely workload dependent and in spite of some seriously impressive numbers the transition from AHCI to NVMe won’t be like the HDD to SSD transition in terms of overall system responsiveness. Not everything will suddenly be five times faster, but for users with heavy I/O workflows (e.g. media production and editing) there are clear advantages.

Samsung SSD 950 Pro 256GB Scores

Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB Scores

1 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review (256GB & 512GB)2 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — Test Setup3 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — CrystalDiskMark4 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — Steady State and Consistency5 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — Sequential Performance6 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — Random Performance7 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — Mixed Workloads8 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — PCMark 89 — Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review — Performance Analysis and Conclusion

Review and testing of the video card Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 OC


  • Introduction
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 OC
    • Packaging and delivery
    • Appearance and dimensions
    • Cooling system
    • PCB
  • Test bench
  • Instrumentation and Test Method
  • Standard frequencies and overclocking
  • Cooling System Potential Study
  • Electricity consumption level
  • Conclusion


The laboratory continues the cycle of materials devoted to video cards of the GeForce GTX 950 series. Earlier we reviewed several versions from different manufacturers:

  • ASUS GeForce GTX 950 OC;
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 WindForce 2X;
  • Inno3D GeForce GTX 950 2GB Gaming OC;
  • KFA2 GeForce GTX 950 Black OC Sniper Edition;
  • KFA2 GeForce GTX 950 EXOC White;
  • MSI GeForce GTX 950 Gaming 2G;
  • Palit GeForce GTX 950 StormX;
  • Palit GeForce GTX 950 StormX Dual.

The above list does not end the study of this line of graphics accelerators. We continue to search for the very model that will be the best choice due to its consumer qualities. We have already met quiet versions, and productive ones, and with good overclocking. But what if we look at more affordable solutions?

Thanks to our partner, the company Regard, the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 OC video card became the hero of the review. Despite such a discreet name, it is curious in its own way. Personally, I wonder why the developers did not use the prefix “Mini” or “ITX” in the name? After all, the novelty turned out not only budgetary, but also compact.


Review Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 OC

Full name: GeForce GTX950 Gigabyte PCI-E 2048Mb (GV-N950OC-2GD), manufacturer code: GV-N950OC-2GD.

Packaging and delivery

The Gigabyte comes in a small package. All printing is reduced to dark colors and a well-known image that has become a brand name for the company.

Front side information includes series name, factory overclocking, and 90mm fan design.

On the back of the package you can see the main advantages of the tested model. Among them, it is worth noting the use of high-quality Ultra Durable 2 element base and support for the OC Guru II utility, which will help both with fine-tuning the video card and with its overclocking.

A favorite moment with the Gigabyte box is the PC system requirements. The developers recommend that your platform is based on Intel. More interesting information is the mention of a power supply with a power of at least 400 watts.

Inside, everything is normal for the budget version of the GeForce GTX 950: the novelty is placed in an antistatic bag and fixed with thick cardboard sheets.

The scope of delivery has not changed: we still receive only documentation and a driver disk.

Appearance and dimensions

Model Gigabyte GeForce GTX 950 OC is presented by the developers as the most affordable version among other video cards of this series. But she is not deprived of chips, which in this case consist in additional caps on the video output connectors.

However, let’s not focus on the little things, but immediately proceed to the study of the main details.

The main changes in the design of the novelty are reduced to the casing of the cooling system with decorative grooves and lines. The central place is given to a single fan, the diameter of which is 90 mm. The rotor has a sticker with the name of the manufacturer.

No support or reinforcement plate. Here we note the dense layout of the printed circuit board and the presence of an SLI connector for connecting a second video card into a single tandem.

The rear interface panel has the following set of video outputs:

  • One DVI-D;
  • One DVI-I;
  • One HDMI;
  • One DisplayPort.

The following resolutions are supported:

  • Digital — up to 4096 x 2160;
  • Analog — up to 2048 x 1536.

According to the technical information provided by the official website, it is possible to use all four outputs at the same time.

According to the recommended requirements for the power supply, the information varies: 400 W are indicated on the package, 350 W on the official website. In any case, the GeForce GTX 950 model is not particularly voracious, so you can use a more budget PSU.

However, additional power is still provided and provided by one six-pin connector on the edge of the PCB.