Samsung 950 Pro M.2 PCIe 256GB Review « TOP NEW Review
When a very fast drive just isn’t fast enough for you
Samsung 950 Pro M.2 PCIe 256GB Review – The day that the Samsung 950 Pro arrived, I noticed that one online retailer was selling a 240GB OCZ Trion 100 for less than £50.
Given the price of the 256GB version of the Samsung 950 Pro, why would you want to pay this sort of money? There are very good reasons, trust me.
Samsung 950 Pro M.2 PCIe 256GB Review
The drive technology you always wanted
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The first important thing to realise about the 950 Pro is that it isn’t a SATA SSD but one that uses the M. 2 specification. Therefore, to use it on your PC, you either need a motherboard that has M.2 slots or a PCIe card, and in this instance you need M.2 that supports PCIe operations and can take a 2280 scale device.
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If you tick those boxes, then you can unleash the very latest V-NAND-based NVMe technology that supports connection to the system through four Gen 3 spec PCIe lanes, and not the narrow SATA-3 interface.
If you thought SATA SSDs were quick, then buckle up, because this technology is as big a leap from SATA SSD as that was from spinning platters.
This isn’t Samsung’s first foray into M.2, as it previously made the SM951, which was mostly aimed at business users with deep pockets. However, the new 950 Pro is for regular users and currently comes in the 256GB capacity reviewed here and a 512GB option.
Once the 950 Pro is connected to the M.2 slot and the system is powered up, it appears just like any other drive attached to your system, with one noticeable exception: this drive reads at a gobsmacking 2,200MB/s and writes at 900MB/S. That’s not a typo; it really is that fast. And my benchmarking actually put it marginally higher on both reading and writing than those Samsung figures.
And it’s not just a raw data shovelling monster either. The IOPS are equally fantastic for
those who need to crunch data stored on one. According to Samsung, the 256GB model can drive 270,000 IOPS, while the 512GB one achieves a blistering 300,000 IOPS.
Accordingly, the 512GB one is a little quicker reading at 2,500MB/s and about 60% better at writing, rated at 1,500MB/s. Based on that, as impressed as I was with the 256GB model, the 512GB model is the one to have.
If you can’t, don’t worry, because Windows launches off the 256GB model like it has been guzzling Red Bull.
Normally, this is the part of the review where I call out something silly Samsung did or a huge drawback to balance the advantages, but there aren’t any obvious ones here.
It’s more power efficient than a conventional SSD, and this model’s warranty is for five years or 200TB of data written, and the larger unit has double that TBW coverage.
The only problem is that once you’ve used one of these, there isn’t any way to go back to SATA SSD, never mind a conventional hard drive, as they’re way, way too slow. mm Mark Pickavance
Table of Contents
- Samsung 950 Pro M. 2 PCIe 256GB Review: DETAILS
- Samsung 950 Pro M.2 PCIe 256GB Review: Verdict
Samsung 950 Pro M.2 PCIe 256GB Review: DETAILS
- Manufacturer: Samsung
- Website: www.samsung.com
- Requirements: System with M.2 2280 PCIe slot
Samsung 950 Pro M.2 PCIe 256GB Review: Verdict
The drive technology you always wanted
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Samsung 950 Pro M.2 PCIe 256GB Review
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Samsung 950 Pro 512GB Review
This article has been updated from the original, with new data on 950 Pro performance using Samsung’s NVMe driver.
Not too long ago, we staged a comprehensive solid-state drive shootout showcasing some of the most popular SSD models on the market, comparing them to a few “classics” from generations ago to demonstrate what modern SSDs can do for PC builders and modders. Well, OK, it was mostly comprehensive, but there was one drive we didn’t yet have in our collection that we really wanted to test: the Samsung 950 Pro 512GB. This drive really needs no introduction, as it’s been the favorite of critics and enthusiasts from the moment it hit (or should we say conquered?) the market. We really wanted to know how it would do, so we decided to do the honorable thing: we went out and bought one.
Truth be told, we already had a sense of how it would perform in our benchmark suite, because we’d tested its predecessor, the Samsung SM951. And that drive had impressed in some benchmarks, while appearing fairly average in others. Not to spoil the fun too much, but the same is going to be true of the 950 Pro. Keep in mind that all modern SSDs already have more than sufficient throughput to just about saturate the SATA bus, as well as to move the small bits of data required for OS and app loading without breaking a sweat. The 950 Pro is really designed to do something different, and something different it does, as you’ll soon see.
Description and Features
Here are all the drive you’ll see in our benchmarks, including the 950 Pro:
- Solid-State Drive #1: Samsung 850 Evo 500GB M.2 (the fastest SATA-based M.2 drive on the market)
- Solid-State Drive #2: Dual Samsung 850 Evo 500GB Drives in RAID0 (using a pair of 2.5″ SATA drives)
- Solid-State Drive #3: OCZ Trion 150 960GB (representing the latest in big-capacity, low-cost drives)
- Solid-State Drive #4: Crucial MX200 1TB (Crucial’s fastest drive, now discontinued in favor of the MX300 1TB)
- Solid-State Drive #5: Samsung SM951 256GB PCIe (precursor to the Samsung 950 Pro)
- Solid-State Drive #6: Samsung 950 Pro 512GB PCIe (both with the default Microsoft NVMe driver and Samsung’s NVMe driver)
Note that The 850 Evo, Trion 150, and MX200 all use a standard SATA interface (whether through a SATA connector or an M. 2 slot), while the SM951 and 950 Pro use the PCIe x4 interface also embedded in M.2 slots on current-gen motherboards. They install as easily as a stick of RAM, as shown below. Note that not all M.2 slots support PCIe x4 (for example, the Z97 chipset only supported PCIe x2), and importantly, not all M.2 slots support SATA either (most notoriously, it’s absent from M.2 slots on the high-end X99 chipset). To make things just a bit more confusing, the 950 Pro has yet another layer of advancement beyond just PCIe and M.2: it uses the NVMe protocol, which is in the process of replacing the older AHCI protocol originally developed for mechanical hard drives. For truly complex I/O operations, NVMe can provide a serious boost. But not everything PC users do is all that complex, which means NVMe doesn’t always have an advantage. We tested our six drives using a mix of synthetic and real-world benchmarks that we believe draws out both the distinctions and similarities between the various models, as well as areas of strength and weakness of specific models.
To put the 950 Pro to the test, we used our newest benchmarking rig, equipped with the following components:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-6900K @4.4GHz
- Motherboard: Asus X99-Pro/USB3.1
- Memory: G.Skill 4x8GB Ripjaws V DDR4-3200
- Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 SC 8GB
- Power Supply: EVGA Supernova 1000 PS
- CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro h200i v2
- Case: SilverStone Primera PM01
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home Download
While benchmark jockeys will always test their SSDs empty, results generated this way are truly meaningless. Without data on them, SSDs can’t serve much purpose, can they? So we filled each of our drives to 50% of their capacity to run all of our tests.
Note that when we originally published this article, we used the default Microsoft NVMe storage controller drivers that ship with Windows 10, creatively named the “Standard NVM Express Controller”, as shown here. As it turns out, these standard drivers in fact hold back the 950 Pro, which is cutting-edge enough that it requires custom storage controller drivers to achieve its peak performance. The NVMe drivers are for the motherboard’s storage controller, not the SSD itself, and are available on Samsung’s website.
Confusingly, Samsung’s drivers are much older than Microsoft’s, which probably were updated for the “Anniversary Update” to Windows 10, but for whatever reason didn’t build in the necessary refinements required to accelerate the 950 Pro. We want to make clear that we do not think this is an ideal approach going forward, as systems with multiple NVMe devices could end up requiring conflicting drivers. Samsung is in the driver’s seat when it comes to high-performance NVMe drives, however, so it can pull this off for now, but we hope that going forward a motherboard’s storage controllers don’t need to be changed based on which brand of device you install. You can see confirmation that Samsung’s drivers are installed below:
Let’s now move onto our tests to see how the 950 Pro compares to the competition we set out for it, starting with some theoretical benchmarks!
To generate the benchmark results on this page, we used Samsung’s SSD Magician software, which can benchmark just about any drive, be it Samsung, another brand, or even a mechanical hard drive.
Ah, the Sequential Read benchmark, the one every SSD manufacturer loves to trot out as often as possible. And for PCIe-based drives like our Samsung models, it’s a chance to really shine. You see, the SATA III interface has bottlenecked SSDs for several years now, and it took PCIe to really let them show their stuff. If Samsung released an 850 Evo on the PCIe interface, we can guarantee you it would perform similarly to the SM951 and 950 Pro. But then Samsung would have to sell it for close to the price of a standard 850 Evo. And that’s not going to happen anytime soon. Samsung has taken advantage of the opportunity to create a new price class here, and it’s going to do its best to promote this particular benchmark result to justify charging a pretty penny for its top drives.
The Sequential Write benchmark mirrors the Sequential Read benchmark, except for the fact that the 950 Pro’s larger 512GB memory footprint allows it to take advantage of a greater number of memory channels. That giives it an opportunity to pull ahead of its SM951 256GB cousin. Again, both PCIe-based drives leave the SATA-based drives in the dust. although here our RAID0 array isn’t too far behind.
The Random Read benchmark, quite simply, is the most important of all canned benchmarks you’ll find, especially for comparing SSDs intended for use as OS drives. Loading Windows relies very heavily on random reads, and barely at all on sequential reads. If you’re choosing a system drive, and you can only get your hands on specs, this one is worth paying attention to. The 950 Pro does well here, beaten only by its older cousin, the SM951, at least until you install Samsung’s “special sauce” NVMe driver, which just catches up to the AHCI-based SM951. Both PCIe-based drives are at least 10% faster than any SATA drive.
It seems there’s something other than drive speed holding back our SSDs in the random write test, as most hit nearly identical marks. But with the enhanced NVMe driver, the 950 Pro is able to beat the mighty combo of two 850 Evo drives in RAID0. Even so, the result here isn’t entirely ground-breaking, and if you consider that randomly writing small bits of data doesn’t require too much out of an SSD, this begins to make sense.
Real-World File Copy Performance
This is the test we’ve all been waiting for. Could the 950 Pro’s big sequential numbers translate into equally-impressive throughput when reading and writing to the drive simultaneously? In a word, yes. The 950 Pro is in a class of its own, finishing this task a whopping 10% faster than the already-fast SM951. And how does it compare to its cousin the 850 Evo, which costs about half as much? Well, here the 950 Pro proves its worth, trimming 20 seconds off the copy time. Note that when we first ran this benchmark on the 950 Pro with the Windows NVMe driver, we hit a copy speed of 38 seconds, but we were never able to replicate that, so we’ve updated the time here.
This benchmark truly demonstrates the power of the 950 Pro, and being a real-world test can be taken at face value, unlike marketing specs. And to power users who are installing lots of apps on a regular basis or need a blazing-fast swap drive for HD photo and video work, this is going to translate to a lot of saved time.
Application Loading Performance
We end with some application loading data, using two of our favorite games, Battlefield 4 and Crysis 3. Note that we’ve dropped our RAID0 setup for this comparison, as it doesn’t have an advantage here. We think the data below will demonstrate why.
Uh oh, our knight in shining armor has an Achilles’ heel. This is the real world folks, and we restarted our PC multiple times to get a bunch of clean test runs on the 950 Pro, just to make sure these numbers were right. Remember that closing and then re-launching an app isn’t representative of an SSDs performance, due to caching. The 950 Pro just can’t get ahead of the pack, even with the enhanced NVMe device driver.
More disappointment for 950 Pro fans, ourselves included. App launching just isn’t playing to the 950 Pro’s strengths.
To illustrate why the 950 Pro’s massive throughput can’t propel it to a solid lead in these benchmarks, below we’ve provided a drive activity trace for the 950 Pro while loading Battlefield 4:
To put it simply, the drive is only stressed for a few short moments during the game load sequence. If this were a mechanical hard drive, those periods would be drawn out significantly, as hard drives can’t keep up with the game engine. But any SSD can do a pretty good job of moving the necessary data up and out, so there’s probably still more to be done to ensure that NVMe performs at least as well as AHCI during simple routines like this.
We want to be clear here: in no way does this take away from the 950 Pro’s impressive class-leading performance in truly-intensive I/O operations. Don’t buy a 950 Pro to load apps faster than any other SSD, buy it because it’s so much faster when moving lots of data!
In order to fairly evaluate the 950 Pro, we have to consider its cost in comparison to more run-of-the-mill drives. Below you’ll find the price of each of the drives we tested as of our publication date, along with a $/GB figure:
- Samsung 850 Evo 500GB M.2 ($170) – $0.34/GB
- Dual Samsung 850 Evo 500GB Drives in RAID0 (2x$157) – $0.31/GB
- OCZ Trion 150 960GB ($210) – $0.22/GB
- Crucial MX200 1TB ($329) – $0.32/GB
- Samsung SM951 256GB PCIe ($180) – $0.70/GB
- Samsung 950 Pro 512GB PCIe ($312) – $0.61/GB
Well, there’s no doubt about it: the 950 Pro isn’t a particularly good value proposition, especially if all you want is a system that will boot and launch apps quickly. It costs nearly three times as much per gigabyte as the budget Trion 150, which can keep up with the 950 Pro is low-stress tests like app launching. But then again, SSDs have been good at that for years. What the 950 Pro brings to the table is absolutely massive throughput when pushed well beyond what users typically do day-to-day on their PCs. Unmatched sequential throughput thanks to the PCIe x4 interface along with the efficiency of the NVMe protocol, at least when under fire, means that it can move files like nobody’s business. It’s nearly twice as fast as our two 1TB-class drives, the OCZ Trion 150 and Crucial MX200. If you’re a power user, that’s the kind of performance boost worth paying for, making the cost of the 950 Pro seem downright reasonable.
So, overall, we really like the 950 Pro in the sense that it’s a showcase of all that an SSD can offer using the most modern of technologies. It’s the fastest drive we’ve ever tested. But we are in the business of handing out sound advice to our readers, not marketing mumbo-jumbo or press releases, and the truth is that before you put a 950 Pro in your system, you should seriously consider starting with a larger, cheaper drive, which may provide similar performance in many of the metrics you care about.
And just a word here about our 850 EVO RAID array. If you routinely save or transfer large files, for instance in the course of high-resolution photo or video editing, RAIDed SATA SSDs are a great option, as they come close to the speed of PCIe-based drives for a fraction of the price, while offering the potential for much more capacity. But please take our advice and never run an OS off of a RAID0 array, nor maintain important files on a RAID0 array without a backup. It’s just not worth the effort or the risk. Our RAID array was lost during our most recent motherboard firmware update, a known issue on Asus motherboards, and a risk you take whenever you’re working with RAID0. If your PC workflow demands tremendous throughput and rock-solid data integrity, the 950 Pro is going to be the obvious choice.
OK, that’s all for now, folks. As always, if you’re looking to build a new PC, you’ll find all of our recommended SSDs, as well as the rest of our favorite components, in our Do-it-Yourself PC Buyer’s Guides, updated monthly!
Samsung SSD 950 PRO Review
Every year Samsung releases a brand new SSD product and this year is no exception. For 2015, Samsung introduces the world’s first (another one) NVMe PCIe SSD the Samsung 950 PRO [official 950 Pro page].
The 950 PRO is basically assembled with the best components and features that Samsung SSD has to offer to date. The board and the controller are from the OEM SM951-NVMe while the memory are from the gen2 3D V-NAND fitted in the 850 PRO series. Also counted as an upgrade are the 512MB of LPDDR3 vs the LPDDR2 cache.
Performance wise, the 512GB version is the fastest between the two, clocking at 2.5GB/s sequential read and 1.5GB/s sequential write compared to the 256GB model raching 2.2GB/s in sequential read and 900MB/s in sequential write.
Those are amazing numbers when considering that SATA 3 SSD drives maxed out at 550MB/s!
Samsung SSD 950 PRO
|Usage Application||Client PCs|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||Max 80.15 x Max 22.15 x Max.2.38 (mm)|
|Interface||PCIe 3.0 x4 (up to 32Gb/s) NVMe 1.1|
|Form Factor||M. 2(2280)|
|Controller||Samsung UBX controller|
|NAND Flash Memory||Samsung 32 layer 3D V-NAND|
|DRAM Cache Memory||512MB LPDDR3|
|Sequential Read:||Up to 2,200 MB/s||Up to 2,500 MB/s|
|Sequential Write:||Up to 900 MB/s||Up to 1,500 MB/s|
|4KB Random Read (QD1):||Up to 11K IOPS||Up to 12K IOPS|
|4KB Random Write (QD1):||Up to 43K IOPS||Up to 43K IOPS|
|4KB Random Read (QD32):||Up to 270K IOPS||Up to 300K IOPS|
|4KB Random Write (QD32):||Up to 85K IOPS||Up to 110K IOPS|
|Weight||Max. 10g (512GB)|
|Power Consumption||Active average/maximum: 5. 1W/6.4W (256GB), 5.7W/7.0W (512GB)|
|DEVSLP(L1.2 mode): 2.5mW|
Samsung SSD 950 PRO Features
|TRIM Support||Yes (Requires OS Support)|
|Data Security||AES 256-bit Full Disk Encryption (FDE)|
|TCG Opal Family Spec and eDrive (IEEE1667) to be supported by FW update|
|Reliability||MTBF: 1.5 million hours|
|TBW||256GB : 200TB, 512GB : 400TB|
|Temperature||Operating:||0°C to 70°C|
|Non-Operating:||-40°C to 85°C|
|Humidity||5% to 95%, non-condensing|
|Shock||Non-Operating:||1500G, duration 0. 5m Sec, 3 axis|
|Warranty||5 years limited|
|Samsung SSD 950 PRO 250GB M.2 PCIe NVMe||256 GB||$199.99||$0.78|
Internals and Features
The device is single-sided, meaning all components are stacked on one side of the PCB. Under the sticker are two 32 layer 128Gb memory V-NAND package, one 512MB LPDDR2 RAM cache and the UBX controller ARM Cortex-R4 3-core 8 channel at 500 Mhz.
The biggest drawback with a high-speed clock controller is cooling. Compound with the fact that the M.2 slot on most of the motherboards are located between two PCIe slots where the air flow may not reach. The heat issue is addressed with the “Dynamic Thermal Guard” which basically reduce the clock speed to prevent data loss and/or hardware damage. I wonder if it is worth to use some memory heatsinks and thermal tape on all 3 chips (2 V-NAND and the controller) to help with cooling.
Introduced with the 850 PRO, the 3D V-NAND revolutionized the SSD industry. I already detailed the specific in the 850 PRO review, but here are the essentials. Up to the V-NAND, the race was about shrinking the die, cramming more and more cells in the same space. On one hand, costs are reduced and prices drop. On the other hand, as the cells are getting closer and closer, error rates increased and writes required higher voltage.
Instead of shrinking, V-NAND stacks vertical layers. By going vertical, there are now more real estates for the cells in size and in between. Which translates into more room for voltage state changes, less interference and lower programming voltage. The benefits are, fewer retries due to interferences, lower power consumption, increase NAND endurance and overall I/O performance
Although Windows 8. 1 and 10 provide native driver for NVMe drives, most of the Magician feature will require Samsung custom drivers. At the time of the review, an executable beta version of the drivers was provided.
“Samsung Data Migration” is a convenient disk cloning software by Clonix. The utility will always detect the OS drive as the source, which is a good failsafe. It only works if at least one SSD is a Samsung. At this time, it is Windows only. The latest version 2.7 puts a new restriction, it only recognized Samsung SSD as the target drive, meaning I can not choose a non-Samsung SSD drive as a target.
The previous version would only care if at least one drive was a Samsung product. Although the Samsung Data Migration will get the job done, truth to be told, I like the Intel Data Migration better. It has a couple more features such as creating a bootable media rescue disk and a drive cleaner tool. Although “secure erased” would be as efficient.
Missing from the Magician 4. 8:
- “Performance Optimization”, “OS optimization” and “Rapid Mode” would probably become available in the next Magician update.
- AES 256-bit FDE with eDrive and TCG Opal are not supported until a new firmware update within the release date.
I went through most of the popular benchmark tools, AS SSD, CrystalDiskMark, ATTO, IoMeter, Anvil’s Storage Utility v1.1.0 and PCMark Vantage. But I also used performance monitoring tools such as DiskMon and hIOmon, primarily to validate the tests.
Instead of posting chart after chart, I believe, as a consumer, what is important is how the product fits the needs and not chasing after uber high numbers which are only attainable during benchmarking. For this review, I narrowed it down to Anvil’s Storage Utility, PC Mark Vantage Licensed Pro version, CrystalMark and PCMark8.
Drive conditioning: The SSDs were prepped with Windows 7 (from an image), filled with about 120GB of data total and benchmarks were run from the tested unit acting as the OS drive.
Steady state: This state occurred over time when the drive went through enough write cycles, or to be more specific program/erase (P/E) cycles, that write performances were consistent or stable. It may take a few weeks before the SSD reaches it, depending on the computing usage, but it can be accelerated using IoMeter.
In summary, Steady State is: Written Data = User capacity x 2, at least.
|Benchmark Workstation Main Components|
|CPU||INTELr CORE I3-6300 PROCESSOR BX80662I36300 @3.80GHz|
|Motherboard||MSI Z170A GAMING M7 LGA 1151|
|RAM||CRUCIAL DESKTOP MEMORY DDR4 8GB KIT 2133 MT/S|
|GPU||NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450|
|OS||Windows 10 Pro 64bits|
|OS Hard Drive||The reviewed SSD unit|
What numbers are relevant in a real world usage?
Keep in mind that unlike synthetic benchmarks which perform only one specific operation at the time for a predetermined duration, seq read, then seq write then random read, and so on and so forth, real world usage paints a different picture.
All four access types can occur at any time, and different transfer rates and different (I/O access) percentages. For instance, a storage subsystem on a streaming server would mostly see high seq read I/O, large block reads, with very little to none write.
Looking at a database server without blob data type, we would probably see 75% random read, 20% random write and 5% random and seq write. I could either guesstimate the different ratios or figure a method to define a more accurate I/O usage baseline.
While it is entertaining to run a bunch of benchmarking tools, expecting huge numbers, the purpose of testing the units is to get a good look at how they perform under realistic desktop usage pattern. That is why I picked PCMark Vantage suite as my usage pattern. By capturing and analyzing I/O during the PCVM run, disk operations are breakdown to percentage read vs. write, random vs. sequential, queue depth and average file transfer size.
With that information, benchmarking makes more sense since all the numbers do not carry the same importance, thus some results are more valuable than others.
In summary, I/O pattern defines what I need from the device vs. what can the device do overall.
The I/O baseline process was explained in the Intel 525 mSATA review.
From the numbers, I rated the I/O usage by activity as follow: Random Read > Random Write > Seq Read > Seq Write and average file size is 128K.
To cover Queue Depth, I used hIOmon during the PC Vantage full run. There is a trial version for a week, which is enough time to build the baseline. Based on the chart below, it is obvious that a benchmark score from a QD 16 (or more) does not carry the same weight as a score from a QD 1.
About 95%+ of the reads/writes I/O are at or under Queue Depth 4. Although the bulk of it is at Queue Depth 2 or under.
Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to review any other NVMe PCIe SSD prior to the 950 PRO. It is also unfair to compare SATA 3 SSD to high-performance NVMe PCIe SSD unit, but the reality is that many of you will upgrade from SATA 3.
Look at this from a potential upgrade perspective: would a 950 PRO NVMe PCIe SSD improve my system performance?
High QD and sequential I/O take the most advantage of the PCIe x4 bandwidth! If you are running heavy I/O applications, 950 PRO is a must!
PCMark Vantage showed a significant improvement with the “HDD” and the “Productivity” test.
«THOSE ARE AMAZING NUMBERS»
950 PRO on an “older” motherboard.
Out of curiosity, I managed to perform a CrystalDiskMark test on the 950 PRO with a Z77 motherboard and Windows 7 PRO.
To get the 950 PRO (with a M.2 adapter) recognized in Windows 7 on a Z77 motherboard was a bit tricky. The system already had a bootable Windows 7 PRO drive. The good news was the 950 PRO was detected in the BIOS. Once the O.S. loaded, the 950 drive was not detected. The hardware was showing with an exclamation point in device manager.
I installed the Samsung NVMe driver, only then, the drive was detected. Next, the drive was cloned with “Data Migration”. That allowed the 950 PRO to boot up on a Z77 motherboard.
While there is a performance improvement using an M.2 apdater and the 950PRO the ratio perf/$ may not be favorable.
Will it replace the Samsung SSD 850 series? I think not. The SATA 3, especially the 850 EVO version is still “the best bang for the buck”.
Should you get it? It comes down to your computing usage and your workstation setup.
For a basic home computing usage, which revolves around internet browsing, casual gaming and media streaming, there is really no benefit to make the jump.
«THE MOST COMPETITIVE NVME PCIE SSD «Assuming I am considering the 950 PRO, because I am looking into get a new PC setup, hopefully based on Skylake and the Z170 chipset. In that scenario it will definitely make sense to go with the 950 PRO to take advantage of the native M. 2 NVMe motherboard support.
Assuming that you are a power user working with heavy imaging, sounds, 3D rendering applications and/or virtualization then the 950 PRO would be very appealing because of its high sequential I/O performance.
Gaming experience could be improved if the maps are big enough to make it worthwhile. This is the case for many top games these days.
Taking into account that street price tends to be lower than the MSRP, from a price/size/performance/warranty perspective, the 950 PRO is the most competitive NVMe PCIe SSD on the market at this time.
Filed in Computers >Featured >Reviews. Read more about Samsung, Ssd and Storage.
Samsung 950 Pro 512GB M.2 NVM Express SSD Review
Samsung 950 Pro 512GB M.2 NVM Express SSD Review
Samsung 960 Pro 2TiB Review
A review of the 2048GB Samsung 960 Pro M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD Using Testbed v1.0 and Methodology v1.0.
Released in the second half of 2016, the Samsung 960 Pro was Samsung’s 2nd Generation high-end retail NVMe SSD. It followed in the footsteps of the 950 Pro and OEM-only XP941 as the fastest drives which consumers could get their hands on during the infancy of consumer PCIe SSDs.
The 960 Pro improved upon the 950 Pro by upgrading the previous UBX controller with a new controller called Polaris – not to be confused with the codename of the AMD RX 400-series GPUs released the same year. This started a trend that persists to this day where Samsung gives a consumer friendly name to their SSD controllers rather than just a 3-character designation. Additionally, the 960 Pro series upgrades the 3D V-NAND from 32-layer 128Gb MLC to 48-layer 256Gb MLC.
Although the 960 series hasn’t been the latest and greatest for a number of years it represents the only truly high-end SSD I currently possess. When I purchased it in early 2017, it was one of the only consumer SSDs, M.2 or otherwise, that reached the 2TB capacity I needed, and I paid full retail price for it – $1300. This was the first NVMe drive I’d ever purchased as, at the time, SATA drives were considerably less expensive in terms of $/GB and in most cases I needed capacity over absolute speed. For this reason I was both thrilled yet disappointed when I started using the drive. For a few scenarios it was drastically faster than the SATA drive it replaced, but in many others the improvements underwhelmed.
My biggest letdown with the drive was actually its on-disk copy performance. At the time I wasn’t very familiar with what to expect of PCIe/NVMe SSDs and was expecting that because read speeds were in excess of 3GB/s and write speeds were right around 2GB/s that copy performance would be in the 1GB/s or higher range. This didn’t end up being the case. So while on-disk copies were significantly faster than on SATA drives, they weren’t what I’d been hoping for.
It was this varied real-world performance that made me really excited to put this drive on my testbed and run some measurements on it to see how it fared against other NVMe drives.
Before I get too far, if you want to know more about how I perform the tests in this review, check out my first blog post: SSD Review Background, Setup, and Methodology v1.0. My first round of reviews will all use the same Testbed and Methodology, so will be directly comparable.
Samsung 960 Pro 2048GB
Samsung uses their in-house Polaris controller paired with a full 2GB DRAM cache and 2TiB of 3D V-NAND all mounted to a sylish black PCB.
|The Drive — Table of Specifications|
|Samsung 960 Pro|
|Interface||PCIe 3.0 x4|
|Seq Read||3500 MB/s|
|Seq Write||2100 MB/s|
|I/O Read||440K (4KB @ QD32 with 4T)|
|I/O Write||360K (4KB @ QD32 with 4T)|
|DevSleep Idle||8mW (L1. 2)|
|Components||Samsung Phoenix Controller + 2GB DRAM Cache + 4 NAND Packages|
|NAND||Samsung 48-layer 256Gb 3D V-NAND MLC|
|Cost Today||~$450 on eBay|
The 3500MB/s sequential read speed was already running into the limits of the PCIe 3.0 x4 interface, but the peak 2100MB/s still had room to grow in subsequent generations.
For this review I’ll be comparing the 2TiB Samsung 960 Pro to the 1TiB Toshiba XG6, 1TB WD SN550, and 1TB Samsung 860 EVO. The XG6 represents a relatively high performance PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD, the SN550 represents a several year newer but more mainstream competitor, and the 860 EVO represents high performance SATA SSDs. I’m ommitting the lower end NVMe drives for this review, but if you’d like to compare the results to other drives I’ve tested, the numbers in this review are directly comparable to any of my other reviews with the “Methodology-v1” and “Testbed-v1” tags.
In case you didn’t catch my note at the top, if you’d like to know more about my hardware setup as well as my testing methodology, check out my SSD Review Background, Setup, and Methodology v1.0 piece.
Write Test — Disk Fill Summary
The 960 Pro’s write performance leads this pack of drives by a healthy margin, measuring 1848MB/s average over the whole drive. This is about twice what the entry-level NVMe SN550 delivers and nearly 4x what the SATA 860 EVO musters.
These write speeds translate into quite impressive disk-fill times when considering the 2TiB capacity of the drive. It takes nearly the same amount of time to fill the SN550 and almost double to fill the 860 EVO, despite both drives having half the capacity of the 960 Pro. If you’ve got lots of large data files to move, the 960 Pro is a great contender.
Write Test — Disk Fill
Samsung 960 Pro 2048GB
The 960 Pro’s write performance peaks at just over 2000MB/s. This matches the specs provided by Samsung within a reasonable margin of error so it isn’t a disappointment in that regard, but in 2021 this isn’t all that impressive for peak write performance. PCIe 3.0 drives have been shown to deliver more than 50% better peak write speeds and PCIe 4.0 drives extend that lead to more than double.
That said, due in part to using MLC NAND instead of TLC NAND, the 960 Pro’s sustained write performance only takes a small hit compared to its peak performance, delivering a very steady 1840MB/s from around 7% full all the way to 100% full. Modern drives don’t manage to keep up once their SLC caches are exhausted. One notable exception would be the 970 Pro (also an MLC-based drive) which looks to sustain in the neighborhood of 2800MB/s based on other reviews around the web, but other PCIe 3. 0 and even PCIe 4.0 drives seem to regress to below 2000MB/s for sustained writes once their SLC caches are filled.
AS-SSD Sequential Tests
For 1GB sequential reads and writes, the 960 Pro is roughly on-par with the XG6, which isn’t a bad thing. Notably, the XG6 delivers higher write speeds for smaller sequential writes like this test due to having higher peak write speeds to its SLC cache, though the lead over the 960 Pro isn’t very large.
The 960 Pro outperforms the SN550 by around 18% for reads and 12% for writes. SATA drives are in a completely different (lower) league compared to these high performance NVMe drives.
AS-SSD 4K Tests
Similar to the AS SSD Sequential test above, the 960 Pro’s performance is very similar to that of the XG6. Here, there isn’t much separation between the drives, even the SATA 860 EVO, though DRAMless, QLC, and otherwise low-end NVMe and SATA drives will suffer somewhat in this test as will older SSDs.
PCMark 8 Storage Test
As with most of the other tests thus far, in the PCMark 8 Storage Test the 960 Pro mostly matches the newer XG6. Despite delivering about 20% higher performance than the SN550, you’d likely be hard-pressed to tell the difference between those two drives head-to-head in most consumer workloads as the differences in measured times for the various sub-tests are mostly fractions of a second.
Large-File Transfer Tests
In case the disk-to-disk transfer, if numbers look a bit odd for the faster NVMe drives, recall that this test is a mostly sequential 30GB transfer from a read-source that peaks at 750MB/s. Unlike the 128GB drives that mostly don’t even peak at (let alone sustain) over 750MB/s, the faster drives are severely bottlenecked during the copy portion of this test as they can write at significantly greater than 750MB/s. This testing bottleneck will be remedied on my next-generation testbed.
With that disclaimer out of the way, we see the 960 Pro running up against the same ~630MB/s barrier that the other high performing NVMe drives hit on this test rig. As expected for a high-performance NVMe drive, on-disk copy operations for large files are faster on the 960 Pro on this testbed. What’s interesting here is that the 960 Pro underperforms the XG6 by a healthy 11% margin. This characteristic is what lead me to develop my large-file copy test and was the reason why I felt the 960 Pro underperformed my expectations in my own personal use of the drive.
Regardless of the disappointments of my past self, the 960 Pro and the other NVMe drives in this roundup deliver several times the on-disk copy performance of the best SATA drives.
Small-File Transfer Tests
For the small-file tests the results are more of the same. Disk-to-disk performance of all three NVMe drives is similar, again somewhat capped by the bottlenecked source drive. On-disk copies actually place the 960 Pro last of the three NVMe drives in this test by a small margin, though in this metric the reason behind this loss has shifted to the other drives peak SLC write speeds – since this test is small enough to mostly or completely fit within their fast SLC caches.
What this review is really intended to do is provide a set of datapoints for how an older high-end drive performed and to help me better characterize the performance of a drive I spent many hours (sometimes impatiently) using.
Of the SSDs I had on-hand when I began testing drives, the Samsung 960 Pro was the one I was most excited to test due to its high-end nature and my personal experience with the drive. The drive is nowhere near cutting edge at the time of this writing. It is one of the older NVMe drive models I’ve tested, if not the oldest. Although it did tend to perform better than the newer but more down-market models, I somehow expected more from the former flagship. I guess this is just a case where reality didn’t meet my expectations.
That’s not to say that the 960 Pro is lackluster. Particularly when it launched it was well ahead of its competition. It’s just that in the intervening 4 years the competition has caught up – at least to the high bar the 960 Pro set when it was released. Unfortunately I don’t have any of its contemporaries to compare it to – at least partly because most of those were pretty mediocre next to the 960 Pro, didn’t offer the 2TB capacity which I needed at the time, and (at least based on my analysis at the time) weren’t worth the price premium over competing SATA SSDs.
Today, high capacity drives remain somewhat rare and premium. There are certainly more drive models that match or exceed the 2TiB/2TB capacity, but there are still plenty of models that top out at a more consumer-friendly 1TB. Thankfully the price premium for 2TB/2TiB drives is certainly lower than the shocking $1300 the 2TiB 960 Pro originally sold for, though a lot of this is just the steady decrease in NAND prices over time. NAND density improvements over the years have shifted the peak capacity options for consumer SSDs to 4TB or 8TB.
One area where more modern drives may start to trail the 960 Pro is in write endurance. In theory the TLC-based 970 EVO Plus 2TB matches the 1200TBW rating of the 960 Pro, but in practice the endurance of MLC should far exceed even the best TLC. That said, 1200TBW is a LOT of writes for a consumer machine (as opposed to a server that faces 24/7 load). Even my 960 Pro which I used pretty heavily for several years for virtualization work only has about 50TB of writes on it – a mere 4% of its rated endurance. In most cases, most drives will have far more endurance than the average consumer will ever need. The drive will either be outdated or fail for other reasons before the NAND endurance is exhausted. The up and coming exception to this notion is QLC drives, though at least in larger capacities endurance still shouldn’t be as big of a worry as many enthusiasts make it out to be.
But none of this is buying advice. In 2021, the 960 Pro is probably a silly SSD to buy. Even compared to a used 960 Pro there are less expensive drives in the 2TB-size-class. Unless you’re getting an extremely good deal on a drive you know hasn’t had its NAND exhausted by having lived its life inside a write-heavy server there are going to be better options available.
Nostalgia and curiosity were the main driving forces behind me writing this review, and now both feelings have been satiated. At least, unlike so many things in the computer industry, the 960 Pro seems to have aged with grace.
Samsung 950 Pro 512GB M.
2 NVMe SSD
Samsung’s latest flagship 950 Pro M.2 SSD utilizes four PCI-E 3.0 lanes and features the Samsung UBX controller, 3D V-NAND, and support for the new NVMe standard.
March 11, 2016 by Lawrence Lee
|Samsung 950 Pro 512GB
M.2 2280 SSD
For the past few years, the M.2 SSD form factor has seen increasing support from notebook and motherboard manufacturers. Like the mSATA models they replace, M.2 drives are considerably smaller than traditional 2.5-inch drives and they are connected via a PCI Express interface that allows them to surpass the bandwidth ceiling of SATA 6 Gbps, widely considered to be a bottleneck to high-end SSD performance. Given the ample number of PCI-E lanes provided by Intel’s latest generation of CPUs, most Skylake LGA1151 motherboards support M.2 drives that can tap into four PCI Express 3.0 lanes rather than two, alleviating the restriction to an even greater degree.
Six months ago, we examined the Kingston HyperX Predator, an M.2 drive with a Marvell controller, 1GB of DDR3 cache, top-notch 19 nm Toggle-Mode NAND flash memory, and a PCI-E 2.0 x4 adapter card for users of older systems lacking M.2 support. It displayed encouraging synthetic performance and took the top spot in our real world performance metrics, but it was only slightly faster than the previous champ, the Samsung 850 Pro, an old fashioned 2.5-inch SATA 6 Gbps model.
One note about the Predator is that it lacks support for Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe), a newer storage protocol standard developed specifically for PCI Express based drives. The ancient Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) standard is still widely used for SSDs today, despite the fact it was designed with mechanical hard drives in mind. The new standard takes better advantage of the nature of SSDs and their multiple internal memory channels, allowing for more/deeper command queues, improving support for multi-core processors, and lowering latency by more than half.
The new standard is supported by Samsung’s latest flagship SSD, the 950 Pro, which comes in capacities of 256GB and 512GB, packed in an M.2 2280 (22 mm wide, 80 mm long) form factor running on a PCI-E 3.0 x4 interface. It utilizes the same Samsung UBX controller that drives the SM951, a high-end M.2 drive offered only on the OEM market, sports V-NAND MLC chips made of transistors arranged both vertically and horizontally to increase density, and 512MB of DDR3 cache.
To use the 950 Pro, an M.2 slot connected via four PCI-E lanes (or via PCI-E x4 adapter card) is required to see its full benefits. Additionally, in order to boot from it, the PC must support UEFI and have an NVMe-compatible BIOS. Thus far, official support on the desktop is primarily limited to Intel Z97/Z170/X99 boards and the latest AMD 990FX models. Windows 7 users also need to pre-install a driver, and while Windows 8 and 10 have a native NVMe driver, it’s recommended to use Samsung’s driver for optimal results. This is not an SSD for older machines.
Samsung 950 Pro: Specifications
(from the product data sheet)
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||Max 80. 15 x Max 22.15 x Max 2.38 (mm)|
|Interface||PCIe 3.0 x4 (up to 32Gb/s) NVMe 1.1|
|Controller||Samsung UBX controller|
|NAND Flash Memory||Samsung V-NAND|
|DRAM Cache Memory||512MB LPDDR3|
|Sequential Read*||Up to 2,200 MB/s||Up to 2,5000 MB/s|
|Sequential Write*||Up to 900 MB/s||Up to 1,500 MB/s|
|4K Random Read (QD32 Thread 4)||Up to 270K IOPS||Up to 300K IOPS|
|4K Random Write (QD32 Thread 4)||Up to 85K IOPS||Up to 110K IOPS|
|4K Random Read (QD1 Thread 1)||Up to 11K IOPS||Up to 12K IOPS|
|4K Random Write (QD1 Thread 1)||Up to 43K IOPS||Up to 43K IOPS|
|Power Consumption** (active avg/max)||5. 1W/6.4W||5.7W/7.0W|
|Power Consumption** (idle)||70mW|
|Power Consumption (DEVSLP, L1.2 mode)||2.5mW|
|Data Security||AES 256-bit for User Data Encryption
TCG Opal Family Spec and eDrive(IEEE1667) to be supported by FW update
|Weight||Max. 10g (512GB)|
|Reliability||MTBF : 1.5 million hours|
|Supporting features||TRIM(Required OS support), Garbage Collection, S.M.A.R.T|
|Temperature||Operating Temp : 0°C to 70°C
(Measured by SMART Temperature. Proper airflow recommended)
|Humidity||5% to 95%, non-condensing|
|Vibration||Non-Operating: 20~2000Hz, 20G|
|Shock||Non-Operating: 1500G , duration 0. 5m sec, 3 axis|
|Warranty||5 years limited|
|* Sequential performance measurements based on Crystal Disk Mark 5.0.2 and Random performance measurements based on
Iometer 1.1.0. Performance may vary based on SSD’s firmware version, system hardware & configuration. Test system
configuration : Intel Core i5-6600K @ 3.5GHz, DDR3 1600MHz 8GB, OS – Windows10 x64, Mainboard: MSI (Skylake),
Model : Z170 KRAIT Gaming**Power consumption measured with IOmeter 1.1.0 with Intel i7-4770K(Haswell, 3.5GHz), DDR3 8GB, ASRock Z87 Extreme9/ac,
APST on, OS- Windows7 Ultimate x64 SP1
†M.2 is a specification of form factor for ultra-thin PCs, The M.2 standard allows widths 12, 16, 22 and 30mm and lengths of 16, 26,
Our samples were tested according to our standard
hard drive testing methodology. As of mid-2008, we have been conducting
most acoustics tests in our
own 10~11 dBA anechoic chamber, which results in more accurate, lower SPL
readings than before, especially with sub-20 [email protected] devices.
Two forms of hard drive noise are measured:
- Airborne acoustics
- Vibration-induced noise.
These two types of noise impact the subjective
perception of hard drive noise differently depending on how and where the drive
Both forms of noise are evaluated objectively and
subjectively. Airborne acoustics are measured in our anechoic chamber using a lab reference
microphone and computer audio measurement system. Measurements are taken at a distance of one meter from the top
of the drive using an A-weighted filter. Vibration noise is rated on a scale
of 1-10 by comparing against our standard reference drives.
As of late-2011, we have been conducting performance testing. A combination of timed real-world tests is used to represent a workload of common activities for a boot drive including loading games, running disk-intensive applications, copying files, and installing programs.
Summary of primary HDD testing tools:
- HD Tune Pro
– Benchmarking tool for storage devices and used to check/set Automatic Acoustic Management.
– Benchmarking tool for storage devices.
- SPCR’s Audio Audio
Recording/Analysis system using SpectraPlus
and other utilities
- SPCR Anechoic Chamber
- Custom-built HDD power
measurement and Vibration test tools
Drive Test Platform:
- Intel Core i7-6700K
processor – four cores. 4.0~4.2 GHz, 14 nm, 91W, Hyper-threading, integrated Intel HD 530 graphics, underclocked to 1.6 GHz
- Asus Maximus VIII Gene – Z170 chipset, microATX
- Noctua NH-L12 cooler – stock 120 mm fan only
- Kingston Fury memory – 2x8GB DDR4-2667, C15
- Kingston HyperX 3K solid-state drive – 120GB, 2. 5-inch, SATA 6 Gbps
SS-460FL power supply – 460W, ATX, fanless.
Windows 10 operating system – Professional, 64-bit
Real World Performance Test Tools:
of Duty: World At War – PC game
- Civilization: Beyond Earth – PC game
- Adobe Photoshop CC – image manipulation software
- ExactFile –
file integrity verification tool
- TrueCrypt 7.1a
– file/disk encryption tool
- 3DMark 11 Installer
- Apache OpenOffice Installer
Real World Benchmark Details:
- Boot: Time elapsed between pressing the power button and Windows start sound playing (minus the time for an average SSD to get to the first load screen, about 12 seconds on our test system)
- CIV: BE: Time elapsed between canceling the introduction scene and appearance of the opening menu.
- Photoshop: Time to load Photoshop CC.
- COD: WAW: Combined time to load the “Black Cats” and “Breaking Point” levels of Call of Duty: World At War
- ExactFile: Time to create a MD5 check file of our entire test suite folder.
- TrueCrypt: Time to creating a 10GB encrypted file container.
- 3DMark 11: Install time, longest interval between prompts.
- OpenOffice: Install time, longest interval between prompts.
- Small File Copy: Copy time for a variety of small HTML, JPEG, MP3, ZIP, and EXE files.
- Large File Copy: Copy time for 4 AVI files, 2 x 700MB and 2 x 1400MB
A final caveat: As with most reviews, our comments
are relevant to the samples we tested. Your sample may not be identical. There
are always some sample variances, and manufacturers also make changes without
Ambient conditions at time of testing were 10. 5 dBA and 20~23°C.
Test System Notes
For the past four years our storage test system consisted of a Intel Sandy Bridge processor paired with a P67 motherboard running Windows 7 and thus far the combination has worked fine for testing standard SATA 6 Gbps drives. We have now moved over to a Skylake platform for M.2 and NVMe support. We hope to use this system for several years, so the operating system has been updated to Windows 10 as Microsoft plans to drop full support for Windows 7/8 on Skylake PCs in July 2017, only offering the most critical security fixes thereafter.
Synthetic and power tests are run from a separate drive containing the operating system to take the overhead of Windows out of the equation. The boot drive is then imaged to the test drive for our real world benchmarks. In the case of the 950 Pro, we used Samsung’s Magician software for cloning and then installed their NVMe driver which purportedly offers improved performance over the native Microsoft driver.
Note: For SATA drives, the power consumption is measured directly by tapping into the SATA power connector. For M.2 drives, the power consumption is estimated by comparing the system power consumption with that of previously tested SATA drives.
On our test motherboard, the Samsung 950 Pro and the last M.2 drive we tested, the HyperX Predator, both consume substantially more power than traditional SATA SSDs. A typical 2.5-inch model sucks down 0.5~0.6 W at idle and about 1.6W when seeking. The 950 Pro’s idle consumption is more than four times that while its seek consumption is almost twice as high. Its likely that notebooks have superior PCI-E power management such that battery life is not adversely affected.
We start off with synthetic tests results. They don’t tell the whole story of course, but it’s a quick and dirty way of gauging relative performance, and of course, it’s easily reproducible by our readers at home.
HD Tune’s main sequential transfer benchmark shows superb, albeit varied, performance across the drive. The first half of the drive is noticeably faster, but even the minimum read/write speeds are higher than most drives’ maximum read/write. The overall transfer rate is about double that of the best SATA 6 Gbps models. Access times are also insanely low at less than 0.03 ms. Transferring large amounts of data should be a breeze for the 950 Pro.
The drive’s performance in CrystalDiskMark is the highest we’ve seen, coming close to 2000 MB/s in sequential 512K writes. Random performance with smaller block sizes is more relevant to real world performance and the 950 Pro excels in that department as well. All the 4K numbers are substantially higher than previously tested drives.
Real World Performance
At this time, only a handful of comparison drives have been re-tested on our new platform:
- Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB, a competing M.2 drive that uses the older AHCI protocol equipped with a Marvell 88SS9293 controller and 1GB of cache
- Kingston HyperX Savage 480GB, a modern mid-range SATA 6 Gbps drive equipped with a Phison S10 controller
- ADATA XPG SX910 128GB, an older SATA 6 Gbps drive powered by the once ubiquitous SandForce SF-2811 controller
- Seagate Enterprise 3.5 HDD v6 6TB, a fast Enterprise-class 7200 RPM mechanical hard drive
The 950 Pro doesn’t get off to a great start with a very poor boot time for a SSD, taking almost twice as long as the SX910 o get into Windows 10. There’s a noticeable delay after the initial POST screen as it pauses for several seconds while displaying a flashing underscore before launching Windows, suggesting that it’s a drive initialization problem. We were unable to successfully troubleshoot this issue despite updating the BIOS and trying various settings including enabling CSM (Compatibility Support Module). It does manage to load Civilization: Beyond Earth faster than the rest of the field but there’s a lot of ground to make up.
The 950 Pro does redeem itself in our second set of tests, starting up Photoshop in under 11 seconds, and running neck and neck with the Predator.
Another win is earned in our application tests with the 950 Pro staying barely ahead of the Predator.
The 950 Pro smokes the competition when it comes to copying files to itself, shaving off about three seconds off the Predator’s results and less than half the time of other two SSDs.
Installation performance is about the same between the drives with the 950 Pro and Predator slightly ahead of the pack.
To get a sense of the relative overall performance of the drives, each drive has been assigned a proportional score in each real world benchmark with each test counting for a 1/10 of the final score. The scale has been adjusted with the ADATA SX910 as the reference point with 100 points.
According to this metric, the 950 Pro posts a 12 point lead over the Predator equivalent to about 9%, and demolishes the rest of the field, beating the Savage by a considerable 30% and the SX910 by a massive 42%, though it should be noted that the 950 Pro is noticeably faster these SATA-based drives in only three of our ten tests.
Over the past few years, the pricing of solid-state drives has improved considerably, but real world performance seen some stagnation. The latest and greatest drives have often been only incremental improvements over their predecessors. It has been believed for some time that the SATA 6 Gbps interface was holding back potential SSD performance, prompting the influx of new storage interfaces like SATA Express and M.2. NVMe is the next step in advancing consumer SSDs, though it’s still unclear how much of a difference it truly makes in actual use.
At the time of each drive’s testing, the past three of Samsung flagships, the 830, 840 Pro, and 850 Pro, have taken our performance crown, and the 950 Pro follows in their footsteps. Other than an unusually slow boot time, it’s faster across the board than the HyperX Predator, beating it in 8 of our 10 real world benchmarks, though not by huge margins. Samsung’s controller and its V-NAND Flash chips along with the wider PCI-E 3.0 x4 interface could easily account for this improvement alone. Either way, both drives are a step ahead of the SATA 6 Gbps competition, though in everyday usage, the main difference is in file transfer speeds.
The 950 Pro 512GB is currently selling for approximately US$325 which is actually less than the Predator 480GB. However, it’s still a hefty amount compared to the various SATA 6 Gbps options on the market. At the ~500GB capacity level, you can get a very decent drive for one-third to one-half the price that can keep up with the 950 Pro in most situations. The 950 Pro doesn’t come close to delivering two to three times the performance, so it’s not buy from a value perspective (the 256GB model somewhat more competitive in this regard). The price for cutting edge performance is always steep. If budget is not an issue and you have or are planning to build a new high-end PC, the 950 Pro has to be a top contender.
Our thanks to Samsung for the 950 Pro 512GB solid-state drive sample.
The Samsung 950 Pro 512GB is recommended by SPCR
* * *
SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
WD Black 6TB Performance Hard Drive
WD Blue SSHD 4TB & 1TB Hybrid Drives
Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB M. 2/PCI-E SSD
Kingston HyperX Savage 480GB SSD
Crucial MX100 512GB & Samsung 850 Pro 256GB SSDs
Seagate Enterprise Class v4 6TB Hard Drive
* * *
this article in the SPCR Forums
Review of SSD Samsung 980 250GB MZ-V8V250BW or NVMe new at SATA price 128-layer 3D V-NAND TLC memory. But the main distinguishing feature is the lack of a DRAM cache, which was not previously on Samsung NVMe drives. Thanks to this, it was possible to reduce the price of SSDs and now Samsung 9 drives80 are the same as SATA SSD Samsung 870 EVO. The novelty makes it clear that now it’s time for NVMe SSD and if you have an M.2 connector, then you need to use it, instead of using a SATA SSD. Let’s find out what the smallest drive in the 980 series is capable of — SSD Samsung 980 250GB MZ-V8V250BW.
Where to buy?
Samsung 980 250GB MZ-V8V250BW SSD review
Packing and contents
Where to buy?
I bought a Samsung 980 250GB MZ-V8V250BW SSD here. Choose, compare and buy SSD storage https://ya.cc/SQbnFtel at the best prices.
On my YouTube channel, you can always watch video reviews of various SSDs and other electronic equipment.
Review SSD Samsung 980 250GB MZ-V8V250BW
Available volume: 250 , 500, 1 TB 9000 to 1300 MB/sec
Interface: NVME PCIe 3.0
Memory Type: TLC 3D V-NAND
Controller: Samsung Pablo (S4LR033 SCBCUMD A2039 ARM) 9000 Buer: No, HMB (Host MMRY NOT, is used. buffer)
Packaging and contents
The packaging of the Samsung 980 250GB MZ-V8V250BW SSD does not differ from the boxes of other SSDs of this brand. Except that since the 980 PRO and 980 series, the packaging has become a vertical format.
On the back of everything there is also a sticker with a description in Russian.
Everything is also protected from opening the SSD box by two stickers: one with the volume on top, and the other with the model on the bottom.
The bottom sticker also contains important information about the model, volume, country of production (in my case, Korea), serial number and production date (February 14, 2021).
Inside the box we find a Samsung 980 250GB MZ-V8V250BW SSD in a quality blister and a small instruction book with an insert that tells us to download Samsugn Magician proprietary software.
Some of the most important information in this manual is in the Turkish section. Here are resources for all current Samsung drives. In Russian, there is a place to fill in information about the SSD and the seller’s seal (which usually no one puts). Also, the warranty for our SSD drive is 5 years. If you read everything, you can understand the encoding of Samsung serial numbers.
All elements of the Samsung 980 250GB MZ-V8V250BW SSD are located on the front side, but traditionally covered with a branded sticker. It has no information about the loss of warranty in case of peeling off, but has special cuts in the corners that will damage the sticker when peeled off. Strange decision. The sticker also contains all the information about the drive: name, volume, batch number, model, serial number and production date (February 2021).
There is also a sticker on the back with only certification badges. But under the sticker is a copper plate that distributes heat from the memory chip to the SSD textolite board. Also, right on the board there is a spectacular inscription SAMSUNG SSD, it’s a pity no one will see it after installing the drive.
If you peel off the sticker starting from the middle, then it simply comes off. And before us appears a rather meager set of elements — a controller, a memory chip and small elements. Because Samsung SSD 9 series80 bufferless (DRAM-less), then there is no question of any DRAM memory chip. It was the absence of this chip that made it possible to make a new NVMe SSD at the price of SATA.
The main element is of course the new controller — Samsung Pablo (S4LR033 SCBCUMD A2039 ARM).
The next important item is Samsung’s new 128-layer 3D V-NAND TLC memory — SEC 104 K9CMGY8 J5BCCKO
Benchmarks Samsung SSD 980 250GB MZ-V8V250BW
Benchmark: 0003 Chassis — Thermaltake Core P3 TG Black
The Samsung 980 250GB MZ-V8V250BW is installed in the topmost M.2 slot on the motherboard. It is there that the drive runs along the PCIe lines from the processor. After installing and loading the OS, our SSD does not appear in the system in any way. To do this, you need to initialize it through Disk Management and format it. I always partition drives to GPT and format drives to NTFS. After formatting, we get the available volume of 232.87 GB.
Next, we run the CrystalDiskInfo utility to determine if any manipulations were made with the SSD after production. 0 GB written and read, 0 hours total operation time and only 2 power-ups — we have a brand new Samsung 980 250GB MZ-V8V250BW SSD.
Next, we run the test with the CrystalDiskMark utility in order to compare the obtained speeds with those declared by the manufacturer. As a result, we got excellent results: 2923 MB / s for reading (declared up to 2900 MB/s) and 1409 MB/s per write (claimed up to 1300 MB/s). An excellent result, characteristic of Samsung drives. It is also worth noting the result of random reading of 4K blocks — 65.97 MB / s and this is an excellent result for a PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD.
Next, using the AS SSD Benchmark utility, we look at how many points the drive will receive — 2913. And this is a good indicator for an inexpensive bufferless SSD drive. The remaining speeds are always lower than in CrystalDiskMark, this is the norm and we do not pay attention to them.
Next, use the ATTO Disk Benchmark utility to run the drive and look at the speed. The drive shows good results. Reading speed jumps a little, but this is not throttling, because. the speed did not drop sharply.
Using the AJA VIDEO SYSTEMS utility, we run a speed test and get the result of the drive when working with video files. This is approximately the real, maximum write speed to the drive.
Using the Samsung Magician proprietary utility, we perform a performance test and get 2945 MB/s read and 1247 MB/s write. With drive performance of 234130 IOPS for reading and 221679 IOPS for writing.
Next, we execute the TRIM command on our SSD and let it rest for 15 minutes so that the SLC cache is freed. After that, we proceed to tests for real write speed.
The test for the actual recording speed is carried out by copying a 100 GB folder to the Samsung 980 250GB MZ-V8V250BW SSD (the folder contains large video files of 1-3 GB).
The average SSD write speed is 1.2 GB/s, which is an excellent result for an unbuffered SSD with a claimed speed of 1300 MB/s. But after writing 48 GB, the speed drops to 195 MB / s, which is predictable and normal for bufferless SSDs.
When recording the second 100 GB folder, the speed is stable around 195-200 MB / s, because. SLC cache is full.
Next, execute the TRIM command again and let it rest for 15 minutes to copy the data to the SSD again and find out how much the buffer (SLC cache) has decreased after filling up by 200 GB. I copy data with a volume of 25.9GB and as a result of the recording I get — the buffer size fell to 7.7 GB, because. here is a dynamic SLC cache.
This is followed by the TRIM command again and a pause of 15 minutes for tests by the AIDA64 utility. The linear recording test graph confirms our real recording test results.
After all the tests, the Samsung 980 250GB MZ-V8V250BW SSD reached 65 degrees, which is not much for an NVMe SSD. But this is not the maximum temperature of this SSD, we will check the maximum.
And now you can see how many gigabytes of resource my various tests take.
Next, I decided to check the maximum temperature of the drive, which will be shown in the utilities and the maximum temperature of the controller using a thermal imager, and the results surprised me. I moved the Samsung 980 250GB MZ-V8V250BW SSD drive to the lowest M.2 slot on the motherboard — this way the drive will work in PCIe mode along the chipset lines. And at the same time I did a CrystalDiskMark test to compare speeds in different slots and the result was lower than when the SSD was connected via PCIe lines from the processor.
The drive was heated during repeated linear read and write tests using the CrystalDiskMark utility with 8 GB files and 9 repetitions per cycle.
In this way, we managed to warm up the drive to a maximum of 81 degrees, as it turned out, this is the temperature of the memory chip.
But the maximum temperature on the chip was 115 degrees. And decide for yourself if it’s hot or not.
For some, these results will be shocking. But! This is one of the first SSDs I measured. Therefore, until there is a sufficiently large database of such snapshots, this SSD should not be considered hot. Moreover, no one will rape the drive in such a way as a. With simple use, you will not see such temperatures. From here we get that the SSD sensor shows the temperature of the SSD on the memory chip, and not the controller.
this thermal imager was given to me for a while, I collect donations to buy a thermal imager for myself for constant tests in my reviews and videos. I am looking at the thermal imager for smartphone and tablet SEEK THERMAL COMPACT PRO .
At the time of the release of the review, 10,577.13 ₽ have been collected
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SSD Samsung 980 250GB MZ-V8V250BW turned out to be a very interesting SSD. Firstly, according to the results of the tests: the actual speeds in the CrystalDiskMark benchmark are higher than stated by the manufacturer, high real speed before the dynamic SLC cache overflows, and of course the temperature on the controller during continuous tests. Secondly, the price of this SSD is equal to the price of the SATA SSD Samsung 870 EVO, which is also pleasing.
The Samsung 980 is a great alternative to a SATA SSD, especially when building a new PC with an M.2 connector. And the high quality and reliability of SSD is time-tested. it remains to be seen how this new series 9 will show itself over time80.
Despite the high temperatures on the controller, I still recommend this SSD for purchase. It’s not expensive and it’s Samsung, which is synonymous with quality in the SSD industry. And the actual speeds of the drive speak for themselves.
Review and test Samsung SSD 980 1TB (MZ-V8V1T0BW)
Introduction and overview
I briefly got my hands on a 1TB Samsung SSD 980 worth about $140, as you might guess, I decided to do a short review and test of this drive.
Of course, there will be people who will object that ~$140 for a 1 TB SSD is expensive and can generally be bought cheaper, and I will not argue with this, but I will note that NAND memory subject to wear is installed in the SSD.
And wear is an extremely unpleasant phenomenon that manufacturers only exacerbate for the sake of reducing the cost of production and stimulating buyers to throw in the trash already «worked out», the old one 9The 70 PRO has only 2% resource utilization at 30TB of writes, while the newer Kingston OEM with a miserable 12TB has already lost 8% of the resource:
Actually, I mean that the overpayment was for the sake of reliability, because Samsung SSDs fail quite rarely, as practice shows.
It’s a pity that hard drives don’t have a separate read/write volume counter, it would be interesting to see how much my old HDD has already experienced during its 54 thousand hours of operation…
Let’s get back to the object of review.
The box proudly indicated speeds of 3500 MB / s, though it says «up to» in very small print, which means that if this SSD can only 56 KB / s, it’s to 3500 MB / s , so no cheating.
The box is typical for a Samsung SSD, nothing special.
Everything is exactly as it was in 970 PRO, the same packaging template, I can’t say anything bad, but also good, the Chinese KingSpec had a simpler box, but the SSD was attached more securely than in Samsung’s packaging, but these are all trifles for once.
It’s not entirely clear to me what they are asking for ~$140, a piece of textolite, a controller and one NAND chip with a small number of SMD elements . ..
Although there is also an adhesive pad with a copper layer, it probably cost $ 100, but I doubt its value, especially considering the «quality of installation» from the factory.
Particularly annoying is the seal sticker that Samsung sealed in this way? Was it created so that no one would read the chip markings? Or maybe no one understands? What to disassemble actually in this piece of textolite with two soldered microcircuits that is not protected in any way?
So many questions, but so few answers, for this «seal» I’m ready to give Samsung a fat minus, because if I tried to remove it, it would definitely be damaged, which in my case is unacceptable.
The instruction is sealed with a strong plastic seal, of course I removed the seal, but the knife was not without a problem in any case.
Trying to find the technical specifications in the instructions, I got the impression that the instructions were formed on the «fuck off», everything is scattered anywhere and it’s hard to find the information of interest.
And in case of real problems, the guarantee will most likely be useless, there will not even be a place for it in the toilet, because the paper is too small and hard.
First of all, I conducted a short test with the address space in the BIOS, only the controller heated up perceptibly.
Next, I moved on to testing in the Windows environment, unfortunately Windows 10 turned out to be incapacitated because during installation it managed to put it mildly «lose» its bootloader on another drive.
Therefore, the tests will only be from under Windows 7, since, unlike Windows 10, it did not «lose» anything during installation on the SATA SSD allocated for it, fiddling with installing Windows 10, I have neither the time nor the desire, in any In this case, the storage subsystem did not change much between systems of the Vista family, on which even Windows 11 is based.
It looks like Samsung should have glued the copper pad on the chips, and the “seal” on the textolite, probably the “specialists” working at Samsung are not aware that BGA soldering is not capable of removing a large amount of heat from microcircuits and the heat-conducting pad turned out to be inappropriate on the textolite. ..
To test linear read speed I used ATTO Disk Benchmark 4.01.0f1.
I have already used CrystalDiskMark 8.0.4 to evaluate random access speed.
The larger the volume of the test zone, the lower the final speeds, in the linear mode of operation this is not very noticeable, but with random access to information, the speed drop is multiple.
The maximum read speed was achieved with a block size of 512 KB and a queue depth of 8, it turned out to be 3.36 GB / s, almost the declared up to 3500 MB / s (3.42 GB / s).
In terms of write speeds, SSD behaves more modestly, 2.81 GB / s, but already achieved with a block size of 256 KB and a queue of 8.
When the queue decreases and the volume within which the work occurs, the speed naturally falls down.
In the random access mode, the influence of the volume within which the work takes place is especially noticeable, if the work is within 1 GB, then the speed with random access with a block size of 4 KB could reach 754 MB / s with a successful combination of circumstances with the queue size and the number of threads.
Another thing is when the work is done on a volume of 64 GB, then the read speed did not exceed 302 MB / s, and the write speed equaled to 173 MB / s, regardless of the number of threads and queue size.
Samsung SSD 980 showed quite good performance, but the shortcomings of NAND memory did not disappear, the speed drops when working with large volumes, and this is especially noticeable with random access within 64 GB.
It can be assumed that when running in random access across the entire volume of a 1 TB SSD, speeds can be below 100 MB / s, regardless of the number of threads and queues.
RAMD (RAM Drive) do not suffer from such shortcomings and provide maximum speed over the entire volume of the drive, but unfortunately the manufacturers have destroyed this NAND competitor.
The manufacturers probably didn’t like that RAM has no drawback in the form of wear and tear and at the same time provides maximum speeds absolutely always without the use of any «crutches», which put RAMD out of competition for working systems.
Especially how to force the consumer to buy a new drive if the old one will suit him in terms of volume and digest any possible intensity of work without wear and tear? And how can a limited warranty be applied if the drive will work without wear and tear?
If you think about it, the Gigabyte I-RAM created on the knee may well show higher speeds with random access in 1 thread 1 queue than the Samsung SSD 980 could do, but it’s not possible to check this in practice, since I don’t have a RAM drive at hand .
One way or another, RAM drives have long been buried by manufacturers, and Samsung SSD 980 is right here and now, only one thing is not clear, what they are asking for ~ $ 140, or even many times more expensive with a bare piece of textolite with a couple of microcircuits …
But manufacturers have already begun to actively use QLC NAND, while having only a few tens and hundreds of terabytes of resource for recording.
This prospect does not please me at all, especially considering that the duration of information storage in such drives is already becoming less than 1 year without recharge / rewriting, the technical process is no longer as fat as it was before, the microcircuits themselves are getting cheaper and cheaper for manufacturers, and the resource work of such microcircuits is less and less.
It seems that the era of disposable consumer goods is coming, well, or manufacturers will finally raise RAM drives by inflating inadequate costs when SSDs live on the strength of 10 TB of resource …
If earlier you could take any SSD and it was able to store information for years without recharge, the memory resource was hundreds of terabytes, now it’s worth choosing carefully what to buy for work.
That’s all, thank you for your attention.
This material was written by a site visitor and has been rewarded.
Samsung 950 Pro V-NAND SSD review and test
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04/26/2016 Review and test of V-NAND SSD drives Samsung 950 Pro
Solid state drives have been used in PCs for a long time, but PCI Express devices have only recently entered the consumer market. One such device is the Samsung 950 Pro NVMe drive with a PCI Express 3.0 x4 connection. This drive offers data transfer rates up to 2.5 GB/s, is built on progressive 3D MLC V-NAND memory, runs on NVMe multithreading protocol and uses a compact M.2 form factor.
Flash Type: Samsung 32-Layer MLC V-NAND
Form Factor: m.2 2280
Controller: Samsung UBX 3-Core
Samsung14 Low Cache20 Power DDR3
Memory capacity: 256 GB and 512 GB
Connectivity: PCIe 3.0 x 4 (up to 32 Gb/s) NVMe 1.1
Sequential read speed: 256 GB model — up to 2200 MB/s model 512 GB — 2500 MB/s
Sequential write speed: 256 GB model — up to 900 MB/s, 512 GB model — up to 1500 MB/s
4KB random read speed: 256 GB model — up to 270,000 IOPS, 512 GB model — up to 300,000 IOPS
Random block write speed 4KB: 256 GB model — up to 85000 IOPS, 512 GB model — up to 110-00 IOPS
Random Read (4KB, QD1): 256 GB model — up to 11,000 IOPS, 512 GB model — up to 13,000 IOPS
Random Write (4KB, QD1): to 43,000 IOPS
MTBF: 1500000 hours
Power consumption: idle -1. 7 W, read-write — up to 7 W
Dimensions and weight: 80.15×22.15×2.38 mm, weight — 10 g.
On the market, the Samsung 950 Pro drive is presented in two versions — 256 and 512 GB. Of the total storage capacity of drives, 93 percent is allocated for user access. The warranty resource of the drive declared by the manufacturer is very impressive, for a 256 GB model it is 200 TB, and for a 512 GB model it is 400 TB. MTBF is about 1.5 million hours.
The drive controller is equipped with three ARM Cortex -R4 cores running at 500 MHz, providing sufficient performance to serve an eight-channel memory array. As software support for its product, Samsung offers an improved version of the Magician utility, as well as an NVMe driver that will improve the performance of the drive and ensure its compatibility with the Windows 7 operating system.
Both Samsung 9 models50 Pro look identical, only the markings of the memory chips and decorative stickers indicating the size of the drives differ. The printed circuit board is made of black textolite coated with a matte varnish. On one narrow edge is an M-type connector interface, as is common with all M.2 2280 format boards and recommended for PCI Express x4 drives. This solution provides compatibility with most modern systems.
An important feature of the Samsung 950 Pro is that all the elements are located on the same front side of the board, which definitely improves the possibilities for its own passive or forced heat dissipation by installing an additional heatsink.
In addition to two MLC V-NAND chips, the drive board contains a UBX controller and a DRAM chip. The RAM for both drives is the same — LPDDR3-1600 512 MB. The 8-channel UBX controller uses only 2x interleaving to serve the memory of the Samsung 950 Pro in the 256GB version, while the 512GB Samsung 950 Pro uses 4x interleaving. Therefore, the older drive of the Samsung 950 Pro line will theoretically show higher performance in a number of tasks than the younger model.
To test the performance and other parameters of the drive, we used the CrystalDiskMark 5.0.2 and PCMark 8 2.0 utilities installed on a PC running Windows 8.1 Professional x64, which has a full set of resources for the correct operation of modern solid-state drives. The test results were very impressive.
PCMark 8 2.0 test results based on real-life application storage scenarios (MB/s):
Samsung 950 Pro 256 GB — 640.5
Samsung 950 Pro 512 GB — 681.5
Samsung 950 Pro 256 GB — 1000.2
SAMSUNG 950 Pro 522, 1022 3
Samsung 950 Pro 256 GB — 606.3
Samsung 950 Pro 512 GB — 656.3
Resumes: 950 Samsung 950 Pro — a line of solid -power storage drives built on a three -dimensional flash -pacen using the progressive NVMe protocol, which is capable of showing performance at the level of 2. 5 GB / s and 300,000 IOPS. The device can significantly increase the performance of the PC disk subsystem and will be an excellent purchase for enthusiasts and adherents of everything advanced.
Samsung 950 Pro SSD Review
About a year and a half ago, we already reviewed a PCI Express SSD. Its support has been implemented on the base controller. It was a Plextor M6e drive. It seemed that its appearance should be the beginning of a new era in which users should forget about limiting the speed of data exchange.
But no matter how… It turned out that even such a simple step as switching high-speed drives to a faster PCI Express interface is a rather painful and difficult step. Even at the end of 2015, most SSDs continued to use the old SATA interface. The number of progressive high-performance models that work through PCI Express can be counted on the fingers. The main problem preventing PCIe SSDs from becoming mainstream is the controllers. These are the main microcircuits that manage data flows in solid state drives and serve the flash memory array.
Solid state drives themselves are manufactured by many companies today. Controllers are developed only by a limited number of engineering teams. Unfortunately, these teams simply did not have time to prepare all the necessary microcircuits and set up their mass production. The only independent firm that has been able to offer solid-state drive makers any sort of PCIe storage is Marvell. She released two controllers: 88SS9293 and 88SS9183, but these controllers didn’t really inspire the industry. The reason is that these controllers use only four or two PCI Express 2.0 lanes and use the legacy AHCI protocol.
That is, in fact, these controllers offer not too much speed improvement compared to traditional SATA SSDs. For this reason, these controllers have not gained much popularity. They were able to get into only two serial products. These are the already mentioned Plextor M6e and Kingston HyperX Predator. In next generation flagship PCIe SSDs, consumers would like to see faster PCI Express 3.0 x4 bus as well as support for NVMe protocol, which is specifically designed for use in highly responsive SSDs.
It has long been talked about that controllers for high-performance consumer SSDs with PCIe should appear simultaneously from several manufacturers. At industry exhibitions, such controllers have been demonstrated repeatedly. These are Marvell 88SS1093 (Eldora), and Silicon Motion SM2260, and OCZ Jet Express and PCI Express 3.0 x8 controller Phison PS5007-E7. But so far, not a single developer has gone further than demonstrating products. Apparently, debugging fundamentally new solutions requires significant time costs. Real products based on these solutions should soon appear on store shelves.
Thus, those manufacturers that can provide a full cycle of development of solid state drives exclusively in-house and have strong R&D departments are in an advantageous position. Samsung and Intel easily outperformed the entire cohort of independent controller designers, along with second-tier and third-tier solid-state drive manufacturers. These companies were able to create their own PCI Express x4 3.0 end-to-end solutions much faster than their competitors, who were digging into debugging. The championship was captured by Samsung, which released the SM 9 drive at the beginning of the year51, which has won many positive reviews. Intel, with its advanced NVMe SSD750 support solution, followed suit.
However, the Samsung SM951 and Intel SSD 750 drives cannot be called full-fledged solutions based on the PCI Express bus. The Samsung drive is an OEM product that is not distributed through retail channels and is not supported by the manufacturer. The Intel SSD 750 is a clone of a server drive, which for some reason does not have a very convenient range of volumes and is very expensive. As a result, Intel SSD 750 and Samsung SM951 managed to gain a reputation for being rather strange niche products that are of no interest to the mass user. And this is despite the fact that their use promises buyers a multiple increase in the speed of the disk system.
Today the situation can finally get off the ground. Samsung has decided to release client PCIe SSDs. The manufacturer has prepared the first full-fledged consumer NVMe drive with PCIExpress 3.0 x4 interface. This is a Samsung 9 model50pro. This solution is intended not only for wide sale in retail chains. It also combines many different modern technologies. This solution provides information transfer rates up to 2.5 GB/s. The Samsung 950 Pro is based on the progressive and reliable 3D MLC V-NAND. The drive works on the multi-threaded NVMe protocol. Samsung 950 Pro comes in M.2 form factor. This drive is specifically designed for installation by ordinary users in a PC. Simply put, a mainstream PCIe SSD model has finally appeared on the market, which can not only become a new standard for high-performance disk systems, but also finally push the sluggish industry to move to new formats, protocols and standards.
Samsung 950 Pro Specifications
Samsung describes its new Samsung 950 Pro drive with the slogan, «The first consumer grade NVMe PCI Express V-NAND SSD. » In this phrase, the advertisers tried to beat at once everything that this novelty is remarkable for. For this reason, the definition turned out to be a little ornate and too overloaded with abbreviations. In essence, the Samsung 950 Pro is the first next-generation client SSD that runs over the PCI Express bus.
The developers decided not to bother too much about the compatibility of the drive with older systems. High performance and new technologies were put in the first place. This allowed the company to develop exactly what a progressive solid state drive for enthusiasts should be. The Samsung 950 Pro is released in the M.2 form factor, which is gaining popularity today. The drive does not just work through the PCI Express bus, but does so using a special NVMe protocol. In addition, this drive is based not on a simple planar MLC NAND, but on its three-dimensional variety. In terms of reliability and speed, such a system is better.
The Samsung 950 Pro, despite its innovative nature, is assembled on the basis of components that have been at the disposal of Samsung for a long time. This means that the manufacturer has not created any new hardware solutions for this particular drive. The engineers simply decided to combine in one device all the best that had previously been used in other products of the company. So, for example, the same controller that was previously used in the SM 951 was taken in the Samsung 950 Pro. The drive memory migrated from the older modifications of the 850 Pro. However, all this does not detract from the merits of the Samsung 9.50pro. And let all its components have long been known. The manufacturer takes a step forward in several directions at once: from SATA to PCI Express, from AHCI to NVMe, from planar flash memory to three-dimensional, from a 2.5-inch form factor to a compact M.2. The consumer characteristics of the device did not let us down either.
Today, the manufacturer provides two modifications of the Samsung 950 Pro drive: 256 GB and 512 GB. A 32-layer MLC V-NAND is used as a memory chip. Samsung UBX is used as a controller. Consider the physical characteristics of the device. The idle power consumption for the 256 GB modification is 1.7 W, while the read/write power consumption is 6.4 W. For a 512 GB modification, these values are 1.7 and 7.0 W, respectively. The mean time between failures is 1.5 million hours. The recording resource in the 256 GB modification is 200 TB, and in the 512 GB modification it is 400 TB. The device has the following dimensions: 80.15×22.15×2.38mm. The mass of the device is 10 g. The manufacturer gives a guarantee of 5 years. The estimated cost of the drive today is $200 for a 256 GB modification, and $350 for a 512 GB modification.
Looking at the specs, some might think that the Samsung 950 Pro is a retail version of Samsung’s OEM NVMe drive. Initially, this drive made a lot of noise, but it never appeared on open sale. However, these two drives are similar only at first glance. Despite some similarities, the Samsung 950 Pro is based on progressive 3D MLC V-NAND. The SM951 uses conventional planar flash memory manufactured using a 16nm process. In your model 950 Pro, Samsung installed its second-generation V-NAND with a 32-layer design. In the future, it plans to switch to third-generation V-NAND with the number of layers increased to 48. Compared to conventional planar MLC memory, V-NAND provides lower latency.
Therefore, if we compare the 512 GB models, the Samsung 950 Pro is much faster than the SM951-NVMe. This is especially true for sequential read operations. The advantage here exceeds 15%.
With modifications of 256 GB, everything is somewhat different. MLC V-NAND, which is installed in the Samsung 950 Pro, has large cores with 128-gigabit capacity. The SM951 uses 64 Gigabit MLC NAND chips. In the SM951, this gives the memory array a greater level of parallelism, which affects speed performance. The performance difference between the SM 951 in the 256 and 512 GB versions has become almost imperceptible. But the 256-gigabyte Samsung 950 Pro has become much slower than its older brother.
Therefore, it is a little strange that in the younger version of Samsung 950 Pro does not use MLC V-NAND with 86 Gigabit cores, which is successfully used in high-capacity Samsung 850 Pro drives. In this regard, Samsung, apparently, has some of its own considerations. It is obvious that, first of all, the company focuses on the promotion of drives with a large capacity. So, for example, in the Samsung 950 Pro line there is no 128 GB version at all. At the presentation of the novelty, the speakers emphasized the fact that even in the summer the average capacity of Samsung solid state drives exceeded 320 GB.
If we talk about the base controller, it is used in the Samsung 950 Pro exactly the same as in the SM951. The UBX chip, which was developed by Samsung engineers for its PCIExpress 3.0 x4 drives, uses three ARM Cortex-R4 cores operating at a frequency of 500 MHz. For this reason, this controller has more than enough performance to serve an 8-channel flash array. Therefore, the need to update it when the Samsung 9 drive is released50 Pro did not arise. UBX is the most powerful microprocessor among all controllers used in Samsung SSDs. Therefore, in the new drive model, this solution looks quite organic. It is likely that the upcoming transition to third-generation V-NAND will still require some changes.
The Samsung 950 Pro family of drives is currently limited to only two models. The maximum capacity of the representatives of the series is 512 GB. However, at the beginning of the year, the line will be replenished with a 1 TB version. The appearance of this version is directly related to the use of 48-layer MLC V-NAND of the third generation, which makes it possible to increase the capacity of flash memory crystals up to 256 Gbps. However, to conquer the Samsung 9 compatibility records50 Pro will not qualify. The meaning of this solution is to set performance records. For those users who value maximum capacity, Samsung’s 850 Pro series SATA drives remain in the range of drives. The maximum capacity of this drive today reaches 2 TB. In the near future it will be increased to 4 TB.
Samsung has no plans to deprive the Samsung 950 Pro of the usual software technologies. Unlike the SM951, they support AES-256 encryption, but only Class 0. This means that such a device is not compatible with the Microsoft eDrive specification. For this reason, create based on the Samsung 9 drive50 Pro, a hardware-encrypted volume using Windows BitLocker will not work. Only the motherboard BIOS can be used to manage cryptographic algorithms. The situation is a little better with the proprietary Magician utility. In the new version of this utility, Samsung 950 Pro should receive comprehensive support. The only feature the new drive won’t work with is RAPID software caching. It is hardly worth regretting this. The speed of the Samsung 950 Pro will be quite enough without additional caches.
In addition to the Magician utility, the developers have also prepared another software component for the Samsung 950 Pro called the NVMe driver. When compared with the standard driver from Microsoft, it makes it possible to improve performance. In addition, when using the NVMe driver, compatibility with Windows 7 is achieved, where there is no built-in NVMe driver.
Like any other NVMe drive, the Samsung 950 Pro imposes some requirements on the hardware platform used. To make this drive a boot disk, the motherboard UEFI BIOS must contain an NVMe driver. This requirement is met only by new boards based on Intel 100th and 90th series chipsets. So why Samsung 950 Pro is probably not suitable for owners of older systems, unless they decide to integrate the driver into the BIOS themselves. In some cases, this procedure is quite feasible.
It’s also worth remembering that to unlock the full potential of the Samsung 950 Pro, you need a full-fledged M.2 slot, which has four PCI Express 3.0 lanes. Such slots today can be found mainly on boards based on Intel X99, h270 or Z170 for LGA1151 and LGA2011-3 processors. This fact once again suggests that the Samsung 950 Pro is exclusively for enthusiasts who keep their systems up to date. The novelty stands out not only for speed indicators. The record is also set by the declared resource. For the 256 GB model, it has been increased to 200 TB. For a 512 GB drive, the value has been increased to 400 TB. This is 25% more than what was offered in the Samsung 850 Pro series drives. You can overwrite the Samsung 950 Pro 781 times before the warranty expires. Obviously, a 40nm MLC V-NAND based SSD can last a lot longer. However, for some reason, the Samsung 9 warranty period50 Pro is limited to 5 years. For representatives of the Samsung 850 Pro series, the manufacturer gives a 10-year warranty.
Another characteristic that you should pay attention to when getting acquainted with the Samsung 950 Pro is heat dissipation and power consumption. This solid-state drive can deliver up to 7 watts at maximum load. In fact, for a drive made in the form of an M.2 card, this is not so little. This means that the Samsung 950 Pro, devoid of any cooling system, can noticeably heat up during operation. You shouldn’t be seriously afraid of it. The drive has a special Dynamic Thermal Guard technology that protects it from overheating. When the temperature reaches 80 degrees, the controller reduces its frequency for a short period of time. Such a dynamic frequency change is a standard mechanism, which, according to Samsung engineers, does not affect the performance of the drive in any way.
Samsung 950 Pro: interior and exterior
In the Samsung 950 Pro model range, you can find modifications with capacities of 256 and 512 GB. Because these SSDs use MLC NAND with 128 Gigabit cores, performance can vary greatly. For testing, we managed to get both options. They are very similar in design. The difference lies only in the marking of flash memory chips.
It is worth noting that in both capacities, the Samsung 950 Pro has exactly the same wiring as the 256 GB SM951. The consumer product looks a little different due to the fact that the manufacturer chose textolite coated with a matte varnish for it. The format of the board is quite familiar — M.2 2280. This type of performance is recommended for PCI Express x 4 drives and is compatible with many modern systems. It should be noted that both versions of the board are single-sided.
This means that the chips on them are located only on the front side. This makes it possible to provide a more favorable temperature regime for the novelty, and also facilitates heat dissipation. The user, if necessary, can install a heatsink on the SSD. There is a sticker on the front surface of the drive. Only four microcircuits can be found under the sticker: this is a UBX controller, DRAM and two MLC V-NAND microcircuits. In both versions of Samsung 950 Pro uses the same controller and the same 512 MB LPDDR3 1600 RAM chip.
Samsung 980 Pro 500 GB PCIe 4.0 SSD Test
2018 Drive Test Methodology
The drives in this line were first spotted at CES 2020 a little over a year ago and immediately attracted attention. Although at that time it was not clear whether these were working devices or exhibition dummies, nothing was said about prices, and indeed the timing of the sale, but Samsung at the same time published the write and read speeds (albeit only in sequential operations), and The name itself was heart warming. The fact is that before that, for six years in a row, all «Pro» used exclusively MLC-memory. More precisely, in the Samsung coordinate system — «2-bit MLC». This is exactly what was expected from 980 pro. As a result, the capacity of 0.25, 0.5 and 1 TB also seemed logical (2 TB was promised to be released later): such memory is too expensive to produce capacious SSDs on it, but to achieve high speed characteristics (especially for write operations) too capacious and not required. Again — Samsung NVMe drives started with the 950 Pro in splendid isolation: the first Evo (on TLC) is the next 960 line (where their “Pro” ones also remained). The recurrence of such a situation was more than possible. And it was possible in such a situation that the voiced 6.5 and 5 GB / s would be obtained without any tricks and on the entire volume. For comparison, in the PCIe 4.0 market (both then and much later) there were only Phison E16 drives, and those were only capable of 5/4 GB / s. And then — for recording, this was performed only within the SLC cache. And then — only in modifications of 1 and 2 TB. 500 GB wrote no more than 2.5 GB / s, and they did not release a model for 250 GB — there would simply be no sense from such a PCIe 4.0. When using MLC, everything is simplified. And where it’s not enough, you can add SLC caching, which in the same 950 Pro was used, but in later lines it remained only for Evo on TLC. In general, it would seem that this is happiness.
But it was short-lived — only until the time when the company decided to reveal the details. It turned out that the read speed in the 500 GB and 1 TB models will be even higher than originally promised: 6.9 and 7 GB / s, respectively. That 250 GB would turn out to be a strange undersize was expected. And so it happened: 6.4 / 2.7 GB / s were declared — but this is also more than that of the same half-terabyte SSDs on the E16. And older models looked even more profitable. Only now it turned out that there is “3-bit MLC” in Samsung terminology — that is, memory, called TLC by other manufacturers. New, 128 ply, but TLC. And the controller is new — but it is obvious that with such initial data it will be “easy” only for reading operations. So actually 980 Pro is only an improved modification of the 970 Evo Plus, but not at all an “absolute top”.
On the other hand, everyone is like that or even worse. Since Samsung abandoned MLC NAND, and Intel abandoned the development of consumer Optane SSD models, we get a “hard” choice between TLC and QLC. The latter is not so scary as it is sometimes painted, but not in this case: drives with a new interface are usually chosen for the sake of speed characteristics, and the use of QLC will make them low anyway. On TLC, it can turn out differently. How «it turned out» at Samsung — now we will check.
Samsung 980 Pro 500 GB
This modification is rarely seen in reviews — since a terabyte is faster, it is customary to provide it for testing. But no one provided us with anything: we just needed a couple of fast 500+ GB NVMe SSDs for official needs, and this task was solved to a minimum. And in order to combine business with pleasure, it was a pair of 980 Pros that was purchased, and not, for example, 970 Evo Plus.
Again, PCIe 4.0 support may come in handy in the future, although in the near future both devices will most often have to work in PCIe 3.0 mode. But they are also great for this — the standards are compatible, so at least install it in 2.0. The price, however, objects to — at the moment 9The 80 Pro is too close to the 970 Pro of the same capacity and is substantially more expensive than the 970 Evo/Evo Plus. So, from the point of view of everyday logic, if you do not plan to use PCIe 4.0, then it is better to choose from the ones listed (if at all, focus on the Samsung range). But always being guided only by worldly logic is boring. Especially since the new memory and the new Elpis controller (instead of the old Phoenix) should sometimes be useful regardless of interface limitations.
In any case, the logic of SLC caching is not too similar to its predecessors. The latter had a small static area of the order of 4-6 GB, to which you could add up to 4% of the drive’s capacity dynamically. In the new family, the size of the static area remains the same, but the dynamic area has increased to half the free cells, i.e. ideally, it can be more than 15% of the total capacity (when using TLC, it is a third less for QLC). In total, for 500 GB, the cache size has increased from 20 GB to almost a hundred — more is unlikely to be needed. But! This is on an empty drive — if there is only 100 GB of free space left (which we use in some tests), then we will come to the same 20 GB. In practice, they will usually also be enough — but not always: otherwise the maximum size would not be increased.
The second nuance is that the controller tries by all means to clear the cache and reuse it. This approach is no better than Silicon Motion “likes” (when all data is only written to the cache), so there will certainly be speed drops on a device filled with data. But in general, the controller is quite powerful, so we even observe the second shelf here — during the recording process, it managed to “scatter” the previously recorded data, and received new ones. So the cache turned out to be about 4 GB / s — in the case of E16, only 1 and 2 TB are capable of this, and here 500 GB. But outside the cache, «failures» up to 500 MB / s — a miracle did not happen. Terabytes, apparently, will be capable of gigabytes per second.
The high performance of the platform also manifests itself when caching cannot work normally. For example, on the second start of recording, the device is actually filled with garbage — but does not know about it. And it’s okay — it took almost the same time to complete the data copy. In this case, you should not pay attention to its absolute values - AIDA64 should glitch something like this on AMD platforms. The schedule is scary — but this is also a feature of the program in many ways. The main thing is that in this case everything is fast enough, albeit not at a stable speed.
On older platforms, everything according to their limitations. It is curious that, despite the smaller data flow, it is not possible to obtain a “second hump”. True, and the minimum speed is higher, and not just the maximum is lower. Once again, we see that the behavior of a particular device on different platforms is different. So it is necessary to test in different conditions — while the majority of computers do not support PCIe 4.0, the “compatibility mode” is also of interest. Since the difference between SATA and NVMe drives can be considered fundamental, but not between the latter for different versions of PCIe. In the end, everyone will determine the prices — any “fashionable” device can be a good choice even in the absence of a “fashionable” interface. 980 Pro will work in any M.2 slot, has no special problems with cooling or anything else — in general, this is a full alternative to the previous developments of the company. Just a little faster in the «right» environment.
In the meantime, in this case, prices are more likely to play against the novelty — as already mentioned, the 980 Pro is only slightly cheaper than the 970 Pro, but noticeably more expensive than the 970 Evo / Evo Plus. At the same time, the 970 Pro is a completely different story: memory with two-bit cells allows the company to set more humane warranty limits (in the form of an increased “allowed” total recording volume), and the speed characteristics will be more stable here. But just a lot of things coincide with the Evo. So with such a difference in price, many will prefer an “older” device even if the system supports PCIe 4.0. Be in the new MLC — it would be easier and clearer. But since “Pro” is like this now, it means there will be no other. One can only hope that the series based on QLC memory will not be named when it appears 980 Evo and will not be priced like the 970 Evo.
On the other hand, maybe we are pumping things up in vain? It is clear that, other things being equal, the type of production technology MLC is always better than TLC in terms of technical parameters — but it is also always more expensive. But if you compare over a more or less long period (since you don’t need to buy an SSD every month), then the difference in price will be even greater, but the technical details will be smoother. Evil tongues generally say that Samsung held on to MLC for a long time not at all because of some rational reasons. It’s just that the company wanted to be the first to bring TLC to the market, it succeeded — but in the end there were many complaints about the SSD 840 Evo series. Later, it turned out that everyone had already gone to TLC, and Samsung continued blow on the water — they were afraid: no matter how something happened. Now they just stopped — although there were rumors that the company would stop using MLC memory even before the start of the release of the 970 series SSD. Then they were not justified. Now it happened — but maybe it’s time? At least how it looks in terms of speed characteristics — you can just check. What are we going to do now.
The procedure is described in detail in a separate to article , but we have modified it a bit since then. A detailed description of the update will be ready soon, but it is not necessary — everything will be clear right in the text. The core software does not change.
There will again be a little more hardware. Since the main distinguishing feature of the Samsung 980 Pro is PCIe 4.0 support, we will need two test benches: «standard» on the Core i7-7700 and ASRock Z270 Killer SLI on the Intel Z270 chipset and «promising» on the Ryzen 7 3800X and Gigabyte B550 Vision D on the chipset AMD B550, which provides us with support for the new interface.
On the same two systems, we have already tested Phison E16-based SSDs of different capacities. Let’s take a couple of them (namely Patriot Viper VP4100 500 GB and Silicon Power US70 1 TB) for comparison today: since we got the Samsung 980 Pro in the form of a 500 GB modification, but the declared characteristics even in this case are better than those of E16 terabytes .
Still it would be necessary to compare the device with its predecessors. True, we didn’t test the 970 Pro at all, but from the 9 family70 Evo Plus was tested only by a terabyte. But we have the results of 960 Pro 512 GB and 970 Evo 500 GB, which are logical to use: in practice, no one runs after each generation, so if someone managed to buy something from the previous one, it is unlikely that now he will attend to replacing the SSD . Moreover, as such, as a rule, a device with a larger capacity is considered — and we don’t have “large” 980 Pro yet. But to evaluate progress with equal capacity and for several years is interesting and useful. Albeit not completely, because the test methodology has changed a bit.
Performance in applications
As already mentioned, we are gradually refusing to use the old versions of PCMark — they were designed primarily for testing hard drives, so they almost do not see the difference between different SSDs. However, the 960 Pro and 970 Evo were tested only with their help — so you will have to admire the others from the same perspective.
Although we won’t see anything interesting in it, except for relatively low-level parrots (RAW-mode) of PCMark 7, according to which 980 Pro is the fastest (and this is hardly the result of some special optimizations already). But in the newer version of the package, it lags behind the drives on the Phison E16, and even the 960 Pro still cannot overtake. However, all this is largely due to the specifics of the tests themselves — which were developed when modern drives were not yet in the projects.
But the new PCMark 10 Full System Drive is just focused on fast solid state drives. And it includes a variety of loads — from running applications to simply copying data, so it gives complete information about the average «system» performance of an SSD. More details can be obtained from our short test description at the link, but for now — just the results.
And now they are interesting. First, there is no significant difference between the platforms. But this is just normal and expected — most of the generated loads do not depend on the interface bandwidth. As in real life — which for many is an unpleasant discovery. However, the SSD itself is fast — and that’s enough. But! There is a significant difference — it is empty or 80% full of data (we always leave 100 GB free, regardless of the full capacity of the device): it turns out that the SLC cache needs more than 20 GB. As soon as it starts to be missed, performance drops (which is aggravated by the logic of work — do not rush the controller to clear the cache right at work, the drop would be less noticeable). Samsung 980 Pro, however, is still a fast SSD — but already at the level of other SSDs of the same class. But in the «out of the box» or so — so far a new record for devices based on conventional flash memory. Optane SSDs, of course, give out twice as many parrots — so they cost five to six times more.
The results when reading data are slightly lower than stated, but this is normal — after all, a lot depends on the specific parrot that the manufacturer refers to, and they work a little differently. But, in any case, here the need to switch to a new version of PCIe is immediately visible. And also the fact that Samsung 980 Pro is faster than Phison E16 based drives. Well, the fact that there is some kind of progress in the industry is also clearly visible: once the Samsung 960 Pro was considered by some to be almost a standard, but now it is starting to look very, very pale against the background of new models. Which does not interfere with the transition to TLC.
Recording is the same story, fortunately, low-level utilities have long been completely «fit» into the SLC cache. And the latter always works with the same efficiency — even on QLC. The controller would be able to handle it — which has been done more often than not lately. And here it is worth paying attention to the fact that, despite the capacity of 500 GB, Samsung 980 Pro consistently outperforms any Phison E16 drives. Modifications to 1 TB or the recently introduced 2 TB in the assortment will be even faster — and with reading things will certainly be better there. So, if we stick to the speed of sequential operations, and in low-level utilities, the conclusions are simple: firstly, PCIe 4.0 is in demand, and secondly, 980 Pro is the fastest.
Once again, we need to repeat — if we didn’t sort the results by platform in advance, it would be difficult to do this. There are many factors that affect performance in such scenarios. And the features of the functioning of low-level benchmarks on different platforms are not the last of them. However, as well as the nuances of the compatibility of different drives with different PCIe controllers: as we have seen more than once, everything works together — but everything is a little different.
The only thing that can be said for sure is that these figures increase over time. The new memory also contributes to this, where it is often possible to slightly reduce delays. And new controllers — capable of «squeezing» more parrots out of it. However, from a practical point of view, this has long ceased to matter. A radical breakthrough was the transition from hard drives to solid state drives. And not only because the average access time was reduced by 20 times — it was just that at first it was “not enough”, but the second — already in most cases is enough . Further, «yops» can be increased as you like — this is no longer in demand, since SATA / AHCI continues to «suffice». And the «race» continues by inertia — or as an echo of the processes taking place in other markets.
Note that the generalized rating of Anvil’s Storage Utilities 1.1.0 puts the «new» platform significantly higher than the old one. But there is nothing surprising here — it includes scripts not only with arbitrary, but also with sequential addressing. More interesting here is that Samsung 9The 80 Pro takes the lead in both cases — despite only 500 GB of storage, which sometimes holds it back. As well as the PCIe 3.0 interface — further race using only it is almost impossible. If only to change the memory itself — but it is much more expensive. So there is nothing surprising in the fact that all manufacturers reacted unanimously to PCIe 4.0 as soon as such an interface began to claim mass character, no. Without this, in the top segment , the reserves of modernization have already been exhausted.
Working with large files
We decided to gradually “transfer” tests on drives filled with data (i.e., when there is only about 100 GB of free space) to the category of mandatory ones, which leads to the need to slightly change the format of the results presentation. Making them, shall we say, more revealing. For all drives that were tested in two states, of course, but over time this problem will naturally disappear.
Reading data in one stream (which happens most often in practice) and the limitations of PCIe 3.0 have not yet been achieved. However, upgrading to a newer version is still useful. Especially for Samsung 980 Pro — which in this case becomes the undisputed leader. And it is clearly seen that he does not try to “hold” data in the SLC cache — unlike devices on the Phison E16, where they are not forced out of there immediately, but only if necessary.
Modern interfaces of data transmission can be completely «loaded» with work only by switching to their parallel processing. It has more theoretical than applied value — but this is also interesting. As, in particular, and what the leading position of the Samsung 980 Pro are further strengthened.
Fuck! said the Japanese chainsaw. That’s it! Siberian lumberjacks answered © The size of the SLC cache on a “full” drive was not enough, so the write speed instantly dropped by 2.5 times. Also, of course, a good level — 970 Evo and empty was not much faster. But very seriously. And there is a feeling that with such an approach to caching, even a terabyte would not have coped. But devices based on Phison E16 cannot be “broken” with such an amount of data yet — so, as you can see, the new product is not always better.
Of course, the picture is identical. In fact, the “minimum” speed is very good — not so long ago there was no talk of getting more than a gigabyte per second for recording. Another question is what is now and this sometimes happens — even when using TLC. But, however, in other volumes. But if MLC memory had been preserved in the line, there would have been fewer problems. Why many people were waiting for just this — but the expectations were not met.
And once again we see that the maximum write speed, perhaps, is already beginning to be limited not only by drives — they have begun to look too similar in these tests. Not all, of course — but those who «can» actually write 2-3 GB / s at least to the cache. That is, a minority. Therefore, this does not create a serious problem during testing. But we are still looking for a «bottleneck» and ways to eliminate it — for the sake of order.
As long as the capacity of the SLC cache allows, the Samsung 980 Pro is the fastest. When it is not enough — fast, but not the most. In principle, it is clear why the company spent a lot of effort just to change the logic of its operation and increase its capacity: without this, it is simply impossible to squeeze the declared indicators from the TLC memory. However, as you can see, some even older competitors do it better at times.
And again the same picture — the fastest so far manages to get by with caching and just the fastest in other cases. In practice, this is enough. But some expected something else.
As already mentioned, many were waiting for the Samsung 980 Pro only because the name hinted at the continued use of two-bit cell (MLC) memory in this series. About 15 years ago, this was considered something budget and second-rate, but now the production focus has long shifted not even to three, but somewhere between three and four bits. This is a forced approach, it significantly reduces the cost of flash memory, and more and more of it is needed, and preferably cheaper. But this approach has a negative effect on the reliability of data storage and speed characteristics. As for the high prices, when buying a single device of small capacity, the absolute costs have long been affordable for the mass user, so some would be willing to pay extra. The main thing is to work quickly.
In fact, it turned out a little different — in the first approximation, the same as that of other manufacturers. At the moment, all PCIe 4.0-enabled consumer devices are sprinters, with high-capacity models maximizing performance. It is useful on its own, plus you can allocate a larger amount for the cache, which means you can “digest” larger amounts of records. And the Samsung 980 Pro turned out the same. This does not mean that it is “bad”, you just need to take into account such nuances when choosing. If this is done, then, in principle, the Samsung drive is faster than the annoying Phison E16 SSDs, not to mention budget drives, many of which receive PCIe 4.0 support just for show. In this case, nothing like that: there is real benefit from the new interface, and the old one has a high speed. Just waiting a little bit different.
flagship PCIe 4 NVMe drive
Last September, as they say, the first salvo of Samsung SSD 980 Pro drives was launched. At the time, Samsung SSD 980 Pro PCIe 4 NVMe drives were available in capacities ranging from 250 GB to 1 TB, but a 2 TB drive was also announced and was also in the plans.
It took a while for Samsung to bring the 2TB drive to life and market, and yet it’s here and we have one for testing.
Except for its large capacity, the 2TB Samsung SSD 980 Pro is no different from smaller drives that were previously available. However, due to the way these drives work, a larger capacity still slightly changes the performance profile itself. We will try to explain how and why this happens when we get to the tests. In the meantime, here is a brief description of the main functions and characteristics of the drive. Earlier in the articles, we already tested smaller Samsung SSD 980 Pro drives, so if you haven’t read these conclusions yet, you are welcome, we can give you full information.
Specification of Samsung SSD 980 Pro 2TB:
- Capacity: 2000 GB
- Shape factor: M. 2 2280
- Interface / Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3c
- Controller: Samsung Elpis
- DRAM: 2GB LPDDR4
- NAND Flash: Samsung TLC
- Sequential read: 7000 MB/s
- Sequential Write: 5100MB/s
- Random read: 1,000,000 IOPS
- Random write: 1,000,000 IOPS
- Endurance (TBW): 1200 TBW
- Warranty: 5 years
With the launch of the 2TB model, the Samsung SSD 980 Pro Gen 4 is now available in four different capacities — 250GB, 512GB, 1TB and 2TB. All Samsung SSD 980 Pro series drives use the common M.2 (2280) « gumstick » form factor, but in fact, performance varies between different models depending on their volume. The 250 GB drive is rated for a peak read throughput of 6.4 GB/s, e.g. 2.7 GB/s write, but the larger 2 GB drive shown here offers faster speeds that exceed the speed of read up to 7 GB/s, write up to 5.1 GB/s.
Samsung SSD 980 Pro maximum IOPS values vary depending on the number of concurrent requests, but peak values are around 500K — 1000k per QD32 depending on capacity. Drive endurance figures vary by capacity, as you’d expect when a 250GB drive hits the 150TB mark and a 2GB high-capacity drive hits 1200TB. That’s half of what the previous gen 9 pros are designed for70.
The Samsung SSD 980 Pro series is equipped with the latest Samsung V-NAND flash memory. To be precise, the drives are equipped with 1x-layer (up to 136 layers) 6th generation TLC V-NAND flash memory with flash cells with charge capture function (CTF). This 6th generation V-NAND offers up to 10% lower read and write latency and is 15% less than previous generation V-NAND.
Drives feature a new controller called Elpis. In addition to the aforementioned PCI Express 4.0 interface, the Elpis controller supports 4 times more queues than the Phoenix controller used in Series 970 (32 vs 128). The Elpis controller is manufactured using the advanced 8nm process technology. The Elpis controller supports all the features you would expect from a modern SSD such as TRIM, S.M.A.R.T. etc. , in addition to various encryption technologies. Regardless of capacity, all drives have a discrete LPDDR4 DRAM cache. The 2TB drive holds a maximum of 2GB of DRAM. The Elpis controller has a nickel plating to help dissipate heat, and on the underside there is a thin copper plate hidden under a sticker to help with cooling a bit — you can see this if you look closely at the copper around the edges of the sticker.
Samsung SSD 980 Pro supports TurboWrite technology. TurboWrite uses part of the V-NAND drive as the SLC’s write buffer, resulting in improved write performance until the buffer itself is exhausted. In the 980 Pro drives, Samsung has changed the TurboWrite algorithm and volume compared to older drives.
As with previous generation drives, the TurboWrite buffer dynamically adjusts based on workload. In the 250 GB model, the TurboWrite buffer can reach up to 45 GB, which is much more than the 9 series70EVO. The 1TB drive’s TurboWrite buffer can scale up to 108GB, while the 2TB drive shown here goes up to 216GB. The larger TurboWrite buffers in the 980 Pro series enable them to support up to 92% peak write performance, more than the 970 EVO Plus series. The
TurboWrite will enable the Samsung SSD 980 Pro to perform well in the vast majority of consumer workloads, as writes are fastest when using the SLC buffer. Once the buffer is exhausted, write performance either decreases or becomes somewhat more erratic on lower capacity drives (512 GB and below), but on 1 TB and 2 TB drives, the SLC cache clears quickly enough to maintain high write performance across the entire capacity drive.
These drives are warranted by Samsung for 5 years, in line with previous generation offerings. Oddly enough, in all the years we’ve evaluated Samsung SSDs, we haven’t had a single failure yet. All Samsung drives we have, including much older SATA based solutions, still function properly.
Tests Samsung SSD 980 Pro 2TB
In each test mode, the SSDs tested here were installed as secondary volumes, with a separate drive used for OS installation and tests. The motherboard of our test bench has been updated to the latest BIOS available at the time of publication. Prior to testing, the SSDs were safely erased (if applicable) and left empty and unpartitioned, while as required by some tests, the drives were partitioned and formatted, as is the case with the ATTO, PCMark, and CrystalDiskMark tests. Windows Firewall, automatic updates before testing were disabled and Windows 10 Quiet Hours / Focus Assist was enabled.
On all test runs, we rebooted the system to ensure all temporary and prefetch data was cleared, waited a few minutes for disk activity to stabilize and the system to idle before running the test. Please also note that we have completely updated our test bench, so the numbers given in this review are not comparable with previous articles.
Our test stand:
- Processor — AMD Threadripper 3990X
- Motherboard — MSI TRX40 Creator (based on TRX40 chip)
- Video card — GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
- RAM — 32 GB G. SKILL DDR4-3200
- OS — Windows 10 Pro x64 (2004)
- Corsair MP600 (OS)
- Samsung SSD 980 Pro (2 TB) Samsung SSD 980 Pro (1 TB)
- Gigabyte Aorus NVMe PCIe 4 (2TB)
- Samsung SSD 970 Pro (512 GB)
- ADATA XPG GAMMIX S70 (2 TB)
- HD Tune v5.75
- ATTO v4.01.0f
- AS SSD
- CrystalDiskMark v7 x64
- PCMark 10 Quick Storage Bench
IOMeter is the most reliable latency and throughput measurement tool for various storage solutions. In addition, there are very labor-intensive workloads that can be placed on disk with IOMeter, which can not be done with most other tools for testing various kinds of drives.
In the following tables, we show two sets of access patterns; custom workstation template with 8K transfer size consisting of 80% read (20% write) and 80% random (20% sequential) access and 4K access template with 4K transfer size consisting of 67% read (33% write) and 100% random access. Queue depths were tested from 1 to 32 …
Judging by the test, for the most part, the new Samsung SSD 980 Pro 2 TB SSD performed on par with its smaller 1 TB counterpart, although slightly ahead by more low queue depth.
The 2TB latency performance of the Samsung SSD 980 Pro is comparable to the smaller 1TB model.
SiSoft SANDRA — Synthetic Benchmarks
Here we used the file system test and provided the results of our comparative SSDs. The read and write performance metrics and the overall drive score are detailed below.
The 2TB Samsung SSD 980 Pro once again performs on par with the 1TB model. Although it ranks second overall, note that it actually showed the best write performance. The ADATA drive takes the lead with its higher read rate.
ATTO Disk Test
ATTO is a «quick and dirty» type of disk test that measures the transfer rate over a specific length of a volume that, like SANDRA, uses a formatted partition. It measures both read and write transfer speeds and displays them in an easy to interpret chart. We chose a transfer size from 0.5 KB to 64 MB and a queue depth of 6 for a total maximum volume length of 256 MB.
In ATTO read and write throughput tests of Samsung SSDs 9The 1TB 80 Pros show better read and write performance at transfer sizes below 64-128 KB, but the situation levels out and the two drives perform the same with larger transfer sizes. Overall, the performance of the SSD 980 Pro is strong, but the ADATA S70 with InnoGrit controller and Micron NAND leads the pack in sequence.
In IOPS, the 2TB Samsung SSD 980 Pro is inferior to the 1TB model with smaller transfer sizes, and is roughly in the middle of the entire line of tested drives. However, again, performance levels out between the 1TB and 2TB models when transferring larger amounts of data.
AS SSD Compression Benchmark
The AS SSD Compression Benchmark is a dedicated SSD test developed by Alex Intelligent Software. This test uses the dataset compression mode to later transfer the data to disk and read it. We plotted only a small portion of the data at 1% compressibility, 50% compressibility, and 100% data compressibility, but the details revealed confirm that this trend is representative of the full test results.
Compressing data and transferring it across disks has minimal impact on performance, the Samsung SSD 980 Pro 2TB showed slightly larger deviations than the 1TB drive, but they actually ended up right on top of each other, and the ADATA XPG S70 took first place , and absolute leadership.
Test in HD Tune v5.75 Pro
HD Tune by EFD Software is described on the company’s website as follows: « HD Tune is a hard disk utility with many functions. It can be used to measure performance disk, error checking, health check (SMART), secure deletion of all data and much more «. The latest version of the test added temperature statistics and improved SSD support, as well as a few other updates and fixes.
In this test, the Samsung SSD 980 Pro 1TB and 2TB drives kept pace in terms of average transfers and times
CrystalDiskMark x64 benchmarks — Synthetic file transfer tests using incompressible data It provides a quick overview of the best and worst case scenarios in terms of SSD performance, the best scores are larger sequential transfers and the worst are small random transfers.0005
Sequential performance between 1TB and 2TB Samsung SSD 980 Pro drives was similar, but there is some separation with 4K transmission and high queue depth. The 2TB 980 Pro had the best reading performance in the Q32T16 test, but was inferior in writing. And in the Q1T1 test, a 1TB drive outperforms a 2TB drive in both reads and writes.
Futuremark PCMark 10
PCMark offers trace-based measurement of system response time and throughput under various workload scenarios of traditional client/desktop use cases.
Testing the drive in PCMark10 based trace showed a very slight advantage to the 2TB Samsung SSD 980 Pro compared to its lower capacity counterpart.