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Samsung SSD 950 PRO Solid State Drive Review

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Samsung SSD 950 PRO Solid State Drive Review

By Olin Coles

Manufacturer: Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
Product Name: Samsung SSD 950 PRO
Part Numbers: MZ-V5P256BW (256GB) MZ-V5P512BW (512GB)
Price As Tested: $199.99 (256GB) or $349.99 (512GB)

Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by Samsung.

Depending on your age, you might remember back to when storage drives connected to the motherboard by an IDE ribbon cable, ultimately capable of PATA transfers up to 133 MB/s. Later came the SATA interface capable of up to 6 Gb/s transfers, and which also introduced the feature-rich AHCI interface protocol. Today we have M.2, a next-generation connector designed specifically for solid state drives and capable of interfacing through the PCI Express bus. Along with this new connector arrives NVMe, a non-volatile memory protocol that outperforms AHCI for SSD transfers by enabling much higher input/output operations (IOPS) and nearly 400% faster performance.

In this article Benchmark Reviews tests the Samsung SSD 950 PRO, an M.2 solid state drive among the first to utilize the ultra-fast NVMe protocol, on both Intel X99 and Z170 platforms. Featuring Samsung’s second generation 32-layer MLC V-NAND, SSD 950 PRO M.2 is available in 256 GB and 512 GB storage capacities. The SSD 950 PRO utilizes Samsung’s UDX controller to deliver sequential read speeds up to 2500 MB/s and writes up to 1500 MB/s, while random read performance reaches up to 300,000 IOPS and write speeds up to 110,000 IOPS. Performance is further optimized with Samsung Magician software, and durability enhanced by the drive’s Dynamic Thermal Guard and AES 256-bit Full Disk Encryption. 950 PRO includes a 5-year limited warranty, and promises up to 400 terabytes written (TBW) for 512GB model.

There are a few things worth noting with the launch of SSD 950 PRO, beginning with the form factor. For obvious reasons Samsung sees a bright future in M.2, and namely NVMe, so you won’t see a SATA version of the SSD 950 PRO. You also won’t see Samsung using the term 3D V-NAND anymore, as they’ve re-branded the technology as simply V-NAND. Finally, Samsung’s 32-layer MLC V-NAND 128GB die will remain the flash technology used in 950 PRO until they reveal their 3rd-generation 48-layer technology later in 2016.

Samsung-VNAND-SSD-950-PRO-M2-NVMe-Sticker

Bandwidth Speed vs Operational Performance

Solid State Drive performance revolves around two dynamics: bandwidth speed (MB/s) and operational performance I/O per second (IOPS). These two metrics work together, but one may be more important than the other depending on the workload. Consider this analogy: bandwidth determines how much cargo a ship can transport in one voyage, and operational IOPS performance is how fast that ship moves back and forth. By understanding this and applying it to SSD storage, there is a clear importance set on each variable depending on the task at hand.

For casual users, especially those with laptop or desktop computers that have been upgraded to use an SSD, the naturally quick response time is enough to automatically improve the user experience. Bandwidth speed is important, but only to the extent that operational performance meets the minimum needs of the system. If an SSD has a very high bandwidth speed but a low operational performance, it will take longer to load applications and boot the computer’s Operating System than another SSD that offers higher IOPS performance.

Samsung SSD 950 PRO Specifications

Courtesy Samsung (click to enlarge)

Samsung-VNAND-SSD-950-PRO-M2-NVMe-Specifications


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6 comments

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  1. Daniele Cosentino

    Hi. Why u used the adapter for the x99 deluxe and not the integrated M.2 Socket?
    I buught one of those but i couldn’t make it works on my x99 deluxe.

    It is not compatible with the M.2 X4 socket?

    1. Olin Coles

      Looking at their website, it doesn’t appear that the ASUS X99-DELUXE has an integrated M.2 socket. See for yourself: https://www.asus.com/us/Motherboards/X99DELUXE/

      1. Eric Anderson

        The x99 Deluxe very much does have an integrated m.2 socket, and it even ships with a secondary extended pci-e x4 m.2 bracket.

        I’m having the same issue of it not being recognized in the BIOS, but the device seems to be recognized in Windows (running Windows 10).

        1. mangel

          Did you ever get the 950 pro to appear in your bios. I have the similar problem with the X99 Deluxe (1st edition).. Also nothing appears under NVME in the bios. Does boot into windows 10.

          The intel 750 series NVME does appear in both the boot section as well as the NVME section although the latter has no configurable settings.

  2. Chad

    Why does Crystalmark show such low 4K read speeds vs some of the other benchmarks? I have the 950 pro installed on a z170 Asus Hero VIII and I have that same issue. In fact, Samsung’s magician also reports about 208K with 4K IOPS read.

    1. David Ramsey

      That is an excellent question, and the only answer I have is “I dunno.”

      Hard disk drive performance is extremely repeatable: the platters have defined sectors, the drive may have a few megabytes of cache, but in general I can run various read and write tests all day long and see very little variance in the results.

      SSDs are something else entirely. They’re little “storage computers”, with multi-core processors, varying amounts of cache, and different strategies and internal protocols striving to balance performance with NAND durability. When I send a command to a hard disk, about all the controller does after a cache check is figure out which platter, track, and sector I want to deal with; when I send a command to an SSD, well, who knows what’s going on? It’s an evolving system and the various vendors don’t disclose the operational details for competitive reasons. Samsung doesn’t publish any details on the “UBX” controller they use on this drive, so all I can do is speculate.

      What this boils down to is:

      A. Running the same test multiple times can yield different results. Simple example: run a linear write test on a “clean” SSD, followed immediately by another run of the same test. The second iteration will show significantly reduced performance since the controller will have to erase each “sector” before writing to it the second time.

      B. Performance during a test can vary. Look at the AIDA64 linear read test on the Z170 and X99 platforms. Why are the results “smoother” on the X99? Again, who knows?

      Complicating the issue is the fact that this is our first NVMe SSD. Is this a factor? Will all NVMe SSDs show this relative to AHCI SSDs? Stay tuned! In the meantime all we can do is run the tests and report the results.

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