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Samsung SSD 950 PRO Solid State Drive Review

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Closer Look: Samsung SSD 950 PRO

Solid State Drive technology has been revolutionary, as it immediately delivers a very noticeable performance boost that surpasses upgrades to other system components. Samsung’s SSD 950 PRO is designed for the M.2 2280 form factor using Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe), which means that performance enthusiasts with computers as small as ultra-slim notebooks all the way up to large desktop workstation PCs can benefit from the incredible speeds available across the Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) 3.0 interface.

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

With the compact M.2 form factor now widely available on most devices and motherboards, users can take advantage of the SSD-optimized NVMe protocol implemented into Intel’s X99 and Skylake Z170 platforms to unleash incredible PCIe bandwidth and lower latency from Samsung 950 PRO. Portable systems will benefit from the added power savings, which translates into an increased battery life and potentially reduce operating costs.

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

Samsung Magician 4.8 software, which will debut with this launch, allows the Windows computer to further enhance performance by processing data on a system level using unallocated PC memory (DRAM) as a storage cache. Samsung Magician features a DRAM usage algorithm optimized for maximum memory available for RAPID mode. This algorithm utilizes up to 25% of system memory for RAPID mode, so a system with 16GB memory will use up to 4GB for Samsung RAPID storage cache.

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

Unlike SATA-based SSDs that use a metal enclosure to protect the sensitive electronics inside, M.2 SSDs lack the footprint to dress up the product with decals. There’s just enough room for product labels to be placed over the NAND, although with high-density components the entire backside of the PCB is completely bare (see above).

For those desktop computer systems without a native M.2 port, you’ll need an M.2-to-PCIe adapter for a 4x or better slot and a motherboard with NVMe support. The NVMe protocol improves upon random and sequential performance over 3rd-generation SATA 6 GB/s interfaces utilizing the now-legacy Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI).

Samsung-VNAND-SSD-950-PRO-M2-NVMe-AngleSamsung SSD 950 PRO is available in 512GB and 256GB storage capacities, with the 512GB version delivering sequential read/write speeds of up to 2,500 MB/s and 1,500 MB/s. Using the well-known Samsung UBX controller, random read performance reaches 300,000 IOPS, with write speeds up to 110,000 IOPS. Samsung provides the 512GB SSD 950 PRO with a lengthy five-year product warranty, or 400 TBW (Total Bytes Written).

In the next few sections we’ll test benchmark performance with the Samsung SSD 950 PRO…


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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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