Samsung 950 PRO RAID-0 Conclusion
Remember that this is not a review of the Samsung 950 PRO NvME SSD drive; we’ve already done that, and you can read about it here. There’s no doubt that this is one of, if not the, fastest consumer SSD in existence, and it’s a no-brainer if your system supports m.2 NvME and you want exceptional storage performance.
But what if “exceptional” isn’t enough? The possibilities opened up by the extra PCI-E lanes in Intel’s Z170 chipset really just begged for something like this, and the performance improvement over a single drive was pretty impressive (all numbers in the chart below are megabytes per second):
|Benchmark||Single 950 PRO||950 PRO RAID||Difference %|
|Crystal Diskmark Read||777||853||+10|
|Crystal Diskmark Write||426||768||+80|
|PCMark Vantage (16K stripe)||210264||97994||-53|
In reads, we see an average performance improvement of just over 25%, while in writes we see an average performance improvement of over 75% (Vantage score excluded). But there’s a great variability in the improvement depending on the test that is run.
The Vantage score remains puzzling. I’ve tested SSDs that return middling synthetic results but great Vantage results; this is the first time I’ve seen the opposite condition apply. Note, though, that the Vantage score only looks bad compared to the score returned by a single Samsung 950 PRO: it’s still better than the scores of the other SSDs we’ve tested.
Realistically, this level of storage performance will make absolutely no difference for the vast majority of enthusiast systems. Unless you’re routinely moving multi-gigabyte video files or running multiple virtual machines with high I/O loads, you’re simply not going to notice the added throughput over a single 950 PRO. And don’t forget that this RAID implementation comes with some drawbacks: since this is software RAID without a dedicated RAID controller, the CPU utilization is high, as the RAID driver must decide how to slice data up to spread it across multiple drives, and how to reassemble it when reading it back. Also, building a single logical volume out of multiple drives increases the risk of drive failure, and losing one drive in a RAID-0 array means you’ve lost everything.
But, really, who cares? Setting up a system like this is never about practicality or utility; a RAID-0 array is just one component of building the ultimate enthusiast machine, so dripping with power and capability that it will laugh at anything you throw at it. So go ahead and indulge yourself. Also, it’s the currently only way to get a terabyte-sized chunk of 950 PRO goodness, and perhaps that’s justification enough.
+ Amazing benchmark performance
+ More storage than a single SSD
+ Bragging rights
– Performance not really noticeable in most enthusiast workloads; no IOPs improvement
– Increased CPU utilization
– Increased performance of drive failure