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Samsung 960 PRO NVMe SSD Review

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Samsung 960 PRO NVMe SSD Review

By David Ramsey

Manufacturer: Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
Product Name: SSD 960 PRO M.2
Part Number: MZ-V6P512BW
UPC: 887276185316
Prices: 512GB: $330 (Amazon|Newegg), 1TB: $630 (Amazon|Newegg), 2TB: $1300 (Amazon|Newegg)

Full Disclosure: Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. provided the product sample used in this article.

Samsung’s 950 PRO m.2 PCIE SSD set new benchmark records when we tested it here a few months back at Benchmark Reviews. The performance picture got even better we configured a RAID-0 array with two of these drives. Now they’ve introduced the new Samsung 960 PRO NVMe SSD, with upgraded NAND and a new controller, promising even more spectacular performance.

Specifications

Capacity 512GB
Interface PCIe x4
Protocol NVMe
Form Factor m.2 2280
Controller Samsung Polaris
NAND Samsung 48-layer V-NAND
TRIM Yes
Max. Read Up to 3500MB/sec
Max. Write Up to 2100MB/sec
Write Endurance 400TB
Warranty 5 years

Solid State vs Hard Disk

Benchmark Reviews has championed SSDs over hard disks for many years, as we feel that even when prices were much higher than they are now, the superior performance was worth it. Now that SSD prices have come down dramatically, there’s little reason for any but the most basic computers to use a spinning hard disk as a primary drive.

However, we’re now in the middle of another transition: within the last 18 months or so, standard SATA SSDs have all run up against what used to be the performance province of only the higher-end drives: the bandwidth limitations of the SATA interface. This means that no matter how fast your SSD is, you’re never going to see more than about 550MB/s transfer rates unless you stripe multiple drives together in RAID-0.

Moving from SATA to PCI Express (PCIe) is the obvious solution, but it required different controllers, and many desktop systems, especially enthusiast systems, simply didn’t have the PCI-E lanes to spare. The introduction of Intel’s Skylake architecture added more PCI-E lanes, and the icing on the cake was the introduction of NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) to supplant the older IDE and AHCI protocols, which were designed for spinning hard disks and suffered from efficiency issues with fast SSDs.

The latest crop of PCI-E m.2 SSDs implementing the NVMe protocol promises vast increases in performance. Let’s see how this drive compares.


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4 comments

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  1. Costea

    Which brand of SSD do you trust most?
    Samsung. My 850 evo, is running with the speed of the ram, in rapid mode. That’s fast enaugh! 2900 mb/sec, seq.write , on a8-7600, chipset a88x, ram at 1800 mhz.

  2. EricW

    This was definitely an upgrade to the 256GB 950 Pro I had not all that much for the 950 Pro 512GB. Hopefully we eventually start to see price savings with the additional layers.

  3. D Daniels

    Confused. How is it that a 3 to 5 times “performance improvement” equates to imperceptible real world benefits. Won’t windows load faster? Won’t game zone load times be slashed?

    If not, is it xpoint we should be expecting to achieve these goals?

    1. David Ramsey

      Easy: because most of the data transfers you’ll make are quite small, in the kilobytes-to-hundreds of kilobytes range.

      Say you’ve got a 250-kilobyte block of data to read. With a SATA SSD that can do 550 megabytes per second, you can get that data in about 1/2200th of a second.

      Now with a spiffy new m.2 NVME SSD that can sustain 2.5 gigabytes per second, that data transfer take 1/10,000th of a second. Can you tell the difference, sitting in your chair?

      Of course, there will aways be use cases where the difference _is_ perceptible. But booting Windows or loading game zones isn’t just about raw data transfer rates; there’s a lot of computation going on.

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