Introduction & Closer Look
There has been a lot of hype surrounding the new M.2 drives from Samsung and it’s no surprise; they have been tearing the boundaries down in terms of read and write speeds over conventional SATA based SSDs. Of course, I’m talking about the latest NVMe based drives and Samsung are the company who has actually been progressing the technology beyond its current capability and sitting at the front of the SSD market. Today I will be taking a look at the 960 PRO 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD from Samsung and giving it the low down; is it too fast, too furious, too expensive… or is it a viable option for someone looking for one of the fastest consumer storage drives on the market?
Featuring 3D V-NAND technology, the transistors are actually stacked vertically as opposed to horizontally inside of the silicone chips. What this means is that they can be layered on top of each other thus meaning more of them can be used. Samsung isn’t the only company using 3D V-NAND currently, but they did jump onto the scene first and have taken the next step into reclaiming ‘their’ market with the 960 PRO.
The drive itself features an all-black PCB which unlike the Samsung OEM M.2 drives which feature green PCB, it looks very nice indeed. There is a simple sticker on the front with information pertaining to the part number, model number, serial number and of course the power ratings. Not only is the sticker useful for the information it displays, but it’s actually coated in copper to aid in heat dissipation; a very clever idea!
On the back we can see that this drive is indeed NVMe and that it was made in South Korea. All the relevant EU safety notices, regulations and guideline icons are present which is normal for an electrical product being sold in the EU.
The Samsung 960 PRO is available in 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB variations and is classed as M.2 form factor. They all use the PCIe 3.0 x4 interface and are all based on the NVMe 1.2 technology. Samsung has opted to use the newer Polaris controller which replaces the Samsung UBX used on previous models such as the 950 PRO and SM951.
– 5 core Polaris controller for increased processing power and optimised communication between host & controller
– Intelligent TurboWrite for managing higher workloads
– M.2 PCI-E 3.0 (x4) interface on an NVMe Compatible Motherboard
– Read Speed: 3500MB/s
– Write Speed: 2100MB/s
– IOPS Random Read (4KB, QD32): 440,000
– IOPS Random Write (4KB, QD32): 360,000
– IOPS Random Read (4KB, QD1): 14,000
– IOPS Random Write (4KB, QD1): 50,000
– Warranty: 5yr
Test Setup & Performance
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K @ 4.5GHz
CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i V2 AIO
Motherboard: ASUS Z270 Maximus IX Apex
RAM: Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB 3000MHz (4x8GB)
PSU: be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 1000w
OS: Windows 10 64 bit
All benchmarks are done on a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit that is fully up-to-date with Windows Updates to ensure that the performance reflects a real-world scenario and not that of a tweaked benchmarking system. Every benchmark runs for a total of three times and then an average is taken of those results.
AS SSD – 4K read and write speeds & sequential read and write speeds
4.75GB Transfer Test – Time taken in seconds to transfer files to and from the SSD; fastest and quickest drive wins!
4.75GB Transfer Test
The 960 PRO from Samsung is as high end as they come in relation to consumer storage drives and it’s no surprise that such a fast drive demands such a high price. Aside from just performance though, it does have some very big pros and cons, but I think it’s time we digest each different section of the conclusion and find out what the 960 PRO has to offer the market…
I doubt anyone could really argue that the 960 PRO 1TB drive is anything short of phenomenal in terms of overall performance and as you can see from the graphs in our performance testing, it absolutely blitzes the conventional SATA3 SSDs and leaves them for dust. In reality, it’s not really going to improve operating system boot times due to the time it takes to initialise the controller, but for things like video rendering, it will certainly improve rendering times and would be great for content creators.
Although there isn’t much to say about how an SSD looks as they are usually hidden, most M.2 drives are featured on the front side of the motherboards so I do believe aesthetics are important. The 960 PRO is one of the better looking M.2 SSDs which is mainly due to the full black PCB; this allows it to sort of blend into those motherboards which also feature a black PCB. One very nifty thing is the sticker features a copper coating designed for greater and more efficient heat dissipation. Heat has been a massive caveat of the faster NVME M.2 SSDs and every little helps in this regard; sufficient airflow also helps of course.
One thing the Samsung 960 PRO can’t really be associated with is value, but in saying that, do you EVER associate the best with value? Not really! The 960 PRO is available in the UK for around £630 from Amazon UK which is probably the cheapest place I have seen it so far, which is for the model on review today (1TB). Not cheap and the SM961 NVME M.2 drives from Samsung probably offer better value all-around, but of course you don’t get a black PCB and you certainly don’t get the 5 year warranty that you do with the PRO; warranty is very important to me personally, but it depends on how long you usually keep your components.
The burning question is most likely, “Should I buy the Samsung 960 PRO SSD?”. If you’re looking for the best available consumer SSD as of today then yes, you should buy one. If you’re looking for a bargain however then you’re most certainly going to be wanting to take a look at Samsung’s SM961 drive or even the 960 EVO which offers similar performance to the 960 PRO, but without some of the specs/features the PRO offers. There is no doubt that the 960 PRO is a high-end and top quality product, but oh boy, you’re certainly paying through the nose for it…
Huge thanks to Samsung for sending the 960 PRO 1TB NVME M.2 SSD in for review.
– Blazing fast sequential read and write speeds
– One of the fastest, if not the fastest consumer level SSD currently on the market
– Copper coating on the sticker is a nice touch for heat dissipation
– Available in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB models
– Perfect for content creators and those that demand the highest performance
– Comes with a 5 year warranty
– Crazily expensive for a storage drive
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