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Samsung XP941 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD Review

By: Chris Ramseyer | SSDs in Storage | Posted: May 20, 2014 7:18 pm
TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: RamCity

Specifications, Pricing and Availability

 

Before we dive in, I would like to thank Rod Bland from RamCity for supplying us with a Samsung XP941 512GB SSD and a pair of Bplus M.2 to PCIe 2.0 x4 adapters. Rod convinced Samsung to release an unknown number of XP941 OEM drives to the masses. His Australian based e-tail store, RamCity, carries a wide range of products with a focus on DRAM. The shop also has the best selection of SSDs we've seen outside of Newegg. Rod's professional blog is also a treasure for M.2 and PCIe SSD data.

 

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RamCity put together a nice comparison of current Samsung drives spanning the EVO, Pro, and XP941. This allows us to get a really good look at the performance specifications of these three models in their 512GB capacity sizes. Our 512GB XP941 sample delivers 1170 MB/s sequential read and 950 MB/s sequential write speeds with a massive 122,000 4k random reads and a tame 72,000 4k random writes.

 

Samsung has been tight lipped about the XP941 even when asked pointed questions about the controller, technology, and advanced features. RamCity has more information on this drive than any other source (until our review hits the web).

 

Samsung released the XP941 in four capacity sizes: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and a large 1TB model that is an Apple exclusive at this time. Today, we're focusing on the 512GB model, and it has the highest performance of the three publicly available XP941 models.

 

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At this time, Apple systems dating back to 2006 work with the XP941 with an adapter, and many of those systems can even use the XP941 as a boot device. On the PC side, the XP941 does not work as a boot device aside from a few systems. Sony released a notebook with an XP941, and ASRock's Extreme6 can boot from the XP941 without an adapter. The Extreme6 can also use the drive without an adapter, but it is the only retail motherboard at this time with an Ultra M.2 slot (up to PCIe 3.0 x4 lanes).

 

The Samsung XP941 is the only consumer PCIe 2.0 x4 lane product on the market. Plextor recently released the M6e, but it uses two lanes instead of four. From the roadmaps we've seen, PCIe 2.0 x2 is the standard for 2014 to the first half of 2015. Marvell has a PCIe 2.0 x4 controller in development, but manufacturers told us not to expect anything on the sample side until December or January. That is, of course, if everything goes as planned and without any major issues.

 

In the past year, we've talked quite a bit about LSI SandForce SF3700 controllers and that controller's evolution. The SF3700, as of last year, is a 2-lane controller for the consumer market and a 4-lane controller for the enterprise market, both using PCIe 2.0. Samsung jumping the gun with the XP941 pretty much ruins years of work on SATA Express (SATAe) because the spec is limited to PCIe 2.0 x2. SATAe drives will use the familiar 2.5-inch form factor, and although retail drives have yet to hit the market, the spec has already been overshadowed by the XP941 that you can buy today.

 

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Now that we've put the ball on the tee and explained that the XP941 is really a product generation ahead of everything else, we can talk about the price. RamCity is based in Australia, but the AUD converts to the USD in a favorable manner. Our 512GB sample costs AUD$674.99, and that comes out to right around $600 in US dollars. Yes, this is an expensive SSD, but instead of complaining about the price of next-next generation hardware, we are just happy to have the opportunity to purchase it without waiting a year or two to purchase it at a lower price.

 

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RamCity is responsible for the warranty of the XP941 and gives purchasers a full three-year warranty. The RamCity package is similar to the way many manufacturers sell mSATA drives, and the drive comes in a clear plastic case. In the ASRock Extreme6, you will not need an adapter, but in nearly every other installation, you will need an adapter. RamCity offers three models with a starting price of around $20. Later in this review, we'll explain why we think the more expensive Bplus M.2 heat sink model is more appropriate.

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