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Samsung 960 Pro 2TB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD Review

By: Jon Coulter | m.2 SSDs in Storage | Posted: 4 days, 16 hours ago
TweakTown Rating: 100%Manufacturer: Samsung

Moderate Workload Model


We categorize these tests as indicative of a moderate workload environment.


PCMark Vantage - Hard Disk Tests


Version and / or Patch Used:


The reason we like PCMark Vantage is because the recorded traces are played back without system stops. What we see is the raw performance of the drive. This allows us to see a marked difference between scoring that other trace-based benchmarks do not exhibit. An example of a marked difference in scoring on the same drive would be empty vs. filled vs. steady state.


We run Vantage three ways. The first run is with the OS drive 75% full to simulate a lightly used OS volume filled with data to an amount we feel is common for most users. The second run is with the OS volume written into a "Steady State" utilizing SNIA's consumer guidelines. Steady state testing simulates a drive's performance similar to that of a drive that been subjected to consumer workloads for extensive amounts of time. The third run is a Vantage HDD test with the test drive attached as an empty, lightly used secondary device.


OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used





OS Volume 75% Full - Steady State




Secondary Volume Empty - FOB




There's a big difference between an empty drive, one that's 75% full/used, and one that's in a steady state.




The important scores to pay attention to are "OS Volume Steady State" and "OS Volume 75% full." These two categories are most important because they are indicative of typical of consumer user states. When a drive is in a steady state, it means garbage collection is running at the same time it's reading/writing. This is exactly why we focus on steady state performance.


In a steady-state or a lightly used state, the 960 Pro has no equal. The 960 Pro eviscerates our previous Vantage champion, the 950 Pro, with ease. This testing is an example of why Samsung is the performance leader.


Additionally, it is a perfect illustration of why we believe it is important to test with data on the drive. Without data on the drive, Intel's 750 would be the winner, when in reality it scores 62% lower than the 960 Pro in a realistic user state.



PCMark 7 - System Storage


Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4.0


We will look to Raw System Storage scoring for evaluation because it's done without system stops and, therefore, allows us to see significant scoring differences between drives.


OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used






The 960 Pro does what we were expecting from the SM961. The SM961 is a more powerful SSD than the 950 Pro, but it didn't even come close to delivering the performance of the 950 Pro. Why? Because there is not a readily available Samsung NVMe driver designed to run on the SM961.


The 960 Pro sets another lab record for moderate workload performance. We consider moderate workload performance to be the best indicator of how well a drive actually performs in real-world situations.



PCMark 8 - Storage Bandwidth


Version and / or Patch Used: 2.4.304


We use PCMark 8 Storage benchmark to test the performance of SSDs, HDDs, and hybrid drives with traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, and a selection of popular games. You can test the system drive or any other recognized storage device, including local external drives. Unlike synthetic storage tests, the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark highlights real-world performance differences between storage devices.


OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used






PCMark 8 is the most intensive moderate workload simulation we run. With respect to moderate consumer type workloads, this test is what we consider the best indicator of a drive's performance. This test best highlights what we've been hammering on.


Look at the difference between the 960 Pro and the SM961. Even though the two drives are very similar architecturally, with the Windows 10 NVMe driver, the SM961 as powerful as it is, delivers an embarrassingly low PCMark 8 storage bandwidth of 470 MB/s.


Samsung's proprietary NVMe driver makes all the difference in the world, as evidenced by the record-breaking performance of the 960 Pro.

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