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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

Additional Tests


We've always ran more tests than what we publish to learn more about each drive. We rarely add the tests or even mention them unless we find something of interest. The Samsung XP941 is an interesting drive, and we found some interesting information in our additional tests that we think is worth mentioning.




We've already mentioned the first, but it's worth going into more detail on. At this time, there is only one enthusiast level PC motherboard available that allows you to use the Samsung XP941 as a boot device. That board is the new ASRock Extreme6 Z97. In our ASUS ROG Z87 Extreme VI, we couldn't even see the Samsung XP941 in the BIOS to make it a boot device.


The ASUS ROG Extreme VI does have a UEFI BIOS, and I wouldn't be surprised to see motherboard manufacturers work compatibility in--at the very least on enthusiast models.




Unlike other Samsung SSDs on the market, the Samsung XP941 doesn't give us a lot of information from SMART polling. What you see is exactly what we found. Also, the Samsung XP941 is not seen as a Samsung product in Samsung Magician, so you can't secure erase the drive in Magician. You can't use RAPID Mode either.


Without Magician to secure erase the drive, we turned to PartedMagic. A two year old version of PartedMagic couldn't see the XP941 at all, but the newest version does. That doesn't mean you should use it though. We managed to brick our XP941 sample in PartedMagic after secure erasing the drive with the Enhanced Secure Erase. The SE cycle took around 45 minutes, and once it finished, the drive threw an Invalid CHS error in Sector 0 on the next reboot.


Now, Windows fails to see the drive, and Linux does not have the tools to fix the issue since this is a PCIe based drive. We could actually fix the drive if it was SATA. We hope the necessary tools became available at some point. Until then, don't secure erase the XP941 in PartedMagic.




We replaced AIDA64's latency test with the PCMark 8 test a few months ago, but the XP941 still shows high latency after a full LBA span write test. Most of us will never write the entire capacity size of the drive all at once, so this isn't an issue on the consumer side. On the enterprise side, it can become an issue. Also, this test shows very low latency at the start, and we think Samsung enabled Turbo Write on the MLC flash. This is really speculation at this point, but the XP941 does have some of EVO's write latency traits.




The latency issue doesn't just hurt random performance. The Plextor M6e has a similar issue, and we think it's because both Plextor and Samsung run very aggressive garbage collection schemes. In this chart, we see sequential 128kB writes to both drives, and the results are a very large bathtub curve with performance dropping to very low levels. Even with sequential data, a user cannot reasonably expect 1100 MB/s data transfer performance all of the time.




Until now, the highest temperature we've recorded on a SSD controller was 84C. The Samsung achieved a whopping 114.2C measurement in the same test and ran under the same conditions. We recommend you use an adapter bracket with a heat sink whenever possible or, at the very least, provide good air cooling to the XP941.


In the image above, we see the idle (top) and 10 minute 4k load (bottom) thermal images. At idle and even under light use, the drive stays cool, but under a high workload, it could boil water.


The controller temperature also increases the temperature of the other components, and the edge of the NAND flash closest to the controller reached nearly 80C. Flash endurance is directly tied to temperature. With the NAND hot, each single write could be like 3 or more writes, so keeping everything cool is important for the long term health of the SSD. The Samsung XP941 is an enthusiast product--at least the price and performance tell us so--and enthusiasts already know a thing or two about keeping system components cool.


We reached out to Samsung to ask about any thermal throttles but have yet to hear back.

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