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Samsung 960 EVO 1TB 1TB & 250GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD Review (Page 1)

Samsung 960 EVO 1TB 1TB & 250GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD Review

Samsung goes after the mainstream market with its new 960 EVO 1TB and 250GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSDs.

By: Jon Coulter from Nov 15, 2016 @ 9:00 CST
TweakTown Rating: 98%Manufacturer: Samsung



Right on the heels of releasing the world's fastest consumer SSD, the 960 Pro, Samsung drops the hammer again by releasing their 960 EVO. With the 960 Pro, Samsung targeted professionals and enthusiasts willing to pay a premium to have the best performance money can buy. With the 960 EVO, Samsung is targeting the mainstream market where affordability is the key ingredient. Samsung's 960 EVO strikes a perfect balance between price and performance. Facilitating the 960 EVO's affordability is Samsung's third-generation V-NAND 3-bit flash. 3-bit flash is much cheaper per gigabyte to produce than 2-bit flash resulting in lower cost to the consumer.

To date, only two TLC-based consumer NVMe SSDs have hit the market; the Intel 600P and now Samsung's 960 EVO. Intel's 600P has become popular with mainstream consumers because it is literally half the cost of current MLC-based NVMe SSDs. Mainstream users, for the most part, are willing to sacrifice some performance for lower cost of ownership. In the case of Intel's 600P, they are willing to sacrifice a ton of performance for lower cost. This is where Samsung sees a golden opportunity for their new 960 EVO. Samsung designed the 960 EVO to deliver massive performance at a super-low price point, giving the mainstream user the best of both worlds.

The key to Samsung's performance advantage is their flash. Samsung's V-NAND 3D flash has proven to be a game changer. Samsung is way ahead of the curve when it comes to NAND flash technology. At this time, we are starting to see competing first generation 3D flash hit the market while Samsung is currently developing their fourth-generation 3D NAND flash.

Samsung's 3-bit EVO series has been massively successful; in fact, it is by far the world's bestselling line of SSDs. We have to look no further than the 850 EVO to see why. The 3-bit V-NAND-powered 850 EVO outperforms all competing TLC and MLC SATA SSDs on the market; doing so with a very low cost per gigabyte. Samsung is looking to perform a similar feat in the NVMe arena with the 960 EVO. The 960 EVO is a bit of a different animal than the 850 EVO because of the NVMe interface.

The SATA-based 850 EVO is, for the most part, just as fast or even faster than the 2-bit 850 Pro. This is because the SATA interface is so restrictive that Samsung's 3-bit V-NAND appears to deliver performance that is just as good as 2-bit V-NAND. This is not the case with the 960 EVO. It is not going to be competing with the 960 Pro in terms of performance. Over the NVMe interface, 2-bit flash clearly delivers better performance than 3-bit.

The 960 EVO and the 960 Pro share a common NVMe controller. "Polaris" is Samsung's second-generation NVMe controller. Samsung's Polaris NVMe controller is a 5-core design that replaces the 3-core UBX controller found on the 950 Pro. The additional channels along with architectural improvements make Polaris the best performing consumer NVMe controller ever released. Polaris dedicates four cores to the NAND array, and one core is dedicated to optimizing the communication between the host and controller. To maximize the 960 EVO's 3-bit MLC performance, Samsung employs two types NAND flash; 128Gb 3-bit V-NAND for the 250GB model and 256Gb 3-bit V-NAND for the 500GB and 1TB models.

In terms of read/write performance, the 960 EVO is second only to the 960 Pro. At similar capacity points, the 960 EVO outperforms the potent 950 Pro by as much as 45% when reading sequential data and by as much as 67% when writing sequential data. Additionally, 4K random performance is up by as much as 200% comparatively. To get burst performance this good with 3-bit flash, Samsung has developed caching technology called "Intelligent TurboWrite." Intelligent TurboWrite is a more refined version of the TurboWrite technology found on the 850 EVO. Intelligent TurboWrite dedicates a portion of the drive's flash array as an SLC buffer layer. Intelligent TurboWrite identifies user workloads intelligently and defines the appropriate SLC buffer. Samsung's Intelligent TurboWrite has a default and dynamic size that breaks down as follows.


TurboWrite makes it possible for the 960 EVO to reach sequential read/write speeds of up to 3200/1900 MB/s and random read/write performance of up to 380,000/360,000 IOPS.

Like the 950/960 Pro, the 960 EVO is a single-sided M.2 22mm x 80mm design. A 2280 single-sided design is most desirable because it will fit into just about any laptop on the market with an M.2 PCIe slot. Additionally, a single-sided design is easier to cool. To further assist heat dissipation under load, Samsung has developed an innovative heat-dissipating label that extends peak data transferability by over 60% in comparison to the 950 Pro. Samsung's unique four-layer heat dissipating label has a thin copper layer that helps to shed heat faster than would be possible without the label.

To compliment the 960 Series SSDs, Samsung is introducing a new 2.0 version of their proprietary NVMe driver. Samsung's new NVMe driver 2.0 is designed to ensure full compatibility and maximum performance for 960 users. We will be utilizing Samsung's new NVMe 2.0 driver for most of our testing. Samsung has also revamped their Magician software. The new version of Magician offers a more personalized, intuitive interface along with host of new features. Unfortunately, we do not have the new version in-hand, so we will have to show you the new interface and features when we can do so.



Samsung's 960 EVO M.2 x 2280 NVMe SSD is available in three capacities: 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB.

  • Sequential Read: up to 3,200 MB/s
  • Sequential Write: up to 1,900 MB/s
  • Max 4K Random Read Speed: up to 380,000 IOPS
  • Max 4K Random Write Speed: up to 360,000 IOPS
  • Max 4K QD1 Random Read Speed: up to 14,000 IOPS
  • Max 4K QD1 Random Write Speed: up to 50,000 IOPS
  • Endurance: up to 400 TBW
  • MTTF: 1.5 Million Hours
  • Warranty: 3-Year Limited Warranty
  • Active Power Consumption: 4.4-5.7W Avg.
  • DevSlp: 5mW
  • Data Security: AES 256-bit for User Data Encryption, TGC/Opal
  • TRIM
  • Garbage Collection
  • Software: Magician, Migration, Samsung NVMe 2.0 Driver

MSRP: 250GB = $129, 500GB = $249, 1TB = $479

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