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

By: Jon Coulter | m.2 SSDs in Storage | Posted: Nov 15, 2016 3:00 pm
TweakTown Rating: 98%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 EVO takes a back seat to the 950 Pro. This indicates that even with a more powerful controller, 3-bit flash will not deliver as good of workload performance as the 2-bit based 950 Pro. 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 have been the winner.



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






This backs up what we witnessed with Vantage. When it comes to moderate workloads over the NVMe interface, 2-bit flash has a performance advantage. This is not exposed when running SATA-based SSDs due to interface bottlenecking. Besides the 960 EVO, the only other drive in our test pool with a 3-bit flash array is Intel's 600P. It is easy to see that Samsung currently produces superior 3-bit flash and undoubtedly a superior NVMe controller.



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.


We are a bit surprised to see the 960 EVO getting crushed by the 950 Pro. Even Intelligent TurboWrite is not enough to overcome the 950 Pro's 2-bit flash array. Looking at the 960 Pro gives us a clear perspective of how much better 2-bit flash performs over the NVMe interface in comparison to 3-bit flash; because, for the most part, the EVO and Pro are the same drive, just different flash.


The 960 EVO is very powerful, and when the price is rounded into the equation, it does stand out as the best value going. However, in terms of moderate workload performance, it is not second to the 960 Pro.

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