When Samsung launched the 960 EVO over a year ago, it was by far the highest performing consumer TLC SSD ever made. However, the competition was not only able to catch the 960 EVO over time, they have been able to surpass the 960 EVO. Case-in-point would be the newest Western Digital Black and SanDisk Extreme Pro NVMe SSDs.
The 970 EVO has been a long time coming. Normally before any competitor has a chance to pull even or take the crown from Samsung, they release something new and disruptive that keeps the performance crown firmly in their camp. Not so this time around.
For the first time, Samsung has serious competition on the consumer TLC front. Samsung knows this and has come to the battle armed with a new NVMe controller, 64-layer 3-bit V-NAND, a new NVMe driver, and new "Intelligent TurboWrite" algorithms that take the EVO series to new performance heights. But is it enough?
Samsung's new slogan is "Unreal Performance, Realized". The 970 EVO is powered by Samsung's brand new "Phoenix" NVMe controller. Phoenix, like its predecessor "Polaris" sports a 5-core ARM-based processor. One core is dedicated to host communication and the other four to the NAND array. Phoenix features increased core-clock speeds and enhanced thermal capabilities over Polaris.
Like its predecessor, the 960 EVO, the 970 EVO features a layer of copper film in the label on the back of the drive's PCB which helps dissipate heat faster. In addition, the Phoenix controller has a new nickel coating allowing it to dissipate more heat, which in turn helps maintain peak performance better than ever before.
The 970 EVO's improved thermals mean that Samsung's Dynamic Thermal Guard (DTG) trigger point doesn't kick in until 14 seconds later than it does on the 960 EVO.
DTG triggering 14 seconds later than before allows the 970 EVO to transfer approximately 26% (approximately 32GB) more sequential write data without throttling than was possible with the 960 EVO.
Samsung's latest generation 64-layer 3-bit V-NAND is faster and far more enduring than previous 48-layer 3-bit V-NAND. Samsung has increased the 970 EVO's endurance rating by 50% at each capacity point over the 960 EVO. Additionally, Samsung has increased the EVO's warranty period from 3-years to 5-years.
With Samsung's potent "Phoenix" controller powering a 64-layer V-NAND flash array, the 970 EVO delivers performance that is far better than the 960 EVO. The 970 EVO provides up to 32% faster sequential speeds and up to 36% faster random speeds than its predecessor - the 960 EVO.
The 960 EVO's capacity topped out at 1TB, but with the move to 64-layer V-NAND the 970 EVO's highest capacity tops out at 2TB. 2TB on a single-sided M.2 x2280 is industry leading, and so far only Samsung has accomplished this feat in the consumer space.
Samsung remains the only company with total vertical integration in the consumer NAND-based SSD space. This means that every major component (Controller, Flash, DRAM) are Samsung's own. This allows Samsung complete quality control, lower manufacturing costs and faster innovation implementation that simply isn't possible for most other purveyors of NAND-based SSDs.
Samsung's vertical integration extends into the software front as well. Like all Samsung SSDs, the 970 Series is fully compatible with Samsung's own "Magician" SSD toolbox and Samsung migration software. Samsung also provides a proprietary NVMe driver for the 970 EVO. Samsung's NVMe driver 3.0 significantly boosts performance and increases compatibility.
A proprietary NVMe driver makes it possible for Windows 7 users to experience the full performance of Samsung's NVMe SSDs. Full performance for Windows 7 users simply isn't possible without a proprietary NVMe driver. This is because the Windows 7 add-in NVMe driver is incapable of delivering full NVMe performance, or even performance that is anywhere near as good as the Windows 10 NVMe driver.
The 960 EVO was overall the best performing consumer TLC SSD you could buy when it launched over a year ago, but it had one glaring weakness - heavy workload performance. When running extended workloads that induce steady-state, such as PCMark 8 Extended, the 960 EVO could not keep pace with most SSDs even if they were inferior overall.
Let's get into the review and see if Samsung has been able to address weak steady-state performance and if the 970 EVO has what it takes to snatch back the consumer TLC performance crown.
Specifications, Features and Availability
Samsung 970 EVO NVMe 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
Samsung's 970 EVO series is available at four capacity points: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB and 2TB
The 1TB 970 EVO we have on the bench sports the following factory specifications:
- Sequential Read: up to 3,400 MB/s
- Sequential Write: up to 2,500 MB/s
- Max 4K Random Read Speed: up to 500,000 IOPS
- Max 4K Random Write Speed: up to 450,000 IOPS
- 4K QD1 Random Read Speed: up to 15,000 IOPS
- 4K QD1 Random Write Speed: up to 50,000 IOPS
- Endurance: up to 600 TBW
- MTBF: 1.5 Million Hours
- Warranty: 5-Year Limited Warranty
MSRP Samsung 970 EVO Series:
250GB = $119.99
500GB = $229.99
1TB = $449.99
2TB = $849.99
Availability: May 2018
Features: TRIM (Required OS support), Garbage Collection, S.M.A.R.T Monitoring, Samsung NVMe Driver 3.0.
Data Security Features: AES 256-bit Full Disk Encryption, TCG/Opal V2.0, Encrypted Drive (IEEE1667).
Available Free Software: Samsung Magician SSD Toolbox, Samsung Data Migration Tool and Samsung NVMe driver 3.0.
Samsung, as they always do, provide value-add software for your 970 EVO - available free via download. Samsung's Magician SSD Toolbox allows you to monitor the drive, tune your OS for optimized SSD usage, update firmware, Secure Erase, and test performance.
Samsung's Data Migration software makes it as easy as a couple of mouse clicks to migrate your Operating System to your new 970 EVO SSD. Samsung's NVMe driver 3.0 provides better performance, better data security and higher compatibility.
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Drive Specifications, Pricing & Availability]
- Page 2 [Drive Details]
- Page 3 [Test System & Drive Properties]
- Page 4 [Synthetic Benchmarks - ATTO & Anvil Storage Utilities]
- Page 5 [Synthetic Benchmarks - CrystalDiskMark & AS SSD]
- Page 6 [Benches (OS) - Vantage, PCMark 7, PCMark 8 & SYSmark 2014 SE]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks (Secondary) - IOPS, Response & Transfer Rate]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks (Secondary Volume) - PCMark 8 Extended]
- Page 9 [Benchmarks 70/30 Mixed Workload & Sustained Seq. Write]
- Page 10 [Maxed-Out Performance (MOP)]
- Page 11 [Final Thoughts]