The Samsung 970 EVO was a disappointment for reviewers when first released. The drives were strong, but Samsung fell behind the competition in performance with the series. The 970 EVO just wasn't what we expected from a lineage of great NVMe products. In a way, the 64-layer generation was a wakeup call for the company. Others have mature 3D NAND technology, and they are coming after the leader in this space.
The new 970 EVO Plus puts Samsung back where it should be with consumer NVMe products. The series keeps the good features from the previous generation, like class-leading endurance, and supplements it with better performance. In the 2TB capacity, the EVO Plus doesn't provide an outright performance win in every test, but it wins enough, and gives them in the right places, to make this the drive to look at first when shopping.
Samsung does have a new issue to contend with, pricing. The 2TB 970 EVO Plus sells for $499.99 at the time of writing. In years past, that might look attractive, but with products like the Corsair MP510 (Phison E12 / Toshiba 64L TLC) selling for just $279.99, it's very difficult to recommend the EVO Plus for most users.
Where pricing doesn't apply is when the workload demands high performance under heavy loads. This is where the 970 EVO Plus kicks it up a notch over all other TLC, and even older MLC drives. The 2TB 970 EVO walked all over the 960 Pro in the PCMark Extended Storage Test that uses steady-state conditions to measure performance. In a demanding workstation environment, the 970 EVO Plus is the must-have SSD for those unwilling to invest in Optane.
The Bottom Line
Samsung gets back on track to lead the consumer NVMe market with the 970 EVO Plus. The 2TB model shows excellent performance but its high cost will limit sales in the age of cheap flash.