Samsung 950 Pro M.2 NVME SSD Review (256/512GB) – The NVMe Effect

PCMARK 8 EXTENDED STORAGE

WORKLOAD CONSISTENCY TESTING

For our last benchmark, we have decided to use PCMark 8 Extended Storage Workload in order to determine steady state throughput of the SSD. This software is the longest in our battery of tests and takes just under 18 hours per SSD. As this is a specialized component of PCMark 8 Professional, its final result is void of any colorful graphs or charts typical of the normal online results and deciphering the resulting excel file into an easily understood result takes several more hours.

There are 18 phases of testing throughout the entire run, 8 runs of the Degradation Phase, 5 runs of the Steady State Phase and 5 runs of the Recovery Phase. In each phase, several performance tests are run of 10 different software programs; Adobe After Effects, Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop Heavy and Photoshop Light, Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint and Word, as well as Battlefield 3 and World of Warcraft to cover the gaming element.

  • PRECONDITIONING -The entire SSD is filled twice sequentially with random data of a 128KB file size. The second run accounts for overprovisioning that would have escaped the first;
  • DEGRADATION PHASE – The SSD is hit with random writes of between 4KB and 1MB for 10 minutes and then a single pass performance test is done of each application. The cycle is repeated 8 times, and with each time, the duration of random writes increases by 5 minutes;
  • STEADY STATE PHASE – The drive is hit with random writes of between 4KB and 1MB for 45 minutes before each application is put through a performance test. This process is repeated 5 times;
  • RECOVERY PHASE – The SSD is allowed to idle for 5 minutes before and between performance tests of all applications. This is repeated 5 times which accounts for garbage collection; and
  • CLEANUP – The entire SSD is written with zero data at a write size of 128KB

In reading the results, the Degrade and Steady State phases represent heavy workload testing while the recovery phase represents typical consumer light workload testing.

PCMARK 8 RESULTS

As you can see, performance is recorded in terms of Bandwidth and Latency. Bandwidth (or throughput) represents the total throughput the drive is able to sustain during the tests during each phase. Latency, at least for the purposes of PCMark 8, takes on a different outlook and for this, we will term it ‘Total Storage Latency’. Typically, latency has been addressed as the time it takes for a command to be executed, or rather, the time from when the last command completed to the time that the next command started. This is shown below as ‘Average Latency’.

PCMark 8 provides a slightly different measurement, however, that we are terming as ‘Total Storage Latency’. This is represented as being the period from the time the last command was completed, until the time it took to complete the next task; the difference of course being that the execution of that task is included in ‘Total Storage Latency’. For both latency graphs, the same still exists where the lower the latency, the faster the responsiveness of the system will be. While both latency charts look very similar, the scale puts into perspective how just a few milliseconds can increase the length of time to complete multiple workloads.

For a more in-depth look into Latency, Bandwidth, and IOPS check out our primer article on them here.

AVERAGE BANDWIDTH (OR THROUGHPUT)

These results show the total average bandwidth across all tests in the 18 phases. In this graph the higher the result the better.

Samsung 950 Pro 512GB AB

AVERAGE LATENCY (OR ACCESS TIME)

These results show the average access time during the workloads across all tests in the 18 phases. In this graph the lower the result the better.

Samsung 950 Pro 512GB AL

TOTAL STORAGE LATENCY

These results show the total access time across all tests in the 18 phases. In this graph the lower the result the better.

Samsung 950 Pro 512GB TL

The Samsung 950  Pro M.2 512GB was top dog, even surpassing the much higher priced enterprise Intel P3700 NVMe SSD, when it came to bandwidth, but it ran in the middle of tyhe pack for average and total latency.

SAMSUNG MAGICIAN V4.8b

We don’t suggest relying entirely on manufacturer specific benchmarks, however, we are presently testing the newest version of Samsung Magician V4.8b and it is the latest version compatible with the Samsung 950 Pro. We cannot promise that it will be released concurrent to this SSD, however, should be relatively soon.

Samsung Magician Main Display

The key to the Samsung Magician lies in the fact that one can quickly and easily complete a secure erase of Samsung SSDs, overprovisioning can be adjust manually to suit company needs, and also, the newest version does a great job of identifying system specifications.  Lastly, the performance test of the newest 512GB 950 Pro resulted as such:

Samsung Magician 950 Pro Performance

Random Read IOPS are a bit low but we saw them also max out well above 300K with independent benchmarks.

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John Stevens
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John Stevens

curious if on the ASUS Z170 Deluxe if you use the M.2 port and the PCIe card that come with the board if you can raid 0 two 512 GB 950 Pros together and boot form that drive.

Nick Dedman
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Nick Dedman

From what I remember from the manual, yes you can.

Jim Vogts
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Jim Vogts

Les. How are you s e curing the M.2 to the motherboard.
I see the screw but ASRock doesnt provide the holes for the screw.
Are you customizing this yourself?
I need the PCI e 1X slot so before I even try to secure this I just wanted to hear how you are doing this.

Thanks

Les@TheSSDReview
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No I dont believe you can unless that board, like the ASRock Extreme 7+ Z170, has Intel RST built right into the BIOS to accomodate for that boot; I believe only ASRock has tackled this but might be wrong. That is what makes this board so special.

Edward Escamilla
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Edward Escamilla

can you check and reply it should be able to the Asus deluxe boot? as it has NVME boot support

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

It has NVMe support for a drive in the M2 slot, not a RAID configuration. For the NVMe setup you are speaking of to be bootable, it needs to be tackled as a RAID boot at the UEFI level. I may be wrong but believe only ASRock has tackled this by including SRT in their UFI. I am using that right now.

Edward Escamilla
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Edward Escamilla

how did you configure you bios on the Asrock deluxe to boot from this M2 slot ? Are you using WIN 10?
Any lessons learned to get it to recognize ? Thank you for your time

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

There is no configuration necessary; simply plug it in and install your OS. It should be recognized immediately. Are you using this board? If so, read the manual to understand that one needs to match the right storage with the right slot. For instance, the first M1 slot is tied into the first 2 Intel SATA 3 slots (0/1) and both cannot be used simultaneously UNLESS you configure the M.2 to bypass that through the UEFI.

GBLE
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GBLE

Would it run on a x99 deluxe 3.1???

Daniele Cosentino
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Daniele Cosentino

No way to make this work on x99 deluxe. Recognized one time after 5 reboots…installed with brackets, everything tried. Never seen in BIOS, seen twice in the OS, installed driver and at random disappears freezeng the system. Latest 1901 bios

i m going to return this and buying a cheaper 850 pro

Les@TheSSDReview
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Why anyone still jumps at those boards amazes me. I have heard heartache after heartache with respect to that company and M2 SSDs. ASRock…plug and play…simple as that. Right now I am playing with and testing 3 NVMe drives as a boot device in the ASRock Extreme 7. You cannot do this with any other board in the world. Meanwhile, people frustrate themselves trying to get one drive working with ‘those boards’.

otto
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otto

Hi i have right now a 950 pro windows 10 and a 951 ahci windows 8,1running on my x99 a asus board and it works great

Louis Kleiman
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Louis Kleiman

Well, I am running one 950 Pro on my ASUS Z170 Deluxe right now under Windows 10. Performance is amazing, setup was easy — no need to touch anything in the UEFI for me. I’m about to add a second 950 Pro in RAID 0 and jump to ludicrous speed. I’ll post a follow up when it is done.

Rune Jeppesen
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Rune Jeppesen

How did it go? 🙂

Louis Kleiman
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Louis Kleiman

It was slightly tricky to set up, but I’m running strong now. Sequential benchmark reads are 3GB/s+, and Sequential writes are the same at high queue depths and ~1.5GB/s at lower queue depths. I believe some of these speeds are capped by the PCI 4x interface.

Jim Vogts
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Jim Vogts

Les explain how you are securing the M.2,
I see the screw but do not see a receptacle on any ASRock or Supermicro board I own.
Just curious how you secure it on the PCB…

State of Affairs
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State of Affairs

I believe some of Gigabyte’s Z170 boards have two M.2 slots onboard (e.g., GA-Z170X-UD3). From what I read in the manuals, these slots can be set up in RAID mode. But I need to double check.

ale squatter
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ale squatter

Can I use thi 950pro on MSI GE72 2QD?

specifications from manual:
2x SATA Gen 3 M.2 Slot
1x SATA Gen 3 M.2 & PCIe 2.0 x2/ x4 Combo Slot

spec from msi:
2 x M.2 Socket 2 for B Key Type 2280
1 x M.2 Socket 3 for M Key Type 2280

thanks!

Cape Dave
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Cape Dave

This thing is so awesome I am going to need to get a computer to put one in! I currently have an iMac so no way I am going to mess with that.

Ottoore
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Ottoore

Atto disk benchmark performance drop: throttling?

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

No… I considered this and it would occur elsewhere if that were the case, especially in PCMark 8 testing.

Steve
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Steve

Does Samsung supply Windows 7 drivers for this? I had a Intel 750 with the Intel drivers working ok in Windows 7 as my boot drive. Had to dump it though because it took Intel way to long to release a updated firmware to fix performance issues.

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

They only supply the NVMe driver as discussed and we cannot answer as to whether that is Win 7 compatible or not. Question is submitted though.

Steve Beck
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Steve Beck

Thank you, look forward to hearing an update on comparability with win 7.

Steve
Guest
Steve

I see name drivers that only install from a exe but I need stand alone driver to make it bootable with win 7. Don’t want to order one till its confirmed

venovus
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venovus

is it going to work well any laptop with this spec: M type, M.2 sata, 80mm?

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

No it will not. This is a NVMe SSD and not AHCI so getting it to work on older chipsets where NVMe is not integrated may be tricky. As well, because NVMe is so new, things can get a little tricky from one situation to another.

To clarify, this is not a plug and play upgrade for older systems that may have used M2 AHCI SSDs.

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