Size, weight, speed, latency, endurance, power consumption, price, warranty, etc. All these characteristics help to define storage media and are what classify some drives as entry level, others as mainstream, and a for a select few, enthusiast/prosumer. What if we said we have a drive that is near the perfect mix of all these and the result is that it is the best consumer SSD in the market at this time? What if we said this SSD is not only the best, but the highest capacity M.2 device money can currently buy? What if we said it is faster than any other consumer NVMe SSD we tested, ever? Well, if you have been keeping up with the news as of late, you would be 100% correct on your assumption that we were talking about Samsung’s latest release, the Samsung 960 Pro. It is a revolutionary M.2 NVMe SSD product that breaks the boundaries and delivers speeds that for many, are beyond what they can actually take advantage of! Let’s get on with the review and learn more shall we?
SPECIFICATIONS, PRICING, AND AVAILABILITY
The Samsung 960 Pro is a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD that comes in a single-sided M.2 2280 form factor. It is currently available in three capacities: 512GB ($329.99), 1TB ($629.99) and 2TB ($1299.99). At these prices the 960 Pro is about $0.61-$0.63/GB, or about double that of a SATA SSD. Its sequential speeds are rated for up to 3500MB/s read and 2100MB/s write across all capacities. Random read and write speeds are listed for up to 440K/360K IOPS. The 960 Pro delivers the same endurance of the 950 Pro at the 512GB capacity, but then doubles it as the capacity doubles. Thus, the 1TB model is rated for up to 800TB and the 2TB model is rated for an impressive 1200TB or 1.2PB! Read and write power consumption is rated for 5-6W, which is very good for such a high performance drive and stated to be 10% lower than the 950 Pro. Our enterprise tested products can get up to 25W at times when delivering similar write performance! The warranty is the same as the previous model, it is covered for 5-years.
In terms of features, the 960 Pro supports TRIM, SMART monitoring, and garbage collection. It also supports data security standards such as AES 256-bit encryption and TCG/Opal. Samsung has also implemented Dynamic Thermal Guard Technology to manage performance levels and prevent overheating. The NVMe interface revision is 1.2 partial compliant.
In addition, Samsung Magician 5.0 has not yet been released, but it will be soon in the coming month to support the 960 Pro. With the upcoming release is going to be a new GUI and a Magic Vault feature, so just you wait. Furthermore, we didn’t receive a proprietary NVMe driver for the 960 Pro yet. It is to be released with the latest Magician software. So, instead of using the Windows driver, we are going to be utilizing the Samsung NVMe Driver v1.1 for testing.
PACKAGING AND COMPONENTS
As always, Samsung’s packaging is elegantly designed. It is red and black themed. The capacity is listed on the top right corner and there is a picture of the drive on the front as well, showing that it is an M.2 form factor SSD. On the back side (just as on the front) is the text, “Next generation professional performance & endurance.” Many have been wanting the fastest speeds possible and the greatest endurance they can get for media production and it is only wise of Samsung to answer their calls when other products leave them wanting more. Furthermore, its 5-year warranty is listed.
Once we opened the packaging we saw the drive came in a protective plastic tray with an install and warranty guide on top. The drive itself is a M.2 2280 form factor, as we stated earlier, meaning that it measures 22mm wide by 80mm long.
In order to deliver a single-sided PCB that is jam-packed with 2TB of NAND, Samsung’s engineers had to get innovative. Firstly, the Samsung Polaris 5-core controller also hosts the DRAM. Utilizing a package-on-package design Samsung was able to mount the LPDDR3 DRAM on the controller package, a first for client PC SSDs. Next they had to make a 4-landing design for the PCB, meaning, packing on 4 NAND chips on a single side. Finally, Samsung utilized HDP, or Hexadecimal Die Packages, with its 3rd gen 48-layer MLC V-NAND (256Gb). In each NAND package are up to 16 chips stacked to deliver 512GB per package!
In addition to these engineering feats, they also have thrown on a thin copper film under the backside label to help dissipate heat off the PCB and components quicker. This, along with the 4-landing design helps shed heat faster during heavy workloads. When running their internal testing the 960 Pro showed to maintain full speed for 30 seconds longer than the 950 Pro, and thus providing users more performance without concern about degradation.