Samsung SM951 M.2 NVME SSD Review (256GB)

The Samsung SM951 is one of the fastest SSD solutions out for those with a need for speed. It offers speeds that put most SSDs to shame and does it in a small M.2 2280 form factor. Last week we took a look at the 512GB variant that utilizes the AHCI host controller interface. To say the least, the performance was very impressive. In that review, we mentioned that the NVMe variant is starting to show up and that we would publish a review on one as soon as we could and well, today is the day. If you are a storage nut as I just happen to be, please get comfy and continue reading as we take a closer look at the NVMe variant of the Samsung SM951 M.2 PCIe SSD!

Samsung SM951 M.2 PCIe NVMe 256GB Main

SPECIFICATIONS, PRICING, AND AVAILABILITY

The Samsung SM951 NVMe SSD is the first M.2 NVMe SSD out and has very similar specs to its AHCI brother. It comes in an M.2 2280 form factor and utilizes the PCIe 3.0 x4 interface. It comes in three capacities, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. Sequential speeds are rated a bit higher, up to 2,060/650MB/s read/write (128GB), 2,260/1,260MB/s read/write (256GB), and 2,260/1,550MB/s read/write (512GB). When it comes to IOPS, read is rated for up to 300K IOPS, however, we weren’t able to get any specific data for writes as this data is scarce. (In testing we saw around 95K IOPS write.)

It has the same features as the AHCI variant, TRIM support, APST support, L1.2 power mode for 2mW consumption, end-to-end data protection and RoHS compliance. It also has an MTBF of 1.5 million hours. Other ratings such as endurance and warranty, should be similar to that of the AHCI variant, where the seller offers it.

As for pricing and availability, we haven’t seen any in stock yet, however, we will update you as soon as we do! Also, for those who do not yet know, the NVMe variant’s product number starts with MZVPV while the ACHI variant starts with MZHPV.

NVME, BOOTABILITY, AND COMPATIBILITY

We have covered NVMe in the past.To recap it allows for lower latency, which results in higher throughput, however, there is a draw back. In order to take advantage of this newer protocol and boot from it you need a newer system that supports it, such as an Intel Z97 or X99 motherboard. Even then you need to verify with your motherboard’s manufacturer that this SSD is compatible. We ran into issues with it in our other test system with an ASRock X99 WS-E motherboard and UEFI version P1.4. While it would boot off the NVMe SM951, speeds maxed out at PCIe 2.0 x2 bandwidth when used in a PCIe x4 to M.2 adapter. When in the same adapter in our Z97 test bench, it performed flawlessly.

Also, just because we could, we were able to use it as a secondary drive in an older Supermicro dual 1366 socket motherboard, however, read speeds were much lower at 900MB/s and writes were at 1,200MB/s. In the BIOS the SSD did not show up, thus this confirms that you need a UEFI in order to boot off of it, which leads to our next note on compatibility.

In our Z97 test bench with an ASRock Z97 Extreme6 we normally use Acronis True Image 2014 HD off a bootable USB to clone over the OS of our test bench to the SSD to test boot speed. This task usually goes without a hitch, however, when trying to clone over Acronis did not detect the SM951 NVMe drive, the AHCI variant was detected fine though. So not only can hardware be a compatibility an issue, but software support may be one as well. These experiences exemplify why the AHCI variant is available, compatibility.

Now, moving on to actual testing, we couldn’t clone, but we were able to install of Windows 8.1 in our Z97 system and boot times were very quick. With Ultra Fast Boot enabled in the UEFI and Windows Fast Startup enabled the average boot time recorded was under six seconds from powered off to desktop. It may have been faster, but once the display was on the system was at the desktop each time.  Bear in mind, this was right off a fresh install with no drivers, programs, updates, or data put onto the drive other than just Windows 8.1. So, as long as you have a compatible system, you will have a great experience with this SSD when it comes to booting.

PACKAGING AND COMPONENTS

Just as its AHCI bother there is no retail packaging. On the front you have the product sticker and the back is bare. The firmware revision we are testing with today is BXW7000Q. Overall, the thickness is under 4mm and it weighs in under 7g.

Samsung SM951 M.2 PCIe NVMe 256GB Front Samsung SM951 M.2 PCIe NVMe 256GB Back

We can see that it has just two NAND packages at the 256GB capacity as well as a single DRAM chip and Samsung PCIe controller. We can also see that it has an M key connector, denoting PCIe x4 compatibility.

Samsung SM951 M.2 PCIe NVMe 256GB PCB Front

More specifically it utilizes Samsung’s UBX 3-core controller as well as their own 16nm planar NAND.  Each NAND package is 128GB in capacity for a total raw capacity of 256GB, once formatted the end user has 238GB available to them. It also utilizes a 512MB Samsung LPDDR2 DRAM chip as buffer.

It has been stated by Samsung that they plan to integrate their 3D V-NAND into their NVMe SSDs at a later date, so we may end up seeing a 1TB model with it or another version completely.

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netman
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netman

Did the SM951 NVMe throuttle down on high temperature?

Sean Webster
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No it did not as you can see on the last page of the review.

netman
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netman

well, I couldn’t see your graph because I couldn’t enlarge it!

Camile Ferrari
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Camile Ferrari

Here you go!
comment image

Les@TheSSDReview
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Camile my old friend…last you were here I think you were considering a Zenbook no? Hope all is well!

Camile Ferrari
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Camile Ferrari

Hi Les! Yes, I was. I decided to wait with buying a laptop, but my bf had already got me the NX500. It’s nice and very fast, but ideally I’d get a laptop with faster SSD. This particular sounds very promising. I am wondering whether we can expect any M.2 Pcie SSDs with capacity over 1TB coming to market this year.

Les@TheSSDReview
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We head off to Computex this Thursday. Stay tuned!

ykr
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ykr

Does anybody know when 1TB M.2 Mushkin Hyperion may arrive. Mushkin was saying H1/15 but nothing heard yet.

Arne Berg
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Arne Berg

I thought that using it with a x99 system would be the thing to strive for who buy this expensive ssd and own a z97 system i think that the people that is interested in this ssd already have a x99 or another high end system so in my view it should´t be realeased before this is solved.

Les@TheSSDReview
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I am a bit confused as to what your issue may be. Before what is solved?

Arne Berg
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Arne Berg

that there is problem with booting with a x99 card (asrock …) yes it may be the motherboard maker that need to upgrade uefi but as i understand the article you only got it to work with z97.

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

I am not sure of which you speak but have been using ASRock boards exclusively for all of my testing of NVMe and have yet to have a problem. the only board we seem to have had difficulty with, and advised quite a few others on actually, is the ASUS boards and booting such drives as the AHcI XP941.

Arne Berg
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Arne Berg

Quote”We ran into issues with it in our other test system with an ASRock X99 WS-E motherboard and UEFI version P1.4. While it would boot off the NVMe SM951, speeds maxed out at PCIe 2.0 x2 bandwidth when used in a PCIe x4 to M.2 adapter. When in the same adapter in our Z97 test bench, it performed flawlessly.” from the article above.

If it works with my Asrock MB i will reconsider (have a asrock x99 m-atx killer) but i didn´t see anything else in the article that made me belive that it will work with my MB.

Les@TheSSDReview
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Tell you what… I will get that in my system for a test. Remember, that ASRock motherboard does not have a built in Ultra M.2 adapter.

Arne Berg
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Arne Berg

thx you are to kind (according to asrock webpage/manual) i have a ultra M.2 onboard(36Gb)

Les@TheSSDReview
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Oooops apologies… The SM951 would work fine in that then as it would be a PCIe x4 slot.

Arne Berg
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Arne Berg

yes it is Pcie gen3 x4 slot (M.2)

Phil
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Phil

In another article/test you mentioned lower IOPS on Intels X99 Platform compared to Z97 motherboards. Do you have any news to this matter? Is the NVME drive showing similiar behavior? Please put it in your test system and run a quick test, I would really appreciate it.

Dawid
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Dawid

Would you recommend to use Samsung SM951 or XP941 (or which one?) in older dual XEON Supermicro board (X7DWN+) using adapter card (e.g. Bplus M2P4S)? Server with this board is Hyper-V with many small VHDs and lots of backups, so why bother with SSD (requiring more space with worse performance) and not jump right to the M.2? If capacity is not an issue, price
is worth of performance boost, isn’t it? Thanks for suggestions.

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

I checked out the SM951 with our M2P4S and it is fine. I would go with this drive. Use our Amazon in support if you get the opportunity.

Dawid
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Dawid

Thanks, so you prefer SM951 with e.g. M2P4S over XP941? Which variant NVMe or AHCI? And do you agree that the price is worth of performance boost? I appreciate any suggestions…

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

AHCI for your system.

Erwin Thierry Klein Haneveld
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Erwin Thierry Klein Haneveld

where to buy the MZVPV256HDGL-00000 ? can any one give me directions I need the MZVPV NMVE edition

Carenotbutpleasefeelfreetotrol
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Carenotbutpleasefeelfreetotrol

you and me both brother, I cannot find one til this day but sure must be a question of time at this point?

Christopher Caruk
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Christopher Caruk

Hello, I’ve just been comparing a 512GB 951 NVMe variant that I purchased yesterday with an existing 512GB 951 AHCI. Apparently it’s a sample rather than a production unit but I’m seeing fantastic read speeds but horrific write speeds. In my case I’m using with an Asus Z97i-plus with the latest BIOS. The board identifies the 951 and allows me to install windows (8.1 all latest updates)… so far so good. Unfortunately when I run speed tests against the NVMe variant I get 10 times slower write speeds compared to the AHCI variant. CrystalDiskMark: AHCI variant (connected to PCIe 3.0… Read more »

Asle Bie Andersen
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Asle Bie Andersen

Here is the fix!
I have Sm951 nvme 512GB on Rampage V 🙂comment image.html
Regards
Nizzen

pixelstuff
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pixelstuff

What kind of reduced speeds in the M.2 slot are you getting for both NVMe and ACHI? I have the Z97I-Plus also and am wondering what I could expect compared to the professional reviews or if the 10Gbps limit makes the differences between NVMe and ACHI irrelevent?

Also, did you find a fix for the write speeds of the NVMe variant? Was Asle Bie Anderson’s suggestion the source of the problem?

Christopher Caruk
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Christopher Caruk

The recommendation was good but was not the entire cause of the problem. I also found that there was something about the version of Crystal Disk Mark that was distorting the results. Once I used the same version of Crystal Disk Mark as was used in this review, the results were consistent with the results reported here. Re the speed… You pretty much max out the M.2 port on the Z97i plus. Regrettably the samsung will perform better than the asus so you are somewhat constrained by the asus M.2 connector. I eventually got the samsung AHCI variant for the… Read more »

pixelstuff
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pixelstuff

Do you happen to have any numbers that you could post of each drive in the M.2 slot and each drive in the PCIe slot?

Christopher Caruk
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Christopher Caruk

I’ve not done those specific comparisons but I could run a test of the 265GB AHCI in the M.2 slot and the 512GB NVMe in the PCIe slot and post tomorrow, if that would help. One of the problems with having the M.2 onto bottom of the board is that you have to disassemble the system to get at the SSD. In my case I have all of this stuffed into a HD-Plex HS.1. Wonderfully small but tricky to open and close.

pixelstuff
Guest
pixelstuff

That would probably help. I could compare that to the numbers in the article and yours above to get a close guess on whether the NVMe is worth waiting/hunting for or just go ahead with the AHCI.

Christopher Caruk
Guest
Christopher Caruk

Either way. you will not regret getting one of the 951s. They are by far the fastest SSDs I’ve every used (normal I buy the 850 pros). If it helps… I think that, once the new i76900 and Z170 boards are available I’ll go with a pair of the 512GB NVMe 951s… one on PCIe and the other on the M.2 slot. The new M.2 slots is supposed to be 4x so if the performance is similar I may even try RAIDing them.

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

AHCI will suffice and give you performance you seek, however, consider the makeup of the machine. As Only NVMe is the only true animal built for SSDs, using AHCI is somewhat like putting a Ford engine into a Chevrolet. It may work perfectly and without issue for the long term, however, one simply. Ant beat the native build.

dascal ioana
Guest
dascal ioana

I am planning to get the Asus Z97I-PLUS and wondering what should i buy, the Samsung SM951 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe or the Samsung M.2 (2280) 850 EVO 500GB SATA SSD to plug it in the back of the borad m.2 slot and to install windows on this ssd.