Samsung SM951 M.2 PCIe SSD Review (512GB)

PCMARK VANTAGE X64 HDD SUITE

The SSD Review uses benchmark software called PCMark Vantage x64 HDD Suite to create testing scenarios that might be used in the typical user experience. There are eight tests in all and the tests performed record the speed of data movement in MB/s to which they are then given a numerical score after all of the tests are complete. The simulations are as follows:

  • Windows Defender In Use
  • Streaming Data from storage in games such as Alan Wake which allows for massive worlds and riveting non-stop action
  • Importing digital photos into Windows Photo Gallery
  • Starting the Vista Operating System
  • Home Video editing with Movie Maker which can be very time consuming
  • Media Center which can handle video recording, time shifting and streaming from Windows media center to an extender such as Xbox
  • Cataloging a music library
  • Starting applications

PCMARK VANTAGE RESULTS

In PCMark Vantage the 512GB Samsung SM951 achieved a Total Score of 173,260 points. This is the second highest we have seen out of a single SSD in this system, second only to the Intel 750. A majority of results are well above the SATA 6Gb/s barrier with the highest transfer speed of 1,522MB/s was recorded during the “Windows Media Center” benchmark. The lowest of 265MB/s was recorded during the “application loading” benchmark. Let’s continue on to our PCMark 8 test and see how it fares there.

Samsung SM951 512GB AHCI PCMark Vantage

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 SM951 AHCI 512GB PCMark 8 Average Bandwidth

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 SM951 AHCI 512GB PCMark 8 Average Latency

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 SM951 AHCI 512GB PCMark 8 Total Latency

In our consistency testing with PCMark 8 the Samsung SM951 shows off the highest average bandwidth yet, surpassing even the Intel 750. Overall, consistency is very good with almost no fluctuation throughout each phase. When it comes to latency, however, there is a bit of a tradeoff. While we see some of the best bandwidth yet, its latency is not as low as the Intel 750 and a bit higher than the previous XP941. Still, with an average of 0.05ms during the heavy workload phase and 0.04ms during the light workload phase is quite impressive.

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Mike
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Mike

How does Samsung consistently end up on top of all other ssds? You have all these major players, Intel , Crucial , Toshiba , SanDisk. Every now and then someone gives them a challenge, but they seem to always end up back on top. Is it there controller, nand, firmware, controller/nand, what?
And if you raid 0 two sata SanDisk extreme pros can you get
the same consistency bandwidth as one of these m2 drives?

Les@TheSSDReview
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Samsung is a marketing Goliath. Because they are the largest tech company in the world (selling 4 cell phones and 2 TVs every second of the day), they have the resources to sink into their products. People buy Samsung SSDs just for the name because they recognize that name and trust it. Don’t get me wrong; the other companies are giants in their own right and, given the right marketing tactics, could compete with Samsung. They just aren’t there yet…or maybe they just haven’t made that right step. Want an example? Intel is the worlds top CPU. Could they not… Read more »

Mike
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Mike

Thanks that was a very good explanation. But what about the second question? If you raid 0 two sata SanDisk extreme pros can you get
the same consistency bandwidth as one of these m2 drives? The SanDisk had half bandwidth 200-250, so times 2 400-450 could it compete. I only ask because I have a old motherboard with no more pcie slots.

Les@TheSSDReview
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No the SanDisk RAID would not come close. Even with 100% incompressible data, this drive transfers data at speeds of 1.9GB/s read, 1.5GB/s write and 175K IOPS. This SSD is a blessing for those working in 4K media where a minimum of 1.4GB/s is necessary. I always speak of the importance of understanding ones need however and, with that, matching the right SSD with the task at hand. Does the typical PC user need this or will they ever understand its abilities? Absolutely not…but it is still sweet though isn’t it?

Diego Valenzuela Ossa
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Diego Valenzuela Ossa

today samsung evo 850 is technically the best deal for price and quality. and probably going for this SM951 card next year. my choice to buy the model I had wasn’t actually based on the brand name

Whydoyoucloseyoureyes
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Whydoyoucloseyoureyes

not a single review site has tested boot times with this disk. not one!!!

Les@TheSSDReview
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Boot times differ for the most part by seconds and cannot be measured accurately as each system is different. The importance of boot times is seen between the hard drive and the SSD. To compare SSD boot times is a defeating task as the boot time, for the most part, is based on disk access times for which most SSDs are a fraction of a ms different.

Whydoyoucloseyoureyes
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Whydoyoucloseyoureyes

thank you for the feedback! but there are cases where boot time tested on a specific motherboard can reveal quite a difference, for instance the intel 750 ssd has the slowest boot time of any high end ssd, while the sm951 supposedly has the absolute fastest of all consumer ssds. like several seconds difference actually.

http://techreport.com/review/28050/intel-750-series-solid-state-drive-reviewed/5

Les@TheSSDReview
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I understand your point and appreciate the work that my friends at TechReport do. I have had every one of those SSDs in use in one system or another in one point in time or another and I have never experienced a 30 second boot. In fact, my system optimization is always the same and my start times are typically 15-20 seconds when fully optimized with our SSD Optimization Guide. There are VAST differences in boards and, as such, a significant start time difference will be experienced between newer NVME compatible boards and those of just yesterday that relied on… Read more »

Steve W
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Steve W

It would be interesting to understand a bit more about this variability in boot time. Dust off the ol’ SAS program and collect a large amount of data and get real nerdy with it!

Sean Webster
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I did, I booted off this SSD in about 7-8 seconds as stated under the bootability section in the review on the first page. The Intel 750 booted similarly as other SSDs as well when I had it.

Whydoyoucloseyoureyes
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Whydoyoucloseyoureyes

i had the 750, it booted real slow, like stupid slow compared to my old 120gb corsair. i have the 850 pro now and its insane compared to the 750.

Also i could not install hackintosh on my 750 which sucks , but hackintosh does have sm951 support 🙂

I also have the asrock extreme6 so i can buy the sm951 and use it if i needed, but tbh the 850 pro in daily usage is just as fast. and the sm951 has throttling issues. try placing a fan over it and see if performance increase?

Mikac
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Mikac

booted in 10 sec (i5+DDR 1600 Mhz+sm951 AHCI)

xyvyx
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xyvyx

I posted my 2nd boot on Youtube the day I received the drive… sorry the video quality on my phone sucks, but you can see how long it takes!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRFyBqKCXkc

If you want to see even faster Samsung drives in a 4-way mirror (2 column, 2 copy in Storage Spaces), look at my last post here… fastest SSD config I’ve ever seen:

https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/ad5fe5bc-715d-418d-92a4-3bdb94eb7948/pcie-ssd-storage-spaces-huge-read-performance-drop

Eric
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Eric

Hi Les,

Thanks for the review.

If you’re interested, there’s a newer version of AS-SSD (v1.8.5608.42992).

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

Thanks! WE are looking at that right now and deciding when we want to move it in to our reports.

allesichmacheichmacheesfurmich
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allesichmacheichmacheesfurmich

What is the issue with this thing that potentially bricks it with a secure erase?

mugenmundo
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mugenmundo

I would like to upgrade my Vaio pro 13 pcie SSD samsung xp941 to the new sm951 would this be compatible?

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

The AHCI version would be yes.

Muthukumar Natarajan
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Muthukumar Natarajan

Is this tested? Especially, does the SONY VAIO Pro 13 boot from SM951 (512GB)? Could you please point to anywhere wherein someone has it actually tested and the result available?
I know, technically it should work, but don’t want to take a chance while I buy.
Many Thanks!

Les@TheSSDReview
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Of course it will work but I would go for the newest 950 pro now.

Muthukumar Natarajan
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Muthukumar Natarajan

Sorry, I too know that technically it should work, but I was more looking for actual experience, especially regarding whether it Boots.

Also, regarding the 950 Pro, I know it is based on NVMe, whereas the SONY VAIO Pro supports only AHCI as far as I know. So when you recommend 950 Pro for SONY VAIO Pro, how is it going to work?:
1. By itself? (I wonder how) _OR_
2. Any BIOS Update available for SONY VAIO Pro for NVMe support? _OR_
3. Is 950 Pro by any chance backward compatible with AHCI (again, Bootable?)

Thanks!

Les@TheSSDReview
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Woops my apologies; 950 pro will not work and the SM951 (AHCI version) will.

Artur
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Artur

SM951 will not work in Pro13 people don’t waste your time and money like me. XP941 is best you can get for Pro 13 tried both in my Pro 13 other people having same problem with SM951 won’t work as bootable partition!

Artur
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Artur

SM951 AHCI I mean

Camilo Uribe
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Camilo Uribe

Why the SM951 AHCI not works in the vaio pro13 ? thanks.

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