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

The NVMe Effect. Our report today explores Samsung’s newest 950 Pro NVMe M.2 SSD. Release of this SSD will see the first retail entry of any storage medium the size of a gum stick and weighing less than 10 grams, yet capable of moving data at speeds of up to 2.5GB/s. This is unparalleled by today’s standards and is 4 times faster than SATA. To the typical consumer, this may mean simply transferring movies, music and photos without having to get a coffee while we wait, but to the media professional, it is pure gold.

Samsung 950 Pro NVMe M2 512 and 256GB SSDs

NVMe adds lower latency and higher IOPS to the mix, which means the job gets started much quicker, and more jobs can be completed in a much shorter period. This is efficiency. To translate this into a typical work day, it means that media professional can complete work sooner, allowing more free time, or he/she can get more work done and reap the benefits through monetary gain. In its simplest form, this is what the Samsung 950 Pro was envisioned to do.

A great article to help us understand latency, IOPS and throughput just a bit better is, “SSD Throughput, Latency and IOPS Explained” in our Learning To Run With Flash Series of beginners SSD articles.

Samsung 950 Pro NVMe M2 512 and 256GB SSDs In System

SPECIFICATIONS

The Samsung 950 Pro M.2 NVMe SSD will be available initially in capacities of 256 and 512GB, but a 1TB version will be introduced soon enough. It is an NVMe SSD, equipped with Samsung’s newest V-NAND, and the 256GB version is capable of 2.2GB/s read and 900MB/s write throughput, while the 512GB capacity jumps to 2.5GB/s read and 1.5GB/s write transfer speeds. Similarly, the 256GB version is capable of 270K IOPS read and 85K IOPS write while the 512GB version reaches 300K IOPS read and 110K IOPS write.

The Samsung 950 Pro also contains AES 256-Bit encryption and an upcoming firmware release will also support TCG Opal and eDrive in the near future. The 256GB version has a power draw of 5.1W avg/6.4W max, while the 512GB version uses 5.7W avg/7.1W max. Both drop down to 70mW idle and support DEVSLP by reducing power to 2.5mW. Lastly, the 950 Pro firmware has thermal throttling enabled should the drive heat to a point that could damage data or components.

PRICING, AVAILABILITY AND WARRANTY

The 950 Pro should be available shortly after release of this report and MSRP is listed at $199 (256GB) and $349 (512GB). Check Amazon Now! It will include a 5-year limited warranty and is capable of a minimum endurance of 200TBW (terabytes written) for the 256GB and 400TBW for the 512GB version. It will include Samsung’s own NVMe driver that is easily installed and optimizes performance of the device.

950 PRO COMPONENTS

The Samsung 950 Pro is being released in a M.2 form factor (as shown here), and only in the 2280 length (80mm). The components are situated on one side of the green PCB and it weighs less than 10 grams. This SSD is intended to provide as close to a ‘0 footprint’ as possible.

Samsung 950 Pro NVMe M2 256GB SSD PCB

The controller of the 950 Pro is Samsung’s 3-core ARM-based UBX design and it has previously been seen on the Samsung 256GB NVME SSD that we reviewed. It has a model number of S4LN05A01-8030 and Our SSD Quick Search on the right of this page enables a search of similar SSDs with the same components and reviews, along with links to Amazon for a price check.

Samsung 950 Pro NVMe M2 SSD Controller

Samsung has renamed their 3D V-NAND to V-NAND for simplicity and this SSD contains V-NAND. This is MLC (multi-level cell) 32-layer 128Gb memory and the 256 GB capacity contains two 128GB chips (K9UMGY6SCA), while the 512GB version has two 256GB chips (K9PKGY8S7A).

Samsung 950 Pro NVMe M2 SSD Memory 2

There is also a module of 512MB Low Power (LP) DDR3 SDRAM cache memory on board. Considering the back of the SSD is void of components, creating a 1TB capacity presents no issues whatsoever.

51 comments

  1. 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.

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

      • 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

    • 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.

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

      • 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.

      • 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

      • 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.

      • Would it run on a x99 deluxe 3.1???

      • 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

      • 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’.

      • 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

      • 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.

      • How did it go? 🙂

      • 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.

      • 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…

      • 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.

      • 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!

  2. 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.

  3. Atto disk benchmark performance drop: throttling?

  4. 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.

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

    • 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.

  6. Les, would it be possible for you to check if bootable raid 0 would actually work with the gigabyte boards GA-Z170X-UD3 or UD5? As State of Affairs said they say that you can raid them at uefi level, and it would seem like it’s possible, but I don’t think it says whether they will be bootable..

    Do you have a contact person at gigabyte that you could ask?

    I am seriously considering getting a skylake build for the sole purpose of raid0 2x 950 PROs (before I was considering trying to custom firmware the ahci sm951s into NVMe), but it’s has a bit of a hefty price tag, and I’d want to be sure it would work.

    I’d prefer not to add another 150usd to get the asrock board.. which is the difference here in Japan.

  7. Is it worth an upgrade from 512gb XP941 to 512gb 950 PRO on a X99 system?

  8. Am I misunderstanding this or are you not using the Raid-0 M.2 function of the new Z170 platform for this test? You’re only testing single-drive performance for some reason? I’m confused. Why not test “the ultimate configuration” so we can really see what this can do?

  9. anyone know by chance if this is the SDD dell is using in the new precision 5000 series – the 5510 – https://configure.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx?oc=xctop551015us&model_id=precision-m5510-workstation&c=us&l=en&s=bsd&cs=04 I cant seem to get a direct answer from the sales chat so just wondering if anyone else maybe knew?

  10. Great article, cheers!
    Do you believe its worth it to upgrade to the 256Gb version when coming from, say, a vertex 3 sata SSD? Will we see real world gains ?

    • Your real world gains will be determined by your need for speed. If you simply surf the web, email and compile a doc every now and then, you will see no gain whatsoever. On the other hand, if you are a graphics professional or even one who works in manipulating media….you will see worlds of difference.

      • Thanks for your input.
        I am mostly a gamer so now “manipulating media” whatsoever. But regarding things like: opening 40 Chrome Tabs at once, booting speeds, loading game speeds… stuff like that. Do you believe it’s worth it or did the big jump in performance for me came when I upgraded from a HDD to a SSD?

        Cheers

    • I process media and coming from regular SATA III SSDs see a marked improvement.
      Make sure to contact motherboard manufacturer and asmk for screws to attach the M.2.
      ASRock does this when you buy thier Extreme series.
      Nobody else I am aware of does this.

  11. I just built a new desktop with, Gigabyte H170-HD3 and Samsung V-NAND SSD 950 Pro M.2 NVM Express 512GB, loaded Windows 10 Pro, Latest Bios,drivers, loaded Samusung NVMe driver from website. Problem is from Power on to Windows login screen take about 55 seconds, first 10 seconds is POST. any suggestions. It seems fast once booted

  12. I just got the 256G. It shows 109G left after installing windows 8.1 64-bit. All folder sizes total (in C:) 11.5G!! I installed driver but same. Is it device defect? (BTW, it is very hot) MOBO is Supermicro X10SDV.

    • Is it a fresh install or upgrade? If it is not fresh, you have such things as a previous version and install files backed up which would cause such. It still seems a tad excessive though. As for heat… an M2 is noticed as hotter when in use as there is no protective casing on it like a typical notebook SSD. How is the performance?

      • it is a fresh install. I removed all partitions when re-installed. The performance is good. With ATTO, it reached 2150MB/s on reads.
        The install files wouldn’t reach 100G, would they? Windows is already consuming 11.5G.

  13. I am looking for an enclosure for this drive (to usb) so I can copy my 256 drive to it. All enclosures I find are B key or B+M key. Can’t find a M key which this connector is. Are there any out there that I just can’t find? If so, point me in the right direction please! TY!

    • there would be no point in buying a an expensive drive like this and then sticking it in a usb enclosure. The USB interface would limit the speeds lower than even the sata m.2 drives can handle. look at the Samsung 850 series of m.2 drives. They are much cheaper and will also be limited by the USB interface but only slightly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *