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Samsung 960 EVO 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD Review

With two very fast M.2 NVMe drives in the high-end/enthusiast market segment in the shape of the SSD960 PRO and its predecessor the SSD950 PRO, Samsung has now, it seems, turned their attention on the mainstream market with the launch of the TLC V-NAND equipped SSD960 EVO. It’s certainly an interesting move and, as a toe in the water to see if the mainstream market is ready for the next generation of SSDs, it will be fascinating to see how it sells.

The 1TB drive uses Samsung’s 3rd Generation 48-layer 256Gb, 3-bit MLC (TLC) V-NAND as does the 500GB version while the entry-level 250GB drive uses 128Gb V-NAND. The drive uses the Polaris controller but unlike the 2TB SSD960 PRO that had the cache IC built on top of the controller, the SSD960 EVO is a more conventional layout with both ICs being separated.

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The drive supports an advanced version of the TurboWrite technology which first saw the light of day with the 840 EVO, and while the technology was fine for use with standard SSDs it didn’t have the legs to deal with the much faster-performing NVMe drives and potentially much heavier workloads. Samsung’s answer is Intelligent TurboWrite which not only uses a larger SLC buffer than TurboWrite, it can dynamically adjust the SLC buffer by using any spare capacity the drive has if the data it’s being asked to handle is larger than the default SLC buffer. If there isn’t enough spare capacity, the Intelligent TurboWrite technology won’t work.

Performance wise the drive is very quick. Quoted Sequential performance figures for the drive are up to 3,200MB/s for reads and up to 1,900MB/s for writes. Under our test conditions, the drive was slightly down on the official figure producing a score of 2,975MB/s but writes were bang on at 1,917MB/s. When it came to the 4K random read/write tests, the drive produced the highest write figure for a drive we have seen and its read performance isn’t that far behind the SSD960 PRO.

As for data security, the drive features AES 256-bit data hardware encryption and TCG/Opal support but at the time of this review, eDrive (IEEE1667) isn’t yet supported.

The 1TB drive has an endurance of 400TBW and is backed by a three-year warranty which is two years less than the PRO version.

We found the 1TB Samsung SSD 960 EVO available for around £470 in the UK.

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Pros

  • Performance
  • Intelligent TurboWrite

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Only a three-year warranty

KitGuru says: It will be interesting to see if the mainstream market is ready to embrace an NVMe M.2 drive, even if it does pack a sizeable performance punch.

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Rating: 9.0.

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