Samsung 950 Pro 512GB M.2 SSD

Amazingly Fast M.2 Drive That Uses PCI-Express 3.0 and NVMe

Samsung 950 Pro M.2 NVMe PCI-Express SSD Card
Samsung 950 Pro M.2. ©.Samsung

Buy the Samsung 950 PRO from Amazon.com

The Bottom Line

Dec 8 2015 - If you want the absolute fastest drive you can get for your computer system right now, there is no question that the Samsung 950 Pro offers that and with the compact M.2 format for both desktop and laptop systems. The big issue with it right now is compatibility as it uses so many new technologies that consumers must verify their hardware and software will meet all the requirements.

Cost and capacity are also other issues that hopefully over time will be addressed

Pros

  • Amazing Performance
  • Compact M.2 Design Means it Can Be Used Laptops or Desktops

Cons

  • Not Compatible with Many Early M.2 Based Motherboards
  • Highest Capacity Available is Just 512GB
  • Expensive

Description

  • 512MB Storage Capacity
  • M.2 2280 Form Factor
  • M.2 NVMe PCI-Express x4 Interface
  • Samsung UBX Controller
  • 2.5GB/s Read Speed
  • 1.5MB/s Write Speed
  • 1.3W Idle / 5.7W Average Active Power Consumption
  • AES-256, TCG Opal 2.0 Encryption Support
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  • Five Year Warranty

Review - Samsung 950 PRO 512GB M.2 SSD

Dec 8 2015 - For many years, the speed of solid state drives has been restricted by the interface limitations of the SATA interface. With the introduction of the M.2 interface, those barriers were finally going to be torn down but still most of the early M.2 drives were limited to not that much faster either because they were still tied to the SATA interface standards or restricted on the number and version of PCI-Express lanes they could use.

Samsung’s latest 950 Pro drives are finally here to break those barriers and do it in a major way.

The 950 Pro uses the 22mm x 80mm or 2280 size format M.2 design that allows it to work with many modern desktop motherboards and some laptop computer systems. It is currently only available in 256GB and 512GB versions which is disappointing as the drive only has NAND chips on one side of the sick meaning that they could have theoretically shipped a 1TB version for those that really wanted massive storage capacity along with performance.

As a result, if you want massive capacity, you are still limited to the SATA based drives such as Samsung’s own 850 EVO drive.

Now in terms of performance, the 950 Pro uses the M.2 interface but uses the PCI-Express signaling standard which means that it can reach beyond those SATA speeds. In fact, it can use four PCI-Express 3.0 lanes meaning it has a theoretical bandwidth of almost 4GB/s but it less than this because of overhead and all. It also uses the NVMe over ACHI which means it can do more concurrent commands and has lower latency. This is great for the potential but it also means that many people may be unable to use it as their motherboards may not support all the features. It is critical to check compatibility if you intend to use this as your operating system boot drive. Those without an M.2 interface or want to use the full four lanes of PCI-Express 4.0 may be able to do so with a M.2 to PCI-Express adapter card but once again, check compatibility before trying it.

Samsung states that the drive can reach of maximum of 2.5GB/s in sequential reads and 1.5GB/s in sequential writes. This is far beyond the roughly 600MB/s that the SATA 3.0 interface can achieve. Now for my testing, I used the drive with Windows 10 and its native NVMe driver on a Z170 based motherboard that supported the full four PCI-Express 3.0 lanes.

The drive was not able to reach the claimed 2.5GB/s sequential reads topping out at 2.16GB/s but the writes were spot on at 1.5GB/s. Sure, the real world use is going to be slower than this, but just about every test crushed any other SATA 3.0 based drive. Results may have been better using the Samsung drivers but many consumers are not going to think about installing them at all. Even with such limitations, the performance is still amazing and practically untouchable by any other M.2 product on the market.

Pricing of the Samsung 950 Pro is of course high. The list price of the 512GB drive is $350 and there currently are no street prices much lower than that. The price per gigabyte thus comes to just over $.68/GB. That is much higher than says the Samsung 850 Pro which for the same capacity is just $220 while a Samsung 850 EVO 1TB drive costs roughly the same. The closest comparison to make to the Samsung drive in terms of performance is the Intel 750 400GB drive which is priced slightly higher at roughly $400 but has to use a full size PCI-Express x4 or larger slot and also has more issues being used as a boot drive than even the Samsung drive.

Buy the Samsung 950 PRO from Amazon.com

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