Review: Samsung 960 Pro M.2 NVMe 1TB SSD
Reviewed by: Wendy Robertson
Provided by: Samsung
Firmware version: 1B6QCXP7
Last October (2015), Samsung unleashed the first true consumer M.2 NVMe SSD on the world in the shape of the Samsung 950 Pro M.2 NVMe SSD. The 950 Pro was more or less unchallenged during most of the past year as far as performance was concerned until Toshiba OCZ launched the RD400 NVMe SSD in July 2016. The RD400 seriously challenged the Samsung 950 Pro in terms of performance and energy efficiency.
A couple of months ago Samsung released the SM961 OEM NVMe M.2 SSD series, fuelling rumours that the release of a retail version of the SM961 was imminent. Today is the day that Samsung unleash their new flagship prosumer range in the shape of the Samsung 960 Pro M.2 NVMe series of SSDs.
The Samsung 960 Pro will be available in three capacities, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB, and Samsung was kind enough to send me one of their brand new 960 PRO M.2 series NVMe SSDs for review. In this case the 1TB M.2 NVMe version.
So let’s find out how this new SSD performs in our range of tests.
Samsung company information
Samsung should need no introduction, but those of you who would like to find out more about Samsung, can do so at their website.
The Samsung 960 PRO NVMe 1TB SSD
The packaged contained the Samsung 960 Pro M.2. NVMe SSD, an instruction book, and warranty information.
Samsung 960 Pro PCB
Samsung 960 PRO M.2 NVMe SSD PCB top side.
Samsung 960 PRO M.2 NVMe SSD PCB bottom side.
The Samsung 960 PRO M.2 NVMe SSD utilises the brand new Samsung Polaris SSD controller, of which very little is known, with Samsung’s 3rd generation 2 bits per cell 48 layer V-NAND, and in the case of the 1TB version 1GB of LPDDR3 DRAM. The 512GB version has 512MB of LPDDR3 DRAM, and the 2TB version is equipped with a whopping 2GB of LPDDR3 DRAM.
As well as the new Polaris SSD controller and V-NAND, Samsung has addressed the thermal throttling that some people had observed with the Samsung 950 Pro. Samsung’s solution to this was to fit a copper stand-off label across the rear of PCB, which is through plated to the controller, and V-NAND, to act as a heat spreader. We shall see how effective this solution is later in this article.
Getting the best performance from the Samsung 960 PRO will require a native Hyper M.2 socket supporting PCIe gen3 x4. These are found on most Z170 chipset, and X99 chipset motherboards.
Drive maintenance features
For Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 users, and some distributions of Linux, the Samsung 960 PRO SSD supports TRIM to keep the NAND clean. The Samsung 960 PRO also has advanced garbage collection to clean the NAND during drive idle periods.
At the time of writing this article, Samsung’s Magician software does not support the Samsung 960 Pro. This should be addressed before the Samsung 960 Pro becomes available in the shops.
Does the SSD support TRIM?
To allow TRIM to function you first need an SSD that supports the TRIM command. You then need a storage stack that will allow the TRIM command to pass-through to the SSD, and this includes the driver.
Thankfully this is now very easy to check with some degree of reliability, using a small utility written by Vladimir Panteleev called TRIMCheck.
According to TRIMCheck, TRIM is functioning correctly on the Samsung 960 PRO M.2 NVMe 1TB SSD.
Let’s head to the next page where we take a look at our testing methods and the review PC….