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
So let’s find out how this new SSD performs in our range of
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….