Samsung SSD 950 PRO M.2 Review: Affordable, Ultra Fast Storage

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Introducing The Samsung SSD 950 PRO M.2

The rapid pace of innovation in the solid state storage market shows no signs of letting up. In only a few generations, the industry bumped up against the limits of the legacy SATA interface, and began leveraging PCI Express for additional bandwidth with some passable, though somewhat clunky bridged solutions (in retrospect). Then some ultra-fast, native PCI Express offerings hit, and have since evolved into multiple form factors, including slotted and gumstick models, with varying physical interfaces.

Some of the more recent introductions, like the excellent Intel SSD 750, feature many of the latest innovations, like PCI Express, the latest NAND controllers, and support for NVMe, or Non-Volatile Memory Express, which is a low-latency, scalable host controller interface designed specifically for PCI Express-based solid state storage devices. Drives like the SSD 750 can transfer data at multiple gigabytes per second, versus the few hundred megabytes per second of SATA-based products, and with lower latency and better data integrity to boot.

Today we’re going to show you the latest NVMe solid state drive to arrive in the HotHardware labs, the Samsung SSD 950 PRO M.2. As its name suggests, this drive uses the M.2 interface, which makes it an ideal candidate for the latest desktop and mobile systems that sport M.2 slots. Though the drives are small in stature, they are big on performance, as we’ll show you in a just a bit. And Samsung has priced the drives fairly aggressively.

If an M.2 SSD that can transfer a couple of gigabytes per second that’s priced at about $.68 - $.77 per GB seems appealing, you’ll want to check this out...
samsung ssd 950 pro m2 angle
Samsung SSD 950 PRO M.2
Specifications & Features
Usage Application Client PCs
Capacity 256GB, 512GB
Dimensions (LxWxH) Max 80.15 x Max 22.15 x Max.2.38 (mm)
Interface PCIe 3.0 x4 (up to 32Gb/s)  NVMe 1.1
Form Factor M.2(2280)
Controller Samsung UBX controller
NAND Flash Memory Samsung V-NAND
DRAM Cache Memory 512MB LPDDR3
Performance*   256GB 512GB
Sequential Read: Up to 2,200 MB/s Up to 2,500 MB/s
Sequential Write: Up to 900 MB/s Up to 1,500 MB/s
4KB Random Read (QD32 Thread4): Up to 270K IOPS Up to 300K IOPS
4KB Random Write(QD32 Thread4): Up to 85K IOPS Up to 110K IOPS
4KB Random Read (QD1 Thread1): Up to 11K IOPS Up to 12K IOPS
4KB Random Write(QD1 Thread1): Up to 43K IOPS Up to 43K IOPS
Data Security AES 256-bit for User Data Encryption, TCG Opal Family Spec and eDrive (IEEE1667) to be supported by FW update
Weight Max. 10g (512GB)
Reliability MTBF : 1.5 million hours
Power Consumption** Active average/maximum: 5.1W/6.4W (256GB), 5.7W/7.0W (512GB)
Idle: 70mW
DEVSLP(L1.2 mode): 2.5mW
Supporting features TRIM(Required OS support), Garbage Collection, S.M.A.R.T
Temperature Operating Temp : 0°C to 70°C
(Measured by SMART Temperature. Proper airflow recommended)
Humidity 5% to 95%, non-condensing
Vibration Non-Operating:               20~2000Hz, 20G
Shock Non-Operating: 1500G , duration 0.5m sec, 3 axis
Warranty 5 years limited
TBW 256GB : 200TB, 512GB : 400TB

samsung ssd 950 pro 4
The Samsung SSD 950 PRO M.2 will initially be offered in two capacities, 256GB and 512GB—we’ve got a 256GB drive to show you here. Both drives have the same M.2 (2280) ‘gumstick’ form factor, but the 512GB drive has higher peaks read / write speed ratings. The 256GB drive can do 2.2GB/s reads and 900MB/s writes, while the 512GB drive peaks at 2.5GB/s reads, with 1.5GB/s writes.
samsung ssd 950 pro 1
Both of the drives leverage Samsung’s 3D V-NAND flash memory, which has recently graced a handful of Samsung’s solid state drives. Paired to the gen 2, 32 layer 3D V-NAND is a 512MB LPDDR3 DRAM cache, and a native NVMe PCI Express controller built by Samsung as well. Other than its interface, details are scarce on the Samsung UBX controller on the drives. It supports the NVMe 1.1 spec, has a x4 PCIe 3.0 interface (max bandwidth of 4GB/s), and does all of the things you’d expect a modern SSD to do, like TRIM, garbage collection, S.M.A.R.T., etc., and it supports various encryption technologies too.
samsung ssd 950 pro 2
Samsung warranties the SSD 950 PRO M.2 drives for 5 years and they have relatively high endurance ratings as well. The 256GB drive is rated for 200TB written, while the 512GB drive doubles that to 400TB written. The drives also have built-in thermal protection, which is to say they’ll throttle to protect the NAND and controller if temperatures get too high.
samsung ssd 950 pro 5
These new drives are also supported by Samsung’s SSD Magician software, which gives users easy access to health data, a secure erase utility, and benchmarking and updating tools, but at this point Samsung’s RAPID caching technology is not supported of the SSD 950 PRO M.2. Support may come with a future update, however.

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