Model: Samsung 970 PRO 512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe Solid State Drive
Manufacturer: Samsung Electronics
Provided By: Samsung America
Samsung Electronics has been a leader in the electronics industry for more than 30 years. Since the introduction of their first television in 1970, this Korean company has grown to become one of the world's leading electronics manufacturers, offering everything from tiny semiconductors to large home appliances. Samsung is no stranger to the storage industry either. Along with an assortment of DVD and Blu-ray Disc drives, the company offers both hard drive and flash based storage solutions for the portable and desktop computer markets.
In 2015, Samsung rocked the industry when it launched its first consumer-focused NVMe SSD, the 950 PRO. Since then, the company has continued to raise the bar in regards to performance, reliability and capacity. Samsung has now introduced its third-generation NVMe SSD, the 970 PRO. Designed to meet the needs of enthusiasts, hardcore gamers and professionals, this cutting-edge NVMe SSD is powered by Samsung's new Phoenix controller and is available with up to 1TB of their latest 2-bit MLC V-NAND flash. The 970 PRO is also equipped with a PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3 interface and is capable of 3,500 MB/s read and 2,700 MB/s write speeds and a maximum of 500,000 IOPS for both random read and write operations.
The 970 PRO is available in 512GB and 1TB capacities. For this review, Samsung sent us the 512GB version of the drive, which is capable of delivering up to 3,500 MB/s sequential read and 2,300 MB/s sequential write speeds as well as up to 370,000 random read and 500,000 random write IOPS.
Needless to say, this is only a taste of what the 970 PRO has to offer. To give you an idea of what to expect, we'll take a closer look at Samsung's new NVMe SSD and then see how well it performs. Does the 970 PRO have what it takes? Can it deliver the performance and features that we've come to expect from Samsung? Keep reading as we find out.
The 970 PRO comes in a small black box. While there aren't a lot of details on the front, the back of the box advertises some of the drive's key features including its V-NAND technology, NVMe interface and 5 year warranty. Inside, you'll find the SSD as well as a small installation guide and warranty statement.
The 970 PRO uses the 2280 form factor for M.2 (NGFF) SSDs. It measures 80.15 x 22.15 x 2.38 mm and tips the scales at a mere 8.0g. The drive also has an "M key" edge connector which provides PCIe SSDs with up to 4x lanes of bandwidth.
Like the PM981 and 970 EVO, the 970 PRO uses Samsung's new Phoenix controller. The controller's technical specs are confidential so we don't know a lot about it yet. However, Samsung did let us know that in addition to it supporting the latest NVMe 1.3 specification, the Phoenix controller has a new nickel coating that dissipates heat. Like the older Polaris controller, one core is also dedicated to processing data sent between the host system and the controller. However, with the Phoenix, it runs at a higher clock speed for faster data transfer rates.
For the 512GB version of the 970 PRO, Samsung used their own 64-layer, 2-bit MLC V-NAND flash chips. Looking at the pictures above, you can see that there are two 256GB NAND flash packages on the top of the PCB. The drive also has a single 512MB LPDDR4 DRAM memory chip that is used for caching.
The test system used in this review is equipped with an Intel Core i7-6700K CPU, GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-UD3 motherboard, 32GB (16GB x 2) of Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 memory, Samsung 960 PRO 512GB SSD and a GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1060 WINDFORCE OC 6G graphics card. For the operating system, I installed a fresh copy of Windows 10 Enterprise.
To test the performance of Samsung's 970 PRO SSD, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark, HD Tach RW, ATTO Disk Benchmark, AS SSD, HD Tune Pro, Anvil's Storage Utilities, Iometer and PCMark 8. For comparison, I've also included test results from the Plextor M9Pe, Plextor M8Se, Patriot Hellfire, ADATA XPG SX8000, Samsung 960 PRO, Toshiba OCZ RD400, Samsung 950 PRO, Crucial MX500, Plextor M8V, Crucial BX300, ADATA Ultimate SU900, Plextor S3C, Toshiba OCZ VX500, ADATA Ultimate SU800, Plextor S2C, Crucial MX300, Plextor M7V, PNY CS1311, OCZ Trion 150, PNY CS2211, Plextor M6V, Crucial BX200, OCZ Trion 100, Kingston HyperX Savage, Crucial MX200, OCZ Vector 180 and Samsung SSD 850 EVO.
As I mentioned earlier, the 970 PRO uses Samsung's new Phoenix controller chip. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that it performs equally well with both incompressible (0%) and compressible (100%) data.
First, I ran a few quick tests using CrystalDiskMark. This benchmark tool measures the performance of a storage device by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its random read and write speeds using blocks 512K and 4K in size.
According to Samsung, the 512GB 970 PRO is capable of reading at 3,500 MB/s and writing at 2,300 MB/s. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the drive had no problems reaching these speeds in CrystalDiskMark's sequential read and write tests.
The 970 PRO performed equally well when using highly compressible 0x00 (0 Fill) data. This time around, the drive was able to read at 3,603 MB/s and write at 2,339 MB/s.
HD Tach RW 126.96.36.199:
Next, I used HD Tach to test the 970 PRO's read, write and burst speeds as well as its seek times and CPU usage.
The 970 PRO's performance was hit and miss when tested with HD Tach. While the drive was able to write at 1,733.8 MB/s, its read speed averaged out at only 1897.9 MB/s.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the 970 PRO's sequential read and write speeds. The tests are run using blocks ranging in size from 0.5KB to 8192KB and the total length set to 256MB.
When tested with ATTO, the 970 PRO's read speeds topped out at about 3,561 MB/s and its write speeds at 2,337 MB/s.
AS SSD is a relatively new benchmark designed specifically for solid state drives. The application contains five synthetic tests used to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of a drive.
AS SSD also includes a copy benchmark. This test copies an ISO (two large files), program (many small files) and game (small and large files), returning the speed and duration of each.
HD Tune Pro 5.00:
Next, I ran a series of tests using HD Tune Pro. This hard disk utility measures a drive's performance by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its access time, burst rate and CPU usage. For this review, I'm also going to use it to benchmark the 970 PRO's random read and write speeds, random access times and the number of operations per second.
The 970 PRO performed very well when benchmarked with HD Tune. The drive had average read and write speeds of 2533.6 MB/s and 2188.3 MB/s, respectively, and a burst rate of 722.7 MB/s when reading.
The 970 PRO didn't disappoint when doing random reads and writes. When reading 4KB blocks, the drive reached 41,684 IOPS and had an average speed of 162.828 MB/s. It was even faster when writing, reaching 47,535 IOPS with an average speed of 185.685 MB/s.
Anvil's Storage Utilities:
Anvil's Storage Utilities is another benchmark designed with SSDs in mind. The standard storage benchmark measures a drive's performance by testing its transfer speeds, access times and IOPS.
Lastly, I ran a series of tests using Iometer. This tool can be configured to benchmark a number of things. In this case, I used it to measure the 970 PRO's read and write speeds and the number of operations per second. The tests were run using random bytes and a queue depth of 3.
The 970 PRO's performance was very similar to what we saw in our other tests. The drive was able to read at 3131.16 MB/s and write at 2214.01 MB/s.
The 970 PRO also performed very well when doing random reads and writes. In our tests, the drive was able to read at 332.22 MB/s and write at a whopping 908.48 MB/s.
According to Samsung, the 512GB 970 PRO is capable of 370,000 IOPS when reading and 500,000 IOPS when writing 4K blocks. In our tests, the drive reached 85,048 random read IOPS and 232,572 random write IOPS. As with most drives, the 970 PRO performed better at higher queue depths. With four threads and the queue depth set to 32, it reached 378,433 random read IOPS and 441,831 random write IOPS.
PCMark 8 - Storage Test:
PCMark 8 is a complete benchmark for Windows. It includes five benchmark tests, each designed around a specific scenario. The storage benchmark measures drive performance using real-world traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and a selection of popular games.
PCMark 8 also includes a consistency test which measures the performance consistency and degradation tendency of a storage system. The test reports the performance level at the start, the degraded steady-state and the recovered state as well as the number of iterations required to reach the degraded state and the recovered state. For this test, we are focusing on the Adobe Photoshop (Heavy) trace and will look at both the bandwidth and latency of the drive
The 970 PRO did quite well throughout PCMark's consistency test. While the average bandwidth dropped below 600 MB/s during the degradation and steady state phases, it was still considerably faster than the other PCIe SSDs that we've tested. More importantly, the 970 PRO had no problems bouncing back during the recovery phase.
While SSDs offer many benefits, there are some downsides to using flash memory. One of the biggest issues people run into is performance degradation. Over time, an SSD will run out of fresh blocks and will have to write over data the file system has marked as deleted. This procedure is very complicated and can slow an SSD's write speeds considerably.
To fix this problem, most manufacturers have added TRIM support to their SSDs. The TRIM command allows an operating system, such as Windows 10, to tell an SSD which data blocks are no longer in use. Using this information, the drive pro-actively erases these blocks and adds them to the free block pool.
To test the 970 PRO's TRIM and garbage collection functions, I first put the drive in a "dirty" state. I used Iometer to fill the entire drive and then ran a random write test for 30 minutes. This had little impact on the 970 PRO's read speed. However, its average writing speed dropped to a mere 123.9 MB/s.
Samsung 970 PRO - Dirty
To see how well the 970 PRO could recover, I let the computer sit for about 30 minutes and then reran the test. The drive wasn't able to reach the factory fresh performance shown in our earlier tests. However, its average read speed jumped up to 1026.9 MB/s.
Samsung 970 PRO - After TRIM
Lastly, I used Parted Magic to perform a secure erase on the 970 PRO. With the drive wiped clean, it had average read and write speeds of 1839.9 MB/s and 1107.2 MB/s, respectively.
Samsung 970 PRO - Secure Erased
With the 970 PRO, Samsung has raised the bar yet again, delivering one of, if not the fastest, consumer SSDs on the market today. Designed for tech enthusiasts, hardcore gamers and professionals, this M.2 form factor SSD is powered by Samsung's new Phoenix controller and is available with up to 1TB of the company's latest 64-layer V-NAND flash. Combine this with a PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3 interface and you have an SSD capable of hitting some insanely fast speeds. The 970 PRO screamed through our sequential transfer rate tests, reading at speeds as high as 3,611 MB/s and writing at more than 2,300 MB/s. The drive also did very well in our random write tests, producing more than 232,000 IOPS at low queue depths.
Impressive performance isn't the only thing the 970 PRO has to offer. To keep your data safe, the drive features AES 256-bit full disk encryption and is compliant with both the TCG Opal 2.0 and IEEE 1667 specifications. The 970 PRO also supports the Device Sleep (DEVSLP) standard which extends the battery life of a device by reducing the drive's power consumption when it's not in use. To top it all off, the 970 PRO is covered by a 5 year warranty with an endurance rating of up to 1,200 terabytes written (TBW) for the 1TB model.
The 970 PRO will be available for purchase worldwide starting May 7, 2018 with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price starting at $329.99.
- PCIe 3.0 x4 interface with NVMe protocol
- Equipped with 2-bit MLC V-NAND technology
- Available in 512GB and 1TB capacities
- Excellent sequential and random read and write speeds
- Performs equally well with compressible and incompressible data
- Small M.2 2280 form factor
- Large DRAM cache
- Supports TRIM and garbage collection
- AES 256-bit full disk encryption
- TCG Opal 2.0 and IEEE 1667 compliant
- Works with Samsung's Magician software
- 5 year warranty
- Not available in higher capacities