Samsung 960 EVO M.2 1TB NVMe SSD review

Memory (DDR4/DDR5) and Storage (SSD/NVMe) 357 Page 2 of 20 Published by


Specifications & Features

Samsung SSD 960 EVO Specifications & Features

Samsung is to offer three versions of the new 960 EVO, the 250 GB, 500GB and 1TB models. The sample that we have at hand for testing today is the 1TB version of the drive. The 960 PRO series will come with MLC NAND flash memory from Samsung's latest revision V-NAND node (48-layers vertically stacked NAND).  The EVO series will be fitted with V-NAND 3bit MLC.

So what is V-NAND? 

V-NAND is a physically vertical NAND cell stacking not to be confused with chip stacking in a multi-chip package. In V-NAND, NAND layers, not chips, are stacked in a single IC. The good news is continued cost reduction, smaller die sizes and more capacity per NAND chip. Also, installed NAND toolsets in the wafer fabs can, for the most part, be reused, thereby extending the useful life of fab equipment. Current V-NAND stacks have 32 cell layers vertically over one another, rather than decreasing cell dimensions to fit onto a fixed horizontal space, resulting in higher density and better performance with a smaller footprint. With the M.2 form factor SSDs, more consumers with desktops or ultra-thin PCs can benefit from best-in-class performance and reliability of the technology. Last year's 950 series was 32-layers, this year's 960 series has 48-layers. And sure, R&D on 64-layers already is finished and starting up for fabbing next year. 

So what is NVMe?

NVMe is also known as Non-Volatile Memory Express or the Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface Specification. The idea behind NVMe is to improve the storage stack by optimizing the way an application accesses a Flash device. NVMe cuts corners by removing components within the I/O path like that good old fashioned RAID controller. To be able to make use of the new NVMe based devices inside your PC you have to have a proper driver installed, this can be downloaded at the Samsung website. This enables NVMe devices to function within the existing operating system I/O stack protocol. On the next page we'll talk a little more about NVMe. Let's have a quick peek at the key specifications:



  960 Pro
960 EVO
950 Pro
850 Pro
Form Factor M.2 2280 M.2 2280 M.2 2280 2.5" SATA
Controller Samsung Polaris Samsung Polaris Samsung UBX Samsung MEX
Interface PCIe 3.0 x4 PCIe 3.0 x4 PCIe 3.0 x4 SATA III
Protocol NVMe 1.2 NVMe 1.2 NVMe AHCI
NAND Samsung V-NAND 48-layer 128Gbit MLC Samsung V-NAND 3bit MLC  Samsung V-NAND 32-layer 128Gbit MLC Samsung V-NAND 32-layer 86Gbit MLC
Sequential Read 3,500MB/s 3,200MB/s 2,500MB/s 550MB/s
Sequential Write 2,100MB/s 1,900MB/s 1,500MB/s 520MB/s
4KB Random Read (QD32) 440K IOPS 380K IOPS 300K IOPS 100K IOPS
4KB Random Write (QD32) 360K IOPS 360K IOPS 110K IOPS 90K IOPS
Power 7.3W (burst)
5.2W (average)
40mW  (idle)
7.3W (burst)
5.5W (average)
40mW  (idle)
7.0W (burst)
5.7W (average)
1.7W (idle)
3.3W (read)
3.0W (write)
0.4W (idle)
Encryption AES-256, TCG Opal 2.0 AES-256, TCG Opal 2.0 AES-256, TCG Opal 2.0 AES-256, TCG Opal 2.0
Endurance 800TB 400TB 400TB 300TB
Warranty 5 Year 3 Year 5 Year 10 Year
Launch Date October 2016 November 2016 October 2015 Summer 2014

Yes, even for the more afforable EVO series these remain impressive numbers. Now, it's not hugely faster over the 950 series though. As you all know, the 960 EVO and PRO series are a direct derivative from the OEM version of the SM961 available up-to 1TB versions. If you see a little more value, check them out. There are differences though in NAND type used and power consumption, but overall it's more of the same being tweaked. The reason you have seen so few SM961 reviewed is that this product was released for OEM only, and thus the units ended up in pre-fabricated laptops and PCs, not in retail. I just pulled some numbers from some online etailers. Making your own SSD with your own controller, own PCB, own cache chips and own NAND flash memory does have advantages as Samsung is able to keep the prices very competitive as this product is made 99% in-house.

  • Samsung SSD 960 EVO 1 TB - costs 479 USD (48 cents per GB)
  • Samsung SSD 960 EVO 500 GB - costs 249 USD (50 cents per GB)
  • Samsung SSD 960 EVO 250 GB - costs 129 USD (52 cents per GB)
These are prices incl. VAT for the M.2 units. So that's only 10 cents (~20%) cheaper fpr the EVO compared to the PRO models. Compared to a 'regular' SATA3 SSD in fact not cheap at all, as regular SSDs with TLC or MLC NAND cost roughly half that per GB. But this is the premium flagship performance product.

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