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Samsung SSD 950 Pro review: Updated with PCIe 3.0 x4 scores

By Bryan Chan & Kenny Yeo - 13 Nov 2015

Samsung SSD 950 Pro review: Updated with PCIe 3.0 x4 scores

Unleashing the Samsung SSD 950 Pro's potential

The SSD 950 Pro is Samsung's latest flagship SSD and also their first SSD to support the new NVMe protocol and PCIe 3.0 x4. Additionally, it also uses the company's MLC V-NAND and UBX controller. Earlier when we tested Samsung’s new flagship SSD 950 Pro drive, we did so over PCIe 2.0 x4. We did so because we felt that this would give existing Z97 users a good idea of the kind of performance the SSD 950 Pro would offer. This is because most Z97 motherboards only have M.2 slots that support PCIe 2.0 x4 and not PCIe 3.0 x4. So the only way for these users to maximize the potential of the SSD 950 Pro is to use a PCIe 3.0 x4 to M.2 adapter.

We are going to find out what the Samsung SSD 950 Pro's full potential is by testing it over PCIe 3.0 x4.

Today, we are revisiting the SSD 950 Pro, but this time, we will be testing it over PCIe 3.0 x4, and thereby unleashing the full fury of the SSD 950 Pro. For the 256GB model that we are testing, Samsung claims sequential read and write speeds of up to 2,200MB/s and 900MB/s respectively, and it’ll be interesting to see if we can indeed attain such blistering levels of performance.

Let’s jump straight into the numbers.

 

PCMark 8 Results

 

CrystalDiskMark results

 

AS SSD results

 

ATTO benchmark results

 

Iometer results

 

Closing Thoughts

No surprises here. Over PCIe 3.0 x4, the Samsung SSD 950 Pro revealed its true performance potential and was significantly quicker. Sequential read and write speeds in particular was very impressive, with sequential read speeds exceeding 2GB/s in some instances. The SSD 950 Pro also recorded the highest IOPs we have ever seen on Iometer’s 64K streaming reads and writes workloads.

However, on more intensive workloads and when dealing with smaller data blocks, the Samsung SSD 950 Pro’s performance advantage is not so obvious. For instance, on AS SSD’s 4K workload, the SSD 950’s read speeds on PCIe 3.0 x4 was nearly identical to that when it was using PCIe 2.0 x4. Likewise, write speeds were only 25% faster, which is modest in comparison to sequential read and write results where it could be over 2.5 times as fast. It was the same story too on Iometer’s intensive File and Web server workloads, the SSD 950 Pro could not record any noticeable performance improvement even over the wider PCIe 3.0 x4 interface.

Nevertheless, this could be the consequence of immature NVMe drivers. Remember that Windows 10’s native NVMe drivers are still highly problematic, especially with regards to write operations. The same is true for Samsung’s as well. As we noted in the earlier review and also now, write performance at high queue depths were lower than we had expected.

Even so, the Samsung SSD 950 Pro’s performance is surely nothing short of ballistic and it looks like there’s room for improvement once NVMe drivers get up to mark. Additionally, what this means for existing Z97 users is that a PCIe 3.0 x4 to M.2 adapter is a must if you want to get the most out of the SSD 950 Pro.

8.5
  • Performance 9
  • Features 8.5
  • Value 8
The Good
Blazing performance
Incredibly small M.2 form factor
High endurance rating
Supports latest interface and NVMe protocol
Easy-to-use Samsung Magician utility
The Bad
Requires a motherboard with PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots or appropriate PCIe 3.0 adapter
NVMe drivers still need work
Shorter warranty compared to predecessor
Pricey compared to SATA-based drives