At slightly less than 40 cents per Gigabyte, the Samsung 970 EVO is currently cheaper than its older brother, the 960 EVO that came out two years ago.
It’s arguably the best “budget” NVMe solid-state drive (SSD) you can get, even though it’s not the most affordable on the market. When you factor in the fast performance and Samsung’s proven reliability and quality, it’s more than worth the little extra you have to pay.
After a month of using it as my main drive — I migrated my computer to NVMe from a regular SATA drive — I can recommend it to anyone without any reservation.
Samsung 970 EVO: Next-gen NVMe
The 970 EVO features the popular M.2 2280 design — it’s 22 mm wide and 80 mm long — and uses x4 PCIe Gen 3 to connect to a host computer. On the inside, the drive uses Samsung’s 2nd-Gen V-NAND 3-bit 64-layer MLC V-NAND and a new Phoenix controller. This controller has a layer of nickel that helps dissipate heat faster. The 970 EVO also has a new and efficient dynamic thermal guard (DTG) trigger point.
Specifically, it can deliver some 26% (or 32GB) of compared with the 960 EVO during sequential writes before the DTG is triggered. As a result, the drive can tolerate more heat and can cope with prolonged operations without slowing down.
Familiar software and feature, high endurance
The 970 EVO shares the same Samsung Magician software with earlier Samsung SSDs. You can use this application to manage the drive, including the ability to upgrade its firmware and set up its over-provisioning.
Similar to other NVMe drives from Samsung, the 970 EVO doesn’t support RAPID Mode, which is only available in SATA drives. But the new drive does support Samsung’s TurboWrite technology, which can use up 78GB of buffer size to increase its sequential write speeds.
The Samsung 970 EVO has very high endurance. Specifically, if you take the 250GB version of the drive and write 50GB per day and every day to it, you’d need more than eight years to deplete its endurance. A higher capacity version of the drive comes with a higher endurance rating, accordingly.
The Samsung 970 EVO performed exceptionally well in my testing. It had no issue at all, no matter if I choose to install the operating system on it from scratch or migrate to it from an older drive. In all cases, the NVMe drive consistently brought up the computer’s performance a great deal.
In copy (sequential) tests, it’s by far the fastest on the chart, with the sustained speed of more than 1200 megabytes per second when doing both reading and writing simultaneously.
It also did very well in the random access test, again topping the charts.
In real-world usage, the performance improvement was evident. The test machine booted up just a few seconds, compared to 8 seconds, when using the 960 Pro or almost 20 seconds when using the 860 Pro. All apps launched virtually instantly, and even big games took little time to load.
I noticed, however, that the SSD ran a bit hot during extended operations. It wasn’t hot enough to cook an egg on it (clearly, you can’t fit an egg on its surface, to begin with), but I couldn’t rest my finger on it for longer than a few seconds. Still, I used it intensively for more than a month without any issues at all.
The Samsung 970 is an excellent drive for those thinking of moving to NVMe. It’s the first drive from Samsung that comes with relatively affordable pricing at launch, and since then, its price has gradually gotten even lower.
Though you can find other MVMe drives at lower prices, the Samsung 970 EVO is still an excellent buy. It’s a significant upgrade even to a computer that’s already running on a fast SATA SSD.