Sunday, January 24th, 2021

Samsung 970 PRO Review: Extreme speed and endurance

The Samsung 970 Pro in action.
The Samsung 970 PRO in action.

The Samsung 970 PRO, as intended, is superior to the more affordable Samsung 970 Evo. It’s faster and has double the endurance — it’ll last much longer. But it’s also in some ways inferior. For example, it caps at 1TB, half of the Evo drive. And most importantly, at close to $.50 per gigabyte, it’s clearly more expensive.

Consequently, if for some reason you absolutely need the fastest SSD on the market or one that has extreme longevity, the Samsung 970 PRO NVMe SSD is worth the extra cost. Otherwise, go with the 970 Evo which delivers a similar real-world experience for less.

Samsung NVMe SSD 970 PRO

8.3

Performance

9.5/10

Features

8.0/10

Value

7.5/10

Pros

  • Extremely fast and ultra-high endurance
  • Easy to use with useful features

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No larger capacity than 1TB

Samsung 970 PRO: Extreme endurance

In the world of SSDs, the endurance — you can only write so much to a drive before you can’t anymore — has always been an issue. (Read more about SSDs here.) In my experience, this is a bit of a phobia since most SSDs will last much longer than the computer itself.

Still, with the 970 PRO, Samsung has brought the endurance to a new level. The drive can easily outlast one’s life.

Specifically, the 970 PRO is available in 512GB and 1TB that have the endurance ratings of 600 terabytes written and 1200TBW, respectively. As a result, if you write 50GB per day and every day, they will last some 30 years and 60 years, respectively.

In daily usage, most of us don’t write more than 10GB per day, and many days we don’t write at all. You do the math.

Familiar software, design and features

The drive achieves this level of endurance by using Samsung’s latest 3rd generation 2-bit V-NAND MLC NVMe flash memory. It shares the same new Phoenix controller with the 970 Evo, however. The control is designed to cope with heat and allow the drive to handle long operating without slowing down.

Heat control is always a challenge with M.2 SSDs since there’s not much surface area for the controller to cool down. Samsung has a workaround by embedding a copper strip in its branding label. Furthermore, the drive’s driver uses Samsung’s Enhanced Dynamic Thermal Guard (DTG) algorithm which allows for more data to pass through before the drive needs to go into slower performance state.

For security, the 970 PRO supports 256-bit full disk encryption with Microsoft’s eDrive and TCG Opal 2.0. As a result, business users can secure their data and manage their storage via remote administration in theft or loss.

Using Samsung Magician, among other things, you can easy set aside a portion of the 970 Pro's storage for Over Provisioning.
Using Samsung Magician, among other things, you can easy set aside a portion of the 970 PRO’s storage for overprovisioning.

Physically, the 970 PRO uses the popular M.2 2280 design (it’s 22mm wide and 2280mm long) and the same Samsung Magician software as the rest of Samsung SSD. This software (only available in Windows) allows for managing many features of the drives, including customizing its Over-Provisioning, upgrading its firmware, performing a speed test, and so on.

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Samsung 970 PRO’s hardware specifications

Easy to use

If you computer has a built-in M.2 M-key slot, you can just install the drive like any other SSDs. In my trial, Windows 10’s setup process recognized the drive by itself. Afterword, it’s recommend that you download and install Samsung’s NVMe driver, however.

With desktop computers without an M.2 slot, you can still use the drive via an PCIe adapter. You can also migrate to the 970 Pro, from an existing SATA drive. I detailed this process in this post.

Samsung 970 PRO: Stellar performance

The Samsung 970 PRO is the fastest SSD I’ve tested. Specifically, in copy test, it had the sustained speeds of more than 2,406MB/s and 2232MB/s for writing and reading, respectively. And when doing both writing and reading at the same time, it still average 1235MB/s.

SSD Copy Score

Similarly, in random access tests, the Samsung 970 PRO also easily topped the charts. However, it was just slightly faster than the 970 EVO.

SSD Random Access Scores

For this reason, in real-world usage, the 970 PRO felt the same as the 970 Evo. So, chances are you won’t be able to tell the difference between the two at all. I certainly couldn’t. In all, both drives delivered the same excellent computing experience. In my case, the test machine took just a few seconds to boot and all applications launched instantly.

Conclusion

There’s no question that the Samsung 970 PRO NVMe SSD is currently the fastest comsumer-grade internal drive on the market. However, it edges out other drives, like the 970 Evo, by just a small margin, not enough to show any difference in real-world usage.

As a result, you should only get 970 PRO if you need a drive with extreme endurance. In terms of speed, the 970 Evo, or most of the other x4 PCIe NVMe drives on the market, will give you a better bang for your buck.

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