Conclusion

We have now finished our second SSD review on TheFPSReview.com.  Today we looked at the Samsung 970 EVO 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD.  Previous to this we reviewed the XPG SX8100 2TB NVMe M.2 SSD.  We were now able to combine the data and show comparisons.  In the future, as we develop more SSD reviews we will keep adding to our comparisons and even more tests. We have already taken more tests on these two SSDs that we will use in comparisons in the future to add to the test suite. These two SSDs have both been PCI-Express 3.0 x4 (Gen3x4) performance SSDs.  When we start adding PCI-Express 4.0 SSDs, which we now can do, things will get really interesting.

The Samsung line of SSDs are very popular, often higher priced, but still very popular and well known.  They usually have some of the best performance around with a solid reputation and are known for their endurance and build quality.  Samsung also offers a wide variety of SSDs to fit every price point, and every workload or usage type.  They have their QVO line with affordable QLC memory type drives, and their EVO series with MLC and TLC, affordable performance, and a lot of great options.  Then they have their PRO series with 2-bit MLC, higher write endurance and performance, but a higher cost.

We took a look today at the Samsung SSD 970 EVO 1TB (MZ-V7E1T0BW) model.  This SSD will set you back only $179.80 these days.  This is an incredible price, considering that the 1TB model had a launch MSRP of $449.99 in 2018.  In two years, the price has dropped more than half its price to a place that is now very affordable.  Even though it has been out two years, the SSD is still very relevant today, especially at a price like this.

Performance

The Samsung 970 EVO 1TB is rated technically at 3400MB/s sequential read and 2500MB/s sequential write.  Our benchmarks have shown that it can reach that advertised speed.  We experienced this performance in CrystalDiskMark, in fact, the read speed exceeded the quoted speed.  ATTO showed us that it can achieve near those speeds very consistently.

In comparison to the XPG SX8100NP 2TB, the Samsung 970 EVO 1TB was faster in almost every benchmark result.  There were a couple of areas where the XPG won out, but overall, the Samsung 970 EVO 1TB was consistently faster.  One area where the Samsung 970 EVO 1TB shined was its write performance with random data.  In the benchmarks that tested random write performance, the Samsung 970 EVO was way ahead.  In MiniTool Partition Wizard Benchmark the writing performance was way ahead across the board in the testing.  Another area it excelled at was access time for read.

There was one area that was slower, and that was a large file disk copy.  For some reason, it was slower on the Samsung EVO 1TB.  However, when we did smaller files, it was now on top in performance, by a lot.  This smaller sample size performance advantage was also replicated in the MiniTool Partition Wizard test at the 4KB sample size, the performance was a lot faster on the Samsung 970 EVO 1TB.

We will make a quick comment on game load times.  We did test game load times versus the XPG SX8100NP, however, we saw absolutely no change in-game load time results.  The results were within the margin of error in the milliseconds.  We didn’t really need to graph it out because it was quite redundant.  At the end of the day, the game load times between the Samsung 970 EVO 1TB and XPG SX8100NP are exactly the same.  The results are just slightly faster than with the 1TB SATA 2.5” SSD.

Cooling

As we mentioned, the Samsung 970 EVO 1TB retail package does not come with a metal heatsink to install.  The XPG SX8100NP did come with one.  However, Samsung did do slight work on the thermals out-of-the-box which XPG did not do.  The controller is nickel-coated, and the back of the PCB had a copper backing sticker across the backside of the memory chips.  This at least is some move toward improving thermals out-of-the-box without you having to do anything.  Samsung also has Dynamic Thermal Guard. 

However, while the addition of all this is a good move, it cannot compare to an actual physical robust metal heatsink across the chips on the front side using thermal pads.  Thankfully most motherboards today have some kind of built-in heatsink with at least one M.2 slot.  We highly recommend you install this SSD under that heatsink for the best thermal properties. 

The thermal solution Samsung provides should be ok in most mainstream cases.  However, for enthusiasts, or in cramped cases, or cases with poor airflow we would highly suggest attaching a heatsink to this SSD if your motherboard did not come with one.  You can purchase third party heatsinks to fit on SSDs.  It would ensure no thermal throttling in the toughest of situations.  Still, we are happy Samsung as at least tried to do something to mitigate the heat, and our temperature results prove that.

Final Points

The best use case for this SSD is any enthusiast who must have the best PCIe Gen 3×4 NVMe 1.3 performance at an affordable price.  It is extremely fast for small files and file transfer or data samples with smaller file sizes.  It is able to pull its weight in write speed and outshone the competition we had it compared with today.  If you will be writing a lot to the drive, this one is made for you.

It will also be good in any gaming system, giving you the best-read access times and solid consistent read performance across the drive.  Games will load fast, and new level loads will happen quickly.  With the reliability and endurance of Samsung SSDs, you will be ensured long life of the SSD and the quality to back it up. 

You really can’t go wrong with a Samsung drive.  They are priced higher, that is a major factor.  It is the price you pay.  This 1TB Samsung 970 EVO is $179.80 right now.  There are cheaper SSDs out there for sure.  However, that extra money is buying you faster performance, the reliability of Samsung, quality, and a cooler running drive using less space overall with its dense packaging.  The controller is second to none and does a great job managing this drive.  Overall, it is a very complete package that will make any serious enthusiast build one solid build.

Discussion

Brent Justice

Brent Justice has been reviewing computer components for 20+ years, educated in the art and method of the computer hardware review he brings experience, knowledge, and hands-on testing with a gamer oriented...

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2 Comments

  1. For those wondering at the difference between this and the 970 EVO Plus: 64L vs. 96L (92L) TLC. You can’t go by set layers as there will be dummy layers to reduce wordline program disturb etc. In any case, the program time of these two is about the same (500µs for 2-bit MLC, 200µs+ for TLC in SLC mode, 800-1100µs for TLC) so the speed difference implies Samsung went from two-plane to four-plane flash which has diminishing returns (~50% gains) and higher TLC program latency. TLC read times of ~75µs ensure maximum seq. read (3400 MB/s) even at 250GB (8 dies x 2 planes = 16-way interleaving). The 970 EVO Plus thus has higher IOPS and sequential write performance in both SLC and TLC modes. Controller is the same, both have DRAM, similar firmware, same SLC cache design (static + dynamic).

    As the review mentions this uses the Phoenix controller – this is a penta-core ARM Cortex-R5 design. The R5 is the successor to the R4 and is intended for specialized use, that is it a microcontroller (RISC by the old definition) optimized for low-latency, real-time operations as you see with storage (it’s also used on HDDs). Samsung built this off the R4-based UAX/UBX which was a tri-core design with cores for read, write, and host (user); the penta-core, R5 iteration is in a 2/2/1 configuration instead. The previous drive generation (960 EVO) used the similar but lower-clocked Polaris. (clocks can vary, the older designs were typically 400 MHz but tend to be 500-700 MHz now as in the SM2262/EN and Phison E12 at 575-650 and 667 MHz respectively; the SX8100 compared is a dual-core design)

    0-70C is a typical operating range but this is the composite temperature, ARM controllers can get far hotter internally (125C). Actually Samsung lists two temperatures, one of which is for NAND, and yes – NAND programs better with heat. They will throttle ~70C which is most commonly invoked with sustained, sequential writes but can also derive from heavy, mixed workloads. While most NVMe drives do not require a driver, Samsung’s drives do perform better with one. RAPID mode should never be used as it just adds an additional layer of RAM caching. Likewise SED (self-encryption drive) tends to not be secure.

    Just some commentary I want to add to the review after looking through it!

  2. Nice review, and I appreciate the editorialized opinion piece at the end. Makes sense and is well reasoned.
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