Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD Review

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Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe M.2 SSD 500GB Top View


Samsung is well known for its quality, reliability, and fast SSDs.  Sometimes Samsung improves upon previous models without launching a whole new series.  Such is the case with the Samsung 970 EVO Plus.  The Samsung 970 EVO Plus is a “Plus” version of the original Samsung 970 EVO.  It takes what made the 970 EVO so good, and improves upon that.  It is, therefore, an upgraded form of the 970 EVO.

We will be reviewing the Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB version, MZ-V7S500B/AM today.  The current MSRP on the 500GB model is $94.99.  There is also a more expensive 2TB model, 1TB model, and a less expensive 250GB model.  Note that all models have the same quoted sequential read performance, however, the write performance does differ. 

The 2TB and 1TB models have the fastest sequential write performance at 3300MB/s, while the 500GB model is just right under those on write performance at 3200MB/s.  However, the 250GB model is much slower on write performance at 2300MB/s.

Samsung NVMe SSD Models

If you navigate to Samsung’s storage page, and we select only NVMe SSDs you can see Samsung’s lineup.  At the bottom are the original Samsung 970 EVO NVMe and 970 Pro NVMe SSDs.  These are Gen3 SSDs, supporting PCIe 3.0 x4.  Samsung’s EVO models describe drives that are more affordable but overall have less write endurance than the PRO drives, which also cost more. The EVO’s are also TLC, while the PRO has typically been MLC, at least in the 970 and 860 series.  The original Samsung 970 EVO and Pro drives were released in 2018.

The Samsung 970 EVO Plus drives were released in 2019, a year later.  Samsung, however, only made an EVO version of the 970 “Plus” and there is no PRO version.  The Samsung 970 EVO Plus drives are Gen3 PCI-Express 3.0 x4 SSDs.  The performance increase comes from the improved firmware and improved NAND flash used.

Currently (summer of 2021) Samsung’s latest models that exist are the Samsung 980 and 980 PRO SSDs.  However, the 980 is still PCIe Gen3, while the 980 PRO is specifically the PCIe Gen4 SSD.  Therefore, the Samsung 970 EVO Plus we are reviewing today still holds up as a worthwhile drive in 2021 since it should be found at lower prices than the newer 980 SSDs, and still pack quite a punch in performance.   

Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB Gen3 PCIe NVMe SSD

What makes the Samsung 970 EVO Plus a “Plus” SSD? It has upgraded V5 V-NAND technology and firmware optimizations compared to the original Samsung 970 EVO.  The 970 EVO Plus also supports intelligent TurboWrite boost speed technology.  This is a small SLC cache on board to improve performance.  This increases NVMe bandwidth for faster performance and higher power efficiency.  It should be up to 53% faster than the 970 EVO according to Samsung, with better endurance.  Though this is determined by which capacity you are comparing the SSDs with. 

The Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe M.2 SSD 500GB is in the M.2 2280 form factor with DRAM cache and is single-sided.  It supports the NVMe 1.3 protocol and PCI-Express 3.0 x4.  It is rated at up to 3500MB/s sequential read and 3200MB/s sequential write performance.  The random read speed at 4KB QD32 is rated at up to 480,000 IOPS, and the random read 4KB QD1 is rated at up to 19,000 IOPS.  The random write speed at 4KB QD32 is rated at up to 550,000 IOPS and the random write 4KB QD1 performance is rated up to 60,000 IOPS.

The Samsung 970 EVO Plus Samsung is using a nickel-coated controller and heat spreader to help aid in heat dissipation without a heatsink.  It also supports Samsung’s dynamic thermal guard which automatically monitors and maintains optimal operating temperatures to minimize performance drops. 

The SSD weighs 0.3oz and measures 3.16”x0.87”x0.09” (WxHxD).  It operates at a Voltage of 3.3V and has a power consumption at idle of max 30mW and an average of 5.8W and a maximum of 9W power usage in burst mode.  This SSD has an MTBF of 1.5 million hours of reliability.  The operating temperature before throttling is rated at up to 70c.  It supports AES 256-bit Full Disk Encryption, TCG/Opal V2.0, Encrypted Drive (IEEE1667).  The SSD supports TRIM, Garbage Collection, S.M.A.R.T., and device sleep mode. Samsung offers a 5-year limited warranty or 300 TBW limited warranty.

Pictures and Components

The label reads model MZ-V7S500 and PN MZVLB500HBJQ and is dated 2020.05.  This is a single-sided SSD so it will work great in your laptop. This means you only need to cool one side of it, for the best performance without any chance of throttling. This will therefore work well in motherboards with a single heat spreader on the top in the M.2 slot. One thing we really like about it is the black PCB, it looks quite stealthy, and is appealing. There are two stickers on it by default, one over the chips, and one on the back. They actually have a copper coating for heat transfer, so just place your motherboard M.2 heatsink over it. Or you can remove it if you want to use better thermal pads for direct contact.

One of the major upgrades with the 970 EVO Plus is the use of Samsung’s V5 3D V-NAND in use.  Simply put, it is more multi-layered compared to the NAND flash found on the 970 EVO which was V4.  Where the 970 EVO used 64-layer 3D NAND, the 970 EVO Plus uses what Samsung calls 9*-layer 3D NAND.  This means something in the range of 90+ layers, though Samsung won’t specify exactly. 

The general consensus is that this may be 92-layers instead of 96-layer.  Though it really doesn’t matter in that regard as much, they are very close, and this was pretty much an interim transition period prior to the Samsung 980.  This higher density 3D NAND should allow faster write performance and allows a 256Gb die density for the 500GB model. 

One of the oddities in the way Samsung specifies its flash, it states it as 3-bit MLC, which is really just TLC.  MLC is 2-bit, so calling it 3-bit MLC is really just the same as calling it TLC memory, this isn’t true MLC 2-bit flash.  This is a TLC 3D NAND SSD.

The controller is a Samsung Phoenix Controller and intelligent turbowrite, which is the same one used in the 970 EVO.  It is an 8-channel NAND flash controller with five CPU cores that has one dedicated to host-side communication. There is a Samsung DRAM cache of 512MB of lower power DDR4 SDRAM (LPDDR4 DRAM) on board.  This appears to be 3733MHz DDR4.

Brent Justice
Former managing editor of GPUs at HardOCP for 18 years, Brent Justice has been reviewing computer components since the late 90s, educated in the art and method of the computer hardware review, he brings experience, knowledge, and hands-on testing with a gamer-oriented and hardware enthusiast perspective. You can follow him on Twitter - @Brent_Justice You can sub to his YouTube channel - Justice Gaming You can check out his computer builds on KIT - @BrentJustice

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