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

Introduction

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

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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3 Comments

  1. Not a bad little drive, and they have come down significantly in price.

    Right now I am struggling when it comes to what drive to use for an SSD cache drive on a server, where constant heavy writes are a factor.

    WAY back I would have had to pay big bucks for a tiny SLC drive for something like this. Can’t find those anymore.

    More recently Samsung’s Pro drives were MLC and had some pretty serious write endurance.

    The latest gen Pro drives (980 Pro) now appear to be TLC, and it has me a little concerned.

    That said, these things are so cheap now, so maybe I’ll just get a couple of 500GB or 1TB Inland Premium drives for $59.99 or $119.99 respectively, and just beat the crap out of them until they are worn out and replace them.

  2. The 860 Pro drives are MLC, and MLC is def the way to go for write endurance, they may be SATA, but if you are after that endurance prices are cheaper now on them. You are right, Samsung has gone a little backwards with the 980 Pro, being TLC, Pro to me always meant MLC on Samsung, not happy with that trend.
  3. The 860 Pro drives are MLC, and MLC is def the way to go for write endurance, they may be SATA, but if you are after that endurance prices are cheaper now on them. You are right, Samsung has gone a little backwards with the 980 Pro, being TLC, Pro to me always meant MLC on Samsung, not happy with that trend.

    Yeah, I am torn.

    The truth is, that with each generation of controller, NAND quality and whatever magic makes the controllers work (write amplification, wear balancing, DRAM cache’s etc.) improves. There is a reason you essentially can’t buy an SLC drive anymore. They just aren’t necessary. MLC got better to the point where it could fill that role.

    The question is, have we gotten to the point where TLC is really ready to supplant MLC in high write applications?

    My old 512GB Samsun 850 Pro SATA drives I have been using as write cache for years are MLC and are rated at 150TBW each. At 69,000 power on hours, and 317110382829 LBA’s (~147.6 TB) written they are both listed at a wear leveling count of 30%, so they are starting to get close. (well, I mean, if 70% wear came in 69000 hours, that means I have ~30,000 hours or 3.5 years left, but I don’t want to push it TOO far)

    The aforementioned Inland Premium drives are Phison E12 TLC drives. The 512GB model (to keep it as close to an "apples to apples" comparison as possible) is rated at over 5x the write endurance, at 780TBW.

    If these numbers are accurate, and measured the same way Samsung did on my old 850 Pro’s, maybe MLC really is no longer needed? I mean those old MLC 850 Pro’s are going to give me a projected final lifespan of 11.25 years in my high write environment. If the Inland Premiums truly get 5.2x longer life, that should give me 58.5 years. I don’t know if I’ll be around in 2080 (probably not unless we see some amazing medical progress!), but I suspect my current server build will be long obsolete…

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