Conclusion

We have reviewed the updated, upgraded and better, Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe M.2 500GB SSD. The Samsung 970 EVO Plus upgrades Samsung’s 970 EVO 64-layer 3D NAND to the new Samsung 9*-layer 3D NAND, more layers, and a higher density. In addition, the firmware has been improved, and the actual interface bus speed between the controller and NAND has also been increased. While the SSD remains a PCIe Gen3 PCI-Express 3.0 x4 SSD, it now has what many PCIe Gen4 SSDs have, higher density NAND flash.

The sequential read speed is rated at 3500MB/s on all capacities, but the write speed does vary. The 250GB model has a write speed of 2300MB/s, the 500GB model has a write speed of 3200MB/s, and the 1TB and 2TB models have a write speed maximum of 3300MB/s. This being the EVO model, this is a TLC 3D NAND-based SSD. There is not a PRO version of the “Plus” unfortunately.

Performance

In the application storage testing, the Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB was on top of the graph in every test. It was the fastest in PCMark 10 and the fastest in PassMark PerformanceTest. It was as fast as 8% over the Samsung 970 EVO 1TB SSD. In the throughput testing, we found its read and write performance, especially in sequential to exceed every SSD on the graphs. Write performance was exceptionally greater than the Samsung 970 EVO at times, sequential write was 7% faster, but random write was 21% faster.

In the disk copy benchmarks the Samsung 970 EVO Plus was slightly faster in program data, but faster in mixed file size data. When it came to large file size copy though, the Samsung 970 EVO 1TB had the advantage. With game load times we found the Samsung 970 EVO Plus was the fastest SSD and was 9% faster than the Samsung 970 EVO. With workstation applications, the Samsung 970 EVO Plus was vastly superior to the Teamgroup MP34 and ADATA XPG SX8100, and 5% better than the Samsung 970 EVO.

Our overall performance conclusion is that sequential performance was improved the most with the Samsung 970 EVO Plus. However, more importantly, and specifically, the write performance was improved the most, not the read. Even random write performance was improved, which matters a lot. The advantage wasn’t so much on the read performance, but rather the write performance with this drive on both sequential and random. The results are real and tangible. We also did see improved game loading time.

Cooling

The Samsung 970 EVO Plus does seem to run cooler than the Samsung 970 EVO. However, this will depend on the capacity you get. One advantage the Samsung 970 EVO Plus has is that it is single-sided, even at 1TB and 2TB models. This makes cooling it easier, and it also makes it better suited to laptop installations.

We do recommend you use your motherboard’s M.2 heatsink spreader, but that simple heatsink should be all you need to keep it well cooled and from throttling. Even under heavy stress ours only hit 50c with that motherboard heatsink installed. Without it, we could see it hitting the upper 60’s at the least, and that’s cutting it close. The 970 EVO got up to 63c with the heatsink, which shows how hot the older version got. The 970 EVO Plus is an improvement at least.

Samsung Magician Software

What is there to say, Samsung’s Magician Software is pretty much one of the best SSD software programs for SSD features we’ve come across. The UI is beautifully built, and the interface is intuitive. We also commend it for having a benchmark built-in that you can also compare results with, keep a history of, and export the results. That’s a robust utility.

In addition, it has a disk scanning ability to check for disk problems, which is very useful to see if your SSD’s endurance is doing well. It also reports the Terrabytes or Megabytes Written to the drive so you can see the health and how close it is to your TBW. It has a specific overprovisioning selection to help prolong the endurance of your SSD, as well as optimization features, Secure Erase and Encryption. And of course, you can upgrade the firmware. This software is feature-rich, and that’s what we want from an SSD application.

Final Points

In 2021, if you are looking for a fast, reliable, and well-made SSD, choosing a PCIe Gen3 SSD is still a viable option. It’s still a viable option when SSDs like the Samsung 970 EVO Plus exist. Now that this SSD has been out for a couple of years, prices have fallen from their original launch prices. This makes obtaining a high-quality, fast PCIe Gen3 SSD more affordable now and a great option instead of shelling out a ton more for a PCIe Gen4 SSD.

You can save some cash and still get really good performance in 2021 from your SSD. The 500GB model we reviewed today is only $94.99 on Samsung’s webpage now, which is down from the launch price of $129.99 when it was launched. If that isn’t enough capacity for you, the 1TB version is only $149.99 now, and the 2TB model is $329.99. The 1TB model is at a real sweet spot, and you get the fastest write speeds on it. Any way you look at it, these are still great options in 2021 and the “Plus” really is a plus.

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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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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