Image: Samsung

The process of choosing a speedy SSD has become an especially complicated one that definitely requires extensive researching beyond the specifications listed on the box.

Following on the heels of Crucial and Western Digital, Samsung is the latest storage giant to get caught swapping parts in select SSDs without properly notifying customers. The drive in question is the popular 970 EVO Plus, an NVMe M.2 stick that offers read/write speeds of up to 3,500/3,300 MB/s.

As discovered by a Chinese YouTuber, the Phoenix controller (S4LR020) in the original 970 EVO Plus has been replaced with the Elpis controller (S4LV003). This is actually the controller that Samsung uses in its 980 PRO SSD, a more premium product that supports PCIe 4.0 for up to 7,000/5,000MB/s read/write speeds.

Despite what sounds like a positive swap on the surface, benchmarks have revealed that the write performance of Samsung’s revised 970 EVO Plus SSD drops like a rock when its SLC cache is exhausted. This is an issue that content creators who work with 4K videos and other large files might be very likely to run into.

Samsung hasn’t released a statement to confirm the changes in its 970 EVO PLUS SSD yet, but storage enthusiasts can identify the revised model by checking the box, which leans toward a vertical design. The new version also has a different firmware (3B2QEXM7).

[…] the old version started at 1,750 MBps and eventually dropped down to 1,500 MBps after the 40GB mark. On the new version, the drive steadily performed at 2,500 MBps, but once the 115GB SLC cache was exhausted, the SSD fell to 800 MBps. This represented a 47 percent performance hit.

Source: 潮玩客 (via Ars Technica, Tom’s Hardware)

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8 Comments

  1. The swapped drive is actually faster. Unless you write 115GB on it in one go. Who does that? That’s a one in a million use case. Plus the drive has different packaging and part number, and they changed the spec sheet.

    True they could’ve just called it the 975 plus or sg, to make the change more obvious. But I wouldn’t be upset if I got this drive instead of the old one.

  2. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 40457, member: 1298″]
    Unless you write 115GB on it in one go. Who does that? That’s a one in a million use case.
    [/QUOTE]
    Games are definitely getting to that point. Dirt 2 is 100GB. CoD: Warzone is around 200GB. It’s not crazy to imagine that 100GB+ games will be the norm throughout the next decade. You could also be installing multiple games at once on a new clean system. Yeah I’m kinda stretching here, not too many users write more than 100GB at once, but I don’t think that’s a “one in a million use case” either.

  3. [QUOTE=”MadMummy76, post: 40457, member: 1298″]
    Unless you write 115GB on it in one go. Who does that? That’s a one in a million use case.
    [/QUOTE]
    A system restore would probably count. I did experience this with an Intel 660p, but the drive kept on trucking at 60MB/s. Slow, but it didn’t stop outright.

    [QUOTE=”DrezKill, post: 40463, member: 230″]
    Games are definitely getting to that point. Dirt 2 is 100GB.
    [/QUOTE]
    While true, it’s a pretty awkward usecase if you’re installing from local storage that’s fast enough to saturate NVMe.

    What I’ll say overall is that if you have the kind of usage pattern that would stress a 970 Evo, get a drive that’s better suited for the workload at hand. Consumer drives, whether we’re talking QLC or shingled spinners, are great at most consumer workloads but they’re simply not optimized for heavy sustained writes.

  4. It’s much faster up until the cache is filled. So 99.999% of users will actually have better performance.

    Unless you are transferring games between drives, your internet isn’t going to saturate the NVME drive to the point where the cache is filled up.

    This is only going to be an issue for people working with enormous video or database files – so almost no one.

  5. [QUOTE=”kcthebrewer, post: 40472, member: 498″]
    It’s much faster up until the cache is filled. So 99.999% of users will actually have better performance.

    Unless you are transferring games between drives, your internet isn’t going to saturate the NVME drive to the point where the cache is filled up.

    This is only going to be an issue for people working with enormous video or database files – so almost no one.
    [/QUOTE]

    I can see your point here. And I actually find myself agreeing. These drives are not enterprise level solutions. In the enterprise we have raid five arrays of the high speed portion of these drives normally starting at about 1 terabyte just to act as the cache for the rest of the array. Yes. 1 terabyte of “fast cache”. We sometimes put entire volumes in the fast cache.. you know for those 100gb dB tables…

    So yea the speed you burst to and love in reality is the speed enterprise environments use just to have adequate performance.

    Multimedia streaming servers make that look kinda slow… they are pushing 100gig a second through each connection. You want to talk about needing a lot of pcie lanes.. for some of these builds you’re putting in cpu sockets just to have more I/o bandwidth.

    Sorry I went on a bit of a tangent there. Do we have an enterprise hardware discussion area?

  6. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 40461, member: 215″]
    You’ve never installed modern warfare. 200gb patches man. 😉
    [/QUOTE]
    Sure if you internet is faster than 800Mb/s

  7. Thing is that very few uses can even leverage high transfer speeds of 3000+MB/s for more than a few seconds Unless you are copying files between two equally fast NVME drives, but even then I never could realize the drives full potential. So this is wholly synthetic benchmark territory.

    That’s why the whole ps5’s superfast storage and the “you can’t use anything else” is a bunch of snakeoil salesman trying to sell you a new console gen with incremental benefits. And make it sound “more profound” than it actually is.

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