Samsung SSD 960 Evo 500GB Review
Last issue we Looked at Samsung’s new 960 Pro drives and concluded they were amazingly fast, but overkill for most people, especially for the price.
However, Samsung’s new 960 Evo looks set to provide very similar performance for a far more sensible price. Like the 960 Pro drives, the Evo drives are M.2 NVMe drives, and they’re also small, black and covered by two smart-looking stickers. Available in 250GB, 500GB and 1TB versions, you miss out on the 2TB model of the 960 Pro, but you get a far lower price of entry – the 500GB 960 Evo costs while the equivalent Pro drive costs.
However, like previous Samsung Evo SSDs, the 960 Evo drives are distinguished from their faster siblings by the use of TLC NAND, where three bits of data are stored in each memory cell rather than two as in the 960 Pro.
Accordingly, the Evo drives are only rated to write half the total data of the Pro drives, and have a three-year rather than the Pro drives’ five-year warranty. Also, while the increased data density makes for a cheaper drive, it reduces write speed.
The 960 Evo drives are distinguished from their faster siblings by the use of TLC NAND
As such, the Evo drives employ SLC caching to increase short-term write speed. So while the 1TB drive can hit 1,900MB/sec sequential write speeds, it drops to 1,200MB/sec after the 42GB of SLC cache is filled. Meanwhile the smallest drive, the 250GB model, maxes out at 1,500MB/sec write and drops to 300MB/sec after 13GB has been written.
This has a knock-on effect when it comes to random read and write performance. The 500GB drive manages 330KIOPS for a few seconds, but quickly drops to an average of 100K IOPS in our 10meter test. That’s mighty fast, mind. Otherwise, in all our tests, the 500GB 960 Evo lived up to all expectations, hitting the speeds Samsung claims and only slightly trailing behind the 960 Pro.
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However, as with the 960 Pro, the real-world impact of all that performance is fairly minimal, with the app-loading tests of PCMark, our manual game load tests and Windows boot tests all showing almost no increase over SATA SSDs. As a result, it’s worth considering spending your money on a slower drive with a larger capacity if the above criteria are your top priorities.
Still, the 960 Evo 500GB strikes a near-perfect balance of performance and price, while still maintaining decent capacity, hitting the sweet spot firmly on the head. If you want the best bang per buck, this is the SSD to buy.
Strikes a near-perfect balance of performance and price, while still maintaining decent capacity. The 960 Evo hits the current SSD sweet spot firmly on the head.