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Samsung 970 Evo Plus SSD (NVMe, M.2) Review

Christian Hintze, 👁 J. Simon Leitner (translated by Alex Alderson), 01/22/2019

A Plus for Samsung. About a year has passed since the release of the 970 Evo, and Samsung has now added to its SSD range with the 970 Evo Plus. The South Korean manufacturer promises that the drive will be up to 53% faster thanks to its improved V5 NAND and controller optimisations. Read on to find out whether the company’s claims check out how the Evo 970 Plus performs in our benchmarks.

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Last year we reviewed the then new Samsung 970 Evo SSD, which was one of the fastest drives that we had ever tested. Samsung has now supplied us with its 970 Evo Plus in advance of its official release. The South Korean manufacturer reports that the new drive should achieve 53% faster random write speeds than the 970 Evo.

The Evo series is synonymous for being good value for money. There are currently three versions of the 970 Evo Plus, but Samsung is expected to release a 2-TB model in mid-April or May.

We have included the current RRPs below and have compared them to the current prices for the 970 Evo and the 970 Pro. The 970 Evo is currently around €20 (~$23) cheaper than Samsung's new drive, although the Pro remains noticeably pricier. However, entry-level prices are likely to decline in line with the trend of flash memory price cuts, so watch this space.

Model Storage capacity (Price in €)
Samsung 970 Evo Plus 250 GB (99.90), 500 GB (139.90), 1 TB (259.90), 2 TB (519.90)
Samsung 970 Evo 250 GB (77.90), 500 GB (120.90), 1 TB (242.90), 2 TB (469.90)
Samsung 970 Pro 512 GB (169.90), 1 TB (349.90)

All Plus models use the NVMe v1.3 protocol and can access up to 4 PCIe lanes (Gen. 3). Samsung has used the advanced V5 NAND 3-bit MLC (TLC) memory, with the company reserving its 2-bit cells for its more expensive Pro series. More bits per cell allow for higher storage capacities at lower costs, although this may impact on durability and performance.

Additionally, Samsung has further optimised the Phoenix controller firmware and has applied a nickel coating around the controller, which should provide optimal heat dissipation. Moreover, the company continues to implement its TurboWrite technology, which reserves a faster SLC buffer and intelligently expands it when needed. This feature remains untouched compared to the standard version of the Evo.

Unlike SATA SSDs, M.2 2280 drives produce less waste heat, so maintaining low operating temperatures is even more important to avoid performance degradation or shortening the life of your drive. Samsung has improved the firmware of its Dynamic Thermal Guard too, which should give the Plus SSD an advantage over the standard Evo. The company claims that this should help deliver more consistent performance under heavy load scenarios too.

Technical specifications of the 970 Evo Plus
Technical specifications of the 970 Evo Plus

Power Consumption

According to Samsung, the 970 Evo Plus should consume only 30 mW in idle, which rises to 5 W under load for the 250-GB model and 6 W for the 1-TB version when writing data. The SSD should also consume between 5 and 5.5. W when reading data.

Warranty & Durability

The 970 Evo Plus comes with a 5-year limited warranty. The limit refers to the total GBs that the drive has written. Samsung affords a 150-TB write limit for the 250-GB model, a 300- TB limit for the 500-GB model and a 600-TB limit for the 1-TB model. The warranty will expire prematurely if you write more than the specified limits before the 5-year warranty period, but the warranty will not last until you exceed the write limits.

Test System

We used the Alienware 13 R3 as our test system. The centrepiece is its Intel Core i5 6300HQ Skylake processor. The Alienware 13 R3 has 16 GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. Dell also pre-installs Windows 10 64-bit as the default OS.

We installed our test 970 Evo Plus in the second M.2 slot, which can access up to 4 PCIe lanes.

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Synthetic Benchmarks

AS SSD & CrystalDiskMark

AS SSD and CrystalDiskMark certify that the 970 Evo Plus has excellent transfer speeds. Our test drive averaged 16% faster transfer speeds than the 970 Evo in AS SSD and is 9% faster than the 970 Pro.

The performance difference in CrystalDiskMark is narrower though. The 970 Pro averaged 7% faster transfer speeds than the 970 Evo Plus in CrystalDiskMark v3, although we lack the data for the standard 970 Evo, so we cannot compare the performance for this benchmark. However, the 970 Evo Plus finished 22% ahead of the 970 Evo in CrystalDiskMark 5, and 17% beyond the 970 Pro.

Samsung clearly has done a good job at optimising the 970 Evo Plus, at least according to these two synthetic tests.

AS SSD
AS SSD
AS SSD benchmark
AS SSD benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3
CrystalDiskMark 3
CrystalDiskMark 5
CrystalDiskMark 5
Samsung SSD 970 Evo Plus 500 GBSamsung SSD 970 EVO 500GBSamsung SSD 970 Pro 512GBSamsung SSD 860 QVO 1TBSamsung SSD 960 Evo 250GB m.2 NVMe
AS SSD
-16%
-9%
-57%
-42%
Copy Game MB/s
1178.27
1128.3
-4%
316.67
-73%
832.83
-29%
Copy Program MB/s
519.43
400.84
-23%
234.4
-55%
355.82
-31%
Copy ISO MB/s
1693.12
1957.27
16%
401.56
-76%
1197.72
-29%
Score Total
5862
4666
-20%
4269
-27%
1106
-81%
3614
-38%
Score Write
2310
2237
-3%
1925
-17%
444
-81%
1195
-48%
Score Read
2359
1612
-32%
1551
-34%
430
-82%
1637
-31%
Access Time Write *
0.034
0.033
3%
0.03
12%
0.03
12%
0.052
-53%
Access Time Read *
0.033
0.064
-94%
0.03
9%
0.036
-9%
0.076
-130%
4K-64 Write
1966.3
1893.16
-4%
1593.09
-19%
285.03
-86%
971.01
-51%
4K-64 Read
2050.08
1293.69
-37%
1276.31
-38%
342.81
-83%
1351.55
-34%
4K Write
108.53
113.41
4%
126.74
17%
110.16
2%
71.42
-34%
4K Read
50.16
55.51
11%
52.75
5%
35.32
-30%
30.59
-39%
Seq Write
2356.67
2300.21
-2%
2051
-13%
491.62
-79%
1521.84
-35%
Seq Read
2584.93
2630.17
2%
2216
-14%
519.57
-80%
2548.5
-1%
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
7%
-27%
11%
Write 4k QD32
178.1
208.35
17%
270.3
52%
410.2
130%
Read 4k QD32
248.9
296.47
19%
308.8
24%
480.8
93%
Write 4k
92.05
112.56
22%
121.5
32%
77.45
-16%
Read 4k
53.25
52.17
-2%
36.86
-31%
34.36
-35%
Write 512
1863
1979.37
6%
504.1
-73%
1246
-33%
Read 512
1511
1638.73
8%
429.1
-72%
1088
-28%
Write Seq
1949
1839.6
-6%
512.9
-74%
1563
-20%
Read Seq
2073
1858.9
-10%
540.6
-74%
1920
-7%
CrystalDiskMark 5.2 / 6
-22%
-17%
-54%
Write 4K
161.5
100.4
-38%
110
-32%
126.1
-22%
Read 4K
48.27
41.6
-14%
51.48
7%
36.74
-24%
Write Seq
2092
1407
-33%
1828.73
-13%
517.4
-75%
Read Seq
1758
1376
-22%
1837.2
5%
544.7
-69%
Write 4K Q32T1
352.3
279.3
-21%
209.85
-40%
245.6
-30%
Read 4K Q32T1
498.4
343.9
-31%
299.43
-40%
277.5
-44%
Write Seq Q32T1
3216
2442
-24%
2302.5
-28%
526.7
-84%
Read Seq Q32T1
3316
3524
6%
3558.9
7%
556.2
-83%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-19% / -18%
-6% / -7%
-46% / -48%
-16% / -23%

* ... smaller is better

ATTO

The 970 Evo Plus also scored highly in the ATTO benchmark. Unfortunately, we lack comparable values for the 970 Evo and the 970 Pro, which is why we can only compare the 970 Evo Plus against last generation’s 960 Pro.

ATTO also demonstrates the extent to which Samsung has improved write speeds between generations. The 960 Pro can keep up with the 970 Evo Plus on read speeds, it cannot compete with the newer drive’s write speeds though. The differences between the 960 Evo and the 970 Evo Plus are even greater. However, the speed improvements are mainly write-based, with the increases in read speeds being somewhat limited.

ATTO Samsung 970 Plus
ATTO Samsung 970 Plus
ATTO Samsung 960 Pro
ATTO Samsung 960 Pro
ATTO Samsung 960 Evo
ATTO Samsung 960 Evo
Samsung SSD 970 Evo Plus 500 GBSamsung SSD 960 Pro 1TB m.2 NVMeSamsung SSD 960 Evo 250GB m.2 NVMe
ATTO Disk Benchmark
-12%
-22%
8192KB write
3322220
2079890
-37%
1423030
-57%
4096KB write
3322220
2090010
-37%
1423030
-57%
2048KB write
3297730
2090010
-37%
1423030
-57%
1024KB write
3205200
2100230
-34%
1429920
-55%
16KB write
1153140
1102410
-4%
1118800
-3%
8192KB read
2975270
2960680
0%
2990000
0%
4096KB read
2975270
3019900
2%
3099870
4%
2048KB read
2960680
3026480
2%
3154120
7%
1024KB read
2811540
3263860
16%
3173620
13%
16KB read
1173620
1257110
7%
1000960
-15%

PCMark

PCMark 7 and 8 scores are roughly comparable to last generation’s SSDs though. On first glance, the secondary storage scores have changed only marginally between generations, which explains the PCMark scores that has increased slightly. By contrast, raw secondary storage scores have more than doubled compared to the 860 generation.

PCMark 7 Storage 970 Evo Plus
PCMark 7 Storage 970 Evo Plus
PCMark 7 Storage 860 Pro
PCMark 7 Storage 860 Pro
PCMark 7 Storage 860 Evo
PCMark 7 Storage 860 Evo
PCMark 8 Storage 970 Plus
PCMark 8 Storage 970 Plus
Test \ Modell 970 Evo Plus 860 Evo 860 Pro Test \ Modell 970 Evo Plus 860 Evo 860 Pro
PCMark 7

-13%

-21%

PCMark 8

Secondary Storage

5989

5573 -7%

5663 -5%

Storage Score V2

5028

4999 -1%

5007

Raw Sec. Storage

12653

7212 -43%

7914 -37%

Data Compression

There are two notable changes regarding data compression. Firstly, Samsung has made it easier to maintain peak performance constant, at least compared to the 860 Pro. Fluctuations have continued to reduce, and performance drops have declined too.

Moreover, write speeds have increased again. The 960 Pro still achieves faster read speeds, but the new Evo Plus has significantly higher write speeds. Additionally, our screenshots below demonstrate the difference in compression behaviour between the SATA-based 860 Evo and the PCIe-based 970 Evo Plus.

Samsung 970 Evo Plus
Samsung 970 Evo Plus
Samsung 860 Evo
Samsung 860 Evo
Samsung 960 Pro
Samsung 960 Pro

Verdict

The Samsung 970 Evo Plus. Test SSD courtesy of Samsung.
The Samsung 970 Evo Plus. Test SSD courtesy of Samsung.

The Samsung 970 Evo Plus is an even better, cheaper alternative to the 970 Pro than last year’s 970 Evo. The new SSD stands out in almost every aspect compared to its predecessor. Samsung has noticeably improved write speeds, although the improvements in read speeds are less pronounced.

Samsung has improved upon its already market-leading 970 Evo. The 970 Evo Plus leads the way of consumer-grade SSDs and has improved upon its predecessor in all the right places.

The 970 Evo Plus currently costs around €20 (~$23) more than the 970 Evo for all but the 1-TB version. The 970 Evo Plus is a worthy upgrade in our eyes, but the 970 Evo was already a class-leading SSD, so it is still a valid option for most people. It will be interesting to see how prices for the two drives fluctuate with the impending reduction in flash storage costs though.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Samsung 970 Evo Plus SSD (NVMe, M.2) Review
Christian Hintze, 2019-01-22 (Update: 2019-01-23)