Samsung has rather recently released two new series of NVMe SSD drives that fit into the M.2 slot – the ultrafast 960 Pro and it’s slightly slower, and also quite a bit cheaper, cousin 960 Evo. I decided to plug in both into a Skull Canyon NUC just to see how well they work and if there are significant differences between them. The point of the article was not to make a comprehensive benchmarking between these two SSD drives as that’s something that sites like AnandTech have already done in a very thorough way.
Both the Evo and the Pro are using Samsung’s Polaris controller and V-NAND memory chips. However, there is a difference in the chips used between these two models. The TLC chips used in the 960 Evo have a shorter lifespan than the MLC chips used in the 960 Pro series. When I say lifespan, I mean how many time a certain cell on the disk can be written on to. Samsung guarantees the 960 Evo for 3 years and the 960 Pro for 5 years.
Installation and Compatibility
Samsung sent me the 960 Pro in a 512GB version and the 960 Evo in a 250GB version. I installed both drives into the same NUC6i7KYK, which is also known as the Skull Canyon NUC. Windows 10 installation on the 960 Pro was uneventful and the system booted up in no time. I did install the Samsung NVMe driver and the Samsung Magician software.
Samsung Magician is a small piece of software that monitors the state of your Samsung SSD drive. It reported that I was running the latest available firmware version for both drives and that they were healthy. And indeed, the drives themself seemed to work just fine without any issues.
There’s no need to beat around the bush: both these drives are ridiculously fast. I did first see what the Samsung Magician had to say about the performance. Figures were impressive: more than 3 GB/sec read performance is approximately 5-6 times faster than anything connected to a SATA bus can give.
However, I’d expect the Samsung drives to perform well when tested with an app by Samsung. Next I fired up the trusty old CrystalDiskMark. First the 960 Pro:
The sequential read and write figures are probably better than those of any other drive available on the market right now.
Next up is the 960 Evo:
Yes, the 960 Pro is faster in most of the tests, but the 960 Evo puts up a very good show anyhow. It’s interesting to notice that in the random 4k write tests the 960 Evo is actually a bit faster.
The Samsung 960 Evo and the 960 Pro NVMe SSD drives are pretty much the fastest SSD drives you can buy at the moment. If you’ve got the need for speed and want absolutely the best drive on the market by all means splurge for an 960 Pro. For everyone else looking for a really fast SSD I’d recommend the 960 Evo instead. I really could not observe any practical difference between these two drives in daily use.
The 960 Evo in the 250GB size retails currently for $117.99 on Amazon and is quite a good deal. You might even find it a bit cheaper if you look around. It is available in 512GB and 1TB variants as well.