Samsung 960 Pro SSD Review

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The Samsung 960 Pro M.2 NVMe SSD is here, but I'm not ready to have a party just yet. Unfortunately, the Pro series has moved out of reach for most users. The SATA Pro and new 960 Pro NVMe SSDs are expensive, and it appears that the gap between mainstream and premium SSD products is growing every day. We removed the 850 Pro and SanDisk Extreme Pro from our latest Best SSDs article update due to their high price point. The new high-end for consumers is the EVO series, and that product line still costs significantly more than the competing entry-level drives on the market.

That leaves the Samsung 960 Pro with little appeal for enthusiasts and power users. Samsung has delivered a product with so much advanced technology and performance over competing products that it has become a professional series, and it has the price to match. Users shouldn't buy the 960 Pro for gaming, although the large 2TB capacity would hold all (or a good portion) of your Steam library. If you get paid for running professional applications with Adobe, Sony Vegas, or other heavy workloads, then the 960 Pro's price becomes much less of an issue.

For most users, the forthcoming 960 EVO will be a better product. It should deliver the same real-world application performance for consumer workloads, and the pricing will be significantly better. Samsung announced both the 960 Pro and EVO at the same event, but the 960 Pro is in our hands, and the 960 EVO is currently just a paper launch.

We are still not sure what to think about the full-disk encryption scheme Samsung has with the new 960 series. The drive features full disk hardware encryption with 256-bit AES, but it only supports TCG Opal at launch. TCG Opal is only effective with third-party add-on software that you have to buy separately. We have a document from Samsung that states, "IEEE1667 is under consideration." IEEE1667 is also known as eDrive, which is Microsoft's trademark for its widespread encryption technology that ships with many of its operating systems. eDrive is more prevalent and accessible for our readers, and for products sold as upgrade components.

We don't want to take away from what Samsung achieved with the 960 Pro. Over the years, we've talked about the importance of vertical integration, and Samsung put on a clinic showing why it's important to have control of DRAM, NAND, and controller technology. Samsung is the only company that makes all three of these key components in house. Micron is close with DRAM and NAND, and it even has some acquired controller technology from the Tidal Systems deal, but we've yet to see anything as a result.

Samsung really proved that it doesn't matter if you have the tools, it's how you put them together to make a finished product. The 960 Pro represents SSD mastery with the best components available sewn together by steady hands. We shouldn't be surprised; Samsung has held a technology and product advantage with the Pro series since 2012. I wouldn't hold my breath for a competitor to achieve equal footing any time soon.

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Chris Ramseyer
Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews consumer storage.
  • ryguybuddy
    Wow! that is some high speeds, but is so much more than the Evo for so little improvment.
  • HistoryBuff44
    i wouldnt say it is little improvement over EVO @RYGUYBUDDY. I'm curious what the new driver will do for it. however i do agree with the author's conclusion, it is a lot of money that, if the disk performance isn't 'needed', could be better used by putting it into a higher performing graphics card.
    However, if money isn't a factor then ... :)
  • turkey3_scratch
    IMO speeds are way fast enough for consumers anyway. .1 second vs .04 doesn't matter in most cases. What really needs to be fixed is slow Internet that still daunts first-world countries like America, waiting 5 seconds for a page to load is unacceptable IMO.
  • Ben Van Deventer
    Why does NO professional hardware reviewer EVER compare GAME load times between HDD / Sata SSD / PCI-E SSD? That's what everyone wants to know at the enthusiast end of the storage market; does it make sense to upgrade. Why is this never addressed?
  • Olaf_Metal
    You can find some sata ssd load times over here:,4695-3.html

    You would have to dig a bit more for HDD times, but its safe to say the difference between the fastest hdd and the slowest ssd is going to be large.

    I'm curious if they have ever run any raided ssds through the load time benches. I know raid is supposed to be a negligible benefit but pcie looks a bit negligible in that department also.
  • shrapnel_indie
    PCIe adds some great speed improvements, NMVe on top of that adds more. However, most of the time, a user may never notice. Why? when working with small files, the time difference is also much smaller, and thus, not nearly as noticeable.

    That said, with some system boards not adding the capability for SATA on the M.2 port, or even at a U.2 port, you don't have a choice other than sticking with the standard SATA interface you optical drives and HHD and HDDs connect to.

    Game load times are part data load, and part setting up the scene and the other resources for the level. Depending on the game engine, data load times may or may not be a major factor in load times.
  • philipemaciel
    How better is this than a SATA SSD (say, 1TB 850 PRO) in real life applications? Would it be worth the upgrade?

    For many readers it would be useful to add a high end SATA SSD to future articles.
  • elbert
    I want to 960 EVO 250GB for $129. Cant wait for one of those bad boys. Pre-release link.
  • littleleo
    I never thought of M.2 as a Highend workstation or sever spec model but it seems that is what Samsung is intending with this 2TB model. Just a bit too much for 90% of the market.
  • RedJaron
    18745160 said:
    Why does NO professional hardware reviewer EVER compare GAME load times between HDD / Sata SSD / PCI-E SSD? That's what everyone wants to know at the enthusiast end of the storage market; does it make sense to upgrade. Why is this never addressed?
    Did you not look at the benchmarks? PCMark now includes a WoW and BF3 load test ( FutureMark added that at Chris' request, no less ). We talked about this on the Hellfire thread.

    Bottom line, we already know a HDD is orders of magnitude slower than flash media. Also, despite differences in theoretical IOPS limits between SSDs, most perform very similarly in real-world applications. Finally, not all games will benefit from SSDs depending on non-skippable splash screens and loading animations. The ones that do don't show an appreciable difference between different SSDs.