Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSD Review: More Layers Brings More Performance

Why you can trust Tom's Hardware Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

2TB Performance Results

Comparison Products

Today we pit the 2TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus against a few other 2TB-class competitors, as well as the highest-capacity Intel Optane SSD we have in our lab. We have the MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro, which boasts a Phison E12 NVMe controller and 64-Layer Toshiba TLC flash, along with the HP SSD EX950 that comes armed with Silicon Motion’s SM2262EN NVMe controller and Micron’s 64-Layer TLC flash. We also included the Samsung 970 PRO, but unlike the 970 EVO Plus, it comes in the highest capacity of just 1TB because it boasts faster MLC V-NAND. And, for fun, we added a 1.5TB Intel Optane SSD 905P, one of the fastest and most expensive storage devices in the market, as well as a 1TB SATA Samsung 860 EVO.

Game Scene Loading - Final Fantasy XIV

The Final Fantasy XIV StormBlood benchmark is a free real-world game benchmark that easily and accurately compares game load times without the inaccuracy of using a stopwatch.

The Intel Optane 905P is probably the fastest SSD you can buy for game loading, but regular flash-based NVMe SSDs still put up a good fight. The 2TB 970 EVO Plus delivers a fast load time of just under 19 seconds. This is a bit faster than the 2TB MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro and the 860 EVO, but the EVO Plus isn’t quite as fast as the Samsung 970 PRO or HP SSD EX950, both of which boast slightly faster random burst performance.

Transfer Rates – DiskBench

We use the DiskBench storage benchmarking tool to test file transfer performance with our own custom 50GB block of data. Our data set includes 31,227 files of various types, like pictures, PDFs, and videos. We copy the files to a new folder and then follow up with a reading test of a newly-written 6 GB file.

Transferring and copying files to and from the 970 EVO Plus happens very quickly. Thanks to its high sustained sequential performance, it outranked the Intel Optane SSD 905P. The 970 EVO Plus took first place in both our copy and read test, outperforming every comparison drive in our test pool.

Trace Testing – PCMark 8 Storage Test 2.0

PCMark 8 is a trace-based benchmark that uses Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, World of Warcraft, and Battlefield 3 to measure the performance of storage devices in real-world scenarios.

Samsung’s 2TB 970 EVO Plus scored a respectable 5,098 points and averaged 670MB/s in the PCMark 8 storage test. Again, it ranks ahead of the BPX Pro but falls into fourth place, behind the Intel 905P, HP SSD EX950, and Samsung 970 PRO. However, the Samsung 970 EVO Plus is more than enough for most average home and office applications. Overall, it delivers a fairly speedy experience that is dramatically better than any HDD.

Trace Testing – SPECworkstation 3

Like PCMark 8, SPECworkstation 3 is a trace-based benchmark, but it is designed to push the system harder by measuring workstation performance in professional applications. The full suite consists of more than 30 workloads, but we've opted to only run the storage benchmark which uses only 15 of them and categorizes the results into five market segments for scoring: Media & Entertainment, Product Development, Life Sciences, Energy, and General Operations.

The massive write performance and Samsung’s optimized firmware help propel the 970 EVO Plus to third place during heavy workloads. Performance isn’t too far off from the 970 PROs, but NAND still can’t touch Optane’s ultra-low response times, which takes the lead in this test. The 2TB 970 EVO Plus is a great choice if you are looking for a cost-effective workstation upgrade.

Synthetics - ATTO

ATTO is a simple and free application that SSD vendors commonly use to assign sequential performance specifications to their products. It also gives us insight into how the device handles different file sizes.

Samsung’s 970 EVO Plus hits 3.5GB/s during sequential reads and comes in just behind the 970 PRO. With speeds of over 3.3GB/s during the sequential write test, it ranks as the fastest-writing SSD we have in our comparison pool.  

Synthetics - Iometer

Iometer is an advanced and highly configurable storage benchmarking tool that vendors often use to measure the performance of their devices.

Like we saw in ATTO, Samsung’s 970 EVO Plus’s sequential performance beats the best of them. The drive peaked at 3.5/3.3GB/s of sequential read/write throughput, landing in first place. Random performance is also solid, but not quite as good as the HP’s or 970 PROs, which explains why they outpace the EVO Plus in game loading and other light application benchmarks. 

Sustained Sequential Write Performance

Official write specifications are only part of the performance picture. Most SSD makers implement an SLC cache buffer, which is a fast area of SLC-programmed flash that absorbs incoming data. Sustained write speeds can suffer tremendously once the workload spills outside of the SLC cache and into the "native" TLC or QLC flash. We use Iometer to hammer the SSD with sequential writes for 15 minutes to measure both the size of the SLC buffer and performance after the buffer is saturated.

The 2TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus features a pseudo-SLC write cache that is double the capacity of the 1TB model. After saturating it with 84GB of writes, the native direct-to-TLC write speed measures at a very high 1.7GB/s. This is 700MB/s faster on average than the Phison E12-powered BPX Pro, and outpaces the HP SSD EX950 once it’s SLC cache is saturated. However, while the Samsung 970 EVO Plus outperforms the HP SSD EX950 for the first 30 seconds and overall, the EX950's larger dynamic SLC performance is still quite competitive and actually pushes out higher write speeds for the first five minutes of the test.

Power Consumption

We use the Quarch HD Programmable Power Module to gain a deeper understanding of power characteristics. Idle power consumption is a very important aspect to consider, especially if you're looking for a new drive for your laptop. Some SSDs can consume watts of power at idle while better-suited ones sip just milliwatts. Average workload power consumption and max consumption are two other aspects of power consumption, but performance-per-watt is more important. A drive might consume more power during any given workload, but accomplishing a task faster allows the drive to drop into an idle state faster, which ultimately saves power.

With the third-lowest average power consumption and the fastest file transfer speed we have come across in a 2TB-class SSD, Samsung’s 970 EVO Plus rockets to first place on our efficiency chart. Max power consumption is well managed, peaking at 6.19W, and idle power consumption dips as low as 30mW, which is on par with the 1TB Samsung 860 EVO. Overall, these are pretty good results. 


MORE: How We Test HDDs And SSDs

MORE: All SSD Content

Sean Webster
Storage Reviewer

Sean is a Contributing Editor at Tom’s Hardware US, covering storage hardware.

  • Talwyn Wize
    I do wish you'd compared it to the 960, though, so we could see the improvement in comparison to its previous generation.
  • kiniku
    And the 970 Pro.
  • seanwebster
    21702521 said:
    I do wish you'd compared it to the 960, though, so we could see the improvement in comparison to its previous generation.

    21702550 said:
    And the 970 Pro.

    Unfortunately, I do not have access to either. I did get to borrow a 1TB 970 PRO temporarily for testing, so that is included, but not the 512GB model.
  • TCA_ChinChin
    I've heard from some other sources that it's faster than the 970 pro (in some cases?).
  • Onus
    So, Samsung too has switched to the lower-endurance TLC...
  • seanwebster
    21702700 said:
    I've heard from some other sources that it's faster than the 970 pro (in some cases?).
    Check out the 1TB charts on the third page of the review. In the 50GB copy and 6GB read tests, SYSmark, and game load test it out performs it.

    21702858 said:
    So, Samsung too has switched to the lower-endurance TLC...
    As end products both the 970 EVO and EVO Plus feature the same exact endurance rating. They have been using TLC in the EVO line up for years now.
  • mac_angel
    I'm curious if they've made it compatible with PCIe gen 4 with a firmware upgrade. Little odd to be coming out with a PCIe gen3 product when the gen 4 was ratified last summer.
  • mdd1963
    sticking with my 960 EVO for the life of the rig, as it is only 2 years old and counting...
  • ArmadaCas
    Does anyone know if this SAMSUNG 970 EVO PLUS (1TB) will run in an ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming with an i7 6700k..? The documentation for the mobo mentions M.2, but not NVME, so I'm kinda lost.
  • J Lock
    Nothing about temps. Crazy!