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

Samsung's new 970 EVO Plus replaces the ever-popular 970 EVO as its mainstream NVMe SSD for tech enthusiasts, hardcore gamers, and professionals. Samsung equipped the SSD with its new V5 flash, which provides a nice bump in performance up to 3.5 GB/s of sequential read throughput. The drive also boasts hardware encryption support, a five-year warranty, and up to 1,200TBW of endurance. Better yet, it will land on shelves at the same price points as its predecessor. Overall, the 970 EVO Plus is one of the fastest SSDs we've tested, so it easily gains our recommendation.

The 3D NAND craze began in 2013. Since then, it has been a race to see who can push the layers the highest, deliver the highest density, and, of course, offer the best performance. Last year, IMFT (Intel/Micron), Flash Forward (Toshiba/SanDisk), and SK Hynix all announced their 96-layer NAND that offers improved speed and density over 64-layer parts.

Unlike their competitors that have already announced 96-layer 3D NAND, Samsung hasn’t announced the exact number of layers in its V5 V-NAND. That's strange given the company's typical transparency and in-depth performance and hardware specifications.

Samsung does say that its latest 9x-layer flash operates at much faster speeds than its 64-layer predecessor and features a low 1.2V I/O rating. The new flash also supports the Toggle 4.0 interface, operates at 1.4GT/s, and comes with a 256Gb die density for the 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB 970 EVO Plus models. A 2TB model will come later, bringing with it a 512Gb die. 

The new 9x-layer V-NAND, combined with the 970 EVO Plus's firmware optimizations, improves random write performance significantly and gives the SSD a slight boost in random read performance, too. Sequential write speeds also increased by 800MB/s.

Samsung’s 970 EVO Plus can dish out up to 3.5GB/s of sequential read performance and up to a staggering 3.3GB/s write. It also delivers up to 620,000/560,000 random read/write IOPS.

Samsung SSD 970 EVO Plus
Capacity
250 GB
500 GB
1 TB
TurboWrite Capacity
Default
4 GB
4 GB
6 GB
Intelligent
9 GB
18 GB
36 GB
Total
13 GB
22 GB
42 GB
Sequential Write
Performance (Up to)
TurboWrite
2,300 MB/s
3,200 MB/s
3,300 MB/s
After TurboWrite
400 MB/s
900 MB/s
1,700 MB/s

The 970 EVO Plus's write performance varies based on how much data lands in the TurboWrite cache, which is a small section of faster SLC-programmed flash that's used to boost performance. Samsung's EVO Plus has both a default TurboWrite cache capacity, which doesn't change regardless of conditions, and an Intelligent TurboWrite region that varies in size depending on the model and the amount of free space on the drive.

For instance, the 1TB model provides 6GB of TurboWrite capacity. Beyond that, Intelligent TurboWrite steps in and scales up to an additional 36GB if you have enough free space on the drive.

Given the limited size of the TurboWrite cache, some large file transfers and workloads will land in the slower TLC flash. Even with the new NAND interface operating 40 percent faster than it did with V4 V-NAND, direct-to-TLC writes are still slower than the Intelligent TurboWrite region. But Samsung also improved the write performance of the TLC flash, which helps reduce the impact in those conditions. Samsung provides performance specifications for both TurboWrite and "after TurboWrite" performance, as listed in the chart above.

Specifications

ProductSamsung 970 EVO Plus 250GBSamsung 970 EVO Plus 500GBSamsung 970 EVO Plus 1TBSamsung 970 EVO Plus 2TB
Pricing$89.99 $129.99 $249.99 N/A
Capacity (User / Raw)250GB / 256GB500GB / 512GB1000GB / 1024GB2000GB / 2048GB
Form FactorM.2 2280 Single-SidedM.2 2280 Single-SidedM.2 2280 Single-SidedM.2 2280 Single-Sided
Interface / ProtocolPCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3
ControllerSamsung PhoenixSamsung PhoenixSamsung PhoenixSamsung Phoenix
DRAM512MB Samsung LPDDR4512MB Samsung LPDDR41GB Samsung LPDDR42GB Samsung LPDDR4
MemorySamsung 9x-layer V-NAND TLCSamsung 9x-layer V-NAND TLCSamsung 9x-layer V-NAND TLCSamsung 9x-layer V-NAND TLC
Sequential Read3,500 MB/s3,500 MB/s3,500 MB/s3,500 MB/s
Sequential Write2,300 MB/s3,200 MB/s3,300 MB/s3,300 MB/s
Random Read250,000 IOPS480,000 IOPS600,000 IOPS 620,000 IOPS
Random Write550,000 IOPS550,000 IOPS550,000 IOPS 560,000 IOPS
EncryptionClass 0 (256-bit FDE), TCG Opal 2.0, Microsoft eDriveClass 0 (256-bit FDE), TCG Opal 2.0, Microsoft eDriveClass 0 (256-bit FDE), TCG Opal 2.0, Microsoft eDriveClass 0 (256-bit FDE), TCG Opal 2.0, Microsoft eDrive
Endurance150 TBW300 TBW600 TBW1,200 TBW
Part NumberMZ-V7S250MZ-V7S500MZ-V7S1T0MZ-V7S2T0
Warranty5-Years5-Years5-Years5-Years

Samsung’s 970 EVO Plus comes in the same capacities as the previous 970 EVO, but the 2TB model won’t arrive until mid-April. Samsung hasn't announced its pricing. The 500GB and 1TB models retail for roughly $0.25-$0.26-per-GB. The 250GB model comes in at a premium $0.32-per-GB.

As it was with the predecessor, the new 970 EVO Plus features a five-year warranty and boasts the same impressive endurance ratings. The drive even comes with hardware encryption that is compatible with Windows BitLocker, at no extra charge. It also supports secure erase so you can quickly and securely clear the drive of all stored data.

Software

Unlike most SSDs, Samsung’s NVMe SSDs feature an optional driver download that helps to improve performance over the default Windows NVMe driver slightly. It also helps ensure compatibility with older Windows operating systems, like Windows 7.

You can use Samsung’s Magician and Data Migration software to monitor, benchmark, and even clone your existing drive’s data to your new Samsung SSD. At the time of writing, however, the latest version of Magician (v5.3) doesn't support the 970 EVO Plus yet.

A Closer Look

The Samsung 970 EVO Plus communicates with the host over a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface using the NVMe 1.3 protocol. It features the same Phoenix controller as its predecessor, the 970 EVO. All models come in an M.2 2280 single-sided form factor, including the 2TB drive, thus ensuring broad compatibility with notebooks.

The Plus model comes equipped with all the same advanced thermal control features as the 970 EVO. The firm also added a nickel coating on the Phoenix controller and a thin copper film on the back of the PCB to help dissipate heat efficiently. Samsung's Dynamic Thermal Guard, a thermal throttling algorithm, will slow performance if the drive gets too hot. The EVO Plus model comes with a revamped Dynamic Thermal Guard implementation that Samsung says can transfer 86 percent more data (134GB) during sequential writes before throttling kicks in.

As mentioned earlier, Samsung's V5 TLC V-NAND with 256Gb dies powers the SSD. After formatting in Windows, the 500GB and 1TB models have 465GB or 931.5GB of usable space, respectively.

MORE: Best SSDs

MORE: How We Test HDDs And SSDs

MORE: All SSD Content

23 comments
    Your comment
  • 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
    2354409 said:
    I do wish you'd compared it to the 960, though, so we could see the improvement in comparison to its previous generation.


    229774 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
    1912839 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.

    47340 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!
  • seanwebster
    169108 said:
    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.


    "As with previous specifications of PCIe, PCIe 4.0 will be fully backward-compatible, so devices designed for earlier specifications will still operate correctly with the new technology."

    -> https://www.microsemi.com/product-directory/storage/5439-pci-express-4-0-pcie-gen4

    2004062 said:
    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.

    Yes, it will. The M.2 slot runs at PCIe 3.0 x4 interface speeds and has a new UEFI with NVMe support, so it is compatible.
  • Rob_54
    2004062 said:
    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.


    A quick google say your mobo is PCIe 3.0 x4 so yes, it will work properly with a NVMe M.2 SSD.
  • epobirs
    169108 said:
    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.


    What would be the point? It's going to be a good while before PCIe 4.0 is a significant market for consumer products. Samsung will likely be on to another product generation by that time. They'll probably want a good spread of engineering samples from motherboard makers to test with before launching PCIe 4.0 products.

    There's also the practice of minimizing the number of new technologies implemented in a single product to avoid problems. I recall a GPU maker who got badly bitten when they tried to combine a new architecture launch with a process node shrink. It went badly and gave their rival the market lead for a year or so. The rival had chosen to do their new architecture on the node they already knew well, even though it meant a BIG chip. It turned out to be the better choice.
  • TzunnyNIB
    Hello,
    just purchased this today and it's a failure, it should be faster not slower than norma 970 evo version... o_O
    Any sugestions?
    That's M.2 version...

    [MEDIA=imgur]lxdRhW0[/MEDIA]
    View: https://i.imgur.com/lxdRhW0.jpg
  • TJ Hooker
    Quote:
    Hello, just purchased this today and it's a failure, it should be faster not slower than norma 970 evo version... o_O Any sugestions? That's M.2 version...

    Should probably just start your own thread for this, but...
    What motherboard and CPU do you have?
  • TJ Hooker
    Which M.2 slot is the SSD in?
  • TzunnyNIB
    Quote:
    Which M.2 slot is the SSD in?

    Both are occupied, both ssd's are M.2.
    EVO Plus is in the bottom slot, while the EVO basic is in the slot under the CPU
  • TJ Hooker
    Bottom slot is only PCIe x2 rather than x4.
  • TzunnyNIB
    Sorry, but i'm a bit of noob. That means: any ssd i put there (if i swap them is useless i guess) will have half of the listed speeds from specifications?
    So the ssd is ok but the mobo slot doesn't allow him it to run full mode?!

    Is there a mobo for Ryzen 7 which to have 2 * M.2 slots that to run in full mode?

    And thank you very much for the help sir!
  • TJ Hooker
    Pretty much.

    I don't know of any Ryzen mobo that has two M.2 slots that are both 3.0 x4 off the top of my head. You'd probably have to get an M.2 add in card adapter so you could put the SSD in a PCIe slot. But your graphic card would drop down to x8 from x16 in that case.
  • TzunnyNIB
    Reducing gpu from x16 to x8 afffects performance or what actually affects?
  • TJ Hooker
    For gaming the impact of dropping down to x8 is small to non existent in most cases.