Samsung SM951-NVMe RAID Review

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As far as most of you are concerned, Samsung's SM951-NVMe and 950 Pro are equals through our benchmarking suite. The retail 950 Pro enjoys a couple of advantages that the SM951-NVMe overcomes with a more aggressive price. To begin, the 950 Pro is backed by a longer warranty straight from Samsung. Its endurance rating is also higher, thanks to V-NAND technology.

If you're to look past its more conservative specifications, resellers need to price the SM951 competitively. We should see some great values from vendors who ordered their SM951s before the retail NVMe models launched. Given the long lead time, there could be quite a few drives sitting in warehouses.

RAID 0 is a popular approach to boosting storage performance among enthusiasts. It crossed over from the enterprise segment nearly two decades ago, and not long after, companies started designing products built specifically for consumer-grade RAID. PCIe storage for consumers, along with object- and software-defined storage for enterprise, will be the end of hardware RAID. Intel added PCIe RAID to its Z170 PCH, extending the practice a bit longer, but this is its last hurrah—at least for now. At some point, Intel may give its enthusiast customer more PCI Express connectivity, and an innovative company will find a way to bind PCIe drives via hardware again. A start-up called Liqid is working on the technology and publicly displayed a prototype with Kingston in 2015. The problem with using products like that is the number of PCIe lanes consumed to make hardware RAID effective with modern PCIe-based SSD storage.

RAID 0 does have another advantage over single drives, beyond performance. Samsung doesn't have a 1TB M.2 SSD, and it won't until new 48-layer V-NAND is ready later this quarter. RAID gives you access to 1TB bootable volumes when you strap two 512GB models together. That can increase to 1.5TB on some motherboards with three available slots.

RAID 5 s also an option, insulating you from a single drive failure. Intel rolled RAID 5 support into Z170 as well. Three SSDs in RAID 5 yield a high-performance 1TB array with the added assurance of fault tolerance. I personally think RAID 5 is the most intriguing option, but the cost of entry is high because you need three drives and a motherboard that supports as many M.2 SSDs.

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Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Storage. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

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Chris Ramseyer
Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews consumer storage.