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Samsung 960 Pro 1TB

Samsung 960 Pro 1TB

Samsung has spent the past few years at the peak of the consumer SSD market, with every new drive pushing performance forwards and attracting plenty of attention.

The £407 960 Pro 1TB is the latest in Samsung’s line of top-tier SSDs, and it builds on previous products with several significant changes.

The Drive

Samsung was the first firm to introduce 3D V-NAND back in 2015. It was an important development then and has since been mimicked by several other companies, and Samsung has improved it for this drive.

This kind of memory marks a fundamental departure from more conventional SSD designs. Previously, SSDs stacked their transistors in single horizontal layers, but 3D V-NAND introduced vertical layers to drive designs – which means companies like Samsung can build transistors in several layers rather than in just one horizontal plane.

That means that more transistors can be included, but that’s not all. It removes most of the miniaturisation pressure that has previously afflicted conventional SSDs, which means there’s more space for larger, more effective transistors – so they can be faster. They’re more efficient, too, with less chance of electricity leaks because of the more spacious design.

Samsung’s first 3D V-NAND drives used a design with 32 layers, but the 960 Pro improves that to a 48-layer design. That’s allowed Samsung to double the capacity of each die it uses to build the new SSDs – so its drives are now built with 256GB chips rather than 128GB chips.

That means fewer chips, better prices, and higher capacities. We’ve covered the 1TB drive here, but Samsung also sells 512GB and 2TB versions, with prices at £300 and £1,100 respectively.

Samsung hasn’t just improved its 3D V-NAND in the 960 Pro. The firm’s new Polaris controller has five cores rather t han the three-core model included in the previous generation of SSDs, and one of those cores is dedicated to communicating with the host system. The move to five cores means that clock speeds can be reduced across the chip, which helps cut down power consumption and temperatures.

The 960 Pro’s memory – 1GB in this 1TB drive – is now attached to the top of the controller, which saves even more space and electricity. The 512GB drive has 512MB of memory, while the 2TB model has 2GB of DRAM.

There are plenty of changes on the inside, but the 960 Pro looks virtually identical on the outside. The chips sit on one side of the small PCB and there’s a smart sticker. The only addition is a tiny layer of copper to help dissipate heat, and that’s hidden beneath the logo. The 960 Pro is still 80mm long, which means it’ll be compatible with the vast majority of motherboards and laptops.

The 960 Pro comes with a five-year warranty, which matches the Toshiba OCZ RD400 – the Samsung’s keenest rival. The 960 Pro’s 800TB endurance rating is fantastic – twice as much as the equivalent sized 950 Pro, and better than the 592TB rating of the 1TB Toshiba OCZ drive. The 512GB version of the 960 Pro has a 400TB rating, while the 2TB drive increases that to 1,200TB.

Support for SMART and TRIM is included alongside 256-bit AES encryption, with all of those features now standard on high-end consumer SSDs.


Samsung’s improvements have clearly paid off, with the 960 Pro delivering excellent benchmark results.

Its AS SSD sequential read and write speeds of 2,823MB/s and 2,346MB/s are the best we’ve ever seen, and they’re hundreds of megabytes faster than Samsung’s previous-generation 950 Pro.

The new drive continued that good form in small-file tests, with read and write speeds of 1,634MB/s and 1,138MB/s in a 4K-64 threaded benchmark – again, miles better than the vast majority of drives on the market.

The 960 Pro bolstered those results in CrystalDiskMark, where it returned read and write speeds of 3,454MB/s and 2,157MB/s – another set of record breaking results. Its small-file read and write results of 1,297MB/s and 684MB/s aren’t the best we’ve measured, but they’re right up there – only a handful of drives have proved quicker. Once again, the 960 Pro easily beats its predecessor.

The Atto Disk Benchmark is a good test for performance across more than a dozen file sizes, and it’s no surprise that the 960 Pro performed well. Its 8KB read and write speeds of 368MB/s and 358MB/s were occasionally beaten by other drives, but the Samsung quickly accelerated, and its 8MB speeds of 3,280MB/s and 2,100MB/s are table-toppers. The nearest competition is the Toshiba OCZ RD400, which is an M.2 SSD installed on a PCI-Express card – but that drive could only manage speeds of 2,704MB/s and 1,664MB/s in the same test.

Our final test, IOMeter, saw the 960 Pro deliver an overall result of 21,540 I/Os per second. That’s the second-best score we’ve ever seen, and it’s miles better than most other drives on the market.


The 960 Pro is faster than most drives on the market in almost every benchmark – even when it’s beaten by the Toshiba OCZ drive, it’s only in a handful of tests and it’s never far behind. The 960 Pro pairs its stunning pace with impressive consistency, too, which is another area where it beats the RD400 – that drive was slower than the Samsung in more tests.

Samsung’s drive has a solid warranty, a better endurance rating than the RD400, and it’s cheaper than the Toshiba – the 1TB version of the RD400 still retails for more than £550.

The 960 Pro is a high-end product that breaks several benchmark records while proving cheaper than its rival. That said, this is still an expensive product that delivers speed that few people will truly need or notice. Cheaper SSDs will certainly get the job done, then – but if money is no object and you only care about speed, the 960 Pro is the SSD to buy.

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Samsung 960 Pro 1TB
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Mike Jennings

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