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Samsung 970 Pro Review

Samsung 970 Pro Review

Samsung 970 Pro review 1The Samsung 970 Pro is the latest SSD from the modern kings of solid-state storage. There aren’t any bigger names in this part of the market than the Korean giant, and its latest drive refresh clearly aims to cement Samsung’s position at the top of the market. However, there’s a lot of strong competition – including from Samsung itself – and the 970 Pro is an expensive product. Can this latest drive justify its cost of £189 in the UK and $230 in the US? Our Samsung 970 Pro review will find out.

Samsung 970 Pro Review – Design

The Samsung 970 Pro takes the firm’s familiar SSD design and refines the hardware in a handful of key areas.

The new five-core Phoenix controller powers the drive. Four of those cores fling files around the drive. The fifth communicates with the 970 Pro’s host system.

The five-core controller makes sense. It reduces electrical consumption and heat because having more cores mean that clock speeds can be lower.

Elsewhere, the efficient Phoenix controller is paired with 1GB of its own cache – and 256-bit encryption that works with Microsoft eDrive.

Samsung 970 Pro review 5The controller manages Samsung’s stunning 3D V-NAND. This kind of memory stacks transistors in vertical layers in order to include more transistors in their drives. It eliminates the capacity issues that arise when transistors are only stacked horizontally. In the 970 Pro, Samsung has updated its 3D V-NAND to use 64 different layers.

The more plentiful and spacious transistor design means that the Samsung 970 Pro won’t be afflicted by as many electrical leakage issues as before. It also means that Samsung can use MLC memory in this drive, rather than TLC memory. That move is  more luxurious in terms of cost and potentially punitive in terms of lifespan. However, it should also ensure better performance.

Samsung hasn’t rested on its laurels when it comes to the memory in the 970 Pro, either. Samsung has reduced the input voltage of its memory chips, which it says increases energy efficiency by 30% when compared to the Samsung 960 Pro.

Alongside that, Samsung also says that the 970 Pro’s reliability has been improved by 20% because of changes to materials inside the drive.

In short, then, the Samsung 970 Pro doesn’t bring any revolutions to the table, but it does evolve the existing design with more layers, more efficiency and more reliability. All of those improvements should deliver a boost when compared to last year’s model.

The 970 Pro even has a better endurance rating than its predecessor. The 512GB model that we’ve reviewed is rated for 600TB of write endurance, with the 1TB offering 1,200TB of write endurance. The same models of the 960 Pro delivered 400TB and 800TB ratings.

Samsung 970 Pro review 5 Samsung 970 Pro review 5 Samsung 970 Pro review 5There have been plenty of revisions on the inside, then, but no big changes on the outside. The key chips are still installed on one side of the NVMe board. A familiar layer of copper is installed in Samsung’s branding sticker to improve heat distribution.

The 512GB version of the Samsung 970 Pro costs £189 or $230. The 1TB version costs £380 or $560. A five-year warranty protects both drives.

They’re high prices, and may come into conflict when compared with the Samsung 970 Evo. That drive costs £147 or $198 for a 500GB model, and £290 or $380 for a 1TB version.

The Evo also has more versatility alongside those lower prices. There’s a 250GB version available for just £86 or $116, and a vast 2TB model for £590 or $750.

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Samsung 970 Pro Review – Performance

The Samsung 970 Pro justifies its high price by delivering class-leading performance in the majority of benchmarks.

Its sequential read and write speeds of 3,568MB/s and 2,339MB/s in CrystalDiskMark are fantastic, and its 4Kb Q8T8 speeds of 1,380MB/s and 1,773MB/s are the best we’ve seen.

The Samsung 970 Pro also led the way in CrystalDiskMark’s 4Kb Q1T1 test, which indicates great performance with small files.

That trend continued in ATTO Disk Benchmark. In this test, the Samsung 970 Pro took the lead in most of our small file tests. Importantly, it accelerated to fast read and write speeds at a better pace than the 970 Evo. It also did this at more than twice the speed of last year’s 960 Pro.

The Samsung 970 Pro is faster than the Samsung 960 Pro in the vast majority of benchmarks. That’s good, and it proves that Samsung’s drive changes have worked well.

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that there often isn’t much of a performance gap between the 970 Pro and the cheaper 970 Evo – and in file-writing tests in Crystal and ATTO, the 970 Evo is sometimes a little faster.

Samsung 970 Pro Review – Conclusion

The Samsung 970 Pro is one of the fastest SSDs we’ve ever tested. It’s record-breaking in numerous benchmarks and, even when other drives are quicker, it’s never far behind.

It has exceptional endurance ratings too. The five-year warranty is a welcome addition that matches the rest of the market.

There’s no doubt, though, that the 970 Pro is a high-performance drive that suffers from diminishing returns. If you have a high-end PC for creative applications or workstation tools, then it’s worth paying the extra cash to get the fastest SSD around. For the vast majority of people, though, the 970 Evo is a better option – it’s almost as quick and it’s a little cheaper.

The Samsung 970 Pro costs £189 in the UK and $230 in the USDiscuss our Samsung 970 Pro review on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or go deep with our ultimate guide to 4K monitors – covering the technology, the terms and our top recommendations!  

The Good:

  • Consistently quick speeds
  • Great endurance rating
  • Five-year warranty

The Bad:

  • Cheaper 970 Evo is occasionally faster
  • The price means diminishing returns
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Samsung 970 Pro

About Author

Mike Jennings

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