- Solid performance throughout
- Good small-file write speeds
- Far more affordable than 960 Pro
- Shorter warranty period than high-end Pro
- 250GB, 500GB, 1TB available
- M.2 form factor
- 3-year warranty
- 100TB, 200TB or 400TB data warranty
- Manufacturer: Samsung
- Review Price: £140.00
WHAT IS THE SAMSUNG 960 EVO 250GB?
Samsung’s SSD follow a familiar pattern. The Pro version of the drive offers the best performance and specifications, but it’s accompanied by a breathtakingly high price.
Instead, it pays to wait for the Evo version of the drive. These usually feature slightly cut back performance levels but at a more palatable price. Note, however, that Samsung’s slightly cut back specification will still translate to a supremely competitive product.
SAMSUNG 960 EVO 250GB – DESIGN AND FEATURES
The 960 Evo is the latest drive to conform to that strategy. The biggest change here – and the biggest cost saving, I’d imagine – comes with the use of TLC NAND rather than 3D V-NAND.
This type of memory doesn’t use many of the breakthroughs seen in Samsung’s flagship drives, which means it’s slightly slower and can often use more power. It’s still 48-layered memory that comes in 256GB dies, which means each slab of silicon has twice the capacity of last year’s chips.
Samsung has tried to negate the inclusion of cheaper TLC memory by introducing a new process called Intelligent TurboWrite. This feature portions off part of the SSD and uses it like SLC memory, which is more resource-intensive than TLC but faster when writing files, at least initially
Depending on the capacity of the drive, the 960 Evo slices off a permanent partition of 4GB-6GB for its TurboWrite technology, with up to 36GB available to be used dynamically.
The NAND is different, but the 960 Evo’s controller remains the same as the 960 Pro. This means an upgrade from three cores to five, with one core devoted to host system communication. The 1TB drive is served by 1GB of memory, while the two smaller drives have 512MB of DDR3 – an ample amount.
In other areas, the 960 Evo has been cut back. There’s no 2TB drive, for instance – just 1TB, 500GB and 250GB capacities. The endurance ratings have taken a hit, too: those three capacities are rated for 400TB, 200TB and 100TB. They’re absolutely fine, but they’re lower than the 960 Pro, and also lower than the equivalent ratings on last year’s 950 Pro drives.
Similarly, the warranty is a three-year deal. That’s fine, but Pro drives offer lengthier coverage.
On the plus side, the 960 Evo’s prices are far more palatable. The 250GB version that I’ve reviewed costs £140, the 500GB model is £279, and the 1TB drive is £470.
That puts the 960 Evo in competition with more affordable M.2 drives such as the 256GB version of the Toshiba OCZ RD400, which costs about £20 more than the 960 Evo. That’s far more reasonable an outlay than the 960 Pro, which didn’t have a 250GB model; its entry-level card is the 512GB version, which costs £350.
SAMSUNG 960 EVO 250GB – PERFORMANCE
The 960 Evo is an odd performer in many respects. In key benchmarks, it isn’t as quick as the 960 Pro, but Samsung’s TurboWrite technology actually helps the more affordable Evo beat its bigger brother in some file-writing tests.
The Evo’s AS SSD sequential read speed of 2,034MB/sec is one of the best scores around, only beaten by the 960 Pro and a couple of other M.2 drives. However, its 1,847MB/sec write pace is outstanding – better than everything else I’ve tested. The former score is marginally ahead of the Toshiba OCZ RD400, while the latter figure is hundreds of megabytes better – the SLC cache is clearly working.
The Evo continued to perform well in smaller-file tests. Its 4K read and write speeds of 40MB/sec and 176MB/sec were a little better than the Pro. Its 4K-64 read of 1,364MB/sec is behind the Pro but still a top-tier result, while its write speed of 605MB/sec is more middling, and on a par with the RD400.
It’s a great start for an affordable SSD, and it continued to run well in CrystalDiskMark. Its 3,272MB/sec read pace is barely behind the 960 Pro and better than every other drive I’ve tested, and its 1,617MB/sec write pace is a little ahead of most other SSDs, including the Toshiba. The 960 Evo was marginally slower when reading 512K files, and actually much quicker when writing – its 1,437MB/sec write pace is one of the best I’ve ever seen, and clear evidence of Samsung’s TurboWrite feature doing its job.
The comprehensive Atto benchmark saw the 960 Evo falling a little behind the 960 Pro in read and write tests. Its initial speeds were comparable – indicating a pattern where the 960 Pro was also a little slow off the mark – and it topped out with read and write results of 3,071MB/sec and 1,934MB/sec. Those scores are both a little slower than the 960 Pro, but remain ahead of most other M.2 SSDs. Crucially, it’s also faster than the comparably priced Toshiba.
The more affordable Samsung fell behind in Iometer. The 960 Pro’s overall result of 21,540 is a monster score, but the 960 Evo’s 9,962 is more ordinary, and sees it fall in line with other affordable M.2 drives.
SHOULD I BUY THE SAMSUNG 960 EVO 250GB?
The 960 Evo’s occasional triumphs over the 960 Pro in file write benchmarks show glimpses of speed from the TurboWrite SLC cache, and there’s plenty to like elsewhere, too: the Evo’s speeds don’t often overhaul the 960 Pro, but they’re usually better than drives that aren’t made by Samsung.
The speeds see the 960 Evo settle in behind the flagship 960 Pro, and the rest of the specification follows suit, with endurance and warranty ratings that are reasonable rather than class-leading.
That’s no surprise, though, given the price – and it’s those lower prices that make the 960 Evo arguably more temping than the flagship drive. It’s still quicker than most of its rivals, and it comes with a competitive price.
The 960 Pro is the fastest SSD around, but the 960 Evo isn’t far behind. If you want huge speed without emptying your wallet, buy this SSD.
The 960 Evo doesn’t have the bells and whistles of Samsung’s flagship 960 Pro, but it still has the pace to compete with the best drives around. If you’re after stunning speed, but without putting a huge dent in your bank account, the 960 Evo is a supremely well-balanced alternative to the 960 Pro and the Toshiba OCZ RD400.