Hot on the heels of WD announcing its Black SN750, one of the best SSDs for gaming, with an optional chunky heatsink to lessen throttling, Samsung today responded with its new 970 Evo Plus line of SSDs, which on paper is its fastest consumer NVMe offering to date.
It's somewhat of a surprise release, and an interesting one when you compare the specs to Samsung's 970 Pro family. Samsung has always saved its best performance for its Pro family, while its Evo drives have traditionally offered better pricing at slower (though not 'slow') speeds.
In this case, however, the upgraded 970 Evo Plus drives are rated to deliver sequential read speeds of up to 3,500MB/s, and sequential write speeds of up to 3,300MB/s.
The sequential read ceiling is the same as the 970 Evo (non-Plus), but the 3,300MB/s write ceiling is significantly faster than the 2,500MB/s of the non-Plus family. Speeds vary by capacity, but here's how the rated performance compares at the top end of each SSD family:
- New Samsung 970 Pro Evo: 3,500MB/s seq. read, 3,300MB/s seq. write
- Samsung 970 Pro: 3,500MB/s seq. read, 2,700MB/s seq. write
- Samsung 970 Evo: 3,500MB/s seq. read, 2,500MB/s seq. write
"Since introducing the first NVMe SSDs to the consumer market in 2015, Samsung has continued to challenge technical barriers in SSD design and performance," said Dr. Mike Mang, vice president of Brand Product Marketing, Memory Business at Samsung Electronics. "The new 970 Evo Plus powered by Samsung’s latest fifth-generation V-NAND technology will now offer unrivaled performance in its class when taking on demanding tasks like 4K content editing, 3D modeling and simulation as well as heavy gaming."
For this new series, Samsung is using 96-layer 3D NAND flash memory chips, which is the fifth generation of 3D NAND, and an upgrade over the 64-layer 3D NAND that is found on the 970 Evo.
This is where the added performance comes into play. According to our friends at Anandtech, the controller is the same as the previous generation, so beyond any tweaks to the firmware that Samsung might have made, it's really all about the chips here.
The newest generation of 3D NAND also allows Samsung to remain competitive with its pricing. Samsung is offering the 970 Evo Plus in capacities up to 2TB, at the following price points:
- Samsung 970 Evo Plus 250GB: $89.99 (~$0.36 per gigabyte)
- Samsung 970 Evo Plus 500GB: $129.99 (~$0.26 per gigabyte)
- Samsung 970 Evo Plus 1TB: $249.99 (~$0.25 per gigabyte)
- Samsung 970 Evo Plus 2TB: TBA (April)
Compared to 2.5-inch SATA SSDs, these drives obviously cost quite a bit more, to account for the NVMe interface and much faster speeds. However, pricing is in line with the 970 Evo series. Here's a look at what the previous generation SSDs currently sell for on Amazon:
- Samsung 970 Evo 250GB: $85 (Amazon)
- Samsung 970 Evo 500GB: $129.99 (Amazon, on sale from $149.99)
- Samsung 970 Evo 1TB: $279.99 (Amazon, on sale from $299.99)
- Samsung 970 Evo 2TB: $499.99 (Amazon, on sale from $599.99)
Pricing looks even better compared to the 970 Pro. For example, a Samsung's 970 Pro 1TB sells for $399.99 on Amazon, which is $150 more than the same capacity 970 Evo Plus.
Now that question is, does Samsung have a 970 Pro Plus up its sleeve? We'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, the 970 Evo Plus looks like a compelling option for enthusiasts who need those kinds of speeds. It will also be interesting to see if this drives the price of the regular 970 Evo down.