A solid state future: Samsung’s 950 Pro reviewed
4.5Overall Score
Price (RRP): $379 for 256GB; $679 for 512GB; Manufacturer: Samsung

Upgrading your computer’s hard drive used to be as simple as changing drives. It still is, for the most part, but Samsung’s 950 Pro brings a dose of speed unlike any other component we’ve seen.

What is it?

Hard drives have been changing over the years, but while we’ve seen the gradual shift from moving part conventional hard drives to static memory solid state drives, the drives still generally looked like hard drives.

Sure, they’ve been smaller and lighter, and far better for power consumption, but the form-factor for a solid state drive was more like that of a hard drive, sitting in the 2.5 inch design and taking the SATA3 connector.

With Samsung’s 950 Pro, we’re finally evolving from that hard drive design, switching to the chip with a direct connection to the motherboard, and that’s because once we finally transcend the SATA cable connection, we should — in theory — get faster speeds.

That is to say the “faster speeds” we’re talking about are faster than what you see in most desktops where cables are plentiful on the inside of the computer. Laptops have been using direct connections for some time, though only where solid state drives were, and very recent machines where the storage is built into the motherboard, not attached using a similarly old school connection.

So what you’re looking at with the Samsung 950 Pro M2 V-NAND SSD is a chip, and one that might evoke imagery from science fiction.

samsung-950-pro-m2-review-2016-04

It could be the chip from Terminator 2 that has to be crushed to save the future, or just another chip from another movie that has the potential to save time.

In truth, it is a chip that can and will save time, but it’s the sort of time that you’re sitting there waiting for your drive to load Photoshop or save that massive video file, because hard drives are only so fast.

To install it, however, you’re going to need a fairly recent computer that you can open up with a spare and willing PCI-Express port, and one that has been upgraded to support the NVM-Express technology, which for most people means computers bought in the past six to eight months, specifically those running Intel’s sixth-generation Core processors or something similar from AMD.

Performance

The moment you install the NVM-E chip that id the Samsung 950 Pro, you’ll probably notice the speed if it’s something you’re installing files onto.

Case in point, we installed Windows 10 to the drive and the whole process went by so quickly, we weren’t sure we did it right, done in the space of roughly 10 minutes.

Accurate numbers are always better, though, so we’ve run the drive through some speed tests to show you how it compares to another generation of solid state drives, with Samsung’s 850 used as a test.

Previously, that was the benchmark for high speed solid state drives at GadgetGuy, with speeds around 500MB per second for reading and writing, which is something you can also find on Samsung’s T1 external solid state drive.

That phrasing was intentional, mind you, because while the Samsung 850 “was” the benchmark, it no longer is. No, that crown now belongs to Samsung’s 950.