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Samsung 970 EVO NVMe SSD – now that is fast (review)
4.4Overall Score

Price (RRP): $from 175 to 1239
Manufacturer: Samsung

The Samsung 970 EVO NVMe SSD is so fast that a full Windows 10 Pro install including massive updates, 20+ drivers and 20GB of software took about an hour. It usually takes five or more.

What is it?

The Samsung 970 EVO NVMe (website here) is a solid-state disk (SSD) storage device in an M.2 2280 (22 wide x 80 mm long) format card.

It uses Samsung’s latest generation of 64-layer, VNAND, Non-Volatile Memory, its own Phoenix controller, and a PCI Express (PCIe) bus to transfer data.

Raw read/write speed is not in itself an indicator of performance. Raw speed excludes the speed loss due to the bus interface and things like sequential or random read/write and file size. Larger files read/write faster; smaller more numerous files copy slower.

What’s a bus got to do with it?

You have several bus types. SATA stands for Serial ATA and depending on the hard disk age may theoretically be

  • 1 – 150MB/s or 1.5Gb/s
  • 2.0 to 2.6 – 300MB/s or 3Gb/s
  • 0 to 3.1 – 600MB/s or 6Gb/s (also called SATA 600)
  • 2 to 3.3 – 1969MB/s or 16Gb/s

(MB is Megabyte, Gb is Gigabit – for conversion see the website here.

In practice, data transfer rates on SATA are well under half the theoretical speed because they are unidirectional. In other words, they must wait until a read is done to perform a write (command queuing).

PCIe is several times faster than a standard SATA 600 bus. You can recognise NVMe SSD by the single slot in the gold finger connector (SATA 600 has two).

In theory a single lane

  • 1.0 – 2.5Gb/s
  • 2.0 – 5Gb/s
  • 3.0 – 8Gb/s

Typically, modern NVME SSD is PCIe 3.0 x 4 lanes giving a 32Gb/s transfer or a staggering 4,000MB/s. In practice PCIe 3.0 is bidirectional – you can have 4,000MB/s going both ways, e.g. moving 8,000MB/s.

Samsung 970 EVOWho uses it?

Anyone with an NVMe M.2 SSD slot on their motherboard or in the laptop/tablet. Most high-end computing devices use NVMe. If you are in doubt download Crystal Disk Info and Crystal Disk Mark to verify what type of SSD (or HDD) you currently have. Be prepared to weep over your current speeds.

Part of the secret sauce is its Phoenix controller and Intelligent TurboWrite technology enhance high-end gaming and 4K & 3D graphic editing.

Typical users will be gamers, those who transfer large files, video/still editors who drink too much coffee waiting for renders or data to copy to backup devices.

How fast is it?

I had heard it was fast – rated at 3,500MB/s read and 2,500MB/s write. In fact, that is around seven times faster than a spinning disk.