Samsung SSD XP941 Review: The PCIe Era Is Hereby Kristian Vättö on May 15, 2014 12:00 PM EST
I don't think there is any other way to say this other than to state that the XP941 is without a doubt the fastest consumer SSD in the market. It set records in almost all of our benchmarks and beat SATA 6Gbps drives by a substantial margin. It's not only faster than the SATA 6Gbps drives but it surpasses all other PCIe drives we have tested in the past, including OCZ's Z-Drive R4 with eight controllers in RAID 0. Given that we are dealing with a single PCIe 2.0 x4 controller, that is just awesome.
The only major problem in the XP941 is that it doesn't support booting in most Windows systems. If you are a Mac Pro owner, this issue doesn't concern you but for everyone else it's definitely a major drawback. Using an SSD as a secondary drive can make sense for e.g. a video professional where the performance can be utilized as a scratch disk, but otherwise the only real use case for an SSD is as a boot drive. There is hope that 9-series motherboards will bring better support for native PCIe booting but that remains to be seen.
The lack of proper TRIM support is also a minor concern but I'm willing to overlook that because the performance is just so great. I would also like to see hardware encryption support (TCG Opal 2.0 & IEEE-1667) and power loss protection but I understand that for an OEM product, these aren't necessary. Hopefully there will be retail versions of XP941 that address these items.
|Samsung SSD XP941||~$229||~$310||~$569|
|OCZ RevoDrive 350||-||$530||$830|
Note that the XP941 prices in the table above do not include the adapter or shipping. The adapter comes in at around $25 and RamCity charges $29 for shipping overseas, so you are looking at about $55 in addition to the drive itself. However, you don't have to pay the 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST) when purchasing from overseas and I've already subtracted the GST from the listed prices in the table above. To summarize, the total cost with the adapter and shipping included ends up being about $283 for 128GB, $364 for 256GB and $623 for 512GB. In the end the exact pricing depends on the AUD to USD ratio and banks may also charge a bit if paying with foreign currencies.
In terms of pricing, the XP941 is a steal compared to the competition. The M6e is cheaper but it's also only PCIe 2.0 x2 design and can't offer the same level of performance as the XP941 can. Of course, ultimately two or three SATA 6Gbps SSDs in RAID 0 would be the cheapest route but with RAID 0 you run into other issues (such as increased risk of disk failure). For the average user, I'd still recommend a drive like Samsung SSD 840 EVO or Crucial M500/M550 but I can certainly see the enthusiast and professional crowd paying the premium for the XP941.
All in all, I can't wait for Samsung to release a retail version of the XP941. Right now the only problems are the limited availability and lack of boot support but once these are sorted out, the XP941 will be the king of the market. I'm guessing that we'll probably see something from Samsung at this year's Global SSD Summit, or at least I deeply hope so. We'd also like to see more competition from other SSD manufacturers, but until SandForce's SF3700 is ready to hit the market in the second half of 2014, there isn't a drive that can challenge the XP941.