Final Words

If the Samsung 960 Pro didn't exist and anybody other than Samsung released the 960 EVO, it would be a credible flagship product for today's SSD market. It is clearly faster than the Intel 750 everywhere that matters. It is on par with the OCZ RD400 on real-world workloads. It is generally slightly slower than last year's 950 Pro, but does improve on some of the 950's more acute weaknesses. It does all of this while being more power efficient under load, and the 960 EVO carries an MSRP that is lower than the current retail prices of other high-end PCIe SSDs.

Of course, the 960 Pro does in fact exist and is being released alongside the 960 EVO. It looks like the two product lines will occupy similar positions within the PCIe SSD market that the 850 Pro and 850 EVO have within the SATA SSD market. The 960 Pro will hold the indisputable performance crown, but the 960 EVO will be the more popular product. The EVOs are not low-end drives by price or performance, and while they may not be the most affordable mid-range options, they're solid performers that benefit greatly from using the same high-end SSD controllers as their Pro counterparts. Unlike Intel's 600p budget TLC PCIe SSD, the 960 EVO always manages to be a big upgrade over any SATA SSD.

  128GB 250-256GB 400-512GB 1TB 2TB
Samsung 960 EVO (MSRP)   $129.88 (52¢/GB) $249.99 (50¢/GB) $479.99 (48¢/GB)  
Samsung 960 Pro (MSRP)     $329.99 (64¢/GB) $629.99 (62¢/GB) $1299.99 (63¢/GB)
Samsung 950 Pro   $185.50 (72¢/GB) $314.99 (62¢/GB)    
Toshiba OCZ RD400A $139.99 (109¢/GB) $215.16 (84¢/GB) $257.20 (50¢/GB) $729.99 (71¢/GB)  
Toshiba OCZ RD400 M.2 $119.99 (94¢/GB) $149.99 (59¢/GB) $299.98 (59¢/GB) $709.99 (69¢/GB)  
Intel SSD 600p $60.00 (47¢/GB) $94.45 (37¢/GB) $167.30 (33¢/GB) $380.54 (37¢/GB)  
Intel SSD 750     $319.99 (80¢/GB) $749.99 (62¢/GB)  
Plextor M8Pe $74.99 (59¢/GB) $114.99 (45¢/GB) $189.99 (37¢/GB) $414.99 (41¢/GB)  

The price and performance of the 960 EVO will make anything more expensive a very tough sell. The only advantage a drive like the the RD400 has is in its warranty period and endurance rating: the 960 EVO's three years and 0.3 DWPD are not exactly premium specifications, but neither are they low enough to cause much concern. The 960 Pro will offer a 2TB option and even higher performance, but those are expensive luxuries. The 960 EVO will be undercutting most of the PCIe SSD market with "good enough" performance.

The Plextor M8Pe is currently in the SSD testbed where we don't expect it to surpass the OCZ RD400 or Samsung 960 EVO, but matching their performance would likely make the M8Pe the clear favorite over the 960 EVO. The one thing holding back the 960 EVO from becoming the default product recommendation among PCIe SSDs is the fact that some MLC-based drives will be competing with the 960 EVO on price and may also come close in performance. 

ATTO, AS-SSD & Idle Power Consumption
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  • Foralin - Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - link

    I'd like to see this kind of analisys for the new Macbook Pro's SSD Reply
  • philehidiot - Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - link

    I think that often Apple use a couple of different suppliers for their SSDs (certainly was the case when I bought my Air ages ago) and they're unlikely to hand out samples for testing as if there's one thing Apple seems to hate, it's scrutiny. This means that you might have to buy quite a few Macbooks, ID the SSD and then you'd still never know if they were using one, two, three or even four different suppliers unless you got loads of people to run the appropriate software and then went on a shopping spree. Hoping of course that you could return those you've unpacked, set up, tested and carefully repackaged.... Whilst it'd be nice, Apple don't make it easy and unless you're loaded it's not going to be practical. Reply
  • repoman27 - Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - link

    Apple sourced SSDs from Samsung, SanDisk and Toshiba back when they used SATA SSDs, but went 100% Samsung when they switched to PCIe. The 2015 MBPs were all SM951, for instance. From what I've seen thus far, the 2016 MBPs use a new, in-house designed PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe controller paired with SanDisk NAND. Reply
  • repoman27 - Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - link

    And I take that back that last bit because I just saw a post with a photo of the internals of the MBP w/ TouchBar and it looked to have a Samsung SSD on board. Reply
  • Threska - Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - link

    One disadvantage I see of the M.2 form-factor is inadequate cooling on some motherboards, compared to their more traditional SSD brethren. Reply
  • willis936 - Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - link

    There's a quick fix for that: an ugly PCIe adapter with a heatsink. Or actually slapping some RAM heatsinks on the drive itself. I've been looking for a 2x M.2 to PCIe x8 adapter. The only ones I've found are expensive server adapters. Considering one of these drives nearly saturates 4 PCIe 3.0 lanes it seems that a regular consumer who wants to do RAID 0 should run their GPU in x8 (or go all out on HEDT) and get two PCIe adapters with heatsinks. Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - link

    The issue is that is only possible on desktops. Laptops are more SOL in this regard. Reply
  • willis936 - Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - link

    More performance = more power. It would be neat if they made different power profiles that could be set by the user through the OS. I don't want 5W pulled from my laptop just for my SSD to read 2 GB/s but I also don't need it to run that quickly. Reply
  • MajGenRelativity - Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - link

    That's a nifty idea! I would like that too :) Reply
  • Billy Tallis - Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - link

    NVMe already has that feature. Drives can define multiple power states, both operational and non-operational idle. The definition of those power states can include information about the relative performance impact on read and write throughput and latency, and how long it takes to enter and leave the different idle power states. For example, the 960 Pro declares a full-power operational power state with maximum power draw of up to 6.9W, and restricted operational power states with limits of 5.5W and 5.1W. It also declares two non-operational idle power states with limits of 0.05W and 0.008W, which my measurements have haven't accurately captured.

    Making full use of this capability requires better support on the software side.
    Reply

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