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Introduction

We tested the Samsung 960 EVO 500 GiB SSD, which uses M.2 form factor, PCI Express 3.0 x4 connection, and NVMe standard. It is found on 250 GiB, 500 GiB and 1 TiB capacities, and its annouced maximum read speed is 3,200 MiB/s and write speed of 1,900 MiB/s.

While the most popular SSDs use the 2.5 inches form factor (which is the same size of a standard laptop HDD), the M.2 form factor is being more and more common. The main reason is that this standard allows both the SATA-600 and the PCI Express x4 connections, that has a higher maximum bandwidth. One of the models that use this standard is the Kingston HyperX Predator.

There are also SSDs that uses the PCI Express 3.0 x4 connection, but come as an expansion card, like the Intel SSD 750 Series.

Another highlight refers to the conection specification: traditional SSDs use the AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) standard, that was designed for SATA mechanical hard disk drives. Modern drives, like the Samsung 960 EVO, use the NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory express) protocol, which was developed for SSDs, allowing lower latencies and higher speeds, specially under parallel tasks.

Just like most recent SSDs, the Samsung 960 EVO uses TLC (triple level cell) memories. This kind of memory stores not two, but three bits per cell. It allows a higher data density and, thus, a smaller manufacturing cost for a same capacity chip.

The bigger issue with TLC memory chips, compared to the two-bit MLC chips (and even more compared to the SLC memory chip, that store only one bit per cell) is the shorter lifespan, because there is more cell wearing on the erasing process (executed before writing new data). This fact reflects on the TBW, which stands for Total Bytes Written, meaning the amount of data written on the drive before it begin to experience tearing problems. Obviously, typical TBW values are very high numbers and must not worry home users, but it makes models with low TBW inadvisable for applications that need a big amount of data writing, like servers or workstations for working with raw video files, for example.

In this review, we compared the Samsung 960 EVO 500 GiB to the Kingston HyperX Predator 480 GiB, which has a similar capacity and also use PCI Express x4 connection. However, while the Samsung model uses NVMe standard, the Kingston model uses the AHCI standard. Another difference is that the 960 EVO uses PCI Express 3.0 x4 interface, while the Predator uses PCI Express 2.0 x16 standard.

In the table below, we compared the tested units.

Manufacturer

Model

Model #

Nominal capacity

Price

Samsung

960 EVO

MZ-V6E500

500 GiB

USD 248

Kingston

HyperX Predator

SHPM2280P2H/480G

480 GiB

USD 350

In the table below, we compared technical specs of the tested drives.

Model Controller Buffer Memory TBW
Samsung 960 EVO Samsung Polaris 512 MiB 2 x 256 GiB Samsung V-NAND 200 TiB
HyperX Predator Marvell 88SS9293 2 x 512 MiB 8 x 64 GiB Toshiba TH58TEG9DDKBA8H 882 TiB