Samsung SSD 950 PRO 512GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD Review

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Samsung SSD 950 Pro Heat Throttling Due to Poor Airflow

To try out the Samsung SSD 950 Pro 512GB M.2 PCIe  SSD we used an ASUS X99 Sabertooth motherboard and used the ASUS Hyper M.2 x 4 add-in card.

ssd950-test-system

Samsung says that proper airflow is recommended for the Samsung SSD 950 Pro to keep the drive operating under it’s 70C threshold. Samsung has implemented something called Dynamic Thermal Guard in the firmware for the SSD Pro 950 to keep the drives performance from dropping due to thermal throttling. Our solution was to place a 120mm cooling fan over the Samsung SM951 M.2 PCIe SSD to help keep it cool. The exact fan we used was the Noctua NF-S12B-FLX, which spins at 1200RPM for 59CFM of blowing power.

throttle

With this setup we found no significant thermal throttling when we performed over 20 minutes of constant 128KB writes to the drive. The drive started out at around 1640 MB/s and settled down to around 1520 MB/s for the entire period of time.   Samsung did not go into great depth about how Dynamic Thermal Guard actually works, but here is the information they gave to the media ahead of the SSD 950 Pro launch.

Samsung Dynamic Thermal Guard

In most cases of data transfers, heavy workloads can induce heat and result in high temperatures. Once temperatures reach a threshold, memory performance may malfunction. As the leader in SSD memory solutions, we equipped the 950 PRO with Dynamic Thermal Throttling Protection technology to automatically monitor and maintain optimal operating temperature to reduce the risks of overheating. We do not anticipate any performance drops due to thermal throttling.

throttle-open-air

When we let everything cool back down and re-did the test without the 120mm fan we noticed that the drive started to throttle at the 62 second mark.  Our performance went from being ~1560 MB/s all they way down to 753 MB/s and then rising up to 879 MB/s during the throttle period. We plugged the fan back in at the 310 second mark and performance went right back up to ~1560 MB/s like nothing ever happened.

seek-thermal

Our SEEK Thermal Imaging Camera showed the hottest spot on the card was the controller when no fan was being used and it recorded the high temperature as 95C.

If you buy a Samsung SSD 950 Pro you’ll want to make sure that it has some airflow as it does make a big difference in the performance of the drive when writing data to it for periods of longer than one minute.

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  • Can this be used to boot win7 in asus rampage 4 extreme (x79) board? If yes does it supports both legacy and uefi installs?

  • When I built my new system it required me to goto win10 which has and included NVMe driver. I’m happy, and will be adding one to my Gigglebyte GA-Z170XX-UD5 Mobo when the price starts coming down… feel free to dm me if you have questions. Like the man sez, BE SURE YOUR BOARD SUPPORTS NVMe before you buy!

  • GrandBro

    Do you simply plug this into a PCIe? I understand some newer MB have a M.2 slot, so it’s confusing. The Intel 750 for example has what looks like a card (PCIe version) and one that looks like SATA/SAS. I’d buy one of these to fit on a 1 year old MB without M.2 if it will work.

    • No, you can’t just plug it into a PCIe slot. You’re going to need an
      adapter. The Addonics one seems to be well-regarded. If you intend to use the SSD
      as a boot drive, make sure your mobo supports it.

      Other than those caveats, you should
      be fine.

      • Κωνσταντίνος Κ.

        he actually needs a UEFI bios with capability of booting into nvme 😛

        P.S. Else it can be only used as a secondary drive

        • Did you even read my comment???

          “If you intend to use the SSD
          as a boot drive, make sure your mobo supports it.”

          Jesus Christ…

        • Κωνσταντίνος Κ.

          Did you even read what I wrote? Jesus Christ

        • Yep, but you didn’t read what I wrote. Here it is a third time, goof. Have someone read it to you, if you’re incapable.

          “If you intend to use the SSD
          as a boot drive, make sure your mobo supports it.”

  • Minkyu Kim

    If you finding a tool to get SMART with Samsung NVMe devices, Naraeon NVMe Tools can be reasonable option.
    http://naraeon.net/en/latest-nvme-tools

  • z3razerviper

    I am not going back to anything that does not have eDrive support its awesome guess i will be waiting a while.

  • Austin Rowan

    Being a future-minded fellow, hearing about this tricky warranty has ensured me not buying this product nor recommending it to the myriad of people in my life who ask me for computer advice.

    • xanuser

      what would be tricky is finding an actual user that would ever approach 200TB of writes in under 5 years.

  • Gary Barnet

    I have been using a XP941 for a while now and found it throttled all the time due to overheating. But I bought a small heatsink and fan (originally designed for the second edition Raspberry Pi as part of a kit) and mounted the fan/heatsink onto the controller and another heatsink onto the other smaller chip next to it and problem solved. I should also say that I have a 200mm fan blowing directly over the area (and 3 other 140mm intake fans nearby as well).
    Heat is a huge problem for these M.2 drives (even companies like Noctua have noted this) and I have seen temperatures of 110° C or more (max being around 113°C) and that is just copying some files over. And the SM951 was not that much different. So to is this one. Even though they heat up, at least the memory chips don’t get anywhere near as hot, it is the controller that has to do all the heavy lifting that suffers the most.

    Get the heat under control and these are great.

    Just wondering how these will go squashed up in a notebook or similar.

  • Ottoore

    Thank you Nathan for the deepened tests about thermal problem. I wrote you about this when they were presented.
    I have a question: you say you solved the problem with a 120mm fan. But 512 ssd has memories on both sides. Obviously there’s no cooling on the “dark side”: do you think memories on the frontal side have a ” sort of priority “? Sorry for my bad english, i’m not native

    • Nathan Kirsch

      Your edit is correct and there are images of the front and the back of the SSD 950 Pro 512GB on page 1 of the article. The board components are on just one side, so that design should be better for those wanting to use their motherboards built-in M.2 slot that sits flush with the board.

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