Samsung PM981 NVMe SSD Review

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kiniku

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"The PM981's biggest drawback is TLC NAND, and as a result, sustained write performance took a step back." For most high-end gamers this won't be a factor unless you are writing multi-GBs of data back at a time back to the SSD. Which is why most gamers are throwing money away buying the "PRO" version of Samsung's NVE SSDs.
 

dgpadia

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Here's a question. I have a Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 15, 20DQ Series. 200 or so SSD. Would I want to upgrade to this? Would absolutely kill my battery? If so, is there a better option. Let's assume reasonable budget (no more than $600-700, tops)
 

doesitmatter

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There's an error on page 2 in the Sequential Write Performance charts. The bar chart for QD2 128k write for the 960 Pro 1tb doesn't agree with what the line graph says. The bar chart shows it at 1544MB/s (exact same as the PM981), but the line graph shows it somewhere between 2100MB/s and 2200 MB/s, which should make it the top performer on the bar chart.
 

mapesdhs

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Why are PCMark 8 tests still included? They've never shown statistically meaningful or useful differences between products. The variation in results is miniscule.
 

AgentLozen

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Hey! Thanks for the comment Gasaraki! Short, sweet, and to the point. I was sort of curious as to WHY you weren't impressed. You sort of left me hanging, but that's alright.

I think there's a lot to be excited about with the PM981. There are also a few disappointments.

I really liked the mixed work load performance. At low queue depth, the PM981 performed exceptionally well. Also, the battery life was a nice improvement over Samsung's last generation TLC drive (the 960 EVO).

With that said, I think the most interesting comparison to make is between the 960 PRO and the PM981. There were a number of sequential and random benchmarks where the PM981 wasn't as good a performer. I expected some inadequacies between MLC and TLC flash, but even the 960 EVO (with TLC flash) was beating it. The article states that the 64 layer flash being used in the PM981 was supposed to be faster and more power efficient. Is it a problem with the Phoenix controller? The author of the article claims that the culprit was probably thermal throttling.

Personally, the news I'm most happy to see is the pricing. I know $400 for 1TB probably doesn't reflect the final price of the consumer Samsung 980 drive due out in a few months, but if we could get this level of performance for $.40 per GB, that would be really terrific.

Edit: Typo and clarification
 

Brian_R170

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They pretty much show that the difference between the best and the worst SSD is hardly noticeable to most users.

Reviewers have found ways to use real applications to show CPU and GPU performance, but all of the SSD tests that are "meaningful" are synthetic and therefor, not actually meaningful. I liken most of the synthetic SSD benchmark data to automobile reviews that tout a vehicle's top speed. It's cool data, but not useful to nearly any owner.
 

CRamseyer

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If you know what you are looking at all of the tests from PCMark 8 on have meaning for most of our readers. Please see the How We Test SSDs and HDDs article for details.
 
Just replaced my 840 pro 256gb(went to laptop)with 850 pro 512gb that i found open box for 150 cant beat that 10yr mlc warranty not sure what whole nvme craze is about you wont notice much difference in real world.
 

mapesdhs

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I have no idea what that's supposed to mean. How does that address my key point that the tests show no statistically significant variation? What are you referring to? What kind of reader? All I see are a bunch of graphs where every product gives almost exactly the same result. What is it those graphs are trying to convey? I don't understand how they can be accompanied by comments that describe one product as being ahead or behind another when the whole lot are quite clearly within margins of error.

Ian.
 

Lutfij

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Thank you for the amazing write up, Chris, was an enjoyment to read through the showcasing article! I had to giggle when you mentioned this:
Our article is more of an exhibition than a review of the PM981. ... We're basically flying at night with a flashlight.
Good one!
 

gasaraki

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Excellent points. I like progress, I mean actual progress not slapping a new name on inferior tech.

I am not seeing anything that make this better than a 960 Pro, and the prices are not lower.
 
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