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Samsung 970 Evo Plus review: A definite improvement

James Archer Will Georgiadis
30 Nov 2021
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
185
inc VAT

The 970 Evo Plus is a speedy and much-improved SSD, even if it’s not the best outright

Pros 
Faster than the 970 Evo
Less expensive than the 970 Evo
Cons 
Still lost in a crowd of better SSDs
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Product launches have disappointed countless times, but few have been as downright vexing as that of the Samsung 970 Evo. Despite being the successor to possibly the best consumer NVMe SSD of its time, the 960 Evo, the 970 Evo baffled with lower than expected speeds and a price that, while not offensively high, has since allowed cheaper upstarts to steal attention away from Samsung’s typically stellar storage. It didn’t take long for, to name just one, the Adata XPG SX8200 Pro to outperform the 970 Evo on straight speeds and for markedly less money.

The 970 Evo Plus therefore looks like more of an attempt at a do-over rather than a chance for the 2018 model’s redemption. The Plus and non-Plus versions aren’t drastically different, both having Samsung-made Phoenix controllers and a maximum advertised read speed of 3,500MB/s, but there have been some key changes. The first is that write speeds have had a big boost on paper, jumping from a maximum 2,500MB/s on the 970 Evo to 3,300MB/s on the Evo Plus; a vast improvement for something that isn’t a full generational leap.

Samsung 970 Evo Plus review: Price and competition

The second big difference is the price. When we first tested the 970 Evo, a 500GB model was 32p per gigabyte and the 1TB model 30.1p. This has dropped over time, but the 970 Evo Plus is still priced a lot more aggressively, with the 500GB model (the one we’re testing) currently costing 19p per gigabyte. There’s also a 1TB model at 18.9p and a 2TB model at 19.9p, along with a 250GB model that bucks the trend somewhat by working out at a less attractive 26p per gigabyte.

Granted, this still doesn’t put the 970 Evo Plus among the likes of the XPG SX8200 Pro or the Kingston A2000 in terms of value; instead, it’s almost equal on pricing with the WD Black SN750, and across all four capacities, too. Still, at least it’s an agreeable step away from the original 970 Evo’s undeserved costliness.

It’s also worth remembering that the 970 Evo Plus isn’t exactly aiming for the bargain bucket. This is a performance SSD for heavy PC users, and for all the penny-pinching arguments against it, Samsung’s latest M.2 drive is the speed demon that the 970 Evo should have been. This is clear even in our most easygoing benchmarks, the CrystalDiskMark sequential test: the 970 Evo Plus managed a searing 3,568MB/s read speed and, importantly, a write speed of 3,212MB/s. That’s nearly 700MB/s faster than the 970 Evo, as well as 300MB/s quicker than the XPG SX8200 Pro.

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Samsung 970 Evo Plus review: Performance

Adata’s SSD is faster in the more taxing 4K sequential test, but with a read speed of 338MB/s and a write speed of 257MB/s, the 970 Evo Plus is only slightly behind, and it improves on the 970 Evo’s results, read and write speeds both. The A2000 outperforms both by very wide margins, practically doubling the 970 Evo Plus’ write speed.

The 970 Evo Plus also failed to keep up with the A2000 in our file transfer tests, although it performed well enough, and demonstrated huge improvements over its preceding drive. In the huge file test, for instance, it averaged a 1,334MB/s read speed and a 1,302MB/s write speed, comfortably beating the XPG SX8200 Pro and blowing past the 970 Evo, which produced a 1,073MB/s read speed and a 1,116MB/s write speed.

The difference between these old and new Samsung drives was even wider in the large files test, with the 970 Evo Plus landing a much improved 1,281MB/s read speed and a 1,209MB/s write speed. These also put the XPG SX8200 Pro behind again.

Competition was a lot tighter in the small files test, as the 970 Evo Plus’s 414MB/s read speed and 440MB/s write speed represent only a close beating of the XPG SX8200 Pro, which managed a slightly faster read speed and a slightly slower write speed. However, the 970 Evo Plus is the quicker in most tests, and offers meaningful improvements on the 970 Evo across the board – exactly what we want to see from an upgrade.

When transfer speeds get into four figures, it can sometimes seem like splitting hairs to weigh up differences in the tens of megabytes. Still, with 4K video becoming the new norm, and game file sizes getting ever bigger, it’s absolutely fair to want the best SSD performance you can get. The 970 Evo Plus, therefore, makes an awful lot more sense than the old 970 Evo. This time, its speeds really are among the very best you can get from a consumer drive.

Samsung 970 Evo Plus review: Verdict

However, it’s not the NVMe SSD you should definitely buy. The XPG SX8200 Pro is still far better value, thanks to its lower per-gigabyte costs across its entire range of capacities. It may not be as fast as the 970 Evo Plus, but it’s still very nimble, and even with Samsung wisely dropping prices, Adata’s SSD remains the better value. There are worst places to be than in third place, but the XPG SX8200 Pro and the A2000 are both smarter choices than this.