A hot potato: Samsung was caught changing the controller model used in its 970 Evo Plus SSDs without updating the public datasheet or releasing the performance ramifications. It’s a sad thing to see, given the position of high esteem in which their records have been held for years.
The “new” 970 Evo Plus was first tested by a Chinese YouTube channel (including video on the subject has English subtitles, if you want to watch). It is not known whether the new model is exclusive to China or Asia, or whether it is distributed globally.
Its only distinguishing feature is an Elpis brand controller, instead of Phoenix. The drives otherwise look almost identical, and they’re labeled exactly the same – 970 Evo Plus 1TB – with only a small difference in the part number indicating that the drives are “technically” different: MZVLB1T0HBLR becomes MZVL21T0HBLU on the sticker above the disc.
As as far as we know, the part number is not on the package, so you cannot tell them apart that way. The package is different, however. The original box is oriented horizontally, while the new box is located vertically. And the label on the controller is blurry in the image of the player on the front of the new box, which is sort of an admission of guilt.
Photo credit: ??
In terms of performance, the new drive won’t be much worse for most users. But it has different strengths and weaknesses.
In a base run of CrystalDiskMark, the new drive was slightly faster overall and even took a significant lead in some shallow write tests. In other synthetic benchmarks, they traded blows, although the differences between them are minor. Their read speeds were all about the same.
The real differences between the two appear under sustained write loads. In a 200GB synthetic copy test, the original drive held steady at 1.8Gb / s up to 40GB, then dropped to 1.5Gb / s. The new drive started at 2.6GB / s before dropping to 0.8GB / s at 115GB.
In a Windows File Explorer test, copying Blu-ray movies, both drives started at around 2.5 GB / s. About 15% of the way, the original drive dropped to 1.5 GB / s. The new drive dropped steadily to 2.2 Gb / s before suddenly dropping to 0.8 Gb / s at 80% of the way. In the end, it took both drives the same time to copy the 155 GB file.
Judging by the benchmark results, Samsung tripled the SLC cache of the new 970 to compensate for the slower controller. This is not the worst solution, but it will become less effective as the reader fills up.
A second potential problem with the new drive is thermal power. During benchmarks, certainly quite extreme, the Elpis controller was close to 100 ° C. The Phoenix controller was more comfortable in the lower eighties.
While the new 970 Evo SSD isn’t bad, Samsung doesn’t have the right to leverage the reviews and reputation of the original 970 to sell the new one. These are fundamentally different products that suit different use cases, and that should have been indicated by a name change.
Seen as a consequence of chip shortages, Western Digital was also caught recently swapping out NAND flash in one of its low budget SSDs with a lower quality version that underperforms the original – unfortunate deceptive behavior that slowly turns into a trend.