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Robert Gomez
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Dell XPS 15 9560 with Samsung PM961 1TB, AHCI vs RAID?

Hi,

I have a Samsung PM961 1TB installed on my laptop and I want to get the maximum performance, reads and writes.

  1. Should I use AHCI mode or RAID mode in BIOS?
  2. Should I install Samsung NVMe Driver?
  3. Should I install Samsung Magician Software?.

Thanks.

12 Replies
COMUTTER
1 Copper

RE: Dell XPS 15 9560 with Samsung PM961 1TB, AHCI vs RAID?

Same question

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8 Krypton

RE: Dell XPS 15 9560 with Samsung PM961 1TB, AHCI vs RAID?

Impossible to tell the  first two without knowing the exact model and OS it's running.

On 3, Samsung Magician works only on Samsung retail drives - this is an OEM version, so it won't run.

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jphughan
5 Tungsten

RE: Dell XPS 15 9560 with Samsung PM961 1TB, AHCI vs RAID?

Assuming you're using Windows 8 or newer, I personally went with AHCI mode because it allows the native Windows NVMe driver to work.  On my XPS 13 9360 (I know it's not the same model), Win10 didn't actually have a new enough Intel Rapid Storage driver to see my SSD when the BIOS was in RAID mode, and since I had no need for the RAID mode features, I figured it was easier to just switch to AHCI.  On Windows 7, you'd need to use RAID mode unless you want to inject the Microsoft hotfixes (not drivers) that added native NVMe support to Windows 7 into your installation media.

As for the Samsung NVMe driver, it's true that that only works for retail drives, not OEM units.  Some users have reported significant performance improvements, but when I tested a 960 Evo on my XPS 13 9360, I didn't see any different results, so it's possible that there's a performance bottleneck elsewhere in the system even though the NVMe slot is wired for x4 PCIe -- perhaps the CPU or an upstream PCIe bottleneck?  Anyway, between that lack of improvement and the fact that I read earlier versions of the Samsung driver had resulted in behavior like blue screens when doing things as simple as creating new VHDX files in Hyper-V, I decided to skip it.  That type of driver change is one of those things where you might not notice the adverse consequences until later, and by then, you may not even remember you installed that driver or even think that the driver could be responsible for the issue you're experiencing.  In that case, after pulling your hair out troubleshooting for potentially hours or days, even if you DO eventually figure out underlying cause, you'll just realize that it was all your fault to begin with. 😛

Magician doesn't work with OEM Samsung SSDs either, but I didn't install it even on my 960 Evo-based system because it didn't seem to do anything I needed/wanted.

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Robert Gomez
1 Nickel

RE: Dell XPS 15 9560 with Samsung PM961 1TB, AHCI vs RAID?

Hi jphughan,

Thanks for your detailed answer. I understand your point completely.

I have one more thing to ask you, the local store is willing to accept the hard drive that came with my laptop, which is a SK Hynix 512GB, 2,000 mb/s - 800 mb/s. I will pay a few dollars too and they will give me the Samsung PM961 1TB which has 3,000 mb/s - 1,700 mb/s. The difference in speed is big and I'm doubling the capacity too.

The thing is, I know that Samsung is the favorite brand for anyone right now, will I notice the difference, besides the capacity of course?, if I install the Samsung NVMe Driver, will I have 3,000-1,700 mb/s?

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jphughan
5 Tungsten

RE: Dell XPS 15 9560 with Samsung PM961 1TB, AHCI vs RAID?

Unfortunately since I have no direct experience with your system, I can't predict what you'll get.  You might want to Google something like "XPS 15 9560 PM961 benchmark", because I'm practically certain that somebody will have posted benchmarks of your system with that SSD given that I believe the XPS 15 9560 sometimes comes from the factory with the PM961.  However, I will say that when I installed the 960 Evo in an XPS 13 9360, which has also delivered benchmark results like you're quoting when installed in other systems, in the 9360 I only ever saw about ~1.4 GBps read and write.  In fairness, that seemed to be somewhat common among 960 Evo benchmarks that I found from other systems, and only a small handful of reviews had test systems that showed 3+ GBps read performance.

In terms of whether you'll notice a difference, if you haven't already, one thing you may want to do is download CrystalDiskMark and see what kind of performance you're actually able to get out of your current SK Hynix SSD rather than just looking at its theoretical max specs.  You may find that you're not coming close to its 2 GBps theoretical max read speeds, in which case getting the PM961 might not be any faster.  However, the WRITE speeds could probably be much faster if the SSD is the bottleneck there, so that may be worth the cost to upgrade -- plus the additional capacity, of course.

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Robert Gomez
1 Nickel

RE: Dell XPS 15 9560 with Samsung PM961 1TB, AHCI vs RAID?

Hi jphughan,

Screenshot: oi67.tinypic.com/e895hw.jpg

I'm getting the advertised speed from SK Hynix, I don't complain.

To be honest, I had a 960 EVO 250GB on my desktop a few months ago and I can tell you, it was faster than this laptop, Adobe Suite loads faster, Windows loads faster, Steam loads faster, etc.. Right now, I feel like I'm back in the 90's. When I saw the Samsung 1TB and they are accepting my hard drive and pay the difference, it seemed a good deal for me because of the speed and the capacity. I saw reviews from customers who received a PM961 on their laptops and the numbers are better than mine.

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Robert Gomez
1 Nickel

RE: Dell XPS 15 9560 with Samsung PM961 1TB, AHCI vs RAID?

Hi jphughan,

Look at this, I have found a forum where people are talking about their hard drives and one of them posted a link of a benchmark of its PM961: www.reddit.com/.../

Hes screenshot is this one: http://i.imgur.com/zxJ6UHw.png

Again, compared to my SK Hynix, the PM961 is faster and seems to be better.

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jphughan
5 Tungsten

RE: Dell XPS 15 9560 with Samsung PM961 1TB, AHCI vs RAID?

In that case, it sounds like the upgrade will deliver a noticeable improvement on your system, so if you've got somebody willing to accept your SK Hynix unit plus a bit of cash in exchange for the Samsung unit, then it sounds like a good deal. 🙂

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Robert Gomez
1 Nickel

RE: Dell XPS 15 9560 with Samsung PM961 1TB, AHCI vs RAID?

Look at this, I have found a forum where people are talking about their hard drives and one of them posted a link of a benchmark of its PM961: www.reddit.com/.../

Hes screenshot is this one: http://i.imgur.com/zxJ6UHw.png

Again, compared to my SK Hynix, the PM961 is faster and seems to be better.

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