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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

WICKED FAST:
SM951 Flash Storage in Mac Pros

Originally posted April 3rd, 2015 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Updated April 27th, 2015, with SM951 with M.2 connector

The Samsung SM951 is the newest, fastest PCIe based flash storage blade. Apple is using a proprietary version in the 'early 2015' MacBook Pro Retina 13" we tested recently. We obtained a 1TB sample SM951 (with Apple proprietary connector) to test drive in a 2010 Mac Pro tower and 2013 Mac Pro 'tube.' (We added results on April 27th, 2015, for the SM951 with M.2 connector.)


GRAPH LEGEND
MPt PCIe = 'mid 2010' Mac Pro tower with SM951 (Apple connector) installed on PCIe SSD to PCIe adapter in PCIe 2.0 slot 3.
MPt M.2 PCIe = 'mid 2010' Mac Pro tower with SM951 (M.2 connector) installed on Lycom PCIe SSD to PCIe adapter in PCIe 2.0 slot 3.
nMP internal = 'late 2013' Mac Pro 'tube' with SM951 replacing internal factory flash blade
nMP TB2 = 'late 2013' Mac Pro 'tube' connected to SM951 (Apple connector) installed on PCIe SSD to PCIe adapter inside OWC Helios2 Thunderbolt 2.0 expansion box
nMP M.2 TB2 = 'late 2013' Mac Pro 'tube' connected to SM951 (M.2 connector) installed on Lycom PCIe SSD to PCIe adapter inside OWC Helios2 Thunderbolt 2.0 expansion box
rMBP internal = 'early 2015' Retina MacBook Pro 13" with internal 512G factory SM951

RED graph bar means the fastest overall in Megabytes per Second.

LARGE SEQUENTIAL TRANSFER TEST
We used AJA System Test to test file level sequential transfer speed using a 16GB test document.

SMALL RANDOM TRANSFER TEST
We used a range of 4K to 1024K blocks in the Standard Random test in QuickBench as a predictor boot volume 'house keeping' performance and a simulation of an application that does multiple small random transfers.

BOOM!
The Samsung SM951 flash blade is the bomb. It is a compelling option to boost the storage speed of your Mac Pro 2009+.

CAVEATS
1. If you are installing it in the PCIe bay of your 2009-2012 Mac Pro tower, you must use slot 3 or 4 to get the transfer rates we reported. If you install it in slot 2, it will work but the link speed drops from 5.0GT/s to 2.5GT/s resulting in a maximum transfer speed of 786MB/s.

2. The first sample we tested had the proprietary connector that Apple uses in the newest Macs with flash storage. That is why we were able to install it inside the 2013 Mac Pro. If you plan to install it in a your 2009-2012 Mac Pro tower's PCIe bay or in a Thunderbolt-to-PCIe expansion box, you will need a PCIe board with the matching connector. The PCIe boards with the generic M.2 connector will not work.

UPDATE: OS X El Capitan's 'trimforce' command enables TRIM on the SM951 M.2 and other 'non-Apple' flash storage.

Our sample SM951 with Apple connector came courtesy of MacVidCards who is negotiating with a source in hopes of offering it to you as an upgrade option.

Thanks to RamCity, we obtained a sample of the SM951 with M.2 connector. Using the Lycom M.2 PCIe SSD to PCIe adapter, we were able to test it inside our 2010 Mac Pro as well as inside a Thunderbolt 2.0 expansion box (OWC Helios2) connected to the 2013 Mac Pro's Thunderbolt 2.0 port.

RELATED
Anandtech has a detailed review of the SM951 with the M.2 connector.

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WHERE TO BUY SM951
Contact
MacVidCards for Samsung SM951 with Apple proprietary connector.

Contact RamCity for Samsung SM951 AHCI M.2 PCie 3.0 x4 80mm SSD. They also sell the Lycom M.2 PCIe SSD to PCIe x4 adapter we used to mount it in the Mac Pro tower and Thunderbolt PCIe expansion box. One time 5% off discount code: barefeats (Expires 8/12/2015)

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copyright 2015 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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