Let me start by saying this. Samsung's SSDs are a personal favorite of mine. The various PCs in our house all have at least one Samsung drive inside. Why? Because they make the best SSDs. The quality and performance are phenomenal, you get a great warranty for added peace of mind and helpful companion software to extract the very best.
But there's been one glaring hole in Samsung's SSD lineup for a while now. PCIe 4.0 SSDs are limited to the AMD Ryzen platform, but nevertheless, Samsung is pretty much last to the party. The 980 Pro has previously leaked and silently appeared in places on the web, but it's now official, a product you can buy and put inside your own Ryzen-based PC.
But was the wait worth it?
Bottom line: Samsung's 980 Pro isn't the absolute fastest PCIe 4.0 drive you can buy, but it continues the company's tradition of blistering performance, quality, and a fair price.
- Insane performance
- Attractive pricing
- Great warranty
- Choice of capacity
- Gets warm
- Limited functionality in Samsung Magician
- PCIe 4.0 limited to only AMD X570 and B550 platform (performance limited on other systems)
Samsung 980 Pro delivers on performance
The Samsung 980 Pro is the SSD I've been most excited to finally get my hands on all year. Why? Because the Korean giant has a legendary reputation in the space and every one of its most recent releases has been an absolute barnstormer. I've been using a Samsung 970 EVO Plus in one of my machines since it came out because it was the best of its time.
Samsung has taken its time getting into PCIe 4.0 but it's certainly worth the wait.
Spec-wise here's what we're looking at.
|Capacity||250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB (coming later in 2020)|
|Interface||PCIe Gen4 x4, / NVMe 1.3c Compliant|
|DRAM||512MBV LPDDR4 (250GB, 500GB)
1GB LPDDR4 (1TB)
|Sequential read||Up to 7,000 MB/s|
|Sequential write||Up to 5,000 MB/s|
|Random read||Up to 1,000K IOPS|
|Random write||Up to 1,000K IOPS|
|Endurance||Up to 600 TBW|
|NAND||Samsung V-NAND 3-bit MLC|
There's little else to talk about in terms of the raw product, it's a black PCB like all other Samsung NVMe drives and a regular m.2 size. In terms of warranty and endurance, it's on par with other leading SSDs from Samsung and competitors.
Why you really want one of these is the performance. And let's not beat around the bush, it's astronomically fast. I've been using a Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 SSD for all of 2020 so far and in almost every test the 980 Pro has blown it out of the water. The maximum read speeds of the 980 Pro are around double those of the previous generation 970 EVO Plus, Samsung's previous top dog.
In CrystalDiskMark you can see the difference between the Samsung 980 Pro, the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0, and the Samsung 970 EVO Plus.
It's a similar story in the ATTO Disk Benchmark, too, with the 980 Pro topping out at an eye-watering 6.14GB/s, compared to the 5.26 GB/s the Sabrent Rocket managed to hit. Samsung's own Magician Software has slightly different results again but along the same theme. Extremely fast.
It's worth also noting that the review sample I have is the middle 500GB capacity, and as is always true in these tests, the maximum performance comes from the higher capacity models. The 500GB 980 Pro is absurdly fast, and the larger versions will only go up from there. The 2TB model isn't currently ready but is promised before the end of 2020.
Will you notice this in real-life? On an average day to day use, probably not. Though that also depends on what you're upgrading from. If you're moving from a SATA SSD to one of these, for example, there will be a noticeable difference in how fast everything on your PC is.
Games launch faster, install times for even large programs are incredibly fast and you'll never, ever be waiting for your storage to catch up with you. Where drives like this make the most sense is for anyone handling a lot of very large files, because the data speeds here are going to really make a difference.
Where the Samsung 980 Pro could be better
The Samsung 980 Pro is a truly magnificent SSD, but it's not perfect. The first thing to point out is the temperatures. This thing gets warm. Many PCIe 4.0 SSDs have shipped with a heatsink in the box because they all get warm. AMD X570 motherboards that also handle PCIe 4.0 have been shipping with fans over their chipsets because they get warm.
Lots of performance like this usually leads to increased temperatures, but the 980 Pro gets a little warmer than the PCIe 4.0 SSD I've been living with this year. Granted, it also outperforms that quite handily, but it's something to be aware of. After benchmarks, the Samsung Magician app was reporting a maximum temperature of 61C (141.8F) and a warning it was too toasty.
Samsung doesn't ship a heatsink so you could experiment with a third-party solution, but it's also worth highlighting that in my PC case the PCIe 4.0 SSD slot is on the back of the motherboard, so there's not a lot of airflow. If it were mounted on the front with air being drawn over it from the intake fans chances are it wouldn't be quite as warm.
I'm also a little disappointed with the Samsung Magician features. Admittedly this could improve over time since I've been using a pre-launch sample, but aside from seeing the status of the drive and running a performance test, all the other useful features in Magician come up as unavailable for the 980 Pro.
Believe it or not, the Samsung 980 Pro isn't the absolute fastest SSD out there, either. Sabrent has a competing product hitting the market that promises a performance match on read speeds but edges it on write, likewise, Adata has recently announced a drive that has an edge on paper. In the grand scheme of things, this is a non-issue, but if you shop for the absolute fastest, Samsung has competition now.
And of course, the continued elephant in the room for PCIe 4.0 SSDs in general. If you're running an Intel build, move along, because the current crop of Intel CPUs don't support the standard. If you're running a Ryzen 3000 Series or latest Threadripper CPU in your system, you're golden.
Should you buy the Samsung 980 Pro?
If you're looking to build your PC with the best possible storage then you should always consider a Samsung SSD and the new 980 Pro is absolutely no exception. It has all the trademarks of other Samsung SSDs like incredible quality, intuitive software, and a great warranty backed up by one important party piece.
The Samsung 980 Pro offers truly astonishing performance.
The flip side is that it gets a bit toasty, there's no heatsink in the box to help with that and you still can't use it to its full potential on the Intel platform.
But if you're looking to give your PC a beast mode upgrade, you'll find it with the Samsung 980 Pro.
The Samsung 980 Pro is scheduled to go on sale in September 2020 in 250GB, 500GB and 1TB capacities with a 2TB model following before the end of the year. Prices start at $90 for 250GB, $150 for 500GB and $230 for the 1TB version.
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