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 until now. PCIe 4.0 SSDs were initially limited to the AMD Ryzen platform, but nevertheless, Samsung still arrived pretty much last to the party.
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
- PS5 compatible
- Can get warm
- No included heatsink
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 in an alternative machine since that launched 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 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.
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.
And from September 2021, the PlayStation 5 will accept a Samsung 980 Pro as an expansion to its internal storage. Sony has some fairly strict sounding compatibility requirements (that aren't as scary as they sound) and the Samsung 980 Pro is a confirmed match for all of them.
What this means for PS5 owners is that you can take advantage of all the speed and reliability on offer with this SSD and use it to store your console games on. And later in 2021 Samsung will begin shipping the 980 Pro with its own heatsink for a little more added peace of mind for console users.
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 can get a little warmer than some other PCIe 4.0 SSDs. Granted, it also outperforms many 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 (at least, not right now) 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. Indeed, when I've since removed it and tested it in another PC with a front-mounted m.2 slot and much better airflow, temperatures topped out at 49C (120.2F) in the same tests.
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.
But at least PCIe 4.0 SSDs like this are no longer exclusive to AMD's Ryzen platform.
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 can get a bit toasty, there's no heatsink in the box to help with that and it will certainly benefit from being mounted in a case that allows cool, refreshing air to dance across it.
But if you're looking to give your PC a beast mode upgrade, you'll find it with the Samsung 980 Pro.
Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine