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Samsung 980 Pro SSD review

Thanks to its lack of an included heatsink and modest performance, the Samsung 980 Pro is a little disappointing compared to its PCIe 4 SSD competition.

Samsung 980 Pro review

Our Verdict

79%

Some decent performance results, but the competition has now caught up.

Samsung’s highly anticipated first PCI-E 4 SSD, the 980 Pro, uses Samsung’s own Elpis controller along with 3D TLC NAND memory. However, it failed to convincingly win us over in our original review due to its then high price.

This has now fallen to $183 for a 1TB 980 Pro, meaning the Samsung drive now sits level with the latest generation of Phison PCI-E 4 SSDs, instead of a price step above them, with Samsung’s Elpis controller going up against the Phison E18 as well as the WD Black G2.

 

Samsung has paired its V-NAND TLC memory with both DRAM and SLC caches, with around 114GB available in total for stashing data at faster speeds than the relatively slow TLC memory can otherwise provide. That’s a smaller cache setup than the competition, but Samsung claims the drive can maintain up to a 2,000MB/sec write speed outside of TLC caching.

The 2TB model boasts an impressive 1,200 terabytes written (TBW) rating, although this falls to a more average 600TBW with the 1TB model we reviewed, which is less than Samsung’s MLC-based predecessors.

No heatsink is included other than Samsung’s usual thin copper strip on the underside, and unsurprisingly the peak temperature hit a toasty 79°C during testing. However, as with the cheaper 980, the 980 Pro didn’t seem to exhibit any thermal throttling here, sticking to the same speeds we saw when using our motherboard’s heatsink. That said, using that heatsink resulted in the temperature falling by over 20°C, so it’s definitely worth fitting a heatsink if you have one.

Meanwhile, the 980 Pro also offers Samsung’s Magician software, which allows you to see drive information, run performance benchmarks, adjust over-provisioning and run performance optimization, as well as view the drive’s health and how much data has been written to it. Samsung offers free separate data migration software for its drive as well, which is more than you get from some of the competition.

In terms of raw performance, the Samsung 980 Pro’s peak sequential read and write speeds in CrystalDiskMark of 6,662MB/sec and 4,926MB/sec respectively are still pretty decent. That’s significantly quicker than PCI-E 3 drives, although some other high-speed PCI-E 4 drives we’ve tested managed to get over the 7,000MB/sec read speed and above 5,300MB/sec write speed as well. It’s fair to say that the competition has largely caught up now.

Also, while the 980 Pro’s 4K random read test in the same software was on par with the likes of the Corsair MP600 Pro and WD Black SN850, the 4K random write speed of 1,636MB/sec was around 200MBsec slower. AS-SSD also showed the 980 Pro’s sequential write speed, 4K random read and 4K random write speeds being lower.

It was only in the 4K 64-thread peak IOPS results that the Samsung 980 Pro was a little more competitive, coming second behind the WD SN850, massively outpacing the two Phison-based SSDs and coming a clear first place in the write test.

Samsung 980 Pro pros and cons

Pros

  • Fast sequential performance
  • Above average endurance rating
  • Cheaper than other high-speed SSDs

Cons

  • Not the fastest in all tests
  • Slim heatsink couldn’t prevent throttling
  • WD SN850 is slightly cheaper

Samsung 980 Pro specs

The Samsung 980 Pro specs list is:

Interface PCI-E 4
Max capacity 1TB
Formatted capacity 953GB
Controller InnoGrit IG5236
Endurance rating 740TBW (2TB)
Warranty Five years
NAND TLC

Samsung 980 Pro price

Price: Expect to pay $183 for 1TB

Samsung 980 Pro review conclusion

Despite a price cut, the Samsung 980 Pro is still a tad lackluster, as its performance now lags behind the competition. We didn’t need a heatsink to get the most out of it, but it was still quite a long way behind the latest high-speed competing drives in a few tests. In particular, the WD Black SN850 offered more consistent performance, and while it will need a heatsink to remain cool, it also costs noticeably less money. Meanwhile, the ADATA XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite won’t be noticeably slower in real-world use and costs a lot less money.

Looking for more storage upgrade options? Check out our guide to the best gaming SSD where we recommend options for every budget, with 1TB drives starting from just $55.