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Samsung 990 PRO vs 980 PRO: Getting to the Bottom of It

Today we have the latest Samsung drive to review - it’s the 990 Pro PCIe 4.0 NVMe m.2 SSD. If you are considering purchasing a solid-state drive and are unsure whether to choose the new 990 model or the previous generation 980 model, then you'll definitely want to stick around for this one.



The Samsung 990 Pro is an upgrade to an already very fast 980 Pro drive from a few years ago. 990 Pro has read and write speeds of up to 7450 MB/s and 6900 MB/s, respectively, which is fast! It also comes in capacities of up to 2TB currently, and Samsung promised the long awaited 4TB version in 2023, so you'll have plenty of storage space for all your important files and programs.


When it comes to price, the 990 Pro is definitely on the higher end of the spectrum. However, considering its impressive specs and performance, it may be worth the investment for power users and professionals who need the fastest and most reliable storage possible. Let’s dig deeper and see what the differences are.

The 2TB version of the new drive has significantly faster maximum sequential read and write speeds, with a 38% faster write speed in particular. In addition, the new drive has significantly higher Random Write IOPS at a Queue Depth of 1 and higher Random Read and Write IOPS at a QD of 32.


These improved performance metrics can have a number of benefits for users. For example, faster sequential read and write speeds can allow for faster transfer of large files, such as high-definition video or large datasets. This can be especially useful for professionals working with large files on a regular basis. Similarly, higher Random Write IOPS can allow for faster write speeds when working with smaller files or performing tasks such as saving a document or downloading a file. Higher Random Read and Write IOPS at a QD of 32 can also improve the overall performance of the drive, especially when working with multiple tasks or applications at the same time.


Overall, the improved performance of the new drive can lead to a more efficient and smoother experience for users. But that is on paper. Let’s put them head to head to see which one is actually better.

The first test is within Samsung’s own Magician software which by the way prompted and helped me update firmware on the 980 Pro drive. If you own a Samsung drive, it may be worth checking if you have an update due. As far as performance benchmark - we got over 1 GB/s faster write speeds and way higher random read and write IOPS.


While going through this software, there are few dials you can tweak to get a bit more performance out of either one of these drives, but we left ours in standard mode as it is most likely the mode people will stay on. The other things you can toggle are trim and over provisioning. I would personally keep trim on all the time.

Let’s move to a more detailed test! In the Crystal Disk Mark benchmark test, the Samsung 980 Pro and 990 Pro were compared in terms of their read and write speeds, as well as several other parameters. In the peak performance test, the 990 Pro had a higher write speed compared to the 980 Pro, with a difference of over 1GB, or about 28% faster. In the mixed test, the 990 Pro also had a higher write speed compared to the 980 Pro, with a difference of nearly 30%.


However, when the benchmark test was run using a real-world test preset, the results were slightly different. The 990 Pro still had a higher write speed compared to the 980 Pro, with a difference of about 1.1GB and about 11% higher write IOPS. The 990 Pro also had a lower latency compared to the 980 Pro, with a difference of about 10%.


To verify these results we also ran ATTO Disk Benchmark and saw similar performance delta. While the old drive was peaking at 5.39 GB per second write speed and 6.45 GB per second read speed depending on IO size, the new drive hits 6 GB per second Write and 6.16 GB per second Read. What is interesting in this example, the new drive actually has lower Read speed than advertised, as a reminder - its advertised speed is 7.45 GB per second. We re-ran this test and found the results are not really changing.

Overall, these results suggest that the 990 Pro has faster write speeds and lower latency compared to the 980 Pro in both peak performance and real-world conditions. This could make the 990 Pro a better choice for certain tasks that involve writing large amounts of data.


In the final test, we filled a drive from empty to full and then read the file to verify its contents in a continuous H2 Test. This resulted in a slightly faster write speed of about 8% and a similar read speed. While this did shave off about 1.5 minutes in this particular workload, whether or not it is worth it depends on your needs. Which leads us well to the conclusion - given the choice, which one of these two drives should you get?

The answer is actually not that simple. Depending on where you are located, you may not see a significant difference in price between the two. For most users, the slight improvement in performance will likely be unnoticeable, and any saved money would be better spent on other PC components or saved for future use.


On the other hand, if you are running a business that frequently handles large amounts of data, this upgrade may help you save time, which could potentially offset the cost of the upgrade over time. Even saving just a few seconds here and there could potentially be worthwhile. Since this is a PRO drive, it does come with a 5 year warranty and Samsung rates these drives for 1200 TBW. Well, our 980 pro drive here is actually way past that at 2177 TBW and as you can see is running really well so you are covered there. Also the new 990 PRO will finally have a 4 TB version which I can’t wait to check out in the future. Let me know in the comments below what size drive you are using now and plan to use in the near future.

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Affiliate disclosure: as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.


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