NVME SSDs have been against the limitation of PCI Express Gen 3 for a while, with maximum speeds around 3500 MB / s. Thanks to PCIe Gen4, as present on the latest AMD motherboards, considerably higher speeds are possible. Samsung’s new SSD 980 PRO should make the most of that.
Samsung SSD 980 PRO
price € 249 euros (1TB), € 169 euros (500GB) € 99 euros (250GB). 2TB price unknown.
Capacities 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
Form Factor M.2 2280
Protocol NVMe (PCIe Gen4 and Gen3 compatible)
Maximum speed ~ 5125 MB / s Write, ~ 6500 MB / s Read
8 Score 80
- Fastest SSD (PCIe Gen 4)
- Extreme read and write speeds
- Practical application limited
- Hefty price
First one step back, what makes one Samsung PRO ssd now actually PRO? Traditionally, that has been 2-bit mlc memory, better reliability statistics, and a better warranty. The 2-bit memory, compared to 3-bit in most common SSDs, meant that they park less data per memory cell, with higher speeds and less wear as a result. While the 960 PRO and 970 PRO were very expensive, they stood alone in terms of performance and durability.
To keep the 980 PRO a little more affordable, Samsung deviates from that line, opting for a more traditional 3-bit mlc structure with a focus on fast and smart cache. So the 980 PRO is less PRO, and more in line with their mainstream EVO / EVO Plus drives. That in itself is no shame, after all, SSDs hardly break even in extreme scenarios, but it will disappoint the enthusiasts looking for that feeling of ultimate reliability.
So the pressure is entirely on performance. Samsung’s new controller and latest generation of flash memory is doing very well in that regard: we see unprecedented high speeds in data transfers, approx. 5125 MB / s writing and approx. 6500 MB / s reading makes the 980 PRO faster than other Gen4 SSDs at the moment. on the market. At least, as long as you have something on the other side that can read or write just as quickly, the chance that the 980 PRO will be your bottleneck is nil.
And that is the immediate challenge, because the number of real uses in which these speeds actually offer added value are few. Gamers are better off with a bigger sata ssd for the same money, even sata ssd’s don’t load games slower than the fastest nvme ssd’s of the moment. And although creatives do benefit from a fast NVME SSD, especially if you work with 4K video, the difference is noticeable above older SSDs, the difference between an already excellent 970 EVO Plus and the 980 PRO is simply not noticeable in practice. An extra large capacity could have offered added value, but for the time being the 2TB variant will be the largest 980 PRO, and that is not something new.
It’s crucial for the future that manufacturers continue to push the boundaries, and the 980 PRO actually leaves other Gen4 SSDs behind. However, given the small impact on the majority of the user purposes, plus the fact that Samsung lets the traditional PRO advantages a bit, makes the 980 PRO mainly a theoretical upgrade for the time being. If you really profit from those speeds, it is interesting, for most end users it is mainly a showcase of what they will experience as “normal” in a few years’ time.