With the 990 PRO, Samsung brings their new, highly anticipated high-end PCIe Gen 4.0 NVMe SSD to the market. Samsung has a history of excellent storage products, but in recent years we have seen some performance alternatives come alongside, and sometimes pass. The 990 PRO should put an end to that, according to Samsung, and should be the ultimate high-performance SSD.
Samsung 990 PRO SSD
Price €179 (1TB), €329 (2TB)
Maximum speed 6900MB/s write, 7450MB/s read
10 Score 100
- Excellent performance for easy and medium use
- Unprecedented performance in our endurance test
- 5 years warranty
- List price at launch
The Samsung 990 PRO is a classic high-end SSD if we look at the setup. They combine high-performance memory with a DRAM cache and SLC caching, and Samsung has always been good at supporting hardware encryption. Especially interesting for business, but something that many high-end SSDs lack. As a high-end option, it comes with a 5-year warranty, and a Total Bytes Written lifespan of 600 TB per Terabyte.
The 990 PRO comes in 1 TB and 2 TB capacities. A 4TB variant should launch next year, a smaller variant no longer exists. Logical, because 500 GB and smaller SSDs have not been interesting for years when it comes to price-per-Gigabyte. You can choose between a variant with or without a heatsink, but note that, as with any other Gen4 SSD, a heatsink is an absolute must if you use the drive intensively. However, whether you take the Samsung heatsink, a heatsink from your motherboard, or a 3rd party alternative (usually available for a tenner) does not matter. But without cooling, overheating is a real risk.
As is often the case, the profit does not come from a special revolution in how an SSD is put together, but in the quality of the parts. And Samsung often has an edge here because they are one of the few SSD manufacturers that makes all parts themselves. As a result, some technical specifications are unknown, or actually secret, but as long as the performance speaks, we don’t mind that.
While manufacturers often focus on the high numbers that sequential write and read actions (read: moving large files), Samsung also claims that these disks can read at up to 7450 MB/s and write 6900 MB/s. which is practically irrelevant. For this we prefer to look at real-world trace benchmarks that simulate real tasks.
Also read: Which SSDs are there and which one do you want?
However, it is here where the 990 PRO comes out exceptionally well. In the main PC Mark Full Benchmark, it scores an average of 700 MB/s, about 10 percent higher than the second in our database of more than 50 SSDs from the past few years, the WD Black SN850X, but also higher than the most competitors like the Seagate Firecuda 530, and about 50 percent higher than its predecessor, the 980 PRO (which also scored very well in our test of the best SSDs of the moment).
In our extreme endurance test, the result is even more impressive, with an average throughput of 964 MB/s, it is significantly faster than the number two, the Corsair MP600 PRO LPX with 686 MB/s, but also the 980 PRO (397 MB/s) and the SN850X (326 MB/s). That makes it by far the fastest SSD in our endurance test ever.
Samsung also focuses on gaming performance, but there it “only” has to settle for second place with an average throughput of 682 MB/s, just behind the SN850X (772 MB/s), but again faster than its predecessor the 980 PRO (548MB/s). So it is a very capable gaming SSD, but its real added value is in the heavier applications.
The Samsung 990 PRO is a giant step forward, not only for Samsung, but also compared to every other SSD we’ve seen so far, and practically every relevant SSD has passed our lab. The leap forward, especially with intensive use and very intensive use, is great, so that with the 990 PRO Samsung has again a real “Pro” drive in house: attractive for creative and data professionals.
The only downside, as always with Samsung, is the high price at launch. But it will stabilize in the coming weeks and months, after which it will become the SSD for the competition to target.