Samsung SSD 980 Pro NVMe review: the major advantage of PCIe 4.0
In terms of performance, Samsung’s latest NVMe PCIe 4 SSD rises to the top with 7 GB/s read and 5 GB/s write.
The SSD 980 Pro regains its title – and more. If the previous 970 Pro SSD had won and ultimately lost its title to more deserving competitors, this latest generation of SSDs beats them all to the post. Of course, to take full advantage of it, a computer with the PCIe 4.0 interface is essential, an option available only on machines equipped with the latest generation AMD Ryzen chip. In PCIe 3.0, the 980 Pro is still excellent, but barely on par with its competitors.
Design and specifications
The 980 Pro has the same 2280 form factor (22mm wide by 80mm long) as all common NVMe SSDs, and it comes bare-bones, i.e. without a heat sink. The controller is based on Samsung’s in-house Elpis design. NAND, type TLC V-NAND from Samsung, is called 3-bit MLC by the manufacturer. Samsung clarified that NAND contains “1xx” layers. It’s not clear what that means, but with a 40% higher capacity, we can assume it has around 128 layers. DDR4 DRAM cache varies by capacity. The 256GB ($100) and 512GB ($170) versions come with 512MB of cache, and the 1TB model, tested here, has 1GB of cache ($250). The 2 TB model, whose price is not yet known, will have 2 GB of cache.
In terms of cost per gigabyte, the 980 Pro is in the upper tier of NVMe SSDs. In short, it is expensive. These cards are backed by a five-year limited warranty, with a lifespan of 150TBW (TeraBytes Written) per 256GB of rated capacity. This maximum number of terabytes that can be written to is a bit meager for a high-end SSD. But this represents 41 GB of write data per day for 10 years, well beyond the uses of an average user (reads do not count). But as we know, the relationship between the duration of guarantees and the TBW is mainly to discourage companies from using cheaper consumer SSDs.
Samsung’s 980 Pro outperforms all NVMe SSDs we’ve tested when used with PCIe 4.0. With the PCIe 3.0 standard, it’s still on top, but less impressive. Especially considering the price and a fairly low TBW. (Credit: Samsung)
Testing more than confirmed Samsung’s advertised 7GB/s read and 5GB/s write performance over PCIe 4, at least with the CrystalDiskMark 6 benchmark, which was used to compare it to other benchmarks. previous SSD tests. Admittedly, real-world transfers won’t be at the level of synthetic results, as Windows is a pretty crippling performance bottleneck, but the 980 Pro still beat them. Also for now, only machines with the latest AMD Ryzen chip have access to PCIe 4 and the 11th Gen Intel Tiger Lake chips, and the next Rocket Lake processors, support PCIe 4. In general, we don’t We don’t post screenshots of the tests, but this one is worth a look. The results achieved by the 980 Pro in the 1 TB version from Samsung are impressive. But the 256GB version showed roughly the same numbers.
We don’t normally show CDM results as screenshots, but it’s so impressive we had to, even though it doesn’t quite hold up to real-world OS use. (Credit: IDG)
We compared the 980 Pro to the other NVMe PCIe 4 SSD, Seagate’s Phison 16-based FireCuda 520, which they had previously tested. Even though the 980 Pro outperforms the FireCuda 520 in sustained throughput, the latter beat the 980 Pro by just, but by enough, in several random 4K tests.
In this test, the 980 Pro SSD is significantly faster than the Seagate FireCuda 520 Phison, as well as in the 48GB transfer tests – with PCIe 4. The 980 Pro is also fast with PCIe 3, but not fast enough to justify its high price. (Credit: IDG)
The results (see below) of the real-world 48GB file transfer test are also very impressive, so much so that the 980 Pro is the first PCIe 4 SSD tested by our peers offering an advantage in the world real for sustained transfers. In this test, the FireCuda 520 fell short.
With a device powered by the latest generation Ryzen chip with PCIe 4, the 980 Pro slashed the transfer time of a 48GB file by more than a minute. This was the best result ever in any test. previous ones. (Credit: IDG)
Let’s come back – a bit – to reality: if we transfer enough data to the 980 Pro, the write speed will increase from 2.25 GB/s to around 1.75 GB/s. This is what our colleagues noticed when copying 450 GB of data (see below).
This slight drop from 2.25 Gbits/s to 1.75 Gbits/s took place after copying 30% of the data (about 135 GB). (Credit: IDG)
If one tries to use the disk while it is cleaning up, or if there is not enough NAND (if the disk is almost full) to allocate part of it as secondary cache, the speed of writing can drop to 350MB/s. This is what our colleagues found with the 256GB model after several transfers of 48GB, followed almost immediately by a TRIM operation, then another copy of a single file of 48 GB. They specify that this has never happened under normal conditions of use. Extended write dips are not a practical problem in 99.9% of the situations with the largest capacities, and in 99% of the situations with the smallest capacities. But it does illustrate the importance of caching and caching algorithms to the performance of today’s NVMe SSDs.
PCIe 3 testing was performed under Windows 10 64-bit, on a Core i7-5820K/Asus X99 Deluxe system with four 16GB Kingston 2666MHz DDR4 modules, a Zotac (NVidia) GT 710 1GB x2 PCIe graphics card and a Asmedia ASM2142 USB 3.1. A Gigabyte GC-Alpine Thunderbolt 3 card, and Softperfect Ramdisk 3.4.6 for 48GB read and write tests were part of the setup. PCIe 4 testing was performed on an MSI MEG X570 motherboard with an AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8-core processor and using the same Kingston DDR memory and software.
An especially obvious choice in PCIe 4
With the PCIe 4.0 bus, the Samsung 980 Pro is an excellent NVMe SSD, the fastest ever tested in our magazine. If you are lucky enough to own a latest generation Ryzen system, then this SSD is the choice. In PCIe 3.0, it will be difficult to tell the difference between the 980 Pro and other SSDs that are half the price and are quite widespread on the market today. Considering the low TBW rating, it’s not the best deal, especially for 4K or 8K editing tasks, which can involve processing a lot of data. But the question may arise differently, if you plan to update your PC later to benefit from PCIe 4. It’s up to you!