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Samsung 990 Pro vs Samsung 980 Pro: Which one to buy?

    Samsung has released its pretty powerful 990 Pro SSD. This is Samsung’s first SSD capable of going above 7,000 MB/s read speed. The maximum write speed is still below 7,000 MB/s but still, there are various good things to see. There are bad things as well.

    So, today, in this article, we are going to compare two of Samsung’s top Gen 4 NVMe SSDs. Yes, we are going to compare Samsung 980 Pro with the all-new Samsung 990 Pro.

    I am not able to get my hands on the new Samsung 990 Pro but as you all know the benchmarks of the 990 Pro are all around. So, I am going to be comparing both of these here in this article and we will talk about whether the 990 Pro is worth upgrading or not.

    So, let’s get started.

    SpecificationSamsung 990 ProSamsung 980 Pro
    Storage Variants1TB, 2TB250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
    Theoretical Read Speed (Seq)7,450 MB/s7,000 MB/s
    Theoretical Write Speed (Seq)6,900 MB/s5,000 MB/s
    Random Read SpeedUp to 1.40 M1,000K IOPS
    Random Write SpeedUp to 1.55 M1,000K IOPS
    Warranty5 Years5 Years
    Heatsink OptionAvailableAvailable
    PriceCheck AmazonCheck Amazon

    There is a big jump in the specifications if we look at both sequential and random read/write performance. However, most of the other things remain the same. We will get to see some other differences later on but for now, let’s see the benchmark differences.

    The benchmark scores for Samsung 990 Pro are collected from TomsHardware and some other reliable sources. These are some basic comparisons to highlight the differences on the surface level. However, some of the tests are done on my own test bench. Let’s get started with the comparison.

    Test Bench Specifications are:

    CPU: Intel Core i5 12600K

    RAM: DDR5 8x2GB 4800 MHz

    Primary Storage: SP UD90 Gen4 NVMe 1TB

    Motherboard: MSI Pro Z690-A

    The CrystalDiskMark software is a free and user-friendly tool for SSD and HDD benchmarking. You can easily see the sequential and random read/write performance of your desired drives.

    For our test, we are seeing results for 1MB sequential test with 1GB File size at 8 Queues and 1 Thread.

    sequential read/write scores comparison bar graph (980 Pro vs 990 Pro)

    In this random read/write test, we see results for 4KB I/O size and 1GB File size. The Queue level is 1 and the thread level is 1 as well.

    sequential read/write scores comparison bar graph (980 Pro vs 990 Pro)

    As you can see, there is a huge difference in the random write speed. Samsung 990 Pro is reaching the highest limits of Gen 4 NVMe SSDs beating the 990 Pro with huge margins. So, clearly, the 990 is a winner here if we look at both random and sequential read/write performance

    This test is designed specifically to test any SSD’s gaming capabilities. So, if your goal is to install your SSD in your PlayStation or to generally use it for gaming, this score should matter to you.

    3DMark Test Results bar graph

    980 Pro doesn’t come with any Full Power or dedicated game mode. So, it has a single result which again is very low as compared to the Samsung 990 Pro. So, in terms of gaming capabilities, Samsung 990 Pro is again the winner.

    AS SSD Benchmark scores is another easy-to-use an versatile software to benchmark our storage drives. It not only shows your different types of sequential and random speed results but also give you read and write scores by the end of the tests. That is what we have compared below in the graph.

    AS SSD Benchmark Scores Comparison bar graph

    The Full Drive Benchmark test on PCMark10 software replicates different kinds of real-world tasks including Windows booting, Adobe applications, MS Applications, games loading, games saving, file copying/pasting, etc. So, a higher score always means a better real-world performance.

    Here, again the Samsung 990 Pro is winning the battle by huge numbers.

    ParameterSamsung 990 ProSamsung 980 Pro
    TBW1TB: 600 TBW
    2TB: 1,200 TBW
    250GB: 150 TBW
    500GB: 300 TBW
    1TB: 600 TBW
    2TB: 1,200 TBW
    Warranty5-Years Limited Warranty5-Years Limited Warranty
    MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure)1.50 Million Hours1.50 Million Hours

    The TBW levels for all the matching variants are the same. Also, the MTBF and warranty periods are same in the both. So, there is nothing much to talk about here. Samsung’s products are much more reliable when it comes to using them under huge loads in any environments.

    SpecificationSamsung 990 ProSamsung 980 Pro
    NAND Flash TypeTLCTLC
    NAND Flash Layers236128(136)
    ControllerSamsung’s Pascal ControllerSamsung’s Elpis Controller
    Controller ConfigurationsNot SpecifiedNot Specified
    Heatsink OptionAvailableAvailable

    As we discussed earlier, the 990 Pro is equipped with much more powerful components as compared to the 980 Pro. More NAND Flash Layers along with a much more powerful controller contribute a lot to Samsung 990 Pro’s performance.

    It would have been a great thing if the 990 Pro came with the MLC NAND instead of TLC.

    By the time I am writing this article, the 1TB variant of the 990 Pro is around 40$ expensive as compared to the 980 Pro. For some buyers, it is a pretty huge amount. So, the price could be a big deciding factor here.

    Samsung 990 Pro is clearly made for high-end users and it surely comes with a lot of advantages. The performance difference is huge.

    But, I think this SSD will not give any major advantage over the 980 Pro in the real-time application for normal users. There is going to be a substantial difference for those who work with frequent huge-volume data read/write tasks.

    But, I don’t think it is worth upgrading to the 990 Pro if you are using the 980 Pro. I say this by looking at the price difference. The 2TB variant of the 990 Pro is priced at around 100$ more than the 980 Pro.

    So, if you have enough budget, the Samsung 990 Pro is definitely a worthy SSD. It is made for high-end users, gamers, etc. If you just want to keep on with the trends, you can surely go for it.

    Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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    3 months ago

    I was expecting Samsung to include MLC in the 990 Pro. But, still the performance is pretty impressive to see. The benchmarks are looking great. I will wait to see if the price gets a little down. Thanks for the comparison.