Friday, October 15th, 2021 • Welcome to the 💯 No-Nonsense Tech Zone! • 😷 Get Vaxxed 💉!

Samsung 980 PRO Review: A Game Changer in NVMe Performance

The Samsung 980 PRO NVMe SSD, first released in September 2020, is the flagship upgrade to the 970 PRO of mid-2018.

What’s most significant, the new internal storage device is the electronic giant’s first consumer-grade NVMe SSD that supports the latest PCIe 4.0 standard instead of the popular decade-old PCIe 3.0.

And in my testing, the drive worked well with either standard and proved to be the speediest SSD to date when used with the former.

To cut to the chase, if you’re looking to give your computer a performance boost, this new Samsung is an excellent buy. The drive is reasonably priced, too, costing $89.99, $149.99, $229.99, and $429.99 for 250 GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB respectively. The new 980 PRO has a significantly lower cost per gig ratio than the 970 PRO. I recommend it.

Dong’s note: I first published this review on September 22, 2020, and updated it on January 29, 2021, with the release of the 2TB version.

Samsung 980 PRO
The 980 PRO is Samsung’s first PCIe 4.0 NVMe solid-state drive, available in up to 2TB.

Samsung 980 PRO's Rating

9 out of 10
Samsung SSD 980 Pro 1
Performance
9.5/10
Features
9/10
Value
8.5/10

Pros

PCIe 4.0 support, excellent performance

Reasonably priced

Backward compatible with PCIe Gen 3

Helpful Samsung Magician software with lots of useful settings and features

5-year warranty

Cons

Half the endurance rating of the 970 PRO

No larger capacities than 2TB

Samsung 980 PRO: The new era of PCIe 4.0 NVMe is here

The Samsung 980 PRO is easily one of the most significant upgrades. It’s one of the first on the market that uses the new PCIe 4.0 standard with up to some 7000 megabytes per second bandwidth.

See also  SSD Explained: Everything You Need To Know about Solid-State Drives
PCIe
Gen
Commercially AvailableRate per lane
(rounded)
x1 
Speed
x2
Speed
x4
Speed
x8
Speed
x16 Speed
120032 Gbps250 MB/s0.5 GB/s1.0 GB/s2 GB/s4.0 GB/s
220074 Gbps500 MB/s1 GB/s2.0 GB/s4 GB/s8.0 GB/s
320108 Gbps984.6 MB/s1.97 GB/s3.94 GB/s7.88 GB/s15.8 GB/s
4202016 Gbps1969 MB/s3.94 GB/s7.88 GB/s15.75 GB/s31.5 GB/s
5TBD32 Gbps3938 MB/s7.88 GB/s15.75 GB/s31.51 GB/s63 GB/s
PCI Express PCIe in brief
Note: 1 Gigabyte per second (GB/s) = 1000 Megabyte per second (MB/s) | 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) = 125 MB/s

PCIe 4.0 first became available in 2017, but its rate of adoption has been slow. That’s self-evident since we need to wait until now to start seeing applications like the 980 PRO. But it’s better late than never.

By the way, the new SSD works with PCIe 3.0, too, but at slower performance. In other words, you can use it in any place where any existing NVMe drive fits.

Sasung SSD 980 Pro 5
At a glance, you can easily mistake the Samsung 980 PRO for the 970 PRO.

Hardware specifications: Samsung 980 PRO vs. 970 PRO

The 980 PRO looks almost identical to the 970 PRO. The two share the same design and many features and can work interchangeably. What sets them apart is their performance grade.

Samsung SSD 980 PROSamsung SSD 970 PRO
Capacities250GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB512GB, 1TB
InterfacePCIe 4.0 x4, NVMe 1.3cPCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.3
DesignM.2 (2280) M.2 (2280) 
ControllerSamsung Elpis ControllerSamsung Phoenix Controller 
NAND Flash MemorySamsung 1xx-layer V-NAND 3-bit MLCSamsung 3rd-Gen V-NAND 2-bit MLC
CacheDDR4
512MB (500GB, 250GB)
 1GB (1TB)
2GB (2TB) 
DDR 4
512MB (512GB) 
1GB (1TB) 
SecurityAES 256-bit Full Disk Encryption, 
TCG/Opal V2.0, 
Encrypted Drive (IEEE1667)
AES 256-bit Full Disk Encryption, 
TCG/Opal V2.0, 
Encrypted Drive (IEEE1667)
Sequential ReadUp to 7,000 MB/sUp to 3,500MB/s
Sequential WriteUp to 5,000 MB/sUp to 2,700MB/s
Random Read 
(QD32 Thread 4)
Up to 1,000K IOPSUp to 500K IOPS
Random Write 
(QD32 Thread 4)
Up to 1,000K IOPSUp to 500K IOPS
Endurance 
(Terabyte Written)
1200TBW (2TB)
600TBW (1TB)
300TBW (500GB
150TBW (250GB)
1200TBW (1TB)
600TBW (512GB) 
SoftwareSamsung MagicianSamsung Magician
Warranty5 years5 years
Hardware specifications: Samsung 980 PRO vs. 970 PRO

Faster speeds, but half the endurance

Per the hardware specs of PCIe 4.0, the 980 PRO can deliver twice the previous model’s performance. In return, though, it has just half the endurance rating. That’s because, on the inside, it uses a new and more affordable type of flash memory.

Specifically, you can write up to 600TB to the 1TB version before it becomes unreliable, compared to 1200TB of the 970 PRO.

It’s always disappointing to have a lower endurance rating, but it’s important to note that the 970 PRO’s endurance level is quite extreme. That said, the 980 PRO has plenty of life, and chances are you will need to replace your computer way before you have to worry about its longevity.

Indeed, if you write some 50GB, which is a lot of data, a day and do that every day to the 1TB version, it’ll take some 30 years to wear the drive out. If you use the 500GB or 250GB versions, you’ll still need 15 years and 7.5 years, respectively.

At the minimum, Samsung gives the drive a generous 5-year warranty.

Samsung 980 PRO’s detail photos

Samsung 980 PRO Box
The Samsung 980 PRO’s retail box.

Sasung SSD 980 Pro 8
With the 980 PRO, Samsung has entered the new era of PCIe 4.0’s performance.
Sasung SSD 980 Pro 9
The flip side of the Samsung 980 PRO.

Sasung SSD 980 Pro 6
From this side, it’s quite different from the 970 PRO (top).

Sasung SSD 980 Pro Installed
Here’s the Samsung 980 PRO installed on an M.2 slot.

Samsung 980 PRO vs Samsung 870 EVO
The 2TB Samsung 980 PRO and the 2TB Samsung 870 EVO.

A familiar SSD at heart

Despite supporting the next-gen PCIe, the Samsung 980 PRO is a familiar NVMe SSD. It comes in the standard 2280 design — it’s 22 mm wide and 80 mm long — and requires an M.2 slot to work. The drive is single-sided — including the 2TB version. It’s skinny and will fit in any NVMe application.

On the inside, the new SSD features the same security features as the 970 PRO and also uses Samsung’s Dynamic Thermal Guard technology to keep its temperature down during heavy operations.

Samsung 980 Pro Magician
The Samsung 980 PRO uses the familiar Samsung Magician software.

What’s more, the new drive also uses the helpful Samsung Magician software, which allows users to manage many aspects of the SSD’s performance and status. These include overprovisioning, performance testing, firmware updates, and a lot more.

Samsung 980 PRO: Excellent performance

And the 980 PRO is fast. I tested the 500GB and TB versions — both deliver the same performance.

The drive easily topped the charts when used with PCIe 4.0. In tests with PCIe 3.0, it wasn’t the fastest consistently but clearly among the best.

Samsung 980 PRO Copy Performance
Samsung 980 PRO Copy Performance

Indeed, it’s the first SSD I’ve worked with that has the sustained speed of some 1500 MB/s when doing both writings and reading simultaneously via PCIe 3.0. Add another 150 MB/s when you use it with PCIe 4.0.

In all, the drive got sustained speeds of some 4000 MB/s and 5600 MB/s for writing and reading, respectively, about twice the overage rates of most older NVMe drives.

Samsung 980 PRO IOPS Performance
Samsung 980 PRO IOPS Performance

In the random access test, the 980 PRO was also the fastest I’ve seen in NVMe with PCIe 4.0. When used with PCIe 3.0, the drive was slightly slower than the SK hynix Gold P31 but was faster than the rest.

The differences between PCIe 3.0 and PCIe 4.0 weren’t as acute as in the copy tests, but the new drive also had twice the performance of many PCIe 3.0 alternatives.

As in real-world usage, the new SSD was impressive, too. I’ve been using the 970 PRO as my go-to SSD and didn’t expect much of a difference. But the 980 PRO indeed cut the boot time by a few seconds. On top of that, games and heavy software, like Photoshop, took noticeably shorter times to load.

To put it in perspective, after the testing, I moved back to the 970 PRO, and after a couple of hours, I decided to swap it out again for the 980 PRO. It has a kind performance that grows on you quickly.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, the Samsung 980 PRO NVMe SSD is an excellent upgrade to the already excellent 970 PRO.

See also  How to Give Windows 10 an In-place SATA-to-NVMe SSD Upgrade

While the reduction of endurance sure is disappointing, the gain in performance alone more than makes up for that. And its friendly pricing is a pleasant surprise.

If your computer support PCIe 4.0, this new SSD is a must-have for those with a PCIe 4.0-ready motherboard. Get it!

☕ Appreciate the content? Buy Dong a Ko-fi!

13 thoughts on “Samsung 980 PRO Review: A Game Changer in NVMe Performance”

  1. The mp600 pro and sabrent plus both use the new phison controller and kioxia tlc. The 980pro uses MLC. Apparently the sabrent and mp600 pro suffer degraded performance once saturated sooner. But a proper head to head test will be good. I do not know why the MLC Samsung has half rated endurance than TLC Corsair. The lower end Force drive sacrifices some speed for double endurance.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for the review. Any insight/comparison against the newly announced MP600 Pro, which has increased TBW and slightly faster write speeds, but less IOPS?

    Reply
  3. Then all those durability numbers are a bunch of total bs.
    I have my 500gb 970 pro, and I have already written more than 2 times the supposedly 600tb lifespan and it is still working perfectly. Heavy duty torrenting.

    Reply
    • They just estimate, Piticli. If you keep the TRIM, and overprovisioning set up correctly, the drive can last much longer. 600TB is ALOT of data by the way. I mean you must have been writing a crazy amount daily.

      Reply
      • I pay for the unlimited data, sometimes I saw half terabyte used in one day torrenting lol. Also move lots of stuff around. I got mine since May 2018. So many people scared about longevity. They shouldn’t, especially with tools like Samsung magician.

        Reply

Leave a Comment