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Samsung 990 PRO NVMe SSD: A Sizable Yet Incremental PCIe 4.0 Upgrade

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Samsung Electronics America today officially announced the 990 PRO as its “high-performance NVMe SSD based on PCIe 4.0.”

So this latest SSD is another PCIe 4.0 drive, like the case of the previous 980 PRO, and not a PCIe 5.0 hardware, as you might have read somewhere recently.

And like the case of its older cousin, the new internal drive also comes with a Heatsink version.

But there’s more to that Heatsink version and the new SSD as a whole.

Samsung 990 PRO SSD
The new Samsung 990 PRO is a standard NVMe SSD.

Samsung 990 PRO: Pushing that PCIe 4.0 envelope

Compared with previous NVMe SSDs from Samsung, the new 990 PRO is an incremental upgrade in sequential performance. It’s slightly faster while retaining the same hardware design.

Specifically, Samsung says the new drive delivers sequential read and write speeds of up to 7,450 megabytes per second (MB/s) and 6,900 MB/s, just a tad faster than the 980 PRO.

Its strength, though, is in its random access performance, where Samsung claims it can be up to 50% faster than the previous model. But that remains to be seen.

(This post was originally and exclusively published at Dong Knows Tech.)

Samsung 990 PRO: Hardware specifications

Samsung says the 990 PRO features its latest V-NAND and a new proprietary controller “offers nearly the highest speed currently available from the PCIe 4.0 interface.”

However, the drive shares the same endurance ratings as the previous 980 PRO and 970 PRO models.

Samsung SSD 990 PROSamsung SSD 980 PROSamsung SSD 970 PRO
Capacities1TB, 2TB, 4TB250GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB512GB, 1TB
InterfacePCIe Gen 4.0 x4,
NVMe 2.0
PCIe 4.0 x4, 
NVMe 1.3c
PCIe 3.0 x4, 
NVMe 1.3
DesignM.2 (2280) M.2 (2280) M.2 (2280) 
Heatsink VersionYesYesNo
ControllerSamsung in-house controllerSamsung Elpis ControllerSamsung Phoenix Controller 
NAND Flash MemorySamsung V-NAND 3-bit TLCSamsung 1xx-layer V-NAND 3-bit MLCSamsung 3rd-Gen V-NAND 2-bit MLC
CacheUnknownDDR4
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)
AES 256-bit Full Disk Encryption, 
TCG/Opal V2.0, 
Encrypted Drive (IEEE1667)
Sequential ReadUp to 7,450 MB/sUp to 7,000 MB/sUp to 3,500MB/s
Sequential WriteUp to 6,900 MB/sUp to 5,000 MB/sUp to 2,700MB/s
Random Read 
(QD32 Thread 4)
Up to 1,400K IOPSUp to 1,000K IOPSUp to 500K IOPS
Random Write 
(QD32 Thread 4)
Up to 1,550K IOPSUp to 1,000K IOPSUp to 500K IOPS
Endurance 
(Terabyte Written)
2400TBW (4TB)
1200TBW (2TB)
600TBW (1TB)
1200TBW (2TB)
600TBW (1TB)
300TBW (500GB)
150TBW (250GB)
1200TBW (1TB)
600TBW (512GB) 
SoftwareSamsung MagicianSamsung MagicianSamsung Magician
Warranty5 years5 years5 years
Hardware specifications: Samsung 990 PRO vs 980 PRO vs 970 PRO

Better power efficiency and thermal control

According to Samsung, the new drive also has better power efficiency, up to 50% improvement compared to the 980 PRO.

Samsung 990 PRO Heatsinks VersionSamsung 990 PRO Naked
The Samsung 990 PRO is available in Heatsink and “naked” versions.

Samsung says the 990 PRO “employs a nickel coating on the controller and a heat spreader label on the drive for reliable thermal management.” That new design, plus Samsung’s Dynamic Thermal Guard technology, helps keep the drive’s temperature within the optimal range even during heavy loads.

Yet, there’s still a Heatsink version. As it turns out, besides helping with thermal control in applications where the host can produce accessive heat, the 990 PRO’s heatsink also works as gaming-related bling with their integrated RGB lights — similar to the case of the WD BLACK P40.

Clearly, you need to use a gaming rig with a transparent case to appreciate that.

Pricing and availability

Samsung says the new 990 PRO NVMe SSD is an excellent solution for any computer, whether a laptop or a desktop.

The new SSD will be available in the US, both “naked” and Heatsink versions, in October and carries the suggested prices of $179 and $309 for 1TB and 2TB. If you want the 4TB version, you’ll have to wait until 2023.

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