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Samsung 980 Pro NVMe SSD review: PCIe 4.0 for the win


The Samsung 980 Pro is here to take back the crown—and then some. While its predecessor, the 970 Pro, won and eventually lost its SSD performance title to hotter competition, this latest generation buries them all.

Of course, to witness the greatness, you’ll need a computer with the PCIe 4.0 device interface, which currently means late-generation AMD Ryzen. With PCIe 3.0, the 980 Pro is still excellent, but merely on a par with the top competition.

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best SSDs. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.

Design and specs

The 980 Pro sports the same 2280 (22 mm wide, 80 mm long) form factor as all mainstream NVMe SSDs, and it arrives bare—no heat spreader included. 

The controller is a Samsung in-house Elpis design. The NAND is Samsung’s TLC V-NAND, which the company refers to as 3-bit MLC. Samsung informed me that there are “1xx” layers in the NAND. What the heck that means, I can’t tell you, but with 40 percent more capacity it likely means there are around 128 layers.

The DDR4 DRAM cache varies by capacity. You get 512MB of cache on the 256GB drive ($90 when it becomes available) and 512GB drive ($150 on Amazon), and 1GB of cache on the 1TB model we tested ($230 on Amazon). The yet-to-be-priced 2TB model will have 2GB of cache.

Those sticker prices place the Samsung 980 Pro in the upper tier of NVMe SSDs by cost per gigabyte. In short, it’s expensive. The drives carry a five-year limited warranty. The limit is 150TBW per 256GB of capacity rating. TBW stands for TeraBytes Written over the life of the drive.

That rating is a bit low for a premium-priced drive. Still, it represents 41GB written per day over 10 years—a lot more data than the average user will write (reads don’t count). A large part of the logic behind tying warranties to TBW ratings is to discourage enterprise use of cheaper consumer SSDs.

Samsung

Samsung’s 980 Pro blows away every NVMe SSD we’ve tested when used in conjunction with PCIe 4.0. With PCIe 3.0, it’s still top-notch, but not nearly as impressive. Especially given the price and somewhat low TBW rating. 

Performance

The 980 Pro more than lived up to Samsung’s claims of 7GBps reading and 5GBps writing via PCIe 4, at least with CrystalDiskMark 6, which we use for comparison with a large body of previous testing. Real-life transfers can’t touch any of the synthetic results, as Windows has become a rather large bottleneck in performance, but the 980 Pro still aced them.



Source: PCWorld Reviews, Author: Jon L. Jacobi

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Written by Peek Jar

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