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Samsung SSD 980 PRO 1TB Review

When the first few examples of SSD's using the PCIe Gen4 interface began to hit the market there was one manufacturer conspicuous by their absence, namely Samsung. While the PCIe Gen4 SSD market segment seems to have gone quieter than a quiet thing, Samsung seems poised to stir things up with their first drive to enter into this segment, the mighty SSD980 PRO.

The new drive sees the introduction of not only a new in-house controller but also the latest generation of Samsung's V-NAND.  The new PCIe 4.0 controller goes by the name Elpis. Details of this controller are pretty thin on the ground at the time of writing but what we do know is that it's built on an 8nm process, (the previous generation PCIe 3.0 controller in the SSD970 PRO, Phoenix, uses a 14nm process). The Elpis is capable of simultaneously processing 128 I/O queues, a huge improvement over the 32 queue capability of the Phoenix.

The controller has a nickel coating to help dissipate heat during heavy workloads and the sticker on the back of the drive contains a copper layer to help in this as well.

The new 6th generation 3-bit MLC V-NAND (or TLC NAND to you and me) is stacked at 1** layers, a 40% increase in cell count over the previous 9* layer NAND. Samsung claims a 10% increase in read and write speed over the 5th generation NAND along with a 15% reduction in power consumption.


The drive features Samsung's Intelligent TurboWrite 2.0 technology to improve write performance. The default TurboWrite region of the 1TB drive is 6GB but if more is needed up to 108GB can be used as a dynamic SLC buffer of 114GB. In the case of the 1TB drive, if the drive has less than 324GB of free capacity, the Intelligent TurboWrite will not operate fully.

Performance-wise Samsung quote Sequential read/write performance figures for the 1TB drive of up to 7,000MB/s read and 5,000MB/s respectively. When we tested the drive with the ATTO benchmark, the best we saw from the drive was 6,030MB/s for reads and 4,210 for writes. However with the CrystalDiskMark benchmark and our own Sequential test we could confirm the official figures. With CrystalDiskMark we saw a read score of 7,141.5MB/s and a write score of 5,243.8. With our own test we got very much the same results; 7,140.08MB/s for reads and 5,254.57MB/s for writes.

When it came to 4K random performance, we couldn't get anywhere close to the official figures. Samsung quote a figure of 1,000,000 IOPS (yep a million) for both read and writes at a QD of 32 using 16 threads. With our standard 4-threaded tests the best we saw from the drive was 372,579 IOPS for reads and 315,022 for writes. Even though we couldn't reach the official maximums, the scores we did achieve make the SSD980 PRO the fastest PCIe Gen4 drive we've seen to date.

The 1TB SSD980 PRO is priced at £207.99.

Pros

  • Overall performance.
  • 5-year warranty.
  • AES 256-bit encryption.
  • Magician software.

Cons

  • Needs a PCIe 4.0 supporting motherboard to get the best from it.
  • Tested 4K performance couldn’t match the official maximum figures.

Kitguru says: It's been a long old while since we've seen a high-end Samsung NVMe SSD and it has certainly been worth the wait as the SSD980 PRO has put the company firmly back in the spotlight in the high performance consumer market space.

 

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Rating: 9.0.

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