Samsung 990 Pro: Two minute review

When the Samsung 990 Pro was announced, many PC enthusiasts were disappointed to see that Samsung’s latest flagship SSD was sticking with the last-gen PCIe 4.0 standard rather than leading the way into the PCIe 5.0 future we’ve been promised. 

That disappointment should be mollified though by this SSD’s performance, which approaches the theoretical limit of what the PCIe 4.0 standard is capable of. There’s no question that the 990 Pro is the best SSD overall on the market right now, with outstanding read performance for gaming and speedy writes for creative pros working on resource-intensive projects. 

Being the best comes at a cost though, and the 990 Pro isn’t cheap, but it is at least within reach of a plurality of gamers and professionals out there.

If you’re a creative pro though, there’s just nothing to question here. This SSD roundly beats out its predecessor, as well as the PCIe 4.0 competition, on sequential writes. 

A Samsung 990 Pro in an M.2 slot in a motherboard

(Image credit: Future)
Benchmarks

Here’s how the Samsung 990 Pro performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

CrystalDiskMark Sequential: 7,465.49MB/s (read); 6,887.68MB/s (write)
CrystalDiskMark Random Q32: 5,467.60MB/s (read); 4104.87MB/s (write)
10GB file transfer: 3.97 seconds
10GB folder transfer: 7.22 seconds
PCMark10 SSD Overall: 6,646 points
PCMark10 SSD Memory Bandwidth: 968.95MB/s

That means that all those huge video editing projects will autosave much more quickly (28.3% faster to be precise). Meanwhile, gamers and creative pros are going to love the blazing fast sequential reads, which come within sight of the theoretical speed limit on the PCIe 4.0 standard itself (7,465.49MB/s, so just shy of the standard’s 8,000MB/s read cap).

In our file transfer test, the 990 Pro wrote a single 10GB file on the drive in about 3.97 seconds, which is just under 9% faster than the Samsung 980 Pro, while in our 10GB folder transfer test, the 990 Pro copied over a folder containing 1024 10MB files in about seven seconds, while the 980 Pro took just shy of 11 seconds to do the same, giving the 990 Pro a nearly 32% faster result.

This means that large project assets are going to load faster, games are going to have shorter loading screens, and you’re going to get overall great performance when just starting up an app or game, or while performing hefty file operations.

A Samsung 990 Pro in a man's hand

(Image credit: Future)
Test system specs

This is the system we used to test the Samsung 990 Pro

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D
CPU Cooler: Corsair H150i AIO 360mm
RAM: 64GB DDR4-3600 Corsair Dominator Motherboard: Gigabyte Aorus Master X570
Graphics card: Nvidia RTX 3080
Power Supply: Corsair AX1000
Case: Praxis Wetbench

This does come at a premium though, and with a suggested retail price starting at $169.99 / £155 / AU$265 for the 1TB capacity and $289.99 / £283.99 / AU$439 for the 2TB capacity, you’re going to be paying substantially more than you would for the Samsung 980 Pro, which has a 500GB capacity available for $79.99 / £95 / AU$145, and with a max 2TB capacity 980 Pro selling for $209.99 / £252 / AU$409.

One limitation on the 990 Pro right now though is the lack of options when it comes to capacities like its predecessors have, but we’re hoping that additional capacities will be available in the new year, which should definitely help make the 990 Pro more affordable for folks.

The Samsung 990 Pro is also going to be more expensive than many of the best M.2 SSDs out there which trade some performance or capacity away in order to stay affordable, like the Adata XPG SX8200, but that’s to be expected given the professional segment this SSD is targeting.

This is ultimately a high-performance SSD, so if your priority is price, this might be a bit more SSD than your budget can accommodate. Fortunately, the Samsung 980 and Samsung 970 Evo are both much more affordable alternatives if you’re looking for a Samsung SSD on a budget.

Still, the 990 Pro is roughly in line with many of the best PS5 SSDs in terms of price and read performance, so this stick is definitely a contender to slot into your console to help you manage that unwieldy game library you’ve got.

Ditto for your gaming PC, where the best gaming SSD can make a huge difference in getting you into a game or match faster, but if you’re just looking for a new SSD for a home or office PC, this SSD will likely be overkill.

Only a certain group of people will ever need an SSD like the Samsung 990 Pro, but those who do won’t find much better anywhere on the market right now, at least not until we see the new PCIe 5.0 SSDs in the months ahead.

Should you buy the Samsung 990 Pro?

A Samsung 990 Pro in a man's hand

(Image credit: Future)

Buy the Samsung 990 Pro if…

Don’t buy the Samsung 990 Pro if…

Also consider

Samsung 990 Pro: Report Card

Value The Samsung 990 Pro is a bit more expensive than “competing” M.2 SSDs, but in reality, there’s no competition. This is a premium SSD and it’s worth every penny. 4.5 / 5
Design The option to get a heatsink included with your purchase (at most retailers) is definitely a bonus, especially since you’re going to need one, without question. This SSD gets very hot under load. 4.5 / 5
Performance There’s no disputing the best-in-class performance of the 990 Pro, even without the PCIe 5.0 standard. 5 / 5
Total (Average) As a last hurrah for PCIe 4.0 SSDs, this one is a fitting coda as we head into the PCIe 5.0 galaxy of hardware. Decently priced all things considered, this will be the last PCIe 4.0 SSD standing when the PCIe 5.0s take over, and it absolutely deserves to be. 4.67 / 5
  • First reviewed December 2022

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