Samsung 990 PRO SSD: The Best of the Best

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Samsung 990 PRO: The Best of the Best

The Samsung 990 PRO SSD is the highly anticipated follow-up to the company’s former flagship, the popular 980 PRO. Despite being the same generation of NVMe drive as its predecessor, the 990 PRO appears to be significantly more capable, promising transfer speeds that, if accurate, would make it one of the fastest drives on the market.

Samsung 990 PRO SSD
Samsung 990 PRO SSD

990 PRO SSD: Design & Installation

The 990 PRO is available with or without an integrated heatsink and your choice of 1TB or 2TB of storage (a 4TB version is slated to drop later this year). For our review, we tested the 2TB non-heatsink version.

In terms of aesthetics, the non-heatsink version of the 990 PRO is relatively bare—no RGB or flashy ornamentation here. Instead, what you get are labels on the front and back displaying the pertinent drive information and certifications. The back label also acts as a heat spreader to help mitigate high temperatures. 

If you’re looking for something with a bit more flash, the heatsink version is the way to go. Not only will it prevent performance drops from overheating, but its customizable RGB adds an extra layer of style.

Samsung-990-PRO-SSD-with-Heatsink
Samsung-990-PRO-SSD-with-Heatsink

Regardless of which version you go with, the 990 PRO’s compact M.2 2280 form factor makes it easy to install into most PCs, laptops, and gaming consoles, including the PlayStation 5.

Our current testbed features an ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero motherboard, which has three available M.2 slots to choose from. To install the 990 PRO, all we had to do was insert the drive into the desired slot, screw it down, and that was it. No muss, no fuss.

ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero motherboard
ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero motherboard

If you’re installing the drive in a laptop or gaming console, you might have one or two additional steps to complete (e.g., installing a separate heatsink or SSD cover) but nothing that should cause you any grief.

After you’ve installed the 990 PRO, fire your computer or console up like normal and you should be good to go.

Although it’s optional, we also recommend PC and laptop users download and install Samsung’s SSD Magician Software. This is a free SSD management tool that allows you to monitor the health and performance of your Samsung SSD. It also allows you to enable “Full Power” mode and it provides important alerts and notifications, like when there’s a new software update available. 

Samsung’s SSD Magician Software
Samsung’s SSD Magician Software

990 PRO SSD: Performance

On paper, the 990 PRO claims to be one of the top-performing SSDs on the planet, promising significantly faster read and write speeds than its zippy predecessor, the Samsung 980 PRO SSD. But again: that’s on paper.

To see how well the 990 PRO performed in the real world, we used a handful of benchmark applications, such as Diskbench and PCMark 10, as well as Samsung’s own Magician software and some real-world stress tests.

Across the board, the 990 PRO consistently outperformed the 980 PRO, scoring faster read and write speeds on all of the benchmark tests and head-to-head comparisons.

Using the CrystalDiskMark benchmark, we clocked our 2TB 990 PRO’s sequential read speed at 7518 MB/s and its sequential write speed at 6850 MB/s. Compared to the 2TB 980 PRO, which is rated to deliver up to 7000 MB/s sequential read speeds and 5100 MB/s sequential write speeds, this is a major bump in performance.

The 990 PRO also outpaced the majority of its competitors on all synthetic benchmarks. In both standard and “Full Power” mode, the 990 PRO clocked the highest scores on the PCMark 10 benchmark, eclipsing all other 2TB SSDs by a wide margin. It was also the highest-scoring 2TB SSD on the DiskBench transfer test (in “Full Power” mode).

990 PRO SSD: Value

When the 990 PRO SSD first dropped, it had one of the higher MSRPs on the market. That’s not to say it was overpriced. As the saying goes: “You get what you pay for,” and, frankly, what you’re paying for is arguably the best SSD in the world. On the other hand, you could argue that’s just a roundabout way of saying it’s expensive but worth it.

These days, it’s pretty easy to find the 990 PRO SSD at a discounted price. At B&H, for example, it’s regularly on special for up to $50 off MSRP, which is a great deal. In fact, if you can score the 2TB non-heatsink version for less than $200, we say go for it. That’s excellent value.

If you can’t find the 990 PRO on sale, that’s not the end of the world, nor is it a bad deal. Sure, you’ll be paying premium price, but you’ll also be getting premium performance. Throw in Samsung’s limited 5-year warranty to protect your investment and that’s definitely a solid value proposition.

990 PRO SSD: Verdict

Samsung hyped the 990 PRO SSD as one of the best PCIe 4.0 SSDs in the world. And frankly, they weren’t wrong. Delivering record-breaking speeds and some of the highest benchmark scores we’ve seen, the 990 PRO SSD is everything it was promised to be and more. In terms of cost, it’s certainly not cheap. But if you can see past the higher-than-average MSRP, what you’ll get is arguably the best PCIe 4.0 SSD on the market, a blistering-fast drive that will never let you down.

How will the 990 PRO fit into your workflow? Let us know in the Comments section, below. For more information, be sure to check out the detailed product page for the Samsung 990 PRO SSD.

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