Samsung unveiled its new flagship SSD (solid-state drive) line, the 990 PRO series, which is said to be built for a wide range of applications such as gaming and 4K video editing.
There is a fair amount of hype for the 990 because there were hints that this new SSD would run on the PCIe 5.0 interface. Unfortunately, people will have to wait longer for a consumer-level PCIe 5.0 SSD from Samsung that 990 PRO series (opens in a new tab) still runs on the old PCIe 4.0 interface, just like the 980. To offer a simplified explanation (opens in a new tab), PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) is an expansion bus used to transfer data from an SSD to graphics or video cards. PCIe 4.0 can transfer data at an average speed of 16GT/s (giga transfers per second) while the 5.0 interface does so at 32 GT/s.
This is not to say that PCIe 4.0 is slow by any means; just not as fast as 5.0.
Regardless, the 990 PRO series still has impressive speeds. Samsung claims the 990 offers a “55 percent improvement in random performance over the [old] 980 PRO.” According to the company, the 990 has read and write speeds of up to 7,540 MBs (megabytes per second) and 6,900 MB/s, respectively. Read speed refers to how quickly the 990 can access stored files. Higher speeds mean faster startup times for apps. And write speed refers to how fast the SSD can store files. This is especially useful for editors who need to save or copy large 4K video files. Without these high speeds, the process can be terribly slow.
Samsung claims that it was able to push the performance of PCIe 4.0 thanks to a combination of the company’s V-NAND memory technology (opens in a new tab) and a new proprietary controller inside the 990.
If that wasn’t enough, the new devices are powered by NVMe (opens in a new tab) (non-volatile memory express) protocol for even faster load times. Samsung gives an example of testing the 990 SSD with the upcoming game Abandoned and found that map load times were about a second. When tested on hard drives, load times went up significantly to around 30 seconds.
Manage the heat
With so much going on, an SSD like this can get pretty hot, so Samsung designed the 990 to be 50 percent more energy efficient compared to the 980 PRO. The SSD also features the company’s Dynamic Thermal Guard technology to ensure optimal temperature, and a heat spreader label to keep things cool.
Samsung also offers the 990 PRO with a Heatsink model for those who want a little extra temperature control. There are unknown details about how the Heatsink model actually improves heat dissipation. The company simply says it “offers an extra layer of thermal control.” But The heatsink model comes with RGB LEDs on the back (opens in a new tab) for that extra slice of pizza.
The basic models 990 and Heatsink will be launched in October and come in two different storage capacities. The 1TB model will cost $179 while the 2TB has a price tag of $309. There are plans for a third 4TB model, but it won’t arrive until 2023. A price tag has not been revealed for the third SSD.
The announcement seems to suggest that the price points are the same for both the base and Heatsink models. We contacted Samsung for clarification on this front because the wording was a bit confusing. This story will be updated if we hear back.
We also asked if and when the company will launch a 990 PRO Series model with the PCIe 5.0 interface. Corsair has recently teased its new PCIe 5.0 SSD, which is intended to offer a massive read speed of 10,000 MB/s. Hopefully, Samsung will reveal a PCIe 5.0 model soon.
If you are interested in learning more about these stations, TechRadar recently updated its best SSD list for 2022.