Samsung 980 Pro Gen4 2TB NVMe M.2 SSD Review – The Bigger They Get

Advance in flash technology enables larger capacities to be attained in smaller SSDs such as the M.2.  When it all started in 2007, consumer SSD storage maxed out at 32GB with the SanDisk U5000 SSD.  That SSD in a Dell XPS started it all for us in fact, and that was a 2.5″ 9mm thick notebook SSD, something that has become somewhat extinct.  That SSD also contained single level cell (SLC) NAND flash memory, which later developed into multi-level cell (MLC), triple level cell (TLC), all the way to the latest quad-level cell (QLC) which allows us to get a massive 8TB of storage on a M.2 SSD, measuring the size of a stick of gum. Stick of gum… I think I just dated myself as I don’t think gums such as Juicy Fruit have sold in the form for some time.

As we move to higher density NAND, we can store more data within a smaller space, enabling higher SSD capacities at a much lower price.  Think of your cell phone storage today, compared to 5-6 years ago. Yes, your phone contains flash.  The trade off is that endurance has been cut significantly as well as durability, and as well, manufacturers have had to come up with hardware and software methods to, not only maintain, but increase performance.  And they have.  I guess the key to all of this in today’s world is that, if you are looking into SSD storage, TLC is just about as good it gets at business and consumer level, while the now emerging QLC SSDs are geared towards the consumer and typical PC use.

The best example we can give actually falls into place with Samsung.  Samsung began  using MLC NAND flash memory prior to 2011 and through the 830 Series (our review), 840 Series, 950 Pro, 960 Pro, and their 970 Pro.  TLC was introduced with the Samsung 840 EVO in 2013 and that SSD is still found at Amazon today in the Samsung Store. In short, Samsung has used MLC NAND flash memory in every Pro series…until the Samsung 980 Pro NVMe SSD we are reviewing today, This 980 Pro is the first to use Samsung’s newest latest 6th Generation 128-layer 3-bit TLC V-NAND.

Not to get your hopes up, but we have reviewed the 980 Pro in 250GB and 1TB capacities back in September 2020, hence the reasoning for our bit of a history lesson to break the ice.  This article is meant to make you aware that Samsung has just released the 2TB capacity 980 Pro, as well as to again demonstrate benchmarks which pretty much match that of our Samsung 980 Pro SSD Review in 2020.

SPECIFICATIONS

The Samsung 980 Pro is a PCIe 4 (Gen 4×4), M.2 SSD that is of the 2280 (80mm) form factor and uses the NVMe 1.3 protocol.  It is available in 250GB, 500GB. 1 and 2TB capacities and we are testing the just released 2TB version in this report.  Performance is listed at 7GB/s read and 5.1GB/s write with up to 1000K read and write IOPS at low 4K disk access.  A full specification sheet can be found here.

The 980 Pro is built on a black PCB (printed circuit board) which contains Samsung’s newest Elpis Gen 4 NVMe controller, a Samsung 2GB LPDDR4 DRAM chip, along with two 1TB pieces of Samsung’s latest 6th Generation 3-bit 3D TLC V-NAND.  The 980 Pro has AES 256-bit full disk encryption and this is a one-sided SSD.  With respect to security, it is also accredited TCG/Opal V.20 Encrypted Drive.

MSRP pricing for the Samsung 980 Pro Gen 4×4 2TB SSD is $429.99 and they must be moving fast as Samsung e-mailed me today stating they are available on Amazon but it looks like they are sold out right now.  Check Amazon stock again.

13 comments

  1. Summer 2019 I installed two Samsung 250gb 970EVO Plus m2 sticks in my msi 390 z mpg board. Put them in raid0 to be used as the c drive. I7 8 core CPU. PC boots to win10 desktop in 5 seconds after the POST beep!

  2. “and memory has been set at a XMP profile of 2667MHz”
    What? The linked RAM kit listed should be XMP speed of 3600, not 2667.

    • Yes… you would be correct but we can see that that is not the memory in the system posted. We switch off so much for different testing that was inevitable at some point. Our mistake and will correct. Nice observation. It’s great to have readers that notice such.

  3. Samsung still hasn’t released their driver for 980, so I assume that’s why at this moment this drive makes no sense (alternatives from Seagate and HP give even better results for cheaper price).

  4. ….telling my age also, but you can still find gum sticks at convenience stores and (in NYC) Bodegas. Just sometimes have to look for them 🙂
    Hope to get a 2TB stick when available for me to get. When installing it, I will reflect back to the time I bought my first 40gig HD and felt that I would never need another drive except for migrating my old system to another drive. Now I’m “really telling my age”.

    • Yes I am right there with ya.

      • My computer with Z490 ACE with i7 10700k and 2TB m.2 970 EVO Plus boots in one second or less skiping post screen all together. You hit the boot button and it fully boots before your finger can leaves the button. CPU rarely hits 70 degrees even when overclocked and most the time it runs overclocked at 60 degrees. Upscaling 1080p to 4k and it looks great and I still get 90 to 120 FPS. Upscaling the game’s looks great for some games and takes up less GPU memory in my build. I’m using a 2080 super and loving it. I think I’ll wait for 5080TI to upgrade very likely unless others became super cheap. I’m going to wait for 980 Evo Plus to upgrade my m.2 drive. When buy a Z590 ACE and give my old set to my younger brother I’ll be upgrading RAM also my then when they will have the super fast RAM developed even if it would likely take a Z690 ACE upgrade to full benefit from it. Maybe persistent memory will be cheaper at that point so I can use two RAM spots for normal RAM and two for persistent memory. I don’t have a high HZ 4k screen to test native 4k next to 1080p upscaling but it looks very good on Alienware 27inch 1080p monitor.

        I asking myself if it would look all that much better other then the clearly much greater color range on the new 1480p monitor or would upscaling 1480p to 4k just lower FPS maximum below my current 90 to 120 FPS range? Does native 4k actually just lower FPS so much over upscaling and take more GPU memory?

  5. JOSE DE JESUS RODRIGUEZ

    My 1986 PC Clone had a 30MB HD. It helped me launch my freelancing career as a software developer after leaving my IT job at the bank I worked for.

  6. Overall the 980 Pro is a great drive, it’s one of the best drives available on the market today, and while Samsung has done a good job improving performance for light and medium workloads, there are some situations where the 970 Pro is faster than the new 980 Pro. In the PCMark 8 benchmark, the 980 Pro scores around 670 MB/s in both capacities, but the old 970 Pro is scoring 840 MB/s in that benchmark even though it doesn’t have PCIe 4.0. I think this is because of the shift from TLC to MLC memory. At the end of the day, you get what you pay for, techniques like DRAM and SLC caching can cover most of the deficit of TLC memory, but not all of it.

    • Agree with you totally. As nice as TLC may be, there is a point where it simply cannot keep pace in data transfer or steady state transfer of very large packets of data. A bit amusing perhaps, when you look at pricing for older drives, one will see that they actually jump significantly in price as they use mlc, or even earlier TLC.

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