The mainstream introduction of PCI-Express SSDs continues to change the way we play games. Every year now, higher bandwidth read/write speeds become available, which make the mechanical hard drives of the past embarrassing. The fact that even SATA SSDs are slowly being phased out now really speaks to the times. PCIe 4.0 support is slowly rolling out this year, and Samsung’s highly anticipated 980 PRO SSD looks insane. The Samsung 980 PRO debuted at CES 2020 in January, but full specification details remained unknown until now. As an added bonus, the leak on Samsung’s own site revealed a 7,000 MB/s read speed with 5,000 MB/s write. For context, that’s 500 MB/s (read) higher than was shown previously. It’s also double the read speed of the previous generation 970 PRO model. Say goodbye to loading screens and open-world loading stutters.
The leaked product page has since been removed, but it listed additional details for Samsung’s first M.2 NVMe PCI-Express 4.0 SSD. The drive uses an in-house “Elpis” controller, which uses NVMe 1.3 protocol over PCI-Express 4.0 x4, and an LPDDR4 DRAM cache. The 980 PRO will come in capacities of 250 GB, 500 GB, and 1 TB. The drive will also feature up to 1 GB of DRAM cache, which is the same as the 970 PRO. While the lack of innovation in that regard is disappointing, the improved read/write speeds should be more than enough to keep gamers excited. Just keep in mind that Samsung rates the 1 TB version as capable of up to 7000 MB/s sequential reads, and up to 5000 MB/s sequential writes, so go big. Furthermore, the drive supports up to 1 million IOPS 4K random reads/writes at QD32.
Not so PRO
Samsung’s 980 PRO M.2 NVMe flagship is the company’s first “PRO” SSD to feature TLC NAND flash memory. With that however, comes one glaring limitation. The drive’s endurance rating is nearly half of what the 970 offers. Samsung rates the warranty up to 600 TBW, which sounds like a lot for the average gamer, but for UHD video editors or data crunchers, that could be deal breaker. Bear in mind that the 970 offered 1,200 TBW and competitors like Corsair offer even better returns, with some models rated up to 1800 TBW. It seems a bit strange to call this a PRO model when professionals will likely want far more reliability than this, but if you practice normal storage habits, this should never really be an issue.
The prices for the Samsung’s latest flagship storage drives are still unknown, but we should expect to pay the same premium that came with the 970 PRO series. Needless to say, these insane read/write speeds should be worth it though. Gamers that want the best on the market will surely want to pay this drive some attention.
SSDs are albeit a necessity for games like Star Citizen so the Samsung 980 may be exactly what you need to smooth out your experience and future proof your rig. More and more developers will soon begin to recommend ultra-fast SSDs too, especially since the next generation of consoles will no longer bottleneck games in that regard. If you’re not sold on the Samsung 980 PRO SSD yet though, trade shows like CES 2021 are sure to introduce more PCIe 4.0 options. We might even be able to say its over 9,000 one day.