Samsung SSD 990 Pro Review: Super-Fast Storage For Gamers

Samsung SSD 990 Pro: More Benchmarks, Gaming And The Verdict

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EFD Software's HD Tune is described on the company's website as such: "HD Tune is a hard disk utility with many functions. It can be used to measure the drive's performance, scan for errors, check the health status (S.M.A.R.T.), securely erase all data and much more." The latest version of the benchmark added temperature statistics and improved support for SSDs, among a few other updates and fixes.

HDTune v5.75 Benchmarks

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The Samsung SSD 990 Pro faltered a bit with HD Tune's workloads. Sequential transfers and latency were better than the Samsung SSD 980 Pro, but behind the Phison and Innogrit-based drives. The 990 Pro's burst rates led the pack, however.

CrystalDiskMark x64 Benchmarks

CrystalDiskMark is a synthetic benchmark that tests both sequential and random small and mid-sized file transfers using incompressible data. It provides a quick look at best and worst case scenarios with regard to SSD performance, best case being larger sequential transfers and worse case being small, random transfers.

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The Samsung SSD 990 Pro's performance was mixed in CrystalDiskMark. In the sequential transfer tests, the 990 Pro performed well and was in the mix with the fastest drives here. In the random 4K transfer tests, however, the 990 Pro actually trailed the pack at QD32 (similar to what we saw with IOMeter) and beat only the 980 Pro in terms of 4K random writes at QD1. 4K random reads at QD1, however, were the second best here.

Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker Game Level Load Times

We also tested game level load times using the Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker benchmark. This tool loads an array of different game levels during its graphics benchmark and outputs the average result when complete.

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The Samsung SSD 990 Pro performed well in the Final Fantasy XIV level-load benchmark. Here, Samsung new flagship finished only a fraction of a second behind the leader.

UL's 3DMark Gaming Storage Benchmark

UL recently added a gaming-centric storage benchmark to 3DMark, that leverages trace-based tests of actual PC games and gaming-related activities (like streaming with OBS) to measure real-world gaming performance in a variety of scenarios. The tests include things like loading Battlefield V, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and Overwatch from the initial launch to the main menu, recording a 1080p gameplay video at 60 FPS with OBS while playing Overwatch, installing The Outer Worlds and saving game progress. And finally, copying the Steam folder for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive from an one drive to another.

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We've just begun using this test, and have yet to build up a large database of results. For comparison here, we have the WD Black SN770 in both its standard and game modes, and the WD SN750, which was also running with its game mode enabled. In terms of latency, the Samsung SSD 990 Pro led in a handful of tests, but trailed slightly in others.

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This drive's bandwidth results are also mixed, with the Samsung SSD 990 Pro moving files and loading BF5 faster than the other drives, but trailing somewhat in the remainder of the tests.

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The overall score reflects what we saw in the individual tests. The Samsung SSD 990 Pro is a competent gaming drive, but its mixed results ultimately clock in an overall score that trails the WD SN770.

UL's PCMark 10 System Drive Storage Test

We like PCMark 10's new quick storage benchmark module for its real-world application measurement approach to testing. PCMark offers a trace-based measurement of system response times and bandwidth under various scripted workloads of traditional client / desktop system use cases.

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In the trace-based PCMark tests, which are comprised of a broad mix of consumer workloads, the Samsung SSD 990 Pro absolutely rocked. The Samsung SSD 990 Pro led the pack by a wide margin here, with the best latency and bandwidth characteristics of the bunch.

Samsung SSD 990 Pro PCIe Gen 4 SSD: The Verdict

The Samsung SSD 990 Pro series will be available for pre-order on November 1, 2022. Pricing for the 1TB and 2TB models will range from $169 - $309, depending on whether or not the drive is outfitted with a heatsink.

  • 990 Pro 1TB: $169.99
  • 990 Pro 2TB: $289.99
  • 990 Pro w/ Heatsink 1TB: $189.99
  • 990 Pro w/ Heatsink 2TB: $309.99
At those prices, the Samsung SSD 990 Pro commands a bit of a premium versus other high-end PCIe Gen 4 drives, but we suspect street pricing to trickle downward once availability ramps.
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These new Samsung SSDs are targeted at PlayStation 5 upgrades and gaming PCs, and are optimized for Microsoft’s DirectStorage API, according to Samsung. Overall, performance of the Samsung SSD 990 Pro is excellent. It doesn’t lead the pack across the board versus some of the other speedy SSDs currently on the market in the synthetic tests, but the Samsung SSD 990 Pro performs very well where it matters most—at lower queue depths and in the real-world trace-based tests. In fact, the Samsung SSD 990 Pro put up the best PCMark Storage score we’ve seen to-date.

With strong performance and a 5 year warranty, we have no problem recommending the Samsung SSD 990 Pro. If you’re shopping for a fast PCIe Gen 4 SSD and can hold off until the drives begin shipping, the Samsung SSD 990 Pro should be on your short list for sure.

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