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Samsung reaches new heights with this SSD, but it could go even higher

Samsung has just unveiled an intensely fast SSD, the high-end Samsung 990 Pro. A successor to the 980 Pro, the SSD is said to deliver an up to 55% improvement in random performance over its predecessor.

The new SSD, set to release in the next couple of months, will undoubtedly bring tangible improvements for gamers and content creators alike. However, there will still be better SSDs coming out in the near future — all because Samsung chose to stick to slightly older tech with the 990 Pro.

Two Samsung 990 PRO SSDs over a grey background.
Samsung Electronics / .

Samsung advertises the new flagship as a real gaming beast, but says that it will equally succeed in a wide range of other applications, such as 4K video editing where write speeds are important. The company says that the 990 Pro comes with read speeds reaching as high as 7,540 megabytes per second (MB/s) and write speeds maxing out at 6,900 MB/s.

To further increase the performance of this new NVMe SSD, Samsung equipped it with its latest vertical NAND (V-NAND) that increases per-chip density, boosting performance without taking up too much space in the already small device. The SSD also has a new proprietary controller.

Samsung took the 990 Pro out for a spin in a gaming scenario, testing it in Forspoken in order to prove just how much it speeds up loading games. With the Samsung 990 Pro, the map loading time was reduced to just one second compared to four seconds with a SATA SSD and 28 seconds for a typical HDD.

Some of the best SSDs often have a tendency to heat up, and Samsung addresses that by improving the drive’s power efficiency by up to 50% in comparison to the previous flagship 980 Pro. It also equipped the SSD with a number of features meant to combat heat. Moreover, it created a second version of the drive, with the painfully straightforward name of “990 Pro with Heatsink.” It does what it says on the tin, plus adds some RGB lighting to make the inside of your case look even fancier.

Samsung 990 PRO SSD over a dark background.

As mentioned above, Samsung may be releasing a brand new SSD — and it sure does seem speedy — but the company is still sticking to the familiar PCIe Gen 4.0 technology instead of trying out PCIe 5.0. As things stand right now, Samsung has squeezed every last drop of performance from PCIe 4.0, offering the highest speed currently available from the interface.

Naturally, PCIe 5.0 is twice as fast as 4.0, but you need an Intel Alder Lake CPU to use it, and there aren’t many PCIe 5.0 SSDs around at all. On the other hand, while Samsung’s 990 Pro does offer blazing-fast speeds for that generation of PCIe, the first PCIe 5.0 SSDs can hit as high as 13,000MB/s read and 12,000 MB/s write speeds. We’re bound to start seeing more of these PCIe 5.0 SSDs soon enough, especially now that AMD Ryzen 7000 will soon hit the market and offer support for that interface.

The Samsung 990 Pro is set to release in October with capacities reaching up to 2TB. The recommended list price for the 1TB model is $179, while the 2TB version will be priced at $309. The company has also teased a 4TB model, to be released in 2023 at an undisclosed price.

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Monica J. White
Monica is a UK-based freelance writer and self-proclaimed geek. A firm believer in the "PC building is just like expensive…
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