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Samsung 990 Pro review: The best of the last-gen PCIe 4.0 SSD

By The Count - 17 May 2023

Samsung 990 Pro review: The best of the last-gen PCIe 4.0 SSD

The world of storage drives has been evolving rapidly, and now we're stepping into the PCIe 5.0 era. But don't rush to discard your PCIe 4.0 solid state drives (SSD) just yet. Many PCs are still not compatible with PCIe 5.0 drives, especially if you are not running the newest generations of Intel or AMD processors. For those stuck with the older interface and need top-notch speed, Samsung's 990 Pro is a stellar choice.

Launched late last year, the 990 Pro might be among the last notable PCIe 4.0 SSDs to hit the market, and are available in 1TB and 2TB capacities. Samsung has positioned the 990 Pro as the “ultimate” SSD for creators, gamers, and tech aficionados. Despite being overkill for many, its relatively attractive pricetag in 2023 makes it a strong recommendation for anyone with even a humble budget for storage.

The 1TB version is priced at S$160 and the 2TB model at S$274, and both are easily available at Amazon and Lazada, although pricing might differs. Samsung also offers a custom heatsink version, but that does not seem to be available here. It’s unlikely you will need it anyway, as most if not all modern motherboards already come with SSD heatsinks and thermal pads, so the added cost for Samsung's heatsink might not even be necessary unless you intend to use it as a storage expansion for the PlayStation 5.


Performance benchmarks

To squeeze the maximum performance out of the Samsung 990 Pro, I used our default benchmark rig that is powered by the Intel Core i9-12900K processor, ROG Maximus Z690 Hero, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 and 32GB of Kingston Fury DDR5 memory.

We have not tested many PCIe 4.0 SSDs apart from those featured in our PlayStation 5 feature, and even those are no longer in our hands. But we do have the Samsung’s last-gen 980 Pro, and it will be more intriguing to see how much faster the 990 Pro is over its predecessor.

Like the 980 Pro, the 990 Pro is a classic M.2 NVMe SSD that fits the usual 2280 dimensions (22mm in width and 80mm in length). It operates via a PCIe 4.0 x4 interface, featuring a 176-layer TLC NAND. Moreover, for every 1TB of NAND, it provides 1GB of primary DRAM cache. The SSD's controller is a proprietary design by Samsung, which they claim brings about a remarkable 50 per cent increase in power efficiency compared to its predecessor.

I ran both CrystalDiskMark 8 and ATTO Disk Benchmark to gauge both SSDs performance and although these tests don't necessarily replicate real-world use, they do provide consistent results.


CrystalDiskMark and ATTO Disk

CrystalDiskMark 8 Benchmark (In MB/s)


990 Pro (Read / Write)

980 Pro (Read / Write)


7465 / 6897

6786 / 5002


4436 / 6167

4146 / 4303

RND4K, Q32T1

754 / 665

636 / 590


86 / 290

87 / 218

In CrystalDiskMark8’s tests involving large, sequential files, the 990 Pro outperformed the 980 Pro in both read and write speeds – even if the gap is not as wide as I’d expected. However, the difference narrows when processing small, random files unless multiple threads are involved.


ATTO Disk Benchmark (in MB/s)


990 Pro (Read/Write)

980 Pro (Plus Read/Write)


78 / 52

56 / 51


155 / 115

114 / 110


330 / 246

227 / 217


664 / 484

464 / 434


1240 / 1010

919 / 879


1850 / 1810

1870 / 1750


3120 / 3090

2620 / 3320


3390 / 5610

2270 / 5280


3380 / 3540

3840 / 4870


5240 / 6190

5940 / 4690


6280 / 6110

5940 / 4650


6450 / 6190

6310 / 4680

ATTO Disk Benchmark also demonstrated similar results, with the 990 Pro besting the 980 Pro in most of the sub tests. But notably, with 32KB and 128KB files the 990 Pro’s Write performance fell behind the 980 Pro although its Read performance surpasses the older SSD. Overall, the 990 Pro is the faster SSD, but it's not as impressive when dealing with smaller data chunks.



The Samsung 990 Pro is a brilliant choice if you frequently deal with large files. Whether it's editing and sharing videos or photos, building your personal media server, or just moving large files around frequently, the 990 Pro is a reliable companion. It doesn't even carry a professional-grade price tag, making it suitable even for casual use.

However, there are less expensive SSDs out there that can handle most daily tasks too and the marginal performance gains are surely negligible except for the most demanding users. The 990 Pro's superior performance with large files doesn't add much value for gaming, web browsing, or most productivity apps.

It’s also worth highlighting that the 990 Pro did have a firmware issue that led to accelerated drive health deterioration, reminiscent of a similar problem with the 980 Pro. However, Samsung's latest firmware update (available via Samsung Magician) has since resolved this issue. Just remember to update your firmware if you opt for the 990 Pro.

My opinion is this: if you're seeking a brand-new SSD right here right now, the Samsung 990 Pro is a worthy consideration. It follows the tradition of excellence of the 980 Pro, which ironically is a testament to how good Samsung’s Pro-class of SSDs really are.

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  • Performance 9
  • Value 9
The Good
- Works with the PlayStation 5 too
- Excellent overall performance
- Samsung Magician software
The Bad
- Not quite the 980 Pro replacement
- No 4TB option
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