The Samsung 990 Pro is an absolutely stellar M.2 SSD for both professional users and gamers alike. With solid capacities at a fair price and the fastest read/write performance of any PCIe 4.0 SSD we’ve tested, this SSD should definitely be at the top of your list if you’re looking to upgrade or do a new PC build.
Option for a built-in heatsink
4TB capacity available
No PCIe 5.0
You need that heatsink, because this one runs hot
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Samsung 990 Pro: Two minute review
When the Samsung 990 Pro was announced, many PC enthusiasts were disappointed to see that Samsung’s latest flagship SSD was sticking with the last-gen PCIe 4.0 standard rather than leading the way into the PCIe 5.0 future we’ve been promised.
That disappointment should be mollified though by this SSD’s performance, which approaches the theoretical limit of what the PCIe 4.0 standard is capable of. There’s no question that the 990 Pro is the best SSD overall on the market right now, with outstanding read performance for gaming and speedy writes for creative pros working on resource-intensive projects.
Being the best comes at a cost though, and the 990 Pro isn’t cheap, but it is at least within reach of a plurality of gamers and professionals out there.
If you’re a creative pro though, there’s just nothing to question here. This SSD roundly beats out its predecessor, as well as the PCIe 4.0 competition, on sequential writes.
Here’s how the Samsung 990 Pro performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
CrystalDiskMark Sequential: 7,465.49MB/s (read); 6,887.68MB/s (write)
CrystalDiskMark Random Q32: 5,467.60MB/s (read); 4104.87MB/s (write)
10GB file transfer: 3.97 seconds
10GB folder transfer: 7.22 seconds
PCMark10 SSD Overall: 6,646 points
PCMark10 SSD Memory Bandwidth: 968.95MB/s
That means that all those huge video editing projects will autosave much more quickly (28.3% faster to be precise). Meanwhile, gamers and creative pros are going to love the blazing fast sequential reads, which come within sight of the theoretical speed limit on the PCIe 4.0 standard itself (7,465.49MB/s, so just shy of the standard’s 8,000MB/s read cap).
In our file transfer test, the 990 Pro wrote a single 10GB file on the drive in about 3.97 seconds, which is just under 9% faster than the Samsung 980 Pro, while in our 10GB folder transfer test, the 990 Pro copied over a folder containing 1024 10MB files in about seven seconds, while the 980 Pro took just shy of 11 seconds to do the same, giving the 990 Pro a nearly 32% faster result.
This means that large project assets are going to load faster, games are going to have shorter loading screens, and you’re going to get overall great performance when just starting up an app or game, or while performing hefty file operations.
This is the system we used to test the Samsung 990 Pro
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D
CPU Cooler: Corsair H150i AIO 360mm
RAM: 64GB DDR4-3600 Corsair Dominator Motherboard: Gigabyte Aorus Master X570
Graphics card: Nvidia RTX 3080
Power Supply: Corsair AX1000
Case: Praxis Wetbench
This does come at a premium though, and with a suggested retail price starting at $169.99 / £155 / AU$265 for the 1TB capacity and $289.99 / £283.99 / AU$439 for the 2TB capacity you’re going to be paying substantially more than you would for the Samsung 980 Pro, which has a 500GB capacity available for $79.99 / £95 / AU$145, and with a max 2TB capacity 980 Pro selling for $209.99 / £252 / AU$409.
One limitation on the 990 Pro right now though is the lack of options when it comes to capacities like its predecessors have, but we’re hoping that additional capacities will be available in the new year, which should definitely help make the 990 Pro more affordable for folks.
The Samsung 990 Pro is also going to be more expensive than many of the best M.2 SSDs out there which trade some performance or capacity away in order to stay affordable, like the Adata XPG SX8200, but that’s to be expected given the professional segment this SSD is targeting.
This is ultimately a high-performance SSD, so if your priority is price, this might be a bit more SSD than your budget can accommodate. Fortunately, the Samsung 980 and Samsung 970 Evo are both much more affordable alternatives if you’re looking for a Samsung SSD on a budget.
Still, the 990 Pro is roughly in line with many of the best PS5 SSDs in terms of price and read performance, so this stick is definitely a contender to slot into your console to help you manage that unwieldy game library you’ve got.
Ditto for your gaming PC, where the best gaming SSD can make a huge difference in getting you into a game or match faster, but if you're just looking for a new SSD for a home or office PC, this SSD will likely be overkill.
Only a certain group of people will ever need an SSD like the Samsung 990 Pro, but those who do won't find much better anywhere on the market right now, at least not until we see the new PCIe 5.0 SSDs in the months ahead.
Should you buy the Samsung 990 Pro?
Buy the Samsung 990 Pro if...
You want outstanding sequential read and write speeds
This is easily one of the fastest SSDs we've ever tested, so you can expect top-tier file operation performance.
You're a creative professional who would love to speed things up
Whether it's loading files faster or writing your finished work to file, the Samsung 990 Pro is going to free up a lot of bottlenecks in the creative content pipeline for a lot of people.
You want a great gaming SSD
While not explicitly a gaming SSD, it's sequential read speeds are close to maxing out its PCIe 4.0 channels, which means your games will load just about as fast as PCIe 4.0 standard allows for. In other words, you won't find much better right now.
Don't buy the Samsung 990 Pro if...
You're just looking to expand your PC storage for everyday use
This is very much a professional grade SSD, so if you're just looking for extra storage space, a more mainstream M.2 SSD will likely be the better option (or even one of the best hard drives for that matter).
You're on a very tight budget
The Samsung 990 Pro isn't the most expensive SSD out there, but the lack of a sub-1TB capacity options and the fact that this is a premium SSD for professionals means that it's also not going to be cheap.
Samsung 980 Pro
The Samsung 990 Pro is an outstanding choice if you're on a tighter budget. Offering performance that beats just about all its competitors while having a more accessible price, this SSD is a great choice, especially if it's on sale.
Read the full Samsung 980 Pro review
Corsair MP600 Pro LPX
The Corsair MP600 Pro LPX comes in just behind the 990 Pro in terms of performance, but it makes up for it in terms of price and better capacity options, including a 4TB option (though that one will cost you for sure).
Read the full Corsair MP600 Pro LPX review
Samsung 990 Pro: Report Card
|Value||The Samsung 990 Pro is a bit more expensive than "competing" M.2 SSDs, but in reality, there's no competition. This is a premium SSD and it's worth every penny.||4.5 / 5|
|Design||The option to get a heatsink included with your purchase (at most retailers) is definitely a bonus, especially since you're going to need one, without question. This SSD gets very hot under load.||4.5 / 5|
|Performance||There's no disputing the best-in-class performance of the 990 Pro, even without the PCIe 5.0 standard.||5 / 5|
|Total (Average)||As a last hurrah for PCIe 4.0 SSDs, this one is a fitting coda as we head into the PCIe 5.0 galaxy of hardware. Decently priced all things considered, this will be the last PCIe 4.0 SSD standing when the PCIe 5.0s take over, and it absolutely deserves to be.||4.67 / 5|
- First reviewed December 2022
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We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.
John (He/Him) is the Components Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY.
Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.
You can find him online on Threads @johnloeffler.
Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 (just like everyone else).