Samsung 990 Pro PCIe 4 SSD review: Ultra-fast, ultra-expensive

Sayem Ahmed
Samsung 990 Pro SSD

The Samsung 990 Pro SSD is the latest in the Korean giant’s library of SSDs, but does it match up with its own blistering specifications?

Samsung’s 980 Pro was one of the quickest SSDs when it was released in 2020. However, competitors quickly eclipsed the SSD, boasting new technology. However, Samsung has come fighting back with the 990 Pro PCIe NVMe drive, which promises to almost max out the PCIe 4.0 interface, to give you a boost in read and write speeds. We got our hands on the 1TB variant to check out and benchmark.

Key specs

  • Capacity: 1TB
  • DRAM Cache: 1GB LPDDR4 (1TB)
  • Form factor: M.2 2280
  • Max sequential read: 7450 MB/s
  • Max sequential write: 6900 MB/s
  • Warranty: 5 years
  • Price: $169.99 (1TB, no heatsink)
  • Release date: Late October 2022

The SSD is available either with or without a heatsink. The version we tested does not come with a heatsink, and will therefore be tested as such.


Samsung 990 Pro SSD box

The Samsung 990 Pro looks like any other PCIe NVMe drive in the standard 2280 form factor. You’ll be able to pop this into your PS5, PC, or an external enclosure with little to no issues. The black PCB is a nice touch. On our 1TB model, the chips are all on the front side of the M.2 Drive, with an additional sticker on the back that serves as a heat spreader to help keep the drive cool.

Samsung has included its new “Pascal” controller on the front of the drive, with its V-NAND chips alongside it. This brand-new controller is the special sauce that separates the 990 Pro from its predecessors, though it might not be too exciting to look at.

Installation is as easy as any other NVMe drive, and allows you to simply plop it into whatever device you want, and is secured by a tiny screw at the end. The drive also boasts that you will be able to use this brand-new SSD with the DirectStorage API from Microsoft. However, as of writing, no games currently support DirectStorage right now. It’s handy to have in your pocket, however.

The drive also comes with Samsung Magician Software, which will allow you to tinker around with the drive’s settings to your heart’s content.


Samsung 990 Pro Back
This sticker is a surprisingly effective heat spreader.

The Samsung 990 Pro is one of those drives that promise to almost max out the PCIe 4.0 specification, and with PCI 5.0 slowly coming into fashion, it’s likely that many manufacturers will want to make the jump at some point in the next year or so. So, the idea that the Samsung 990 Pro saturates almost all of its PCIe 4.0 bandwidth isn’t too mind-boggling.

There are not too many PCs that can support PCIe 5.0, so we’d expect that this will last you a fair amount of time, especially considering that the standard is backward-compatible.

For some reference, Samsung’s previous-generation 980 Pro SSD managed around 7000 MB/s, whereas this brand-new model pushes that further to 7450 MB/s. Whether those extra 450 MB/s of speed is worth it for you is largely dependent on what you’re planning on doing with it.

Crystal Disk Mark results

  • Sequential Read: 7452 MB/s
  • Sequential Write: 6883 MB/s

On the thermal side of things, in our NZXT B550 motherboard, the drive reached a maximum of 72 degrees celsius. This means that the SSD managed to achieve peak performance without any thermal throttling. Considering our motherboard is a bit of a hotbox for SSDs in particular, we were quite impressed with how cool the SSD managed to keep itself. The small heat spreader on the back of the SSD seems to have gone a long way.

Of course, if you’re popping this into a PS5, you’ll want to get the variant of the SSD that has a heatsink preinstalled, as access speeds can be much more sustained.

Is it good for gaming?

Samsung 990 Pro Verdict
The 990 Pro is one of the only DirectStorage-capable SSDs on the market.

Without a doubt, getting a speedy SSD is excellent for many games. In Final Fantasy XIV, we were often the first in our party to get into an instance. Similarly, we saw small gains in Cyberpunk 2077, only taking around 10 seconds to get into Night City to wreak havoc.

Strictly speaking, performance is not going to differ too significantly from slightly slower SSDs for games. However, with DirectStorage titles on the horizon, the 990 Pro would be a solid investment into the future especially when titles that support it like Forspoken finally release.

Should you buy it?

If you already own a PCIe 4 SSD, you’re probably okay to skip out on this one. However, if you are looking for an SSD for your PS5, or if you’re building a new PC kitted out with Intel 13th gen and a 40-series GPU, you’ll be able to get blistering performance out of this SSD. It pretty much makes use of all of its PCIe 4 bandwidth. So, this is most likely one of the best SSDs you can get on this side of PCIe 5’s advent.


There is one caveat. This drive will cost you a pretty penny. While lesser PCIe 4 drives are getting aggressive discounts, the 990 Pro is not really that much faster in gaming scenarios. However, it is one of the first DirectStorage drives on the market and can be excellent for content creation workloads.

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