Samsung 980 vs 980 Pro: What Are The Differences?

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samsung 980 vs 980 pro
samsung 980 vs 980 pro

While PCIe 4.0 compatible SSDs are not just gaining steam, but are even dropping in price, Intel – and now Samsung – have recently announced the release of a brand-new NVMe SSD… with a PCIe 3.0 bus type. 

Of course, PCIe Gen 3 SSDs are still quite popular, especially given the recent price drops that have put them within an almost identical cost-range to their SATA III SSD equivalents. Given that PCIe 4.0 storage drives still need a couple of years to reach a cost that is comparable to today’s PCIe 3.0 storage drives, there are many potential customers that hard drive manufacturers can attract with this previous generation PCI Express lane technology.

The new Samsung SSD model that just released is the Samsung 980. This SSD is absent of any DRAM, while it makes use of the new Samsung in-house Pablo controller, a higher-end 128-layer 3D TLC NAND flash type, and Samsung’s new and improved Intelligent TurboWrite 2.0: a feature that enhances sustained transfer speed performance by using a larger, dynamic, SLC (Single-Level Cell) buffer storage within the SSDs architecture.

So how does the Samsung 980 compare with Samsung’s own higher-end PCIe 4.0 compatible SSD, the Samsung 980 Pro? Is the latter model worth the extra investment? Let’s check their specifications and real-world benchmarks and see whether or not this newly released hard drive is a worthy purchase.


Specifications

ModelSamsung 980 ProSamsung 980
DesignSamsung 980 ProSamsung 980
Storage Sizes250 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB250 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB
Sequential Read6,400 MB/s, 6,900 MB/s, 7,000 MB/s, 7,000 MB/s2,900 MB/s, 3,100 MB/s, 3,500 MB/s,
Sequential Write2,700 MB/s, 5,000 MB/s, 5,000 MB/s, 5,100 MB/s1,300 MB/s, 2,600 MB/s, 3,000 MB/s
4KB Random Read500,000 IOPS, 800,000 IOPS, 1,000,000 IOPS, 1,000,000 IOPS230,000 IOPS, 400,000 IOPS, 500,000 IOPS
4KB Random Write600,000 IOPS, 1,000,000 IOPS, 1,000,000 IOPS, 1,000,000 IOPS320,000 IOPS, 470,000 IOPS, 480,000 IOPS
Bus TypePCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe 1.3cPCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe 1.4
ControllerSamsung ElpisSamsung Pablo
NAND TypeSamsung 128L 3D TLCSamsung 128L 3D TLC
TBW150 TBW, 300 TBW, 600 TBW, 1200 TBW150 TBW, 300 TBW, 600 TBW
Warranty5 years5 years
MSRP$90, $150, $230, $430$50, $70, $130
AvailabilityAmazon.comAmazon.com

The Samsung 980 Pro includes a 2 TB storage size, missing from the 980, and its sequential read speeds are at least double that of its PCIe Gen 3 cousin. Sequential write speeds are also faster, with the difference ranging from 66% to 107%, depending on the storage size. Its 4K random read and write speeds also seem to prove PCIe 4.0’s promise of double throughput, surpassing the 980’s advertised metrics by up to 118%.

The V-NAND flash type and endurance levels are identical for both models, and though the 150 to 600 Terabytes Written (TBW) values are more than enough for an SSD marketed for everyday PC builds and gamers, these metrics may be insufficient for higher-end workstation setups that transfer large amounts of files on a daily basis – and this is the key demographic of the more expensive Samsung 980 Pro model. Both 980 and 980 Pro are backed by Samsung’s 5-year warranty.

In terms of price, we see that the Samsung 980 Pro is already experiencing price cuts ranging from 12% to 20% (at its 500 GB, and above, storage sizes) – and the more the PCIe Gen 4 SSDs are discounted, the more their PCIe Gen 3 equivalents will also have to have their prices reduced. Currently, the 1 TB Samsung 980 Pro model costs $130, meaning that the Samsung 980 Pro is 54% more expensive. Is the 980 Pro worth this extra cost? Let’s check the benchmarks and find out.


Benchmarks

1TB ModelSamsung 980 ProSamsung 980
Peak Sequential Read17,138 MB/s3,573 MB/s
Peak Sequential Write15,272 MB/s2,842 MB/s
Average Sequential Read23,362 MB/s2,138 MB/s
Average Sequential Write31,246 MB/s851 MB/s
Peak 4K Random Read4 606,921 IOPS500,223 IOPS
Peak 4K Random Write4536,767 IOPS428,590 IOPS
Power Consumption53.70 Watts3.45 Watts
Game Scene Loading69.37 Seconds9.63 Seconds
PCMark 10 Quick System Score3,153 Points2,682 Points
PCMark 10 Full System Score2,865 Points2,637 Points
All benchmarks by Tom’s Hardware
1 iometer 128 KB QD 1-32.
2 DiskBench 6.5 GB Zip file read transfer rate.
3 DiskBench 50 GB copy transfer rate.
4 iometer 4KB QD 1-128.
5 50 GB copy average power consumption.
6 Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers.

Testing does prove that the peak sequential read and write speeds of the 980 Pro can double the speeds of even some of the best PCIe Gen 3 compatible SSDs the market has to offer, including the Samsung 980. Of course, when it comes to real world applications, the differences are not as impressive, though the Samsung 980 Pro still outperforms the 980 by upwards of 46% to 57%.

Peak 4K random read and write speeds is where the 980 Pro disappoints, only reaching 50% to 60% of its promised advertised specifications. It is here that it only leads the Samsung 980 by 21% and 25% respectively. Also, when it comes to gaming applications, the difference in loading times is only 3%; which is to be expected to some degree, as even SATA III SSDs have been show to rival, or even surpass, the speeds of NVMe storage drives in this matter.

When it comes to trace-based benchmark applications, like PCMark 10, the Samsung 980 Pro proves to be the more responsive hard drive, but not by a significant margin. The PCMark10 Quick System score, which is meant to simulate more common, less hardware-intensive, applications, and the Full System score, which is used to rate performance for higher-end usage, show the Samsung 980 Pro outscoring the 980 by 18% for the former, but only by 9% for the latter.

One last thing to mention is that the Samsung 980 Pro consumes only 7% more energy than the 980, and, considering that the former outperforms the latter by 20% to 50% in transfer speeds, we can say confidently say that the Samsung 980 Pro is far more power efficient than the 980.


Verdict

Samsung 980

For the vast majority of users – including those looking for an SSD for browsing, general productivity, content creation, or gaming – the Samsung 980 Pro still does not justify its price versus other, cheaper, PCIe 3.0 bus-type storage drives. The Samsung 980, on the other hand, provides great overall value, as it has respectable transfer speeds and it proves to be very responsive for all types of applications. 

Of course, both these Samsung models do have some serious competition for their respective targeted audience, like the Sabrent Rocket or the ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro for the Samsung 980, and the Western Digital Black SN850 or the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus for the Samsung 980 Pro, but they are still both respectable options that come with the quality and reliability that Samsung is known for when it comes to their SSD storage options.


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