While everyone was rushing to test and write their reviews of the newest Samsung NVMe last month, I decided to hold back and give this drive some time to mature before going through it. It just so happened I had the Rocket Lake S launch on my plate at that time, so it all worked out, and now a little over a month has passed, Magician has been updated to support "Full Power" mode on 980 and 980 Pro, and we can finally dive right in.
As many of you will already know, the Samsung 980 is the companies first DRAMless NVMe and targets a segment of the market that would typically have an EVO product in the lineup. We currently do not know if Samsung will release a potential 980 EVO to fit between this DRAMless 980 and the 980 Pro Gen4.
A quick look over the drive specifications, the Samsung 980 uses a new "Pablo" 4-channel in-house controller paired with the companies own TLC V-NAND and a 64MB HMB from the Operating System.
The form factor is the typical m.2 2280 with performance reaching 3100 MB/s read and 2600 MB/s write, while random performance will see roughly 400K read IOPS and 470K write IOPS. Reliability offers a rating of 300TBW for the 500GB model over the five-year warranty period.
The MSRP of the 500GB Samsung 980 comes in at $69.99.
Packaging includes capacity top left, performance bottom right, along with Samsung branding.
We find model identification on the sticker to the left and warranty information towards the bottom on the backside.
Our first look at the drive, we have a 2280 form factor solution with model and capacity listed on the sticker.
On the back, we have Samsung branding and regulatory information on the right side.
Pulling the sticker from the drive, we look at the Pablo controller on the left and a single NAND module on the right, PMIC in between.
Sequential read starts off our testing at 3074 MB/s read, and 2261 MB/s write. 4KQ1 is a 38 MB/s read and 62 MB/s write.
Flipping the Full Power switch in Magician, we get a boost in random performance to 70 MB/s read and 233 MB/s write.
In PCMark testing, the Samsung 980 runs at the top of our charts with 337 MB/s bandwidth and a score of 2743. Enabling Full Power, we see that move to 348 MB/s Bandwidth and a score of 2851.
Looking at Price vs. Performance, the 980 runs at 98%, with its MSRP of $69.99. This makes it a top-five drive that beats out the likes of the ADATA SX8200 and the Sabrent Rocket NVMe.
The Samsung 980 is a surprisingly excellent NVMe solution that adds a value segment to the 980 lineups. This drive fits in, by performance, between the 970 EVO and 970 EVO Plus, and pricing reflects this with the 500GB class 970 Evo Plus running around $79.99 and this current 980 at $69.99. I think Samsung could potentially drop this price further and really wipe the floor with the current DRAMless market but still in the midst of the pandemic; we don't know if the supply is there.
Drive performance was near the top of PCMark testing, only beaten by the proud Plextor M9P+, otherwise not much for competition in our 500GB class charts, especially if you take the time to install Magician 6.3 to enable Full Power mode. With CDM, we saw nearly double 4KQ1 performance from stock to enabling Full Power while sequential performance was around 3000 MB/s read and 2300 MB/s write.
As I touched on above, pricing is fair for the 500GB class Samsung 980. At $69.99, MSRP is about $10 over the average price we see for DRAMless solutions. That said, this drive does offer features to offset the cost that includes "Full Power" mode and a five-year warranty.
TweakTown Internal Storage Test System
- CPU: Intel Core i9 11900K
- Motherboard: ASRock Z590 Taichi
- GPU: ASUS TUF RTX 3080 10GB
- RAM: Team Xtreem 2x8G DDR4 4500 (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: MSI CoreLiquid K360
- OS Storage: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 1TB (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair RM1000X (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 (buy from Amazon)
The Bottom Line
Samsung once again reminds us why they are a leader in the storage industry, with the best DRAMless SSD on the market.