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Samsung SSD 990 EVO

For ordinary home and corporate storage needs, the Samsung SSD 990 EVO (starting at $124.99; tested at $209.99 for 2TB) performs admirably as a standard internal solid-state drive (SSD). This DRAM-less SSD comes with the Samsung Magician suite of SSD optimization tools, is reasonably priced and energy-efficient, and has superior security features. It’s a PCI Express (PCIe) 4.0 M.2 drive; according to Samsung, the SSD 990 EVO can operate in a PCIe 5.0 slot, although it can only utilize two of the four lanes on that interface. It is a better fit for a workday PCIe 4.0 stick, and for that reason it receives our Editors’ Choice award.

Design: DRAM-less Keeps Power, Heat, and Price Down

Using the PCIe 4.0 interface and the NVMe 2.0 protocol, the SSD 990 EVO is produced on an M.2 Type-2280 (80mm long) “gumstick” printed circuit board. It pairs Samsung TLC V-NAND flash memory with an in-house DRAM-less controller, which is the first of its kind that we haven’t seen from Maxio Technology.

The drive uses host memory buffer (HMB) technology to cache data by leveraging the primary DRAM of the PC. This enables Samsung to use a controller without DRAM while maintaining low prices and respectable performance. The tech giant claims that compared to its five-year-old predecessor, the SSD 970 EVO Plus, the SSD 990 EVO offers a speed jump of up to 43% and a 70% improvement per watt in power efficiency. The heat-spreader label on the SSD 990 EVO helps keep the drive cool and performing well, preventing thermal throttling.

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Samsung also emphasizes the PCI Express 5.0 compatibility of the SSD 990 EVO, naming it the “990 EVO 5.0 NVMe SSD” on its product page, despite the fact that the drive only uses two of the four lanes in a PCIe 5.0 M.2 slot and has read and write speeds that are rated at half (or less than half) of what native PCIe 5.0×4 SSDs can achieve. Using the SSD 990 EVO in a PCIe 5.0 slot (if your computer even has one) may offer you a little performance advantage over using it in a PCIe 4.0 slot in some situations, as you will see below in the discussion of our performance tests. However, the SSD 990 EVO is not a full-fledged four-lane Gen 5 SSD.

The lifetime write capacity of the SSD 990 EVO is measured in total terabytes written (TBW), and the 2TB and 1TB variants have ratings of 1,200 and 600 TBW, respectively. Their capacities are comparable to those of several other PCIe 4.0 SSDs, such as the WD Black SN850X, the Crucial P5 Plus, and the Samsung SSD 980 Pro. However, a few PCIe 4.0 drives have far greater durability ratings. The MSI Spatium M470, for instance, has ratings of 1,600TBW for 1TB and 3,300TBW for 2TB respectively. On the other hand, the Mushkin Delta, which rates at just 200TBW for 1TB, 400TBW for 2TB, and 800TBW for 4TB, is based on the less robust QLC memory.

Read also : Corsair MP600 Core Mini 2TB SSD

The manufacturer’s estimate of the amount of data that can be written to a disk before some cells start to fail and are taken out of service is called the terabytes-written standard. Samsung offers a five-year warranty on the SSD 990 Pro, or until the rated TBW number in data writes is reached, whichever comes first.

With the SSD 990 EVO, Samsung offers its Samsung Magician suite of SSD optimization tools, which makes it easier to migrate data for SSD upgrades. Furthermore, Samsung Magician offers firmware upgrades, drives health monitoring, and data protection. In addition, the SSD 990 EVO satisfies the TCG/Opal V2.0 security standard for self-encrypted devices and provides AES 256-bit full-disk hardware encryption.

Testing the SSD 990 EVO: A Mid-Speed PCIe 4.0 Stick

Using a desktop PC with an MSI X570 motherboard, an AMD Ryzen CPU running at 3,600MHz, 16GB of Corsair Dominator DDR4 memory, and a discrete Nvidia GeForce graphics card, we evaluate PCIe 4.0 internal SSDs. We ran the SSD 990 EVO through our standard set of solid-state drive benchmarks, which includes 3DMark Storage, PCMark 10 Storage, and Crystal DiskMark 6.0.

We also performed the same tests using the SSD 990 EVO in the PCIe 5.0 x4 M.2 slot of our PCIe 5.0 testbed PC, as Samsung clearly promotes this drive’s PCIe 5.0 compatibility. It has an AMD X670 chipset ASRock X670E Taichi motherboard and 32GB (two Crucial 16GB DIMMs) of DDR5 RAM. It is equipped with a GeForce RTX 2070 Super graphics card and an AMD Ryzen 9 7900 CPU. Our official scores, which are displayed in the tables below, are the ones obtained from the PCIe 4.0 testbed; we will talk about the results of the ad hoc PCIe 5.0 testing later.

Sequential speed tests in Crystal DiskMark simulate best-case, straight-line transfers of big files and offer a conventional measure of disk throughput. The SSD 990 EVO performed substantially below its advertised write speed on these tests, while just marginally above its sequential read performance rating. Among our group of comparison drives, which consists of mainstream PCIe 4.0 SSDs with similar sequential read scores, the SSD 990 EVO’s results were average in Crystal DiskMark’s 4K read and write tests. These tests gauge how long it takes an SSD to access or save a group of files in 4K cluster sizes.

The PCMark 10 Overall Storage test evaluates how quickly a drive can execute common operations including opening Windows, loading applications for creativity and gaming, and transferring both big and small data. The SSD 990 EVO outperformed the WD Black SN770 in this regard, taking first place in our comparison group.

You may view the results of several of the 990 EVO’s specific trace-based tests in addition to the PCMark 10 Overall Storage score, which is an average of the results of many jobs. It received the highest score in our test group on the Windows and Adobe Premiere Pro launching traces.

The SSD 990 EVO’s result in 3DMark Storage, which gauges an SSD’s ability to handle a range of gaming-related workloads, was in the center of the pack. We also conducted our whole battery of tests with the SSD installed in the PCIe 5.0 slot on our PCIe 5.0 testbed, as I had previously indicated. The PCIe 4.0 and PCIe 5.0 test results from the EVO were essentially quite comparable, with the exception that the drive failed this test the drive turned in a score of 3,260, about 7% better than its PCIe 4.0 score.

The various PCI Express versions are compatible with one another both forwards and backwards; for instance, a PCIe 4.0 SSD may be installed in a PCIe 3.0 slot. You would be restricted to PCIe 3.0 throughput speeds in this scenario, which have a maximum of around 3,500MBps. In some use circumstances, there may be a small advantage to operating the SSD 990 EVO in a PCIe 5.0 slot as opposed to a PCIe 4.0 slot. It won’t provide you with speeds that are even close to native PCIe 5.0×4 SSDs, which make use of all four PCIe 5.0 M.2 slot channels as opposed to the SSD 990 EVO’s two channels. The initial PCIe 5.0 SSD generation— which includes the Gigabyte Aorus 10000, the ADATA Legend 970, and the Seagate FireCuda 540—are rated for throughput speeds of around 10,000MBps, and more recent sticks have exceeded that. The fastest we have tested has a read speed topping 14,000MBps.

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Verdict: The Go-To Mainstream Internal SSD

Among popular PCIe 4.0 internal SSDs, the Samsung SSD 990 EVO performed admirably in our tests, earning consistently high scores in our PCMark 10 benchmarks, which gauges an SSD’s performance across a range of daily operations. It contains all of the security features, software, and guarantee that we have been accustomed to seeing on Samsung SSDs. The drive is extremely energy-efficient, cools down thanks to a heat spreader, and has a DRAM-less design.

In its marketing and labeling, Samsung makes a point of highlighting the PCIe 5.0 compatibility of the SSD 990 EVO. We tested it on both our PCIe 4.0 and PCIe 5.0 testbeds, and in one of our tests, it ran a little bit better in the PCIe 5.0 slot. On the other hand, its overall performance is comparable of a conventional PCIe 4.0 SSD, whichever interface you are actually running it over. It can only utilize two of the slot’s four lanes.

If you decide to take on the considerable expense of buying or building a Gen 5 rig, you should spring for a high-performance native PCIe 5.0×4 drive to get the most out of it. Sure, if you have a 990 EVO kicking around, and a desktop PC with an unused PCIe 5.0 slot, by all means use it, at least until you can upgrade your SSD. Or fill the slot with any decent PCIe 4.0 SSD—they should also work.

Enough of the shortcomings of the Samsung SSD 990 EVO, though. We consider it to be an excellent conventional PCIe 4.0 SSD suitable for most storage needs at home or in the office. Although it couldn’t match its own sequential write-speed rating and its throughput results were far lower than those of the previous Editors’ Choice winner, the Crucial P5 Plus, it outperformed the Crucial on PCMark 10 Overall and almost all of the trace tests. In terms of software, security, and warranty duration, it is comparable to the P5 Plus. The SSD 990 Evo is currently our most recent Editors’ Choice choice for standard internal M.2 SSDs because the P5 Plus is nearing the end of its useful life.

Achraf Grini
Achraf Grini
Hello This is AG. I am a Tech lover and I have long been a promoter and editor for a shopping company, I have followed smartphones and headphones and others. I covers iOS, Android, Windows and macOS, writing tutorials, buying guides and reviews.


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