While the Samsung 970 lineup is stacked with several different models, such as the EVO, EVO Plus, and Pro, the Samsung 980 Pro has largely gone at it alone since its launch in September. Not anymore, however, as the non-Pro Samsung 980 SSD has officially landed after appearing on several retailer listings and even its own website ahead of time.
Unlike the 980 Pro, which uses the newer PCIe 4.0 standard, the Samsung 980 is built using the previous Gen 3 specification, meaning it’s capped at half the speed. Fortunately, it looks to reach these upper limits with the $129.99 / £119.49 MSRP 1TB model hitting a sequential read speed of 3500MB/s and a sequential write speed of 3000MB/s, which is faster than the more expensive 970 Evo but retains the same 600TBW endurance and five-year warranty.
It’s also available in smaller 250GB and 500GB capacities, which cost $49.99 / £45.99 and $69.99 / £64.49 respectively and, as expected, have lower endurance. There’s no sign of a 2TB model just yet, but this usually comes much later in an SSD’s life.
Not only does the 980 use the same optimised Pablo controller found in Samsung’s portable T7 SSD, it’s the company’s first consumer SSD without its own DRAM cache. This often comes with the caveat of slower speeds, but the Samsung 980 hopes to sidestep this with Host Memory Buffer (HMB) technology, which lets the drive use your gaming PC’s DRAM instead.
The rated speeds seem to be high, which is a good sign that this solution works well, but it’s worth waiting for real-world benchmarks to see how much difference this could make.
The Samsung 980 is already aggressively priced at a lower MSRP than the 970 Evo, but its sibling is so frequently discounted that retail pricing is difficult to compare. If the new 1TB model sees the same kinds of reductions, it could potentially edge out the WD Blue SN550 to become our favourite budget NVMe SSD.
If you’re looking for the best SSD for gaming, PCIe 3.0 drives still offer great performance without the added premium of PCIe 4.0. And considering you’ll need to have one of AMD’s Zen 3 chips or Intel’s upcoming 11th gen CPUs to take full advantage of PCIe 4.0 SSDs, it’s not surprising to see Samsung release a new drive based on the older standard.