Something I look forward to: PCIe 5.0 SSDs are just around the corner, along with new CPUs and motherboards to support their next-gen speeds. However, Samsung’s new high-performance PCIe 4.0 SSD will likely provide all the speed many users need for a while.
Samsung today introduced the 990 Pro PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD, positioning the new drive for gaming, 3D rendering, data analysis, and 4K video editing. The 990 Pro advertises sequential read speeds of up to 7,450MB/s and write speeds of up to 6,900MB/s, beating the 980 Pro’s already impressive 7,000/5,000MB/s read/write speeds.
The 990 Pro should also improve the 980’s random read/write performance by 55 percent, hitting 1,400/1,550K IOPS. Samsung plans to release the new SSD this October at a similar MSRP to the 980 Pro: $179 for the 1TB model and $309 for the 2TB with heatsink included. A 4TB variant will launch in 2023.
The performance spec listed by Samsung is probably aspirational. TechSpot testing showed the 980 Pro achieved a read speed of 6,300MB/s compared to its 7,000MB/s rating out of the box. Whatever the real-world speeds of the 990 Pro are, Samsung says it will reduce load times for games. If that happens, the performance difference will likely show up in games releasing in 2023 and beyond.
Based on testing, the latest high-end gaming PCs provide the same experience on SATA and NVMe SSDs. Even PlayStation 5 games are currently acceptable with a 3200 MB/s SSD. However, things could change when Microsoft’s DirectStorage API debuts on Windows next year with the release of Luminous Productions’ Forspoken.
Samsung uses Forspoken as an example, saying the 990 Pro loaded one of the game’s maps in about a second. Luminous CTO Teppei Ono said that SSDs with read speeds of over 5,000 MB/s should load some of Forspoken’s cutscenes just as quickly. However, demos at GDC 2022 showed NVMe load times of just under two seconds compared to almost four seconds on a SATA SSD and 21 seconds on an HDD.
Those planning to buy or build new PCs later this year are likely looking forward to PCIe 5.0 SSDs, with support for Intel’s latest Alder Lake processors and AMD’s upcoming Zen 4 CPUs. This fall’s SSDs from companies like Corsair and Apacer promise speeds of more than 10,000 MB/s.
However, high-performance PCIe 4.0 SSDs like Samsung’s 980 or 990 Pro are probably worth it for users who intend to stick with PCIe 4.0 systems for years to come, including the PlayStation 5. The 990 announcement Pro doesn’t mention the PS5, but Samsung promoted the 980 Pro as an ideal storage option for the PS5, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the company did the same with its latest offering.