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Samsung’s 990 Pro SSD promises fastest-ever PCIe 4.0 read speeds

Ultra-quick NVMe with DRAM and a gaming focus, but it won’t come cheap

Unnervingly tall gaming monitors aren’t Samsung’s only hardware to get a Gamescom showing. Last night also saw the reveal of the Samsung 990 Pro SSD, a premium designed-for-gaming drive with read speeds up to 7450MB/s – nudging the theoretical limits of its PCIe 4.0 interface. If it actually reaches such speeds in the wild, once it launches in October, that would make it the fastest consumer PCIe 4.0 drive yet. And write speeds aren’t far behind either, at up to 6900MB/s.
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It's read speeds that are more useful for games, and although game loading and data streaming are tricky tasks that can slow your storage down, higher maximum speeds still often represent faster real-world performance – something the best gaming SSDs will demonstrate. The 990 Pro’s 7450MB/s rating (an upgrade on the Samsung 980 Pro’s 7000MB/s) should therefore put it in good stead against other speed freaks like the WD Black SN850 and the Kingston Fury Renegade, even if the latter has a slightly nippier write speed limit.

At the same time, Samsung might be taking a risk with the 990 Pro’s pricing: £155 for the 1TB model and £284 for the 2TB model (a 4TB version is also coming next year, price TBC). Compared to the Black SN850 that’s £45 more for 1TB and an eye-widening £100 more for 2TB. It will also have to compete with the handful of relatively budget-friendly PCIe 4.0 drives that have appeared in recent months, like the impressively nimble Crucial P3 and the WD Black SN750 SE. That’s a lot of good SSDs to fend off, even with such an ornately gilded stick as that maximum read speed.

A render of the Samsung 990 Pro SSD with its heatsink accessory attached.
There's also an RGB(!) heatsink accessory for the 990 Pro. No pricing yet, but expect to pay even more for it.

The 990 Pro is a proper high-end SSD, in fairness. It doesn’t cut costs by forgoing a DRAM cache, so you get 1GB of DRAM on the 1TB model, 2GB on the 2TB, and 4GB on the 4TB, and the storage memory will be the latest version of Samsung’s densely-stacked V-NAND. Samsung say the new controller is also 50% more power efficient than the 980 Pro's, and that could help with thermal performance.

The Gamescom launch didn’t make the 990 Pro available for testing, but I should have one to slot into the RPS test rig back home very soon. Even if it doesn’t end up being the best option for most PC owners/builders to actually buy, I'm intrigued to see whether it really can hit new highs for PCIe 4.0 – even with PCIe 5.0 SSDs on the way, we’ve yet to max out what the 4.0 standard can really do.

For more Gamescom coverage, be sure to check out our Gamescom 2022 hub for all the latest news, impressions from the show floor and more.
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About the Author
James Archer avatar

James Archer

Hardware Editor

James had previously hung around beneath the RPS treehouse as a freelancer, before being told to drop the pine cones and climb up to become hardware editor. He has over a decade’s experience in testing/writing about tech and games, something you can probably tell from his hairline.

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