Samsung SSD 980 PCIe 3.0, analysis and opinion
The exciting world of computer components. Exciting, frustrating and very expensive (with this lack of stock due to COVID) universe of PC components. We are in a bad time to assemble a computer to parts or to update the one we already have due to the shortage of GPUs since the DDR5 standard should be about to come out along with the massification of PCIe 4.0 units.
Nevertheless, one component that is easy and “cheap” to upgrade right now is storage. We are seeing SSD ‘thrown away’ in price in its 2.5 “formats, but if you ask me, in the middle of 2021 I would opt for a PCIe SSD as an internal drive, but also as an external drive to combine with a good USB-C box.
Samsung is one of the companies that is betting the strongest on PCIe SSDs and, after launching the 980 Pro with interface 4.0, they have just presented the version that we could qualify as “the little sister”. It is the Samsung 980 to dry, a PCIe SSD with which we have spent the last weeks and that it is a great option, and at a reasonable price, to update the PC.
|980 PCIe 3.0 de 250 GB|
|Form factor||2280 M.2|
|Dimensions and weight||80,15 x 22,15 x 2,38 mm | 8 gramos|
|Useful life||150 TBW|
|Sequential speed||Up to 3,500 MB / s read | Up to 3,000 MB / s write|
|Random speed||Up to 500K IOPS read | Up to 480 write IOPS|
|Security||AES 256 bit | TCG/OPAL V2.0|
|Interface||PCIe 3.0 | NVMe 1.4|
Analysis of the Samsung 980 NVMe by sections:
2280 form factor and extremely easy to install
It does not make much sense to talk about the design in a device of this type because, in the end, we do not care if it is uglier than a refrigerator from behind, since what matters is something else.
However, there is something that we must take into account, and that is the form factor. When we talk about SSD or ‘hard disk’, wrongly said, by the way, we know that there are 3.5 “and 2.5” both SSD and HDD. However, with PCIe disks there are more formats.
We have the 22110, the 2280 or the 3042, numbers that respond to different proportions and lengths. There are also the PCIe, the PCIe + SATA … but hey, let’s focus on the PCIe, which is what we have in hand.
When we talk about an M.2 2280 SSD, the first two figures refer to the width in millimeters of the device and the next two to the length. Normally there are 110 mm long, 80 mm or 42 mm, but here we are facing a 2280 SSD because it has dimensions of 22.14 mm wide by 80.15 mm long.
This is important to take into account because on a desktop motherboard you will surely have no problem connecting any length, but on some laptops, especially Ultrabooks, things change and it may only accept 2280 formats. and those 42 mm long.
The size is one of the advantages of these components compared to a traditional SSD, but also the weight and consumption. The Samsung 980 weighs just 8 grams, allowing us to scratch a few extra grams on a laptop.
However, Is it difficult to install an SSD of this type? And the answer is … that it is simpler than what we had until now, where we needed to screw, usually, and a SATA cable.
All we have to do is locate the PCIe bay of our computer (desktop and laptop), ‘puncture’ the unit and screw it so that it is fixed on the plate and does not move. Samsung claims that it resists a force of 1,500G, so you can carry it on your laptop ‘on adventures’ without fear. It is still a unit with no moving parts, so it will not be damaged by shock or vibrations.
In my case, when I installed the device I opened Windows 10 and its disk utility to generate the 250 GB partition (It stays at something less, about 233 GB usable) and voila, I was ready to start operating.
If what you are going to do is a clean installation of Windows, which is recommended because we think that the best use for this unit is as C :, in less than 10 minutes you will have completed the whole process. It is very fast. but let’s check it with numbers.
NVMe that meets the promised speed in the limits of PCIe 3.0
Samsung promises a speed of up to 3,500 MB / s of writing as claim in the box. If we stick to the specs, it’s up to 3,500MB / s sequential read and up to 3,000MB / s sequential write.
I have wanted to connect the unit to both a desktop and a laptop, both with that PCIe 3.0 standard and without bottleneck problems with RAM and CPU.
These are the values we have in the synthetic tests:
|Sequential write||Sequential reading||Random write||Random read|
|PCIe 3.0 dessert plate||1.234 MB / s||2.920 MB / s||572 MB / s||683 MB / s|
|Laptop||1.143 MB / s||2.840 MB / s||570 MB / s||679 MB / s|
As you can see, It is far from what the company promised, but as we have been able to know, it is about the speed of 250 GB. The unit that reaches 3,000 MB / s sequential write and 3,500 MB / s is the 1 TB and the 500 GB is also close to that maximum. The unit with the 250 GB has a somewhat lower speed.
Next, we leave you two videos in which we compress / decompress a batch of files. These are the materials used for the analysis of the Redmi note 10 Pro and are 78.3 GB of data with 263 files. There are files of all sizes because there is a lot of video, but also mobile screenshots or photographs.
It takes 19:37 minutes to do a simple compression.
If we do the reverse process, the decompression of the created file, takes 7:50 minutes:
In our tests, and from files of 512 KB onwards, the speed is constant and practically the maximum at all times for both writing and reading. When we copy a lot of files smaller than 512 KB, the SSD slows down the reading because it is constantly restarting the reading. It is not the type of files that you generally work with the most.
In fact, copying batches of files both small and very, very large in a synthetic test and, especially with large files, the SSD shows the most stable:
Of course, in very large files, such as the 64 GB file test, writing suffers. It is something totally normal and it is not usual to be working with those huge files, it was a simple stress test.
It is a unit that offers a very good reading and writing speed, something that you will notice when starting the computer, leaving the laptop idle or loading games. Do not wait, yes, the loading speeds that we are seeing in some Series X / Series S or PS5 titles, since the discs of the consoles are highly optimized for games and it is something that, unfortunately, still does not happen on a PC .
We recommend that you install this unit as a system unit and install the programs you use the most.. With 233 GB of storage we cannot go overboard when it comes to putting applications and data, but the system, browsers and Photoshop, in my case, have offered me great performance in this unit.
Something that I have been using this SSD for is to, on an external USB-C drive, export Final Cut projects (the macOS video editing program) on the MacBook Air with an M1 processor.
It offers a very good transfer rate and high enough to be used as an external SSD (with a good cable, yes), so it is a good way to externally expand the capacity of your laptop with a drive that has spectacular speed.
To end, I would like to talk about the temperature. SSDs are units that get hot due to the frequency at which their components go and the memories, as in some consoles and GPUs we have seen, are ‘hot’ elements. Samsung has applied a nickel base for the controller and we see that there is a thermal label running through the controller and memories.
The device has a thermal solution called Dynamic Thermal Guard that guarantees optimal levels of operation to avoid failures and, obviously, this is something that is seen over time.
For now we can say that, in IDLE, the SSD remains at a comfortable 45-48º and in heavy tasks such as playing video games, it rises to about 60-65º. In the performance tests, which in the end are the ones that put the unit to the maximum, those values are around 80º. It is not a worrying temperature, but if your board has a passive dissipation system, the better.
Samsung Magician to monitor the unit
A software for a storage unit? You are right. Samsung has the Samsung Magician program which is not necessary, at all, for the unit to function properly, but which is interesting for monitoring the status of the unit.
The first days I was using the SSD without paying attention to Magician, but the truth is that it is a useful tool that you do not have to pay attention to on a day-to-day basis, but it does not consume too many resources and it is there in case we need it one day.
With it we can see the status and speed metrics of the SSD, but also the temperature and we can track the cycles of the device, the TBW. By the way, this model, the 250 GB one, has 150 TBW. In addition, with Magician we can encrypt data and be up to date with software updates.
As I said, if you don’t like having non-essential software hovering around your system, you don’t need to install it, but it is advisable to check it out from time to time to see if there are updates.
Does it work on PS5?
One of the keys to PS5 is that it has a slot in which we can insert different formats of PCIe SSD. It is easily accessible and is totally legal, so we are not going to lose the guarantee.
The bad news is that that slot is not active yet, something that Sony will enable by software when the time comes and … well, what we have to introduce is a PCIe 4.0 SSD and, obviously, it is not what we have between hands.
Sony has not yet made a list of supported SSDs, but we do know that those that can offer a speed equal to or greater than the fantastic SSD that the PS5 has soldered on board will be compatible.
For example, the older brother, the 980 Pro would be compatible with that speed of up to 7,000 MB / s reading, but we are talking about a much, much higher speed in that Pro model, and a much higher price, it must be said.
Samsung 980 opinion: a very fast and affordable SSD to revitalize your workplace
We reached the end of the analysis of the Samsung 980 and the truth is that we have found a really balanced option to revitalize a PC or create a high-speed external drive.
When we talk about Samsung QVO units or those that are not ‘Pro’, we have to talk about devices that have important differences in durability and speed in their same range, since the 1 TB version of this particular unit is faster than the one we have analyzed.
Nevertheless, to play games, create a bootable SSD with basic programs and the operating system or to use as an external drive with ThunderboltWe are talking about a spectacular unit, especially for a very good quality / price ratio.
If you want something more (much more) fast, inevitably you have to go for the Pro option, a version that will also be compatible with PS5 if you wish, but if what you are looking for is an M.2 PCIe 3.0 at a good price and stable, I can’t think of why not bet on this version of the South Korean manufacturer.