Reviews |Samsung 980 SSD

Samsung 980 SSD Review

Review

Price when reviewed

£84

$129
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Our Verdict

The Samsung SSD 980 is one of a new generation of SSD’s blasting its way onto the storage scene. Featuring the latest NVMe interface and PCIe 3.0 technology, this storage offers capacity and speed, all at an incredible price. Boasting transfer speeds up to 3500MB/s; this drive is an ideal choice for anyone needing storage for video or stills.
The low price of the drive has been made possible by the absence of the expensive DRAM chipset. In day to day use, you’ll be hard pushed to tell the difference, and every which way you look at it, the 980 is a superb storage choice for imaging enthusiasts.

For

  • Ultra-fast transfer speeds
  • Amazing price

Against

  • Exact hardware required to meet optimum speeds

What is the Samsung SSD 980 review?

We’ve been used to large capacity SATA drives, and that now ageing technology has done a sterling job at keeping our files safe. However, despite technological advances and the latest SSD SATA drives offering speeds of up to 550MB/s, the demands from 4K video and ultra high-resolution image files means that even those tops speeds are starting to look a bit sluggish.

Enter NVMe storage, a technology that’s been around for quite some time but has had to take a back seat while the technology developed and the prices dropped. Even now, most NVMe M.2 PCIe Gen 3.0 x 4 SSD drives are extremely expensive. However, with PCIe Gen 4.0 making an entrance and the technology as a whole entering the mainstream, prices have crashed.

That means that the 1TB Samsung SSD 980 is priced on par with what you’d have expected to have paid for an equivalent SATA SSD a couple of years ago.

The price of the SSD 980 is incredibly competitive and one of a growing selection of high-performance budget drives out there.

Samsung has had to make some savings on the technology to get a drive of this speed to come in at a reasonable price. So the Samsung SSD 980 is DRAMless. This means that there’s no DRAM chip; essentially, DRAM is a mapping system for the drive.

More expensive SSD use a DRAM chip so that the computer can quickly access the content requested without looking through the entire drive, while without the DRAM chip, DRAMless, the computer to do a bit more work.

Because of this and a few other cut features, DRAMless SSD’s are generally slower than ones with DRAM. There’s also the argument that DRAMless drives are less secure, and if used under heavy loads, such as with video editing, they can have a much-reduced life span.

All things worth considering. However, if you’re comparing the speed of this storage over traditional storage, then there’s no comparison. The Samsung SSD 980 is many times faster.

Specification

  • Capacity: 256GB, 500GB, 1TB
  • Form factor: M.2
  • Interface: PCIe Gen 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.4
  • Storage Memory: V-NAND 3-bit MLC
  • Sequential Read: 3500 MB/s
  • Sequential Write: 3000 MB/s

Performance

Nested into the Netstor NA611TB3 and the installation and formating process are as straightforward as ever. Utilising Apple’s Disk Utility on the MacBook Pro 2019 16-inch and after a few seconds, the drive is APFS formatted and ready to go.

Initial tests demonstrate a strong performance with files copying across the drive on the MacBook Pro 2019 16-inch 1800MB/s write and 1875MB/s read for a 45GB folder with 1,464 JPG and AWR image files evenly split.

The next test was to run the drive as a working drive with Final Cut Pro X to edit a short five-minute video. Again with the 4K video files from the Sony A7 III, the drive stood up to the demands with ease, with no signs of lagging or difficulty handling the data.

To confirm the performance, I then ran the drive through two tests. Firstly Blackmagic Design Disk Speed Test and then AJA System Test Lite.

The results

Blackmagic Design Disk Speed Test: (TO BE REVIEWED)
Write: 1315 MB/s
Read: 830 MB/s

AJA System Test Lite: (TO BE REVIEWED)
Write: 1275 MB/s
Read: 1277 MB/s

These benchmarking tests were not as I had expected, and running the test several times, I discovered that while the write speeds remained consistent, the read speeds varied between 800 MB/s and 1300 MB/s far below Samsungs advertised 3500 MB/s and below the 1850 MB/s real-world tests.

After trialling other drives, I concluded that something wasn’t 100% with the Netstor connection, whether this was due to the Mac OS or DRAMless design of the SSD I have yet to find out – so these results will be updated in the coming days as another NVMe Thunderbolt 3 enclosure will arrive with me.

Final Thoughts

The price of the latest NVMe M.2 SSD’s can be hugely high, but the enhancement in speed and overall performance of your computer and applications can make them a worthwhile purchase.

Just look at the difference one makes to the Mac Pro (Late 2013), although a slightly different form factor.

The Samsung SSD 980 is a decent choice for videographers and photographers due to its speed and capacity.

As a working drive, it worked well despite the many net warnings that DRAMless SSD’s should not be put under too much load or the life span will shorten. Non of these apparent failings of DRAMless SSDs seemed to have any grounding with the performance and reliability of the Samsung 980.

In the test, the drive proved that it was robust and more than capable of supplying the speeds required by a working drive for video and photography. However, I would still play on the side of caution and ensure all videos and images are backed up in the proper way.

Opting for a drive with DRAM gives that extra level of security, and with some enclosures and systems, it appears that DRAM may be required to make the most from the speed on offer.

However, a new enclosure is on the way that promises the full Thunderbolt 3 performance with the DRAMless drives, and I’ll bring you the updated results soon.

In the meantime, the conclusion is that the Samsung SSD 980 is one of the best value NVMe SSD drives out there, with ultrafast transfer speeds, even with the limitations of our test enclosure, that still provides performance that far outstrips traditional storage solutions.

As a working drive, it will happily enable you to edit the latest 4K editing with the transfer speeds to keep up with your workflow. For me, however, the price makes this a great solution for fast archiving and backup.

Overall, one of the best solutions at present for NVMe SSD storage.

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