Model: Samsung 980 1TB NVMe Solid State Drive
Manufacturer: Samsung Electronics
Provided By: Samsung America

Samsung Electronics has been a leader in the electronics industry for more than 30 years. Since the introduction of their first television in 1970, this Korean company has grown to become one of the world's leading electronics manufacturers, offering everything from tiny semiconductors to large home appliances. Samsung is no stranger to the storage industry either. Along with an assortment of DVD and Blu-ray Disc drives, the company offers both hard drive and flash based storage solutions for the portable and desktop computer markets.

Samsung recently introduced its new 980 series SSDs. In addition to their flagship drive, the 980 PRO, the company has now released its first DRAM-less drive, the 980. Designed for everyday PC users, gamers and content creators, this compact, M.2 form factor SSD is powered by Samsung's "Pablo" controller and is available with up to 1TB of their latest 6th generation V-NAND flash. To overcome the performance drawbacks typically associated with DRAM-less SSDs, the 980 utilizes Host Memory Buffer (HMB) technology, which lets the drive use a small portion of the host system's memory as its own. The 980 is also equipped with Samsung's newly upgraded Intelligent TurboWrite 2.0 technology as well as an ultra-fast PCIe Gen3 x4 interface to provide NVMe performance with six times the speed of SATA SSDs.

The 980 is available in 250GB, 500GB and 1TB capacities. For this review, Samsung sent us the 1TB version of the drive, which is capable of delivering up to 3,500 MB/s sequential read and 3,000 MB/s sequential write speeds as well as up to 500K random read and 480K random write IOPS.

Needless to say, this is only a taste of what the 980 has to offer. To give you an idea of what to expect, we'll take a closer look at Samsung's new NVMe SSD and then see how well it performs. Does the 980 have what it takes? Can it deliver the performance and features that we've come to expect from Samsung? Keep reading as we find out.


The 980 comes in a small black box. Along with a picture of the drive, the packaging advertises a number of its key features including its 1TB capacity, NVMe interface, maximum read speed and 5 year warranty. Inside, you'll find the SSD as well as a small installation guide and warranty statement.

Physical Features:

The 980 uses the 2280 form factor for M.2 (NGFF) SSDs. It measures 80.15 x 22.15 x 2.38 mm and tips the scales at a mere 8.0g. The drive also has an "M key" edge connector which provides PCIe SSDs with up to 4x lanes of bandwidth.

Like Samsung's T7 portable SSD, the 980 uses the company's own "Pablo" controller. Not much is known about this PCIe Gen 3 x4 controller aside from it being DRAM-less and has a nickel coating that helps dissipate heat.

For the 1TB version of the 980, Samsung has used their own 3-bit MLC V-NAND flash chips. Looking at the pictures above, you can see that there is a single 1TB NAND flash package on the top of the PCB. There is also no DRAM cache chip as the 980's Pablo controller takes full advantage of NVMe's Host Memory Buffer feature by using a small portion of the computer's memory to cache the mapping tables.

The Samsung Magician software is designed to help users easily monitor the health and maximize the performance of their Samsung SSD. From the main screen, users can check the condition of their drives and view information like the temperature, total and available capacities and the total bytes written.

Magician also provides detailed information about each drive. In addition to the drive health and temperature, this screen shows the serial number, firmware version, which NVMe driver the drive is using and the speed of the PCIe slot it's plugged into. You can even see which volumes are on the drive and how much of the total capacity they are using.

Samsung's Magician software can also be used to benchmark the performance of a storage device. Looking at the screenshot below, you can see that it tests the sequential and random read and write performance of a drive. Users can also compare these scores with past results to maintain the highest performance possible.

Using Magician, users can also do a diagnostic scan to find and fix any errors and optimize the performance and lifespan of their SSD by setting aside extra free space. 

Magician also gives users the ability to optimize the performance and lifespan of their SSD by setting aside extra free space. In addition, users can improve the performance of their drive by forcing TRIM to run. Magician 6.3 also adds a new feature called "Full Power Mode" that disables low power states such as device sleep, allowing the drive to run at peak levels so that it maintains a nonstop, consistent high performance. Unfortunately, the 980's current firmware does not support "Full Power Mode" so we were not able to test it.

Samsung's Magician software also includes a number of data management features. Along with the ability to permanently delete sensitive data, it can unlock and reset your drive to its factory setting by entering the 32-character PSID password printed on the drive label. Last, but not least, Magician gives you the ability to activate Encrypted Drive to protect private and sensitive data. The software lets you review your drive’s current security settings and helps you with the setup process.


The test system used in this review is equipped with an AMD Ryzen 7 3700x CPU, MSI B550 GAMING PLUS motherboard, 16GB (8GB x 2) of Crucial Ballistix 3200 MHz DDR4 memory, Crucial P5 1TB SSD and a GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1060 WINDFORCE OC 6G graphics card. For the operating system, I used the latest version of Windows 10 Pro.

To test the performance of Samsung's 980 SSD, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark, HD Tach RW, ATTO Disk Benchmark, AS SSD, HD Tune Pro, Anvil's Storage Utilities, Iometer and PCMark. For comparison, I've also included test results from the Silicon Power UD70, Crucial P2, SK hynix Gold P31, Crucial P5, ADATA SWORDFISH, ADATA FALCON, Lexar NM610, Silicon Power P34A60, Patriot P300, Plextor M9PG Plus, Plextor M9PY Plus, ADATA XPG SX6000 Pro, Western Digital WD_BLACK SN750, Samsung 970 EVO Plus, ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro, Crucial P1, ADATA XPG SX8200, Western Digital WD_BLACK NVMe, Samsung 970 EVO, Samsung 970 PRO, Plextor M9Pe, Plextor M8Se, Patriot Hellfire, ADATA XPG SX8000, Samsung 960 PRO, Toshiba OCZ RD400, Samsung 950 PRO, Samsung 870 EVO, Samsung 870 QVO, Silicon Power PC60, SK hynix Gold S31, ADATA Ultimate SU750, Samsung 860 QVO, Samsung 860 PRO and Crucial MX500.

As I mentioned earlier, the 980 uses Samsung's Pablo controller chip. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that it performs equally well with both incompressible (0%) and compressible (100%) data.

CrystalDiskMark 7.0.0:

First, I ran a few quick tests using CrystalDiskMark. This benchmark measures the performance of a storage device by testing its sequential and random read and write speeds. For this test, we're using the peak and real world profiles.

According to Samsung, the 1TB version of the 980 is capable of reading at 3,500 MB/s and writing at 3,000 MB/s. While the drive had no problems reaching its rated read speed, it came up a bit short in CrystalDiskMark's sequential write speed test.

As you'd expect, the 980 wasn't nearly as fast when tested with the "real world" profile which uses a single thread and a much lower queue depth.  Nevertheless, it was still able to read at 2,324 MB/s and write at more than 2,652 MB/s.

HD Tach RW

Next, I used HD Tach to test the 980's read, write and burst speeds as well as its random access time and CPU usage.

Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the 980 had average read and write speeds of 1700.5 MB/s and 710.4 MB/s respectively, as well as a burst speed of 1413.9 MB/s. The screenshot also shows the transition from TurboWrite to what Samsung calls "After TurboWrite" speeds. The 980 starts writing at about 1600 MB/s and then drops to about 500 MB/s when the consecutive write operation exceeds the size of the SLC buffer.

ATTO Disk Benchmark 4.01:

I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the 980's sequential read and write speeds. The tests are run using blocks ranging in size from 512B to 64 MB and the total length set to 256MB.

When tested with ATTO, the 980's read speeds topped out at about 3.31 GB/s and its write speeds at 2.62 GB/s.


AS SSD is a benchmark designed specifically for solid state drives. The application contains five synthetic tests used to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of a drive.

Samsung 980 1TB

AS SSD also includes a copy benchmark. This test copies an ISO (two large files), program (many small files) and game (small and large files), returning the speed and duration of each.

Samsung 980 1TB

HD Tune Pro 5.75:

Next, I ran a series of tests using HD Tune Pro. This hard disk utility measures a drive's performance by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its access time, burst rate and CPU usage. For this review, I'm also going to use it to benchmark the 980's random read and write speeds, random access times and the number of operations per second.

Samsung 980 1TB - Read Benchmark
ADATA FALCON 1TB - Read Benchmark

Samsung 980 1TB - Write Benchmark
ADATA FALCON 1TB - Write Benchmark

The 980 performed relatively well when benchmarked with HD Tune. The drive had average read and write speeds of 2721.3 MB/s and 1109.1 MB/s, respectively.

Samsung 980 1TB - Random Access Read
ADATA FALCON 1TB - Random Access Read

Samsung 980 1TB - Random Access Write
ADATA FALCON 1TB - Random Access Write

When writing 4KB blocks, the 980 reached 38,925 IOPS and had an average speed of 152.053 MB/s. The drive was even faster when reading, reaching 40,589 IOPS with an average speed of 158.552 MB/s.

Anvil's Storage Utilities:

Anvil's Storage Utilities is another benchmark designed with SSDs in mind. The standard storage benchmark measures a drive's performance by testing its transfer speeds, access times and IOPS.


Lastly, I ran a series of tests using Iometer. This tool can be configured to benchmark a number of things. In this case, I used it to measure the 980's read and write speeds and the number of operations per second. The tests were run using random bytes and a queue depth of 3.

The 980's performance here was similar to what we saw in our other tests. The drive was able to read at 3281.61 MB/s and write at 2660.95 MB/s.

The 980 also performed fairly well when doing random reads and writes. In our tests, the drive was able to read at 346.11 MB/s and write at 667.32 MB/s.

According to Samsung, the 1TB 980 is capable of 500,000 IOPS when reading and 480,000 IOPS when writing 4K blocks. In our tests, the drive reached 88,603 random read IOPS and 170,807 random write IOPS. As with most drives, the 980 performed better at higher queue depths. With eight threads and the queue depth set to 32, it reached 499,804 random read IOPS and 401,526 random write IOPS.

PCMark 8 - Storage Test:

PCMark 8 is a complete benchmark for Windows. It includes five benchmark tests, each designed around a specific scenario. The storage benchmark measures drive performance using real-world traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and a selection of popular games.

PCMark 8 also includes a consistency test which measures the performance consistency and degradation tendency of a storage system. The test reports the performance level at the start, the degraded steady-state and the recovered state as well as the number of iterations required to reach the degraded state and the recovered state. For this test, we are focusing on the Adobe Photoshop (Heavy) trace and will look at both the bandwidth and latency of the drive

The 980 didn't do as well as some of the other drives in this test. Its bandwidth dropped below 40 MB/s during the degradation and steady state phases, pushing its latency above the 900ms mark. Sadly, the 980's performance didn't increase very much during the recovery phase. It lagged well behind the drives from SK hynix and Crucial, topping out at only 93 MB/s.

PCMark 10 - Full System Drive Benchmark:

PCMark 10's Full System Drive Benchmark uses a wide-ranging set of real-world traces from popular applications and common tasks to fully test the performance of the fastest modern drives. This benchmark produces an overall score as a measure of drive performance. Comparing devices is as simple as comparing scores. The tests also measure and report the bandwidth and average access time performance for the drive.

Thanks to its high bandwidth and low latency, the 980 did quite well in PCMark 10's Full System Drive Benchmark. The only PCIe 3.0 SSD that performed better was the Plextor M9PG Plus.

Dynamic Thermal Guard:

While Samsung's NVMe SSDs offer impressive performance, they also generate a good amount of heat. To keep them from overheating, Samsung has implemented what they call Dynamic Thermal Guard (DTG). This technology monitors the temperature of a drive and will reduce its performance once it reaches a certain point.

This thermal throttling was a big issue when we reviewed Samsung's first consumer NVMe SSD, the 950 PRO. Even with basic benchmarks like CrystalDiskMark or ATTO, the drive's temperature would reach a point where DTG would kick in and reduce its performance. It got to a point where I needed to position an 8cm fan directly over the 950 PRO so that I could complete the tests.

The 980 is also equipped with Dynamic Thermal Guard. However, Samsung has tried to delay the inevitable drop in performance by dissipating heat more efficiently. The 980 has a copper heat spreader built into the label on the back of the drive as well as a nickel coating on the Pablo controller that helps dissipate heat faster. 

Compared to Samsung's previous NVMe SSDs, the 980 runs fairly cool. At idle, the drive's temperature hovered around 30 ºC. Under heavy loads, the 980 PRO reached temperatures as high as 58 ºC when reading and 61 ºC when writing. These temperatures had no impact on the drive's performance. No matter how hard I pushed it, the 980 did not throttle its read or write speeds in any noticeable way.

Final Thoughts:

The Samsung 980 is a great choice for the consumer or casual gamer looking for a fast, yet affordable, PCIe SSD for their notebook or desktop computer. Designed and built entirely in-house, this DRAM-less SSD is powered by Samsung's "Pablo" controller and is equipped with 1TB of the company's latest 3-bit MLC V-NAND flash. Combine this with Samsung's Intelligent TurboWrite 2.0 technology, NVMe's Host Memory Buffer (HMB) feature and a PCIe Gen3 x4 interface and you have a drive capable of delivering six times the speed of your average SATA SSD. In our sequential read and write tests, the 1TB version of the 980 was able to read at speeds as high as 3,569 MB/s and write at speeds in excess of 2,800 MB/s. It also did relatively well in our random write tests, producing more than 170,000 IOPS at low queue depths.

Despite being budget friendly, the 980 includes many of the same features found on Samsung's higher-end SSDs. Along with support for Samsung's Intelligent TurboWrite 2.0 technology, the drive features AES 256-bit full disk encryption and is compliant with both the TCG Opal 2.0 and IEEE 1667 specifications. The 980 also works with Samsung's Magician software and is covered by a 5 year warranty with an endurance rating of up to 600 terabytes written (TBW) for the 1TB model.

The 980 is available now in 250GB, 500GB and 1TB capacities. Prices on currently range from $50 up to $130 for the 1TB version reviewed here.


  • PCIe 3.0 x4 interface with NVMe protocol
  • Equipped with Samsung's latest 3-bit MLC V-NAND technology
  • Available in 250GB, 500GB and 1TB capacities
  • Good sequential and random read and write speeds
  • Small M.2 2280 form factor
  • Features Intelligent TurboWrite 2.0 technology
  • Supports TRIM and garbage collection
  • Host Memory Buffer (HMB)
  • AES 256-bit full disk encryption
  • TCG Opal 2.0 and IEEE 1667 compliant
  • Works with Samsung's Magician software
  • 5 year warranty


  • Write speed drops when SLC cache is full