M.2 NVMe SSD is a trend specially for gamers these days but is M.2 worth it? You will know in this article what is a M.2 and if it is worth upgrading.
SSDs are crazy fast! We all know that. It’s been a long time since we’ve transitioned from HDD to SSD. I remember my first time where I installed my first ever SATA SSD into my laptop. I was excited to be getting my first SSD. I thought I could only afford 256GB but I managed to snag a cheap Lexar 512 GB SSD.
It was the second time I had taken apart my old laptop in the four years that I’ve had it. I was excited and I didn’t look up any guides on how to replace the SSD, I knew how to do it on a PC and that was good enough. Fast forward to another 30 minutes after I installed Windows and set it all up, everything booted up in less than 30 seconds. It was amazing and it was a definite improvement over my old 1TB HDD, which took 3 minutes to set everything up.
So we know that SATA (know how many SATA cables you’ll need here) SSDs are fast, but you know what’s even faster? NVMe SSDs. So in this article we are going to compare two of the most widely used NVMe SSDs, the Samsung 970 EVO vs 980 Pro. Now obviously, the 980 is a bigger number so it’s gotta be faster right? Actually, yes. On paper, the Samsung 980 Pro is faster. Samsung claims that the sequential read/write speeds on the 980 Pro are twice as fast as the 970. But is it actually the case? Let’s find out.
Before we get started on the comparisons and the SSDs itself, I want to take a quick moment to “educate” some of the beginners out there regarding SSDs
This one’s really obvious. We all know about how many Gigs you want on your SSD. The typical capacities range from 128 GB up to 2 TB. (although most modern SSDs start at 256GB) For the uninitiated, 2TB means 2,000 GB. So picking up an SSD with the right capacity is important because you might end up with lower storage space for your video games or applications.
It’s tempting to go for a lower capacity SSD. The 256 GB SSDs are priced much cheaper than the 512 or 1TB ones. Unfortunately, in some SSDs, the performance is better on higher capacity models. This is because of the extra NAND modules which allows for faster access.
So if you are just starting off, I recommend getting a 512 GB SSD in your first run. It will be more than enough for an entry level gaming PC. It’s also perfect for a laptop. In a 512 GB SSD you could have Windows along with a half a handful of AAA games.
SSDs store data as blocks. Just like a cargo train, new blocks are added every time new data is written on to the disk. The sequential read and write speeds refer to how fast the SSD is able to deliver data that are clustered together, i.e in a series of blocks. Faster sequential read/write speeds are better, but we also have to consider the 4K speeds, which is the speed at which the SSD can access Random chunks. We’ll get a better idea about these when we are doing our comparison.
So now, you’ve got a quick handle on the two most important specs of an SSD. We’ll get to talk about more in-depth specs once we move on to the actual comparisons.
Now I know what you’re thinking: the Samsung 980 Pro is going to be way better than the 970 Evo just because the 980 pro is the more recent SSD. To find out if this is actually the case, we will have to dig deeper and identify the major differences between these two in terms of actual price and performance.
There’s only one thing that matters when it comes to comparing SSDs, speed! SSDs should be faster than their competition if they want to have any chance of winning over our hearts and minds. Gamers don’t want to wait. They want faster loads times so that they can get in, get it done, get it done right, and get out. No more picking up the phone or reading the loading screen tips. They want the game to load as soon as they press on the “Icon of sin”.
Average Sequential Read Speed: The 2 TB 970 EVO is advertised to have a sequential read speed of 3,500 MB/s. However, the speed test determined that this was a lie. The 970 EVO scored an average of 2216 MB/s on benchmarks along with the 980 Pro taking the lead with 2624 MB/s. What’s even funnier is that Samsung claims that the 980 Pro has a sequential read speed of 7000 MB/s which is crazy.
Now the weird part about this whole situation is that the 980 Pro is a PCIe gen 4 NVMe SSD, while the 970 EVO is from the previous PCIe third generation (know the difference between PCIe 2.0 vs 3.0 here). So we can’t really trust this benchmark score of 2624 MB/s because it comes from a lot of user data. Many of them might not be using the proper 4.0 gen PCIe slot because they may not have the necessary supporting hardware that can handle pcie 4.0, such as the motherboard and CPU.
In theory, the PCIe 4.0 on the x4 port can handle upto 7.88 GB/s. So, this benchmark score could have been higher. But overall, it’s faster than the 970 EVO, whether it’s PCIe 4.0 or not and right now, that’s all that matters.
Average Sequential Write Speed: When it comes to sequential write speeds we’ve got the 970 EVO scoring an average of 2037 MB/s while the 980 Pro scored a whopping 2940 MB/s, which is a 40% increase.
These 4K speeds refer to how fast the SSD is able to access random chunks of memory, this is the opposite of sequential memory. The SSD will try to find these types of memory when it has to boot up the OS or access other software.
The required data in these 4K chunks are not stored in adjacent blocks and therefore, it isn’t easy to access these data. The SSD spends some time searching for each chunk and this reduces the average 4K speeds, especially when compared to sequential speed. This is also the more unattractive specification because it doesn’t deal with four figures. So most manufacturers are hesitant to start off with the 4K speed.
Average 4K Read Speed: On the 970 EVO, you’ve got a read speed of 50.2 MB/s while on the 980 Pro, you’ve got 85.6 MB/s. A significant improvement of around 40%.
Average 4K Write Speed: The 970 EVO scored an average of 138 MB/s in 4K write speeds while the 980 Pro produced a much faster speed of 182 MB/s, which is another significant 30% improvement.
So far, the 980 Pro has been able to demolish the 970 EVO when it comes to speed. In a more general point of view, we can conclude that the 980 Pro is 50% faster than the 970 EVO.
The extra fast performance is all well and good. But there’s one more thing that we have to consider: and that is the price. If the 980 Pro isn’t affordable, many gamers will still go back to the 970 EVO no matter how fast Samsung claims the 980 Pro will be. Samsung has their work cut out for them so introducing a PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD with an affordable price is quite the balancing act.
It’s only been about 10 months since this new SSD was released. So let’s take a quick look at how the market reacted.
For this comparison, I’m comparing 2 TB versions of both SSDs. It’s going to give us some big numbers so we can easily understand the differences between them.
Price: This is where things get very interesting, the 980 Pro is actually a lot cheaper than the older and slower 970 EVO. That’s really impressive, props to Samsung. More specifically, The 980 Pro is 30% cheaper than the 970 EVO and the price-to-performance ratio is through the roof.
Market Share: The 970 EVO was struggling in the bottom rungs even before the 980 was released. It averaged to around 0.03% of the entire market and it still remains in that same spot. However, the 980 Pro was doing really amazing. As soon as it launched, it had a great reception. It kept going up and up. Right now, there’s more than 15 Samsung 980 Pro SSD’s in circulation for each single 970 EVO. (A market share of 0.46% in user benchmarks)
Samsung has really stepped up their game with the 980 Pro. Even though it took them around three years to come up with it. The 980 Pro is the best option when compared with the 970 EVO. It’s 50% faster and it’s 30% cheaper. Making the 980 Pro two times more valuable than the 970 EVO. There’s no denying it: The Samsung 980 Pro is the clear winner.
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