I have tested the new Samsung component for your PC: this way it will boost performance without complicating things

Computers & Laptops | May 5, 2024

I have tested the new Samsung component for your PC: this way it will boost performance without complicating things

Samsung’s new SSD, the 990 EVO, stands out for its versatility and the possibilities it offers in all types of computers.

If we are thinking about buying a new computer, we might fall into the trap of focusing on a powerful processor or the latest graphics cards to enjoy the newest games, and overlook other components such as storage. The new Samsung 990 EVO, available starting at 100 euros, aims to make it very easy for us.

Everyone knows that two elements, the CPU and the GPU, define the power of a computer, right? If we think that way, we might make the mistake of neglecting the other components and create a ‘bottleneck’ that wastes all our money.

Storage can be one of those ‘bottlenecks’, especially nowadays when the file sizes of HD videos and games can easily exceed 100 GB. If we notice loading problems, or that games take a long time to load, the issue may be with the SSD we have chosen. And yes, we should already be using an SSD for primary storage, no excuses.

The Hybrid SSD

Samsung’s new solution for the storage sector can solve that problem, and the most interesting thing is that it does so regardless of the computer we have, or what we are building.

That’s because the Samsung 990 EVO is a ‘hybrid SSD’, which is compatible with both the PCIe Gen 4 standard and the newer Gen 5; in fact, it is the company’s first Gen 5 model, but unlike other brands, it has not aimed for the top. That’s because PCIe Gen 5 is still a somewhat new technology, which has not yet spread throughout the sector; in fact, most of the new motherboards sold are still only compatible with PCIe Gen 4.

Samsung 990 EVO

This can cause some confusion among users, who may opt to buy a very fast SSD that they cannot fully utilize on their system. Here is where Samsung’s ‘hybrid’ technology comes in: in other words, this SSD will 100% work on your computer, regardless of whether you have a motherboard compatible with Gen 5 or Gen 4. This removes one worry, though it does so at the expense of some performance with the latest standard.

Samsung has opted to use only two lanes when the 990 EVO is connected to a Gen 5 compatible motherboard, compared to the four lanes used in Gen 4; this results in very similar performance in both modes. In fact, on paper, the bandwidth of Gen 5 x2 and Gen 4 x4 is exactly the same, so it doesn’t matter which one we use.

Good performance, with a but

But then why use Gen 5, if we are not going to take advantage of the higher speed? Because that’s not the only advantage of the new standard. For starters, Samsung boasts a 70% lower power consumption with 43% better performance compared to its predecessor when used on a Gen 5 compatible motherboard; and that will translate into lower temperatures and a more stable and long-lasting system.

However, this means that this SSD is not particularly fast, at least not for the most demanding users, regardless of the type of motherboard we have. Additionally, this model does not have integrated DRAM, as some high-end models do; instead, Samsung has opted for Host Memory Buffer (HMB) technology, which directly links to the RAM of our processor. Although Samsung claims this allows for improved performance, in practice, it doesn’t make a big difference.

Samsung 990 EVO Performance

That doesn’t mean that the Samsung 990 EVO is slow, far from it. The manufacturer promises sequential read speeds of up to 5,000 MB/s and sequential write speeds of up to 4,200 MB/s. In my tests, I had no problems approaching or even slightly exceeding these figures, with the 1 TB version I was able to use. These aren’t numbers that will surprise anyone who has already used a Gen 4 x4 SSD, but they do represent a leap for those who have not yet done so.

Real use confirmed these impressions, and the 990 EVO performed very well in all types of tasks. Whether transferring large files, where it achieved transfer speeds of 3 GB/s (with another SSD), or loading modern video games in just a few seconds, the experience is just what we might expect from a modern high-speed SSD.

Now, the performance isn’t spectacular, and for the price, we really shouldn’t expect it to be. Additionally, temperatures during the toughest tests were around 50 degrees regardless of the workload, although this will largely depend on the airflow of your tower, and whether your motherboard has any integrated heat dissipation method.

An SSD with the basics, but capable

The Samsung 990 EVO does not have an integrated heat sink, as we have seen in other Gen 5 SSD models; that’s a clue that the temperatures it reaches are not high enough to affect performance, although it will be good to make sure it is well-cooled.

It’s clear that this SSD model has been designed with costs in mind, because absolutely nothing else is included in the box apart from the unit itself, apart from the obligatory warranty paperwork. However, installation is simple (as long as your motherboard comes with the necessary screw to secure it, because it is not included), just like any other SSD.

This SSD is standard size for an M.2 connection in a tower computer, so it cannot be used in a laptop, for example; although seeing the position of the components and all the space that is left over, I wouldn’t be surprised if Samsung launched a smaller version in the future.

The practice of including ‘software’ on disks and SSDs is also being lost, although in the case of Samsung, we can download the Magician Software utility completely free of charge. It’s a program that will scan the information of our disk drives, indicating their health status; it also allows us to perform diagnostics and change settings, including a “maximum performance mode” that disables some power-saving functions so that the drive is always available.

Should I buy it?

The Samsung 990 EVO is a good SSD, recommended for installation in any type of computer, whether it be a gaming machine or one for work. In fact, I would say its strong point is its versatility, as it performs well in all kinds of tasks and systems. The efficiency improvements are evident and very welcome today.

I would not recommend this component to enthusiast users who want to maximize the performance of their new Gen 5 motherboard; although this SSD is technically compatible, it really will not use all the available lanes, and its performance does not exceed that of a leading SSD from the previous generation.

Ironically, the main alternative to this 990 EVO comes from Samsung itself, with the 990 Pro which is available at a very similar price and offers slightly better performance and can be obtained with an integrated heat sink; although it is only compatible with Gen 4, so it is not as efficient. But thanks to this internal competition, the 990 EVO can now be found at very attractive prices, and we have seen it below 100 euros in some stores; in that case, it is hard not to recommend it if you are looking for a competent SSD.

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