Samsung 990 PRO vs 990 EVO, What’s The Difference And Which One To Pick

Samsung‘s fastest consumer-grade M.2 SSD is currently the 990 PRO. However, the 990 PRO is only a Gen4 NVMe SSD offering up to 7,450MB/s of sequential speed. Many of us have been waiting for Samsung to release a Gen5 SSD since its major competitors have already released a Gen5 SSD. One of those competitors is Crucial, who already released a 1st gen Gen5 SSD in the form of the T700 and then released a “2nd-gen” Gen5 SSD in the form of the T705. The difference between the T700 and T705 is that the T700 offers up to 10,000MB/s of sequential speed, and the new T705 offers up to 14,000MB/s of sequential speed. 

So, where is Samsung’s Gen5 SSD? Meet the new Samsung 990 EVO, a (somewhat) Gen5 SSD, and Gen4x4 as well. Unfortunately, the 990 EVO is not what we expected and is not the chart-topping Gen5 SSD PC enthusiasts are waiting for. It’s only capable of up to 5,000MB/s of sequential speed, which many of us do not expect from a “Gen5 SSD”. Sure, it is faster than its predecessor, the 970 EVO, but it’s a bit slower than the old 980 PRO. In this article, let’s compare the Samsung 990 PRO vs the 990 EVO. These two M.2 SSDs are the newer SSDs from Samsung. Find out the difference between the two, which one is faster and better, or which one you should pick for your PC.

samsung 990 pro gen4 vs 990 evo gen5 ssd

Samsung 990 PRO vs 990 EVO Review – Gen4 vs Gen5 M.2 SSD

The Samsung 990 EVO Gen5/Gen4 NVMe SSD

Let’s discuss the newer SSD first. The Samsung 990 EVO is the newest NVMe SSD from Samsung and was released early this year. It is designed for daily tasks like desktop operation, work, editing, and gaming. It is also compatible with both PCIe 5.0 and PCIe 4.0 interfaces. According to Samsung, having a hybrid design, Gen5 and Gen4, ensures that it can be installed in various systems.

While the 990 EVO is faster than its direct predecessor, the 970 EVO, it only offers up to 5,000MB/s of sequential read speed and up to 4,200MB/s of sequential write speed. It is also capable of up to 700,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS) of random read and 800,000 IOPS of random write.

The Samsung 990 EVO has a DRAM-less design. It uses Host Memory Buffer (HMB) technology to link directly to the host CPU’s DRAM. Samsung also incorporated the Modern Standby feature, ensuring devices quickly resume from sleep, even in low-power mode.

Under the hood, Samsung is using an in-house Piccolo controller and Samsung’s 133-layer TLC NAND flash. All the chips are on one side of the SSD’s PCB, making it a single-sided SSD. This makes it more compatible with laptops since some laptops can not accommodate double-sided SSDs.

The Samsung 990 PRO Gen4 NVMe SSD

On the flip side, the Samsung 990 PRO is now a familiar drive to many of us. It has been in the market since mid-2023. We have tested and reviewed the 2TB capacity and the 990 PRO with the heatsink variant. Undeniably, the initial firmware had some issues, causing the SSD’s life to degrade fast. However, Samsung has already released a fix for that issue, and I have yet to hear or read about any new problems with the 990 PRO.

Under the hood, the Samsung 990 PRO features an in-house Pascal controller paired with Samsung’s 8th-generation 176-layer V-NAND TLC chips. It offers a sequential read speed of up to 7,450MB/s and a write speed of up to 6,900MB/s. Its random write speed is up to 1.4M IOPS, while its random write speed is up to 1.55M IOPS.

In addition to read and write speeds that are substantially faster than those of the 990 EVO, the 990 PRO is available in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB capacities and as SSD-only or with a heatsink variant. Meanwhile, the 990 EVO is only available in 1TB and 2TB capacity, and there is no heatsink variant available.

Below are the specifications of the 990 PRO and 990 EVO.

Samsung 990 PRO and 990 EVO Specifications

samsung 990 pro specs
CategorySamsung SSD 990 EVO
InterfacePCIe® Gen 4.0 x4 / 5.0 x2 NVMe® 2.0
Form FactorM.2 (2280)
Storage MemorySamsung V-NAND 3-TLC
ControllerSamsung In-house Piccolo controller
Capacity1TB2TB
Sequential Read/Write SpeedUp to 5,000 MB/s, Up to 4,200 MB/s
Random Read/Write Speed (QD32)Up to 680K IOPS, 800K IOPSUp to 700K IOPS, 800K IOPS
Management SoftwareSamsung Magician Software
Data EncryptionAES 256-bit Full Disk Encryption, TCG/Opal V2.0, Encrypted Drive (IEEE1667)
Total Bytes Written600TB1200TB
Warranty Five-year Limited Warranty 

Test System Specs

I tested the Samsung 990 PRO and 990 EVO on an X670E motherboard with an AMD Ryzen 7 7700X. I used the 2TB capacity for both the PRO and EVO SSDs to ensure an apples-to-apples comparison. The drives were installed on the first M.2 slot connected directly to the CPU. I also use the motherboard’s M.2 heatsink for the M.2 SSD to prevent the drives from thermal throttling. Below are the rest of the system’s specifications:

Operating SystemWindows 11 Pro
ProcessorAMD Ryzen 7 7700X
MotherboardMSI MPG X670E Carbon WiFi
MemoryCorsair Vengeance RGB DDR5-6000MHz CL30 AMD EXPO
Graphics CardSapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 7900 GRE
OS DriveMSI Spatium M480 Play
Game DriveSanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD V2 and Extreme Portable SSD V2
Power SupplyMSI MPG A1000G PCIE5
ChassisOpenBench BC1 V2
MonitorMSI MPG 321URX QD-OLED 4K 240Hz

Samsung 990 Pro vs 990 Evo Benchmark Results

AJA and ATTO Disk Benchmark Results

990 pro vs 990 evo aja benchmark
990 pro vs 990 evo atto benchmark

The AJA system test uses video files to test the drive’s read and write speeds; it’s primarily sequential speed. The 990 PRO is about 33% faster in sequential read and about 38% faster in sequential write than the 990 EVO in this test.

Similar to the AJA system test, the ATTO Disk benchmark is also a sequential speed test. Both the 990 PRO and 990 EVO didn’t reach their respective advertised speeds. However, it is clear that the 990 PRO is substantially faster than the 990 EVO.

CrystalDiskMark Benchmark Results

crystaldiskmark sequential
crystaldiskmark 4k random

CrystalDiskMark benchmark tests not only the sequential speed of a storage drive but also its random read and write speeds. In this test, the 990 PRO is about 80% faster in sequential write speed than the 990 EVO, almost double the performance. Meanwhile, the 990 PRO is around 40% faster in sequential read speed than the 990 EVO.

While the 990 PRO’s strength lies in its sequential speeds, it looks like the 990 EVO can keep up with random speeds. In this test, the 990 EVO is just about 2% slower in 4K random write speed, while the 990 PRO is about 62% faster in 4K random read speed.

Why is 4K Random Workload Important?

4K random performance is important in SSDs because it shows how well the drive can handle many small, scattered tasks like opening apps or files and doing several things simultaneously. A good score here means the SSD can handle these tasks quickly, making your computer faster and more responsive overall.

In tasks like gaming, loading applications, or booting up the operating system, the computer needs to access many small files scattered across the storage drive. A high 4K random performance ensures that the SSD can quickly locate and retrieve these files, resulting in faster load times and smoother operation.

AS SSD Benchmark Results

as ssd sequential
as ssd 4k random

In the AS SSD benchmark, the 4K random write speed of the 990 EVO is about 20% slower than the 990 PRO. However, the 990 PRO is still substantially faster in random read speed, especially sequential speeds.

ezIOMeter Benchmark Results

eziometer sequential
eziometer random

The ezIOmeter is an easy-to-use version of the IOmeter. It was created to simplify the user experience when using the IOmeter. It is a Windows-based client benchmark tool optimized for storage devices, including SAS, SATA, and NVMe.

In this test, the random write speed of the 990 EVO is around 24% slower than the 990 PRO. Meanwhile, the 990 PRO still has a considerable advantage when it comes to random read and both sequential read and write speeds. I was hoping that the 990 EVO could maintain its random write speed, keeping up with the 990 PRO. However, it looks like around 20% difference is the best it can do.

PCMark 10 Full System Benchmark Results

pcmark10 full system drive
pcmark10 full system access time

Lastly, I tested Samsung’s 990 PRO and 990 EVO using the PCMark 10 Full System Drive benchmark suite. This rigorous evaluation can take over an hour to complete. This benchmark uses a diverse range of real-world scenarios from widely used applications like Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office, along with common daily computing tasks, to provide a thorough performance assessment of contemporary storage solutions.

Surprisingly, in this test, the 990 PRO is just about 11% faster than the 990 EVO in bandwidth and overall score. What does that mean?

In the previous benchmark tests, the 990 PRO was clearly the winner. It’s significantly faster than the 990 EVO and consistently outperformed the EVO by a huge margin. However, in real-world use, especially if it’s just normal desktop operation (browsing the web, casual editing, media consumption, or gaming), the difference is not really that noticeable.

We could build a desktop PC with the exact same components inside, except that one PC uses the 990 PRO and the other uses the 990 EVO, and most people won’t be able to tell which one uses the PRO and which one uses the EVO.

Perhaps one of the times we can tell which one is which is when we are copying a (very) large file or when we are editing 4K or 8K videos. Aside from those, unless when we are benchmarking both drives, most people can’t tell the difference at all in real-world use.

Samsung 990 PRO vs 990 EVO Review Conclusion

You have seen the results above and read our analysis. So, in conclusion, which M.2 SSD is better? The 990 PRO clearly has the advantage when it comes to performance. Not only that, it is also available in 4TB capacity and with a heatsink variant. Meanwhile, the 990 EVO is only available in 1TB and 2TB capacities. So, aside from performance, the 990 PRO has the advantage in options as well.

Personally, I’d pick the 990 PRO, especially if I will be using it as the OS or main storage drive. When this review was published, there was only a $20 difference between the 2TB 990 EVO and the 2TB 990 PRO. Meanwhile, there’s a $30 difference if it is the 1TB capacity. So, pricing plays a factor as well.

I don’t consider the 990 EVO a “true Gen5” SSD. Honestly, they could have released this as a Gen4 SSD. M.2 slots are backward compatible. You can install a Gen5 SSD on a Gen4 M.2 slot and vice versa. However, installing a Gen5 SSD on a Gen4 slot will limit the speed. I’m not sure why Samsung designed it as such. Perhaps I am missing something? Or maybe they just want to ride the “Gen5 SSD bandwagon.”

At the end of the day, if you want the faster and more reliable SSD between the two, I’d pick the Samsung 990 PRO. But if you want to save some cash, the 990 EVO is not a bad choice either.

Unfortunately for the 990 EVO, there are better options out there. One example is Crucial’s T500 Gen4 SSD, offering speeds of up to 7,400MB/s for the same price, and it is not a DRAMless SSD. So, I’d avoid the 990 EVO at its current price and look elsewhere.

Pricing and Availability

The Samsung 990 PRO comes with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $169.99 (1TB), $289.99 (2TB), and $344.99 (4TB). Meanwhile, the 990 EVO retails for $124.99 (1TB) and $209.99 (2TB) MSRP. However, these are just Samsung’s launch pricing, and their prices tend to go down. You can check the latest pricing and availability below.

Samsung 990 PRO SSD on Amazon here.
Samsung 990 EVO SSD on Amazon here.

I hope you liked our Samsung 990 PRO vs 990 EVO review comparison. ThePCEnthusiast is supported by its readers. When you purchase products via our links, we may earn a small affiliate commission at no extra cost. Thank you for your support!

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Author
Peter Paul
Peter is a PC enthusiast and avid gamer with several years of hands-on experience in testing and reviewing PC components, audio equipment, and various tech devices. He offers a genuine, no-nonsense perspective, helping consumers make informed choices in the ever-changing world of technology.

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