Samsung 2TB 990 Evo NVMe Review
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Whenever a new Samsung M.2 drive appears in the office a small part of us sighs. Not because we know we’ll be disappointed. In fact quite the opposite. Almost without exception the latest iteration of a Samsung M.2 will be the fastest thing in our graphs. At least until their next one. It’s inexorable. Naturally the Samsung 990 Evo showing up made us expect a similar level of extreme performance. Certainly when we reviewed the Samsung 990 Pro it blew us away.
Looking at the box, which we’ll show you on the next page, left us confused. It’s a PCI Express 5.0 drive, so it should be blazingly quick. However, even Samsung only claim 5000 MB/s read speeds. Well below even an average PCIe Gen4 drive. What’s going on?
What is going on is that Samsung are using the 990 Evo to focus upon thermal efficiency, power efficiency, and better random performance. Instead of going for all out performance, the Samsung 990 Evo is largely compared to their 970 Evo Plus in their documentation. It uses their sixth generation of V-NAND and their own Piccolo controller to have maximum compatibility with everything from Gen 3 slots to Gen 5 slots. But, and this is the key thing we think, using PCIe 5.0 x2. This is expected to appear on the next generation of Intel architecture, and so the Samsung 990 Evo is really a product released today that supports a future laptop.
By going for x2 Gen5 Samsung are greatly reducing thermals and power draw, perfect for efficient laptops. Furthermore, the design for PCIe 5.0 x2 is best utilised with RAID cards, to keep the impact on our limited PCI Express lanes to a minimum. Each drive in an eight drive RAID would only get two lanes anyway, so by designing it that way Samsung are saving money and making it more efficient. Of course those laptops and the next generation of Intel architecture isn’t going to be with us for a while year, perhaps a year. So with pricing of current fast drives, speeds of affordable drives, and efficiency we can’t take full advantage of until an unspecified future date, why is the Samsung 990 Evo here today? Let’s find out.