Last upgrade, I finally upgraded to the Alienware OLED gaming monitor. Now it’s time to see if the Samsung 980 Pro SSD upgrade is worth it. Next to my old monitor, my old SSD clocks in as the second most years between upgrades. Did I need a new SSD? No, but I’m happy with the upgrade and I’ll tell you why.
Deciding to Upgrade my Old Intel 660p SSD
My Intel 660p was my first NVMe SSD and my first in the M.2 format. It was several times faster than my SSD before that (500MB/s vs 1800MB/s). I noticed the increase in speed back then, but now I’m spoiled and that speed is less impressive. At this point, you can’t beat the price of the Intel drive, but I’m not afraid to pay more for power.
Noticing several games with micro stutters on auto save, loads or asset stream points (loading whole new portions of a large map). After researching the newer PCIe 4.0 drives, I realized they are several times faster than that Intel drive.
What really caught my eye was the DRAM cache difference. Where my old Intel drive clocked in at 256MB, newer drives pack in 1 to 2 Gigs! The true revelation was the type of DRAM. My old Intel 660p DRAM is DDR3 versus the newer drives with DDR4. 2133Mhz is the max for DDR3, but DDR4 that’s the base clock speed.
After adding up the speed increase, DRAM cache difference and MS Direct Storage games incoming, I pulled the trigger on finding an upgrade.
Choosing the Samsung 980 Pro SSD for my Upgrade
My goal for the upgrade was speed, cache, 2 or more TB in size and a hopefully reasonable price. There are several SSDs I browsed with varying stats, pros and cons. There’s so many options it’s easy to get lost down the rabbit hole.
What really helped me decide on some top picks were various review lists of the top SSDs. The Samsung 980 Pro SSD placed near the tops of most of those lists. It ticked so many boxes for me. First, 2TB size is an option. With more games topping 100GB in size, 2TB is almost a required size for any gamer.
Speed is a definitely another strength for the 980 Pro SSD upgrade. The 7000MB/s read speed leaves my old 1800MB/s Intel SSD in the dust. Write speeds are 5000MB/s which is not the 7000MB/s of other SSD options, but my priority between the two is those read speeds to load games and stream map assets.
DRAM Cache is as impressive as the speed. The Samsung 980 Pro sports 2GB of DDR4 RAM for cache. That speedy cache helps reduce the times waiting on the SSD to return file info, especially the more commonly used ones. SSDs are fast, but not DDR4 fast, yet. I hoped the more abundant and speedier cache could help reduce my current bottleneck.
What really sealed the deal was the price. I found the Samsung SSD on sale on Amazon for $230. Stopped my ridiculous amount of browsing and bought it.
Samsung 980 Pro Performance
I didn’t bother with any benchmarks or running actual numbers to compare both drives. My perception of performance is all based on what I see live. The short version is I’m impressed. It’s not as dramatic as when I first upgraded from HDD to SSD, but the change is noticeable.
The new Samsung 980 Pro SSD upgrade was the perfect opportunity to clean install Windows 11. Sure that could skew my performance perceptions, but there are obvious places a clean install won’t make a difference. First off, this was the fastest clean install of an operating system ever. Those write speeds ripped right through the OS install.
A lot of the fun of clean installs are all those driver and software (including any games) downloads. My current internet is 500Mbps up and down, but the new drive turbo boosts my download speeds. Downloading data requires writing to the drive. That 3 times boost in write speed with the speedy DDR4 cache speeds handles that with ease.
The whole downloading and installing loop is the bane of any clean install, so the new drive was worth that ease alone. No doubt it will reduce the jolt of auto saves hitting the SSD.
Now the write speed to help with downloads and auto saves speed is great, but games are all about read speed.
Load those Games
The load times are much faster and I noticed less pop in or stuttering during asset streaming. It’s not all gone, but I noticed improvement.
There are so many factors that affect thing like micro stutter. Some processors are better at single core performance, but won’t help much when RAM is slow or the video card can’t keep up. An inefficient game engine won’t care how great your parts are, but it’s important to reduce any bottle necks.
For me, my AMD 5800 is very good and my Nvidia RTX 3090 is great. My RAM is 3200Mhz, cooling good and power supply over 1000W Gold. Even my Alienware Monitor is more than enough to handle all those visual goodies. My SSD was the last piece of hardware to hold anything back (in relative terms).
Is the new Samsung 980 Pro SSD upgrade going to fix all my stutters and hitches? No, but $200 is a small price to ensure my other thousands worth in parts are not waiting on an older, lesser SSD. Now I’m more than set and ready for Direct Storage games to drop and really put it to the test.