Both of these Samsung SSDs(solid-state drives) belong to different generation. The 980 Pro is the 1st of 4th Gen SSD while the 970 Pro belongs to the 3rd Gen. They come among the company’s top-selling drives including the 970 plus.
The problematic thing here is that the difference between these drives has got confusing. The basic reason for so is both the drives have huge price differences. The 980 Pro, being the successor of the 970 Pro should have more price than its predecessor. But the 970 pro is double the price of the 980Pro.
Another thing is the back-stepping of Samsung from the modified 2-bit MLC to the previously existing 3-bit TLC NAND type. We will discuss all these factors in detail among with the explained comparison of both drives.
Features in Samsung 970 Pro and Samsung 980 Pro series:
Samsung 970 Pro
- Interface: Both drives are NVMe(non-volatile memory) SSDs, the new transfer protocol that helps the SSD to access the data quicker.
- The drives serve as PCI (Peripheral component interconnect) that work as an attachment of a computer to its peripherals.
- Form Factor: The drives share a mutual form factor of M.2 or 2280. This size is a perfect fit for PCs, laptops, and other workstations that can’t support a bigger drive size.
All you need to know:
Now as we got a general out-look of both the drives, it’s better to have a vivid eye on both the pros and cons of the drives.
The 3rd generation drive comes with a 2-bit MLC(multi-level cells) flash memory unit means that it can store two bits per cell. While the other drive comes with the TLC(Triple-level cells) system that needs more time to read as 3 bits are to be read per cell which is more than a 2-bit cell.
As many other features dominate the 980 Pro over its predecessor, so this difference isn’t much visible among both drives.
As far as the capacity is concerned, the 980 Pro has much more to offer than the other drive. The available capacity for the 3rd generation drive is limited to only 2 options: 512 GB and 1TB. On the other hand, drive 2 gives you multiple options from 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, to 2TB of storage.
So, if you are looking for an SSD of fewer than 500GB, the second drive is the only option among both these drives. Well, many 4th generation drives in the market are even better in performance as well as price than Samsung’s one. That’s another thing.
Cache memory is another important factor to look into in a drive. The reason for that is cache memory works as a backup where repeated data is stored and is lately or with intervals utilized by the computer.
The 512 GB of drive 1 comes with 512 MBs of cache memory and 1TB stands with 1GB of cache memory. If we look up to drive 2, it’s 250GB to 500GB have cache memory of 512 MBs while the 1TB has 1GB and 2TB has 2GB of it.
As the capacity of a drive increases, its cache memory increases. Here again, drive 2 wins the point with more options for the user.
Along with the change in read/write speed, NAND system, and storage, there’s another thing that is upgraded in drive 2. That’s the controller. Unfortunately, very few of us know about this change in the drive as it comes among the minor changes that companies keep on changing from time to time.
In drive 2, you get a Samsung Elpis controller rather than the Phoenix controller as in drive 1. But unlike Crucial, Western Digital, and some other SSD companies, Samsung doesn’t change the flash memory unit from TLC to QLC which makes this change the least prominent.
The newer Elpis controller makes a drive slower sometimes as the transfer rate of 980 Pro decreases when it heats up.
The company has increased the read speed 2x in their 4th generation pro series. The offered read speed you get in drive 1 is 3500 MB/s whereas the other drive has double it which makes 7000 MB/s. That’s what the company has claimed. But things are always different when are done practically.
A series of experiments are performed to check if the company pays off what they advertise. Even though the 980 pro is a TLC drive, it proved to be faster in transferring data than its predecessor.
Drive 1 comes with a write speed of 2700 MB/s that’s half of the other driver’s 5100 MB/s of speed. There can be a slighter variation in the speeds when are practically experimented with. Well, in any case, the write speed of drive 2 will still be slightly or greatly more than drive 1.
The thing to keep in mind here is that the results can vary from one platform to another.
What is the role of a suitable medium?
This is an important point to know here if you truly want to understand the difference in the performance of both drives. As you know, the 3rd generation drive is made suitable for the 3.0 X 4 M.2 slot while the 4th generation drive is the best fit for the 4.0 X 4 M.2 PCIe slot. This means that if a drive suitable for 4 slot system is used in 3 slot system, the results can be a little tricky. The consequences can vary from slower transfer speed to interruption at serval points.
Also, make sure to upgrade your software from the traditional BIOS(basic input/output system) to the updated UEFI(Unified extensible firmware interface) software if you want to get the best results out of the 980 Pro. This is because the UEFI system can support large drives more efficiently than the old software due to the upgraded changes made to it.
Anyways the BIOS system is fine for the 3rd generation drive.
MTBF of both drives:
MTBF(mean time before failure) of the drive should be considered essential as it directly affects the reliability of the drive. By knowing the MTBF of a drive, we come to know its causes as well. And when we know the problem, we know better to solve it and that increases the durability and reliability of the drive.
For both drives, MTBF stands around 1.5 Million hours before failure which is more than enough.
Samsung offers 5 years of warranty for both drives. Well, the TBW(total bytes written) limit varies following the capacity. For instance, the 512 GB of drive 1 (and 250GB or 500GB of drive 2) has an endurance of about 600 TBW while the 1 TB (and 1TB or 2 TB of drive 2) of capacities have 1200 TBW per 5 years. That’s more than enough for those who are not so regular users or who don’t have a bulk of files to deal with per day.
Well, this factor is directly proportional to the inserted features of tackling heat in the drive and the drive’s use. Heating-up of a drive while transferring large files is completely normal. Once a file is transferred, the drive gets back to its normal temperature usually.
Also with an increase in the capacity, the possibility of increasing temperature rises. For this reason, despite having a thermal pad, 980 Pro with 2TB of storage heats up quicker than the drives with the least capacities of 250 GB, 500 GB, and 1TB.
While the other drive can get up to 55 C normally when the allowed temperature for SSDs is 70 degrees. So, it varies from user to user.
Surprisingly, the successor of the 970 Pro is cheaper than its predecessor. There isn’t any specific price to narrate here as the rate can vary from one platform to another platform. But the basic idea about the main argument whether the drives are worth the price or not is there.
As far as drive 1 is concerned, it stands on an equal level with drive 2 in most of the cases like MTBF, TBW, and some other factors. But as per the reviews, drive 2 is still better in performance than drive 1. Also, you get the second drive at almost half the price of drive 1. So, it wouldn’t be wrong in saying that the new generation of Samsung is better than its predecessor.
Both the drives by Samsung are the best performers in their suitable medium. The 970 Pro, having a 2-bit MLC V-NAND is the best performer for hardcore gamers, data analytics, prosumers, and media professionals whose projects usually stands under high workloads. While the other drive can be more beneficial to you in all these fields as well as for graphics and heavy-duty applications.
So, you are recommended to possibly go for Gen 4 drive as it is worth it with all the upgraded features as compared to the 970 Pro. Make sure that you have a suitable motherboard to stand a Gen 4 drive beneficially.