Solid state drives (SSDs) have become must-have PC upgrades due to their massive improvements in speed over traditional hard disk drives (HDDs). As SSD adoption grows, two big players have emerged – Samsung and SanDisk. But if you‘re choosing an SSD, which brand should you get?
In this detailed comparison, we’ll analyze the latest Samsung and SanDisk SSDs to see how they stack up for real world performance, reliability, software features, and value. Read on to find out if Samsung or SanDisk SSDs are the best choice for gaming, professional or everyday computing.
A Brief History of Samsung and SanDisk’s SSD Tech
First, let’s look at the background of these storage giants. This context will provide insight into their respective capabilities and advantages in the SSD market today.
Samsung’s Rise as the SSD Leader
Samsung began developing NAND flash memory technology in the 1980s. In 2006, they leveraged this flash memory expertise to release their first SSDs, the SATA-based PM800 series.
Over the next decade, Samsung continuously pushed SSD performance forward. They were early movers on transitioning to higher speed interfaces like PCIe Gen 3.0 and NVMe. Samsung also pioneered key advances in NAND flash tech, like the introduction of 3D V-NAND in 2013.
Today, Samsung remains an SSD technology leader. They manufacture many components in-house, like NAND flash, DRAM and SSD controllers. Their vertical integration and cutting edge manufacturing allows them to deliver elite performing drives.
SanDisk’s Transition into Cutting Edge SSDs
SanDisk also has a long history with flash storage, having pioneered the first NAND based SSD in 1991. But they catered more to consumer devices like USB drives and memory cards versus PC SSDs .
In 2016, Western Digital acquired SanDisk for $19 billion. This allowed them to leverage SanDisk’s NAND flash memory capabilities to enter the SSD market. Since then, WD has invested heavily in SSD R&D and released the SanDisk branded drives compared here.
SanDisk now produces a full range of SSDs that compete directly with Samsung. Backed by Western Digital resources, they have transitioned into high performance NVMe drives for PCs and laptops.
Comparing Flagship Models: Samsung 980 Pro vs. SanDisk Extreme Pro
With the backstory covered, let’s now dig into how Samsung and SanDisk’s latest SSDs compare side by side:
- Samsung 980 Pro – Samsung‘s top-tier PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD for high-end consumer PCs
- SanDisk Extreme Pro – SanDisk‘s competing flagship PCIe 4.0 SSD
We’ll evaluate them across several categories to declare a winner.
First, the basic specs. As flagship Gen4 drives, they both deliver incredible speed far beyond SATA SSDs or HDDs.
|Specs||Samsung 980 Pro||SanDisk Extreme Pro|
|Interface||PCIe 4.0 x4||PCIe 4.0 x4|
|NAND Flash||Samsung 128L 3D TLC||SanDisk 128L 3D TLC|
|Capacities||250 GB – 1 TB||500 GB – 4 TB|
|Sequential Read||Up to 7,000 MB/s||Up to 7,000 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||Up to 5,000 MB/s||Up to 5,100 MB/s|
|Endurance||150 TBW (250GB)||300 TBW (500GB)|
|Warranty||5 years||5 years|
For interfaces, NAND flash components, and top tier sequential performance, these drives are evenly matched. They both achieve 7,000+ MB/s reads and 5,000+ MB/s writes that saturate PCIe 4.0.
The SanDisk Extreme Pro offers higher maximum capacity at 4TB and has better endurance ratings. But otherwise, they trade blows on paper.
Real World Performance Benchmarks
Beyond specs, real world testing reveals the true performance. Using CrystalDiskMark, a leading SSD benchmark, we can compare speeds for various workloads.
Here are results from Tom‘s Hardware testing the 1TB models on an AMD X570 test bench:
|Benchmark||Samsung 980 Pro||SanDisk Extreme Pro|
|QD1 Seq. Read||6,553 MB/s||6,553 MB/s|
|QD1 Seq. Write||2,321 MB/s||4,768 MB/s|
|QD64 Seq. Read||7,000 MB/s||6,984 MB/s|
|QD64 Seq. Write||5,118 MB/s||5,016 MB/s|
|4K QD1 Read||66 MB/s||49 MB/s|
|4K QD1 Write||157 MB/s||115 MB/s|
For sequential workloads at QD64, the drives are nearly identical. But at low queues (QD1) simulating daily desktop usage, the Samsung 980 Pro pulls ahead slightly. In particular, its 4K read and write speeds are 25-35% faster.
So in real world usage, the 980 Pro has a small advantage in low queue random performance. But under sequential loads, the SSDs are evenly matched again.
Sustained Write Performance
Write performance can drop off as an SSD fills up or heats up. Using IOMeter, we can simulate longer write workloads to compare.
Once more, Samsung has an edge here. In testing from Anandtech, the 1TB 980 Pro maintained write speeds above 4,500 MB/s even after 400GB of writes. The 1TB SanDisk Extreme maintained ~3,500 MB/s after the same workload.
For heavy content creation, the 980 Pro should better sustain peak write speeds over time.
Performance Winner: Samsung 980 Pro
While sequential throughput is identical, the Samsung 980 Pro has small advantages in low queue, random and sustained workloads. This gives it a performance lead overall.
Architecture and Components
What allows these SSDs to hit such high speeds? Diving into their internal components revealskey design differences:
Samsung 980 Pro
- Controller – Samsung Elpis custom NVMe controller
- NAND Flash – 128-layer 3D TLC V-NAND
- DRAM Cache – 1GB LPDDR4
Samsung utilizes their own Elpis controller designed specifically for PCIe 4.0. Paired with their latest densely stacked V-NAND, it delivers top tier throughput.
The large 1GB DRAM cache provides an additional speed boost, caching frequently used data.
SanDisk Extreme Pro
- Controller – Phison E18
- NAND Flash – 128-layer 3D TLC
- DRAM Cache – 2GB DDR4
The SanDisk Extreme Pro uses the Phison E18 controller combined with Micron or Toshiba 3D TLC NAND depending on capacity.
It has an ample 2GB DRAM cache but relies on a third party controller. The E18 excels on sequential work but can’t quite match Samsung’s optimization for random and low queue workloads.
Architecture Winner: Samsung 980 Pro
With its proprietary controller and NAND components, the 980 Pro has better tuned performance and consistency.
Reliability and Endurance
For SSDs, longevity and durability are also crucial. These devices have limited write cycle lifespans and must maintain performance through years of use.
Here the advantages are more split between the two:
- The Samsung 980 Pro is rated for 0.3 drive writes per day (DWPD) for 5 years – or around 150 TBW for the 1TB capacity.
- The SanDisk Extreme Pro is rated for a higher 0.85 DWPD and 300 TBW at 1TB capacity.
So while the 980 Pro should excel at sustaining peak write performance, the Extreme Pro is actually rated for more write cycles over its lifespan. Both drives offer a competitive 5 year warranty as well.
For the controller and NAND components, Samsung’s vertical integration gives it an edge for reliably sourcing and validating all parts. The 980 Pro seems to have a bit tighter process and component optimization.
Reliability Winner: Tie
With excellent endurance ratings, warranty and tightly controlled components, both deliver outstanding SSD reliability.
SSD utilities provide useful features like health monitoring, maintenance, cloning, and encryption:
- Samsung Magician – Samsung‘s polished SSD management utility.
- WD Dashboard – Western Digital‘s SSD management software.
Samsung Magician offers drive optimization, monitoring tools, firmware updates, benchmarking, and Secure Erase options. It’s well designed and intuitive for both novice and advanced users.
The WD Dashboard allows firmware updates, manual TRIM, and diagnostics too but has a more dated Windows-centric design. It covers the basics but lacks Magician’s refined user experience.
Software Winner: Samsung Magician
Magician provides a much more polished and user friendly experience overall.
For data protection, these SSDs both support AES 256-bit hardware encryption. This allows you to enable full disk encryption with minimal performance impact.
The encryption implementation seems nearly identical between both SSD software suites. They both also include Secure Erase options for safe drive disposal.
Security Winner: Tie
With hardware backed AES-256 encryption available, both SSDs offer strong data protection.
Cost Per GB Comparison
Last but not least, let’s examine the value proposition. MSRP and street pricing reveal how these flagship SSDs are positioned:
|Capacity||Samsung 980 Pro Price||SanDisk Extreme Pro Price|
Across multiple capacities, the SanDisk Extreme Pro has a 15-20% lower cost per GB. Considering its equal or better specs in many areas, it provides superior price-to-performance ratio.
The 980 Pro still carries a reasonable early adopter tax for bleeding edge PCIe 4.0 tech. But SanDisk‘s pricing is more competitive for value-focused upgraders.
Cost Winner: SanDisk Extreme Pro
With very close specs but a lower cost per GB, the Extreme Pro wins out on SSD value.
Verdict: Samsung vs SanDisk SSDs
Let‘s quickly summarize the comparisons:
- Performance – Samsung 980 Pro is slightly faster at low queue sizes
- Architecture – Samsung has better internal components and integration
- Reliability – Essentially equal with both excelling
- Software – Samsung Magician is more refined
- Security – Identical AES-256 bit hardware encryption
- Value – SanDisk Extreme Pro has a lower $/GB
For peak real world usage, the Samsung 980 Pro inchs out the victory based on its mature firmware, proprietary controller and NAND components. This gives it an advantage in demanding workloads like sustained file transfers or heavy multitasking. Plus, you get the perks of Samsung Magician software.
But as an SSD upgrade for everyday users, the SanDisk Extreme Pro gets you equivalent performance for less cost. Unless you frequently hammer your SSD with huge workloads, you likely won‘t notice the small performance differences between these two SSDs in normal use.
For those seeking every last drop of SSD speed and performance, the Samsung 980 Pro currently represents the pinnacle of consumer NVMe drive technology. It leverages Samsung‘s vertically integrated advantage in manufacturing and tuning SSD components together. With PCIe 4.0 becoming standard, it offers a glimpse of the future for high speed PC storage.
However, for most real world usage, the SanDisk Extreme Pro delivers effectively equivalent experinece while costing over 15% less. Unless you regularly manipulate massive files or run intensive creative workloads, the 980 Pro‘s gains likely won‘t translate into a perceivable difference.
With SSD prices dropping rapidly, you can‘t go wrong either way. But overall, the SanDisk Extreme Pro provides the best blend of cutting edge PCIe 4.0 performance and value. For a fast NVMe boost to your system, it‘s a tough combo to beat.