According to many reports, it looks like Samsung’s latest flagship SSD – the so-called Samsung 990 Pro (opens in a new tab) – has serious hardware problems.
Report published on Neovin (opens in a new tab), which was preceded by the author of a report posting on Reddit about his own experience with the problem, claims that the 990 Pro is losing “disk health” at an alarmingly fast rate. Some users have reported drops in total health of 10% or more in just a few days.
The Samsung 990 Pro is probably best SSD currently on the market (although it will cost you quite a bit as this is really high-end storage), which means many excited PC builders will be buying one for their custom rigs when it launches in November 2022. It’s unclear at this point exactly how many SSDs are affected, but looking through Reddit threads, we can tell that many users have been affected.
The severity varies, but so far the worst case seems to come from a Twitter user Neil Schofield (opens in a new tab)who posted a screenshot of the SSD utility CrystalDisk – a program commonly used to check drive health – showing its 990 Pro 2TB dropped to just 64% after writing just 2,006GB of data to the drive. It’s not just the 2TB version; we can confirm that this applies to other capacities in a similar way.
After reading your article, I thought I’d check out mine. The results are terrifying! 36% used after less than 2TB of data saved? @SamsungUK what’s going on? pic.twitter.com/VdzLoEAarNJanuary 22, 2023
Analysis: why is it such a big problem?
For those who don’t know, the “health” of a drive basically refers to its overall capacity and performance. A new drive should have 100% efficiency, while reading and writing data to the drive will degrade it over time. This “wear” is normal and expected for SSDs, especially heavily used ones.
However, the numbers given here are far beyond what we would expect from normal SSD degradation; as one redditor noted (opens in a new tab) in the comments, their older 970 Evo 1TB drive was still at 97% health after data transfers of over 70TB.
It’s unclear at this time what exactly is causing the problem, and Samsung has yet to comment. As for the original poster who complained and tried to RMA, he returned the disc with a claim from Samsung that the problem could not be repeated, although the tech giant’s RMA department has since offered a full replacement now that the story is gaining publicity.
It seems that Samsung is not sure about this either, as the RMA team has requested that the (re)failed drive be returned for further testing. Given that the 990 Pro is allegedly rated at 1,200 TBW (terabytes written), writing 2 TB of data should result in a health drop of around 0.17% – not the whopping 36% loss Schofield faced.
Reddit is full of theories, with some users speculating that it might just be a reporting bug generating invalid values - although as Tom’s gear (opens in a new tab) notes that users have compared results from multiple SSD monitoring programs and found the same results, and Samsung’s own Magician software refuses to properly test the drive.
The launch of the 990 Pro last year was just right postponed from its original October launch (opens in a new tab) for undisclosed reasons, so it’s possible there were manufacturing issues and the affected drives are from a faulty batch. Some users have also theorized that Windows is to blame as the only thing degrading SSDs have in common is that they are all operating system boot drives. Anyway, if you’re looking SSD contractwe advise you to steer clear of the 990 Pro until the issue is resolved.