Fake $39 Samsung 990 Pro 4TB SSD Looks Almost Real But is 7X Slower

990 Pro
990 Pro (Image credit: nukklear/Reddit)

The Samsung 990 Pro is one of the best SSDs that money can buy, so some vendors are taking advantage of the fame and releasing replicas on the market. One Redditor purposely purchased a "990 Pro" 4TB SSD at AliExpress for a small price of $39 just for science. They found that the drive is up to 7 times slower than the real model. 

The "990 Pro" does its best to mirror the authentic Samsung 990 Pro's design. Less-experienced buyers are more susceptible to fall for the deception. Meanwhile, seasoned consumers could easily spot the clone from a mile away. Examining the drive shows that the font differs from what Samsung uses, and the underline is thicker. The fact that Samsung is nowhere mentioned on the sticker or the packaging is a big red flag. The manufacturer of this "990 Pro" is Delaihe Electronics Co., "Tltd," a company that doesn't exist. The link to the website and QR code are also fake. The more knowledgeable crowd knows that Samsung produces the 990 Pro in Korea; the "990 Pro" from AliExpress is made in China.

According to the Redditor, the manufacturer erased the model of the SSD controller. However, the vendor was foolish enough to mention the SSD controller on the rear of the drive's PCB. The SSD employs the Realtek RTS5765DL, a PCIe 3.0 x4 DRAM-less controller. It has support for four NAND channels and speeds up to 1,200 MT/s. The RTS5765DL is a popular choice for scammers. For instance, a Redditor reportedly bought a Samsung 980 Pro 2TB off Amazon two months ago, and the SSD resulted in an imitation that carries the same RTS5765DL SSD controller.

The RTS5765DL is far inferior to the Pascal PCIe 4.0 SSD controller that powers the real Samsung 990 Pro. To add salt to the injury, the "990 Pro" employs TK1YL3IBDM4 NAND, which obviously doesn't exist. We suspect it's low-tier or maybe recycled NAND, and whoever sold these phony drives just decided to make up part numbers for the NAND.

One of the Samsung Magician software's valuable functions is distinguishing the clones from legitimate ones. It's a no-brainer that the "990 Pro" wouldn't pass Samsung Magician's veracity test. Astonishingly, the SSD passed the GRC ValiDrive test, a freeware utility that verifies the authenticity of the device's capacity. That means the Redditor received a 4TB SSD, just not the Samsung 990 Pro. Some of the more atrocious frauds have hacked firmware with fictitious capacities.

The Redditor tested the "990 Pro" with a Ugreen M.2 SSD external enclosure. The SSD delivered sequential read and write speeds of 1,000 MB/s and 628 MB/s, respectively, in CrystalDiskMark. The mysterious and probably slow NAND held the drive back from meeting the RTS5765DL's rated performance figures. In contrast, the real 990 Pro hits up to 7,450 / 6,900 MB/s, respectively.

As for real-world performance, the author observed initial transfer speeds of 100 MB/s before dropping to 30 MB/s and ultimately remaining under 10 MB/s. He also tested the "990 Pro" with RMPrepUSB, but the drive disappeared from the system. The SSD eventually resurfaced in Windows as a "Realtek drive of some sort," confirming our discovery of the RTS5765DL-powered SSD. The SSD ceased to work and had probably breathed its last breath by the Redditor's description.

As the expression goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Samsung has always been a magnet for knockoff artists since the company makes excellent SSDs. Like every company, Samsung has occasional slip-ups, such as the recent issue with the Samsung 980 Pro failing prematurely, which was later resolved with a firmware update.

It wasn't so long ago that a wave of Samsung 980 Pro replicas started to surface on the market. Now that the Samsung 990 Pro has been on the market, manufacturers have found a new victim for their counterfeits. Nowadays, you should be cautious when purchasing hardware online, even if it's not from Chinese online platforms like AliExpress or Temu. Major retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, and Newegg, have marketplaces where third-party sellers can sell their products. Don't be surprised when you see these Chinese clones from one of the retailers, as mentioned earlier.

Zhiye Liu
RAM Reviewer and News Editor

Zhiye Liu is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Although he loves everything that’s hardware, he has a soft spot for CPUs, GPUs, and RAM.

  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    Purchased on AliExpress
    Doesn't say Samsung
    Says Product of China
    Label obviously a sticker and not a graphene heat spreader

    If the model number didn't copy Samsung's model it'd look nothing like a Samsung 990 Pro, but those huge red flags should be enough to let anyone know it's an imitation.

  • USAFRet
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    but those huge red flags should be enough to let anyone know it's an imitation.
    And yet, people WILL end up buying these.
  • brandonjclark
    Imagine knowing you have one life and not having integrity.
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    USAFRet said:
    And yet, people WILL end up buying these.
    Capitalism 101: For every product there is always a buyer.

    Translation: A sucker is born every minute.