Samsung 990 Pro SSDs Report Rapid Health Degradation

Samsung 990 Pro
Samsung 990 Pro (Image credit: Samsung)

Multiple users have reported that the health of the Samsung 990 Pro, one of the best SSDs, is deteriorating at a breakneck pace. The problem seems to affect the entire Samsung 990 Pro lineup regardless of the capacity, with some drives showing over 10% less health in a matter of days or weeks.

Logically, the health of an SSD is at 100% if you check it with an SSD utility, such as CrystalDiskInfo, when you first take it out of the box. But, eventually, the number goes down when you start writing data to the drive. The problem is when that value starts decreasing exponentially, and you haven't been writing any data to the drive.

The Samsung 990 Pro health degradation issue started brewing on the forums last month, and more user reports have been emerging every day. The original poster, which owns the 2TB drive, lost 7% in one month with just 6,641GB written to the drive. Another Samsung 990 Pro owner reported a 12% deterioration since he installed his SSD in December. So far, he has written 27.9TB to the drive and noticed the health falling around 1% every week. 

One Redditor, who saw his Samsung 990 Pro 2TB lifespan go down 6% in two weeks, sent his SSD to Samsung for RMA. However, the company reportedly returned the same drive claiming that it didn't find any defects, and it formatted the drive and restored it to factory settings. Subsequently, Samsung has offered the Redditor a replacement and will try to replicate the problem. The worst case we've seen so far comes from Twitter user Neil Schofield, who shared a screenshot of his Samsung 990 Pro with a 64% health status and only 2TB of total host writes.

The numbers don't add up. Samsung rates the Samsung 990 Pro 2TB for 1,200 TBW (TeraBytes Written). Therefore, 1% equals to 12TB of written data. A 93% health drive means you had to write about 84TB of data. So, if you're an average user, the drive should still be close to pristine, not 96% or 93% healthy.

In the meantime, it's uncertain if there's an actual hardware issue with the Samsung 990 Pro that causes rapid health degradation or whether the reported health values are an error on the software side. However, the SSD software obviously grabs the data from the S.M.A.R.T health parameters, so the information should be solid. Moreover, users have confirmed different software, such as Samsung Magician, CrystalDiskInfo, and Hard Disk Sentinel, are reporting the same value. Nonetheless, we can't discard the possibility of it being a firmware or reporting bug. Oddly, Samsung Magician's short or extended SMART self-test would not run on the Samsung 990 Pro.

There are not many clues to go on for the moment. The only common ground is that the affected SSDs are drives for storing the operating system. So it's plausible that Microsoft Windows may not be playing nice with the Samsung 990 Pro. Alternatively, specific batches of drives may just be defective. It has happened before

It was big news in China that many Samsung 980 Pro owners had reported SSD failures from six months to a year of usage due to bad blocks. Other reportedly faulty drives include the Samsung 970 Evo Plus and the OEM drives, like the PM9A1 and PM981A. We saw a few reports outside China, but the problem wasn't widespread.

With the previous fiasco, users could check if the drive was affected by monitoring two specific S.M.A.R.T values. Unfortunately, this gave rise to the "0E" fiasco, where users likely have a faulty drive if the entry isn't zero. It's not the first time that S.M.A.R.T parameters have given us a head up of potential failing drives. Therefore, this health degradation issue with the Samsung 990 Pro certainly merits an investigation on Samsung's part.

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.

  • RichardtST
    Yeah. I've gotten bitten by the Samsung drives too. 980 Pro, I believe. Died in a couple days. I simply don't buy Samsung any more. I paid extra for the name, to not have to worry about it. And then it made me worry. Bzzzt. Yer out.
  • DavidLejdar
    2TB one here in a Gen5 M.2 slot (with an AM5 MB heatsink), and CrystalDiskInfo is saying 100%. Using it for a bit more than a month, with 2,737 GB written. Temp is currently at 31 °C. I don't have the OS nor browser on it though.

    And for the drive with the OS, Kingston SNV2S1000G (1TB), in use for 3 months with 3,994 GB written, it is also saying 100%. Temp 33 °C.

    Perhaps I am just kind of lucky in such regard, but no complaint here (so far).
  • TechieTwo
    RichardtST said:
    Yeah. I've gotten bitten by the Samsung drives too. 980 Pro, I believe. Died in a couple days. I simply don't buy Samsung any more. I paid extra for the name, to not have to worry about it. And then it made me worry. Bzzzt. Yer out.

    I have been using Samsung SSDs for years and IME I've never had an issue so I'd offer that any issues may be model or batch specific more so than Samsung selling unreliable drives. Samsung would certainly not be alone in having SSD issues as some companies have had significant reliability issues since SSDs were introduced.
  • TexasRattleSnake
    Wow! I just checked my own drive after reading this and the health is down to 76%! Thanks for reporting this..
  • PiranhaTech
    I have a Samsung 970 EVO drive that got a bad block and Windows write-protected it. It's replaced

    However, my reasoning was that I was using PrimoCache on a small partition on the drive, which might have worn it out quickly.

    No idea if that was an effect. PrimoCache did give me a significant perf boost from my magnetic drive, but I'll have to change plans if it can kill an SSD. Planning on getting a dedicated $20 SSD for this later on a PCIe adapter, but that's another subject.
  • evdjj3j
    My Intel 660p will be 5 years old this year and is at 96%.
  • pointa2b
    I'm right around the corner from a major PC upgrade, this news couldn't have came at a better time since the 990 was my choice for primary drive. What are some solid alternative brands? My main priorities are performance and endurance (or at least much better than this).
  • AvidSurvivalist
    I have a Gigabyte Aourus Gen4 7000s 1TB just over a year old and with a tad over 12 TBW, it reports 3% life remaining. 😐
  • USAFRet
    All my Samsung drives, from the 2014 era 840 EVOs, to the 1 year old 980 Pro...all report 98% minimum life left.
  • razor512
    Their excuse for not further addressing the issue seems like an attempt to avoid having to address issues with low binned NAND that is being pushed to its limits by the controller.

    A controller with good NAND management will have very reliable ways to monitor the NAND and measure the health before uncorrectable errors happen. Aside from that correctable errors are common with all flash storage, as well as disk based storage. The issue is every company has their own secret sauce for NAND management, wear leveling and tracking degradation from target reference.
    All the end user has go to on is the wear and health info the drive maker spits out in the SMART data.

    I stopped getting Samsung NVMe drives after the 970 pro, specifically due to their major downgrade in NAND, write endurance, and warranty.