Although the Samsung 990 Pro has replaced it, the Samsung 980 Pro used to be one of the best SSDs around. Now, it may be nearly three years old, but it’s still a popular PCIe 4.0 drive that’s much more affordable than its predecessor, so it’s no surprise that there are plenty of failures on the market.
One Chinese user from Baidu Tieba (opens in new tab) (via Harukaze5719 (opens in new tab)) forums recently came across a knockoff posing as the Samsung 980 Pro. The fake drive had everything to suggest it was legitimate; Samsung 980 Pro 2TB sticker and firmware later found to be fake. The fake was so good that the mystery drive was even able to fool the Samsung Magician software. After removing the sticker, the drive had all the hallmarks of a fake SSD.
The SSD uses the Maxio MAP1602A PCIe 4.0 SSD controller, the same one powered by the Acer Predator GM7. The SSD controller comes from TSMC’s 12nm process node and features a DRAM-less design. More experienced consumers know that Samsung manufactures and uses its own SSD controllers and NAND chips in the brand’s SSDs.
In the case of the Samsung 980 Pro, the SSD uses the 8nm Elpis controller with a DRAM design. Also, Samsung’s SSD drives are usually larger than the competition. As for the NAND choice, the Samsung 980 Pro has 128-layer TLC 3D V-NAND. The rogue Samsung 980 Pro drive uses YMTC’s 128-layer TLC 3D NAND (X2-9060) built with the chipmaker’s Xtacking 2.0 technology.
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A fake drive with a different SSD controller and NAND will obviously not perform like a real Samsung 980 Pro. According to user-supplied benchmarks, the SSD delivered sequential read and write speeds of around 4.8 GB/s and 4.5 GB/s respectively in CrystalDiskMark and up to 4.2 GB/s and 3.9 GB /s on AS SSD. By contrast, the Samsung 980 Pro offers sequential read and write speeds of up to 7 Gb/s and 5 Gb/s, respectively, depending on capacity. So the dummy disk performance numbers are way off.
A merchant sold fake Samsung 980 Pro 2TB SSDs on Xianyu, a second-hand market on Taobao, for 880 yuan, or $127.77. The discs even come in official Samsung packaging. The price alone makes it easy to see that the SSD is a dupe. The actual drive currently retails for $169.99 (opens in new tab) in the US market. The scammed user claims that he has been out of PC gaming for a while, so he doesn’t know the latest technology. Furthermore, he reportedly didn’t have a computer handy, so it was ten days before he could test the drive.
There is always an immediate danger in buying computer hardware in a sold out market, especially in China. But even popular online shopping platforms like AliExpress or Taobao are filled with malicious merchants ready to take advantage of uninformed consumers. These same actors have infiltrated US retail as third-party sellers. We’ve seen our fair share of scams, like the $39 30TB portable SSD at Walmart or the $100 16TB SSD at Amazon. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.