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 close to three years old, but it’s still a popular PCIe 4.0 drive that’s much more affordable than its successor, so it doesn’t come as a shock that there are many knockoffs on the market.
One Chinese user from the Baidu Tieba (opens in new tab) (via Harukaze5719 (opens in new tab)) forums recently encountered an imitation posing as the Samsung 980 Pro. The phony drive had everything that suggested that it was legit: the Samsung 980 Pro 2TB sticker and the firmware, which later turned out to be fake. The forgery was so good that the mysterious drive even managed to fool the Samsung Magician software. Once the sticker was removed, the drive had all the signs of a counterfeit SSD.
The SSD utilizes the Maxio MAP1602A PCIe 4.0 SSD controller, the same one that powers 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 produces and uses its SSD controllers and NAND chips in the brand’s SSDs.
In the case of the Samsung 980 Pro, the SSD employs the 8nm Elpis controller with a DRAM design. Additionally, Samsung’s SSD controllers are typically larger than the competition. Regarding the NAND selection, the Samsung 980 Pro sports 128-layer TLC 3D V-NAND. The fraudulent Samsung 980 Pro drive uses YMTC’s 128-layer TLC 3D NAND (X2-9060) built with the Chinese chipmaker’s Xtacking 2.0 technology.
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With a different SSD controller and NAND, the bogus drive obviously won’t perform similarly to a real Samsung 980 Pro. According to the user-provided benchmarks, the SSD delivered sequential read and write speeds of around 4.8 GBps and 4.5 GBps, respectively, in CrystalDiskMark and up to 4.2 GBps and 3.9 GBps in AS SSD. On the contrary, the Samsung 980 Pro offers sequential read and writes up to 7 GBps and 5 Gbps, respectively, depending on the capacity. So the performance numbers on the false drive are way off.
The merchant sold fake Samsung 980 Pro 2TB SSDs on Xianyu, Taobao’s second-hand market, for 880 yuan or $127.77. The drives even come in official Samsung packaging. The price alone makes it easy to see that the SSD is a sham. The actual drive currently retails for $169.99 (opens in new tab) on the U.S. market. The scammed user claims he had been out of the PC game for a while, so he wasn’t up to speed on the latest technology. Furthermore, he reportedly didn’t have a PC at hand, so ten days had passed before he could test the drive.
There’s always an imminent risk to buying computer hardware on the second-hand market, especially in China. But even distinguished online shopping platforms, such as AliExpress or Taobao, are filled with malicious merchants ready to take advantage of less-knowledgeable consumers. These same actors have infiltrated U.S. retailers as third-party sellers. We’ve seen our fair shares of scam cases, like the $39 30TB portable SSD on Walmart or the $100 16TB SSD on Amazon. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.