The damage has been done to Samsung's sickly 990 Pro SSDs despite the new firmware fix

Samsung 990 Pro 2TB on a grey background
(Image credit: Future)

Samsung has rapidly released a firmware update for its troubled 990 Pro premium PCIe 4.0 SSD. The news comes just a week after Samsung promised to do just that.

If that seems reasonably timely, problems with more than one Samsung drive have proliferated into something of a palaver in recent weeks. As we reported previously, some Samsung 990 Pro drives seem to be suffering from rapid drive health degradation as reported by Samsung's own Magician SSD tool.

Initially, owners reported that Samsung was refusing to process returns, but as reports of the problem multiplied Samsung began to recognise the issue was real and began replacing drives. We also note from reports from Redditors here that it's probably a good idea to shut down your PC during the update process, especially if your 990 Pro is a boot drive.

The drive itself will not reboot unless fully powered down, which a mere reboot of the PC won't achieve, and thus will be left unresponsive if the new firmware, version 1B2QJXD7, is applied without a full power down, leading to ye olde blue screens and PCs falling over.

There is also the issue that, while the firmware fix might put a stop to the aforementioned drive degradation, it doesn't reverse it. That means if your drive has been suffering the damage has already been done.

Of course, the 990 Pro isn't the only Samsung SSD to have issues of late. Reports of the older 980 Pro being subject to unexpected mortality due to a freak firmware issue, forcing Samsung to roll out a new firmware for that drive.

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SATA, NVMe M.2, and PCIe SSDs on blue background

(Image credit: Future)

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It's all rather unedifying for Samsung's reputation. It was once the gold standard for both SSD performance and reliability. Now you'd be brave to buy one, at least without waiting for these firmware updates to brew long enough to see if they actually do the trick. Indeed, Samsung hasn't exactly been knocking it out of the park in a more general sense, what with the buggy performance of its mini-LED monitors like the Neo G9.

Admittedly, the engineers working on SSDs don't exactly work shoulder to shoulder with Samsung's display experts. The company is nothing if not a huge, sprawling empire. But we're at the point now where it's justified to at least ask the question whether there's a broader quality control or corporate culture issue that is leading to so many problematic products.

It's not like Samsung doesn't have the resources to ensure excellent quality control. So, it's puzzling that it just isn't happening.

You can download the updates for both the 980 Pro and the 990 Pro here.

Jeremy Laird
Hardware writer

Jeremy has been writing about technology and PCs since the 90nm Netburst era (Google it!) and enjoys nothing more than a serious dissertation on the finer points of monitor input lag and overshoot followed by a forensic examination of advanced lithography. Or maybe he just likes machines that go “ping!” He also has a thing for tennis and cars.