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Running on the latest USB ports, the Samsung T5 is the fastest portable SSD that we have ever reviewed. It’s also rather expensive; shop around and you can find slower USB 3.0 (but still quick) USB SSDs for around £90 less for 500GB. This is the sole issue that might make you think twice about picking up the T5, but at least if you do drop the cash, you can be sure of receiving the best performance on the market.
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Samsung T5 External SSD Portable – 1TB – USB 3.1 External SSD
Inside is one of Samsung’s own 1.8in SSDs, using the company’s 64-bit TLC NAND. The Samsung T5 External SSD gives three bits per cell, which makes the drive slightly cheaper to manufacture than if MLC (two bits per cell) or SLC (one bit per cell) were used.
As with Samsung’s internal SSDs, the big news here is that capacities stretch up to a massive 2TB. In terms of cost, the 250GB version is the worst value, coming in at 50p per GB. Moving up the range, the 500GB, 1TB and 2TB drives have a similar cost per GB of around 38p. That puts this drive firmly into a premium territory and means that the 2TB drive costs a whopping £777. Most people will find the 500GB one hits the sweet spot for price and capacity.
As flash memory has a finite write limit, manufacturers usually quote the number of writes for each cell before the drive fails. Samsung hasn’t done this but based on its previous products we’re confident that the drive will last longer than you’ll want to use it. Admittedly, mechanical portable hard disks are a fair bit cheaper, so you need to decide on what you need: if it’s pure capacity and performance isn’t so important, then go mechanical; if you want better performance and a smaller drive, go with an SSD. This drive has built-in 256bit AES hardware encryption, activated using the on-disk software. With encryption turned on, you can’t access any files until you’ve entered the correct password, making the Samsung T5 External SSD a secure SSD for transporting important files.
Samsung claims 540MB/sec read speeds and 515MB/sec write speeds for the T5. Write speeds are helped with a fast NAND cache to speed up writes; once this has been filled, writes speeds slow down. To get the best speeds out of this drive, Samsung recommends a USB 3.1 Gen 2 port; older USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports are slightly slower with a maximum speed of 5Gbits/sec. Things are actually a little confusing, as USB 3.1 Gen 1 is actually USB 3.0 with all of the changes and updates made to the specification since launch. USB 3.1 Gen 2 is most likely known as USB 3.1 on motherboards, with the ports often labelled as SuperSpeed+. So, if your computer has USB 3.1 ports, then it should support the full 10Gbits/sec speed, but check the manual to confirm this.
We tested with USB 3.1 Gen 2, to test the Samsung T5 External SSD at full speed. We recorded:
- 456.66MB/sec read and 365.64MB/sec write speeds in the huge files test;
- 455.58MB/sec read and 359.47MB/sec write speeds in the large files test;
- 333.1MB/sec read and 288.45MB/sec write speeds in the small files test.
Crystal Disk Mark confirmed similar performance with 553.6MB/sec read speeds and 518.6MB/sec write speeds in the sequential test. The random 4K read/write test usually pushes drives to their limits, but the Samsung T5 External SSD performed brilliantly, with reading speeds of 298.5MB/sec and write speeds of 203.2MB/sec. That’s the best performance that we’ve seen from a USB powered SSD.