Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Review: Samsung Portable SSD T5

The last iteration of this portable SSD, the T3, proved very popular as a slick, quick and sexy means for sneakernetting files around the place, or hosting media. The ‘sexy’ may be disputed by some, but to us, the nicely palmable shape was lovely to hold and pocket, and set it apart from the great many regular USB key products available. The updated T5 is here, and it is a little smaller (74 x 57.3 x 10.5 mm), a little quicker (up to 540MB/s claimed, vs 450MB/s for the T3), and comes in capacities up to 2TB (2TB/1TB/500GB/250GB available).

We suspect the real rationale behind its unusual form factor, beyond product differentiation in a crowded marketplace, it simply to allow switching between either USB 3.1 or Type C cables.

It’s formatted with exFAT, so is out of the box ready for Mac, Windows and Android. Samsung include a pair of cables – one for USB 3.1, and another for Type C. The T5 itself has a single Type C port.

An aluminium case sheaths the T5, and Samsung assures us it will survive a drop from up to 2m. Being solid state, of course, that figure is extremely conservative. There’s no weatherproofing — this just isn’t the sort of product that typically needs such protection. If weatherproofing is important to you there are many alternatives, such as Sandisk’s Extreme 510.

Ever importantly, Samsung offers 256-bit encryption, supporting passwords up to 14 characters in length. The software that manages this is includes on the T5 for Windows and Mac, and from the Play store or Samsung’s site for Android. It’s simple and professional looking, and activates when you connect the T5 (unless you simply don’t install it). A nice big selector at the top of the login screen lets you enable or disable the login function (though of course you’ll need to have logged in initially to turn it off, if it was at any point enabled). The software also has a function for checking for firmware updates, and managing installation. It can be set to auto or user-prompted. Just like your desktop SSD management software.

The T5 benched at 364MB/s read, and 371MB/s write on a Skylake i5 @ 3.3GHz using CrystalDiskMark through a USB 3.1 connector. On a higher spec CPU it can achieve a theoretical maximum of 540MB/s. We tested the T5 on a Skylake i7 6700K @ 4.6GHz and achieved 552.4MB/s  read, and 498.7MB/s write through Type C  – which is near – or faster than, Samsung’s own maximum claimed speeds.

Thus, it is clear that the new T5 is truly at home with a fast CPU. For anything less than a fast i7 its true potential won’t be realized, but let’s remember that this device’s purpose is portability, so in its travels it may well find itself attached to all manner of PCs and devices, now and into the future, so from that perspective it’s a good purchase so you just know it will be ready for extremely fast transfers no matter what it’s attached to.

With the T5 Samsung has hit peak performance for a SATA portable SSD. We suppose the next generation will use the NVMe protocol, or perhaps a new super premium category for NVMe will be introduced in Samsung’s portable SSD space, alongside SATA. It’s also possible we may see a portable SSD using RAID 0 onboard to boost speeds. We’ve seen that already with portable hard drives, such as the WD My Passport Pro, and some esoteric portable SSD brands and products like the Glyph Atom. But for now the T5 is a fast as a SATA portable SSD can get, and it comes from the mighty Samsung and with that some peace of mind regarding reliability and firmware update likelihood, backed by a three year warranty.



Read speed MB/s

Write speed MB/s

i5-6600 @ 3.3GHz



i7-6700K @ 4.6GHz






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