Reviews: PC

Samsung Portable SSD T5 - handy card-sized storage

The Samsung Portable SSD T5's speed and portability come at a price, starting at $179 for the 250GB model.
The Samsung Portable SSD T5's speed and portability come at a price, starting at $179 for the 250GB model.PHOTO: SAMSUNG

The T5 is the latest entry in Samsung's Portable SSD (solid-state drive) series. Like its predecessors, it is extremely handy, barely creating a bulge in my shirt pocket.

It weighs just 51g and is around 1cm thick. It is a bit shorter than a credit card, slightly thicker than a typical smartphone, and more compact than my name card holder. In comparison, even one of the most portable hard drives now like the Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim, although marginally slimmer, is almost twice the size of the T5.

It is also more durable than a portable hard drive, because SSDs are inherently resistant to shock and vibration. Samsung says that the T5's aluminium casing protects it from accidental drops from a height of up to 2m.

I preferred it in blue, but the colour is dependent on the storage capacity. The 250GB and the 500GB (which I tested) models are in blue, while the 1TB and 2TB versions come in black.

Samsung bundles two cables with the T5, which has a single USB Type-C port. A USB Type-C to Type-A cable lets the drive connect to most computers while a USB Type-C to Type-C cable lets it connect to newer devices like Samsung's Galaxy S8 smartphones that sport this interface.

With data transfer speeds rated at up to 540MBps, the T5 is faster than the 450MBps offered by Samsung's previous T3 SSD (there is no T4). However, this speed can be achieved only if your computer has a USB 3.1 Gen 2 port. This newer interface offers twice the amount of bandwidth (10Gbps), compared with older generations.

In my testing using the CrystalDiskMark benchmark, the T5 produced a sequential read speed of 543MBps and a sequential write speed of 516MBps when connected to a USB 3.1 Gen 2 port. Sequential speeds affect the amount of time taken to transfer large files, like high-definition videos.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $179 (250GB), $279 (500GB), $559 (1TB), $1,229 (2TB)

    INTERFACE: USB 3.1

    WEIGHT: 51g


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

It is no slouch either when plugged into a standard USB 3.0 port, clocking a sequential read speed of 445MBps and a sequential write speed of 450MBps.

In terms of random write performance, which affects the transfer speed for a large number of small files, the T5 managed around 200MBps, which is significantly higher than the single-digit speeds recorded by a standard portable hard drive.

The data in the T5 can be secured with AES 256-bit hardware encryption using the included Samsung Portable SSD software (for Windows 7 or higher, and Mac OS 10.9 or higher).

After you have secured the T5, you will not be able to view the contents of the SSD until it is unlocked. When you connect the T5 to a device, a read-only partition is shown, containing the Samsung Portable SSD software. Run the app to enter your password and unlock the drive.

You need to download the Samsung Portable SSD app (Android 4.4 and higher) from the Google Play store if you are using an Android smartphone or tablet to access and manage the T5.

Its speed and portability do come at a price. The T5 starts at $179 for a 250GB model, compared with just over $100 for a 2TB portable hard drive.

Vincent Chang

• Verdict: A premium and truly portable storage drive that is both fast and secure.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2017, with the headline 'Samsung Portable SSD T5 - handy card-sized storage'. Print Edition | Subscribe