by Adam Armstrong

Samsung Portable SSD X5 Review

Samsung introduced what it is calling the first NVMe based portable SSD, the Samsung Portable SSD X5. Leveraging both NVMe and Thunderbolt 3 technology, the X5 is all about max performance. Samsung quotes speeds as high as 2.8GB/s read and 2.3GB/s write (2.1GB/s for the 500GB model). All this quoted performance is housed in a small, portable footprint and runs in capacities as high as 2TB.

As media, such as 4K and 8K video, 3D images, and hi-res photos, become more common, more users will need a way to store these massive files and be able to transfer them in a timely fashion. With this in mind, Samsung has introduced the X5 to take advantage of technologies to speed the transfer of large files. With NVMe and Thunderbolt 3 users can expect to see speeds up to 5.2 times faster than SATA portable SSDs and up to 25.5 times faster than HDD external drives. For example: users should be able to transfer a 20GB, 4K UHD video in just 12 seconds. Not only does the X5 come with the typically beautiful style we’ve come to expect from Samsung it can with stand up to a two meter drop and comes with AES 256-bit hardware data encryption and password protection to further protect data.

The X5 comes with a 3-year limited warranty and can be picked up starting September 3, 2018 for MSRP starting at $399.99 for the 500GB model, $699.99 for the 1TB model and $1,399.99 for the 2TB model.

Samsung Portable SSD X5 Specifications

Capacity 2TB 1TB 500GB
Interface Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps)
Performance
Sequential read Up to 2,800MB/s
Sequential write Up to 2,300MB/s
Encryption AES 256-bit hardware encryption
Physical
Dimensions (LxWxH) 119 x 62 x 19.7mm (4.7 x 2.4 x 0.8 inches)
Weight 150g (5.3 oz)
Warranty 3-year limited

Design and Build

The Samsung Portable SSD X5 is roughly the size of the palm of one’s hand. It has a glossy black top and sides with a LED light to indicate transfers.

The Bottom is bright red with Samsung branding and is a rubber grip to keep the SSD from sliding off of smooth surfaces. 

Performance 

We tested the Samsung Portable SSD X5 using the Dell Precision 5530 mobile workstation. Being the first NVMe-based portable SSD, we have no good comparison so instead we will compare it to Samsung’s last portable drive previous to this, the Portable SSD T5. This is less of a which is better, and more of a what to expect in the leap of technology.

When looking at its 2MB sequential speeds the X5 was able to hit 1.928GB/s read and 1.013GB/s write, compared to the T5’s 426.62MB/s read and 406.39MB/s write. For 2MB random speeds we saw the X5 hit 1.225GB/s read and 1.055GB/s write, again a huge improvement over the T5’s 404.32MB/s read and 400.26MB/s write. Though we didn’t look at 4K random performance for the T5, the X5 had 10,732 IOPS read and 23,592 IOPS write.

Since this is a new type drive we decided on a new type of test where we have the queue depth set to 4. As the drive is capable of a higher load, we test it with one. Here in the 2MB sequential we see read speeds of 2.552GB/s and write speeds of 1.418GB/s. For random 2MB the X5 hit 2.057GB/s read and 1.201GB/s write. Switching to 4K random the new drive hit 41,012 IOPS read and 76,183 IOPS write.

Conclusion

Samsung’s latest portable drive is touted as being its fastest yet. The X5 leverages both NVMe and Thunderbolt 3 technology for performance as high as 2.8GB/s read and 2.3GB/s write. Ideal for creative professionals or media enthusiast, the new drive can store up to 2TB of data. Since it is portable it is design to take a beating and a drop or two, but who would want to do that to such a pretty drive. For an added layer of protection the X5 comes with AES 256-bit encryption and can be password protected for further security. 

Looking at performance, the new X5 is able to more than double the performance of the most recently released portable SSD by the same company, the Samsung T5. The X5 had 2MB sequential performance of 1.94GB/s read and 1GB/s write. Random 2MB showed the drive hit 1.23GB/s read and 1.1GB/s write. For 4k random, the X5 had a whopping near 11K IOPS read and 24K IOPS write. Since the drive is made for higher load use cases, we ran a second series of tests to reflect this. Here the X5 had sequential scores of 2.6GB/s read and 1.4GB/s write. Random scores were 2.1GB/s read and 1.2GB/s write with 2MB and 41K IOPS read and a huge 76K IOPS write for 4K. For media professionals that value high-speed portable storage, there is simply no better option than the X5.

Samsung Portable SSD X5 at Amazon

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