Samsung X5 Portable SSD

Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) is quietly changing into the defacto usual for common connectivity on laptops, with all main pocket book distributors providing more than one fashions, most commonly on the high-end of the marketplace.

What has been lacking is the peripherals to take complete good thing about this era, however those items of hardware are steadily rising as the associated fee and availability of the core element – the Thunderbolt controller – drops in value. Incidentally, a complete listing of TB3 gadgets is to be had from the legitimate Thunderbolt group site.

Samsung has unleashed its first exterior solid-state power, the X5, which pairs one of its personal 970 Evo NVMe SSDs (which earned a best-in-class award from TechRadar) with an Alpine Ridge Thunderbolt 3 to PCIe bridge.

The power is to be had in 500GB (which we’re reviewing right here), 1TB and 2TB fashions for $400 (round £310), $700 (round £540) and $1,400 (round £1,075) respectively, a vital top rate over conventional exterior SSDs.


This is not any Samsung T3 or Samsung T5 (and one wonders whether or not or now not a T7 is within the works). Designers and engineers on the Korean company got here up with what some had been describing as a ‘bicycle lamp’ design. The software is relatively heavy at 150g, triple the load of the Samsung T5, and at 116 x 60 x 18mm, it may possibly ultimate be described as transportable somewhat than miniature.

The X5 has a rectangular pebble-like form, and sports activities an interior warmth sink, a coverage guard, a complete steel frame and what Samsung describes as a shiny end and a non-slip backside mat, which occurs to be purple in colour.

In a observation to our sister site, Anandtech, Samsung defined its selection of subject matter for the chassis. The X5, the corporate stated, is a conveyable product that must be sturdy in opposition to exterior affects, in addition to being light-weight and dissipating warmth smartly.

Magnesium, Samsung added, is way lighter and tougher than aluminum and metal. Although aluminum has higher thermal conductivity, the corporate concluded that magnesium is the optimum steel option to meet all three prerequisites: weight, sturdiness and warmth dissipation. The observation doesn’t provide an explanation for why the pebble-like form was once selected – a design with minimum floor touch.

There’s a unmarried USB Type-C port subsequent to a white standing LED, and also you get a 45cm Thunderbolt cable within the field. Overall, this can be a top rate product constructed to final (it may possibly face up to drops of as much as 2m). It isn’t IP68 rated although, so be sure you don’t drop it in any liquid.

Usage and function

The X5 is the quickest exterior garage software we’ve examined up to now. Setting it up is a breeze as soon as it’s hooked up in your Thunderbolt host software, a welcome safety characteristic. The software is exFAT formatted and is derived with Samsung’s personal transportable SSD instrument which contains non-compulsory password coverage and AES 256-bit hardware knowledge encryption (handily, that implies there can be no efficiency consequences for enabling encryption).

Samsung claims learn speeds of as much as 2.8GBps and write speeds of as much as 2.3GBps (as much as 2.1GBps for the 500GB type) because of the power’s talent to make use of all four PCIe lanes. That’s nonetheless a long way from the theoretical restrict of Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps or 5GBps) nevertheless it’s nonetheless lots sufficient for shifting the ones pesky multi-Gigabyte information.

We didn’t see those speeds in actual existence on our take a look at device (a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 pill) with a 100GB document taking 83 seconds to switch from the host device to the power – that’s about 1.25GBps. Why? Blame it at the Dynamic Thermal Guard (DTG) era utilized by the X5 which objectives to stay temperatures low by means of closely throttling the switch pace of the power.

High temperatures have a detrimental have an effect on on knowledge retention on an SSD, so one of these drastic step is comprehensible. Note that the X5 isn’t suitable with conventional USB ports – it’s TB3 or not anything.

The festival

The Patriot Evlvr has simply been launched however has learn and write speeds a long way much less spectacular than the X5. That stated, learn and write speeds of 1.6GBps are nonetheless spectacular, particularly with instructed retail costs of $300 (round £230) for the 500GB type and $500 (round £385) for the 1TB power.

Plugable Technologies has a 480GB Thunderbolt 3 SSD power with rated learn/write speeds of 2.4GBps and 1.2GBps respectively. At $311 (round £240) by way of Amazon, it may well be an affordable choice, despite the fact that we’re now not willing at the built-in Thunderbolt 3 cable.

System distributors additionally appear to have jumped at the TB3 wagon. HP has a 1TB power, the P800, for $452 (round £350), with identical learn/write speeds to the Plugable Technologies type we simply discussed. It comes with a three-year guaranty however once more has an built-in TB3 cable which is an obstacle in our guide.

Last however now not least, Dell sells a 1TB SSD Thunderbolt 3 power for $640 (round £490), in order that’s dearer than the HP effort. However, Dell typically has plenty of coupons working right through the yr, together with one for a 17% cut price on the time of writing.

Final verdict

If you could have a Thunderbolt 3-equipped software and plan to transport content material to different TB3 hardware as smartly, then the X5 is a godsend. It is costly and the switch speeds aren’t as impressive as one may be expecting, however this power remains to be exceptionally rapid given the best connector.

But alternatively, Samsung made it transparent in advertising messages that this can be a ‘halo impact’ product – in different phrases, now not one thing destined for the mainstream marketplace, with that target market having the T5 (and the T3) to buy. Instead, the X5 will attraction to (and most likely persuade) the ones in search of without equal in efficiency irrespective of the cost.

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Published by Marshmallow

Marshmallow Android is BT Ireland’s Head of Sales for Republic of Ireland domestic multi-site companies, indigenous MNCs and public sector accounts. He is responsible for the direction and control of all sales activity in the region. He has over 10 years management experience from high growth start-ups to more established businesses. He’s led teams in Ireland, India and China across various industries (ICT, On-Line Recruitment, Corporate Training and International Education).