samsung x5 portable ssd

Samsung X5 Portable SSD review

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Last Updated on January 1, 2022 by Daniel

Today’s portable SSDs are more than fast enough to serve as a fast-boot drive or to move your important files. The Samsung X5 Portable SSD is one of the newest products in the category.

How much do you need a portable SSD? How fast do you need it to be? When I used to travel with my laptop, I often carried a portable SSD because I didn’t want to miss any of the things I would want to do on my laptop, like watching a movie or downloading a new episode of an RSS feed. That was until I discovered that I didn’t miss anything I would want to do on my laptop at all. If it weren’t for the fact that I often had to lug around my laptop and its power brick, I would probably be content with a portable SSD for this purpose.

This is where the Samsung X5 Portable SSD comes into play. It’s a very small, very fast SSD that you can slip into your laptop bag and have with you anywhere you go. It’s an ideal replacement for your laptop’s built-in SSD, and it’s also a good option for those of you who want to supplement your laptop’s SSD with a second SSD.

At first glance, the X5 Portable SSD looks like a very small SSD, but don’t be fooled. This tiny drive is small enough to fit inside a small pocket, but it’s also big enough to have some real speed, and you can carry it with you wherever you go.

Samsung X5 Portable SSD: Design

Samsung x5 ssd

  • Lightweight
  • Portable
  • Glossy finish

This is no Samsung T3 or T5 (and I wonder if a T7 is on the way). Some have described the Korean design as a ‘bicycle lamp’. The device is fairly heavy at 150g, triple the weight of the Samsung T5, and at 116 x 60 x 18mm, it is more of a portable device than a miniature device.

Samsung says the X5 has a glossy finish and a non-slip bottom mat, which has a red color and has an internal heat sink, a protection guard, and a full metal body.

Fufilledintrest, our sister website, asked Samsung why it chose the material used for the chassis. According to the company, the X5 is a portable product that must be durable and lightweight as well as dissipates heat well.

Samsung said that magnesium is much lighter and more durable than aluminum and steel. Despite aluminum’s superior thermal conductivity, the company decided magnesium was the best metal to meet all three requirements: weight, durability, and heat dissipation. It doesn’t explain why the pebble-like shape was chosen – a design with minimal surface contact.

In addition to the 45cm Thunderbolt cable, there’s one USB Type-C port and a white status LED. All in all, this is a high-quality product that can withstand drops up to 2 meters. However, it is not IP68-rated, so be careful not to drop it into liquids.

BENCHMARKS

We ran the following benchmark tests on the Samsung X5 Portable SSD:

  • CrystalDiskMark: 3412MBps (read); 1884MBps (write)
  • Atto:  2452MBps (read, 256MB);  1925MBps (write, 256mb)
  • HD Tune Pro: 1587MBps (read); 0.031ms (access time)
  • AS SSD: 1561MBps (seq read); 1618MBps (seq write)

Samsung X5 Portable SSD: Usage and performance

Samsung x5 portable ssd

  • ExFAT formatting
  • Up to 2.1GBps file transfer speed
  • Easy to use

To date, the X5 is the fastest external storage device we’ve tested. Once connected to your Thunderbolt host device, setting it up is a breeze, which is a welcome security feature. ExFAT formatting is used on the device, which comes with Samsung’s own SSD software, which includes optional password protection and AES 256-bit hardware data encryption (this means enabling encryption will not compromise performance).

With the drive’s ability to utilize all four PCIe lanes, Samsung claims read speeds of up to 2.8GBps and write speeds of up to 2.3GBps (up to 2.1GBps for the 500GB model). Those numbers are still far from the theoretical maximum of Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps or 5GBps), but they are still adequate for transferring those pesky multi-gigabyte files.

It took 83 seconds to transfer a 100GB file from the host system to the drive, which is about 1.25GBps, on our test system (a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 tablet). How come? It is due to Dynamic Thermal Guard (DTG) technology, which aims to keep temperatures low by severely throttling the transfer speed of the drive.

Such a drastic step is understandable because high temperatures have a negative impact on SSD data retention. It is important to note that the X5 does not support traditional USB ports – it is TB3 or nothing.

Competitors

Recently released, the Patriot Evlvr has much slower read and write speeds than the X5. In spite of this, read and write speeds of 1.6GBps are still impressive, especially since the suggested retail prices for the 500GB model are $300 (around £230) and the 1TB model is $500 (around £385).

The 480GB Thunderbolt 3 SSD drive from Plugable Technologies has read/write speeds of 2.4GBps and 1.2GBps respectively. The device is available via Amazon for $311 (around £240), although we aren’t crazy about its Thunderbolt 3 cable.

TB3 has also caught the attention of system vendors. The P800 from HP costs $452 (around £350) and has similar read/write speeds to the one from Plugable Technologies. Despite its three-year warranty, it has an integrated TB3 cable, which we find disadvantageous.

Lastly, Dell sells a 1TB Thunderbolt 3 SSD drive for $640 (around £590), so that’s more expensive than HP’s. Dell offers a number of coupons throughout the year, including one for a 17% discount at the time of writing.

Samsung X5 Portable SSD: Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Hardware encryption Not compact or waterproof
Exceptional performance Expensive
3-year warranty

Final verdict

The X5 is a godsend if you own a Thunderbolt 3-enabled device and plan to move content to other TB3 hardware as well. Despite its price and modest transfer speeds, this drive is still extremely fast when paired with the right connector.

However, Samsung has made it clear in its marketing messages that this is a ‘halo effect’ product – that is, that it is not destined for the mainstream market, which has the T5 (and the T3) to choose from. This means that the X5 will appeal to (and likely convince) those who are looking for the best performance regardless of price.