Samsung T1 portable SSD review: the best things come in small packages

pressToday we’re looking at the Samsung T1, a business-class SSD designed for portability. The T1 brings SSD speeds to a form factor somewhere between a USB flash drive and a full-size SSD, with USB 3.0 allowing that speed advantage to actually be realised. Let’s take a look at how it performs.

 

Features

  • Carry who you are in a portable portfolio
  • Imagine if you never had to wait on your data
  • Focus on your life, not your data
  • Bring style into your digital life
  • A revolution in portable performance and reliability
  • Take your data wherever you go
 

Specifications

  • Compatible with USB 3.0, 2.0
  • Capacity: 250GB / 500GB / 1TB
  • Transfer Speed: Up to 450MB/s
  • Dimensions: 71 x 9.2 x 53.2mm
  • Weight: Max 30g
  • UASP mode
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Limited 3 year warranty
 

Unboxing

IMG_3574
A simple, stylish box.
IMG_3576
Three USPs: Save time with fast speeds, keep your data safe, premium and portable design.
IMG_3577
This is the 250GB model; 500GB and 1TB versions are available.
IMG_3578
A classy internal box
IMG_3579
A well-packed SSD
IMG_3581
Beneath the SSD, we have a very short USB 3.0 cable and a guide / warranty card.
 

  Design

IMG_3585
It’s a simple, stylish look with a carbon-fibre look and a silver Samsung logo.
IMG_3586
The T1 is very tiny – a fraction the size of my iPhone 6 Plus.
IMG_3588
And even smaller than my mouse, too.
IMG_3594
It looks a big clumsy with the USB 3.0 cable connected.
 

Testing

In order to fully evaluate the Samsung T1, we’ll testing its performance in both synthetic and real-world tests.

 

Benchmarks

We have a full suite of drive benchmarks to deploy, so let’s begin.

CrystalDiskMark

CrystalDiskMark has been one of my favourite benchmarks for evaluating storage speeds for a while now, thanks to its varied incompressible workload and extremely readable results. Here’s the 3.0.3 x64 version of the benchmark.

cdm

 

Read and write speeds are quite good for larger files, but performance on smaller files (particularly with larger queue depths) are less impressive. Still, for transferring a small number of large files should be incredibly fast on this drive compared to a standard USB drive.

 

We can see how performance is affected if we plug the Samsung T1 into a USB 3.0 monitor, rather than directly into the motherboard:

cdm-on-monitor

 

Even while connected via the monitor, it’s still way faster than a mechanical hard drive:

cdm-mechanical

 

But of course it’s fair bit slower than a SSD connected internally over SATA – in this example, the Samsung 840 Evo:

cdm-ssd

AS SSD Benchmark

AS SSD is another benchmarking tool quite similar to CrystalDiskMark, which uses predominantly incompressible data across a range of workloads including sequential tests, random performance and access times.

as-ssd

 

As before, we can see that the drive works best with sequential transfers. Compared to internal SSDs, sequential speeds are about half; access times are about a third. That indicates we’ll see better performance in traditional ‘flash drive’ roles than as a portable SSD.

Atto Disk Benchmark

ATTO produces rather less comprehensible results than CrystalDiskMark, but still provides a good test of compressible data transfer. It also provides a lot of data points; I’ve selected six from across the range. Settings were the default: 256MB total length and queue depth of 4, testing from 1KB to 8MB.

atto

 

Atto Read 1KB 4KB 64KB 256KB 1MB 8MB
Samsung 850 Evo 80 269 538 551 558 558
Corsair Neutron GTX 15 61 336 452 530 540
Samsung T1 5 21 176 248 292 292
Atto Write 1KB 4KB 64KB 256KB 1MB 8MB
Samsung 850 Evo 83 255 519 529 534 534
Corsair Neutron GTX 15 142 474 470 493 498
Samsung T1 5 21 147 206 239 237

Atto’s results are a little hard to read, so I’ve put them in a table for you. As you can see, the difference between the T1 and the two internal drives (Neutron GTX and 850 Evo) is most noticeable at smaller transfer sizes. When we move to 1MB and higher, transfer speeds have reached about half that of the internal SSDs.

HD Tune

We conclude with HD Tune, a benchmark which produces minimum, maximum and average transfer rates, plus access time, and burst rate.

hd-tune

 

HD Tune shows good sustained results from the drive, with average speeds that are about half that of Samsung’s 850 Evo, and burst rates that are about a quarter of the internal SSD. It’s a surprisingly good result for USB 3.0, and shows that using an SSD in this space makes a lot of sense compared to slower flash memory.

 

Impressions

In terms of portability, I was very impressed to see just how small and light the T1 was. I was expecting something the size of a 2.5″ SSD, but clearly the T1 is using a much smaller mSATA drive. The styling of the T1 is also quite impressive; this is an SSD that you could definitely use in a business setting without fear. This is slightly undone by the small cable, but it’s a reasonable design choice when you want to minimise the size of the unit and provide some distance between the drive and the USB port.

Setup was very straightforward. When you first plug in the drive, you initialise it with a small setup partition, choosing the name and whether to enable password-locked AES encryption or not. With this out of the way, the full size of the drive is made available to you.

We saw similar performance in our real-world copy tests as we did in the benchmarks. A 13GB Blu-ray movie was copied to the drive at 200 MB/s, and then copied back to our PC… at 40MB/s. Performance was excellent initially at 260MB/s, but quickly fell off a cliff after a minute or so. Smaller files (a collection of MP3s) took a slightly smaller 175MB/s, while the copy back took around 120MB/s.

 

Conclusion

The Samsung T1 Portable SSD is a very fast USB drive, or a very portable SSD. Either way you look at it, it’s a winner. While you do pay more per gigabyte than you would going with either a traditional SSD or a USB 3.0 flash drive, it isn’t too unreasonable at £140 for the 250GB model. So then – if you’re looking for a rapid way to access larger files on the go, the Samsung T1 is an excellent choice.

Pros

  • Demonstrably faster than USB 3.0 flash drives or mechanical drives
  • Incredibly portable
  • Includes security options

Cons

  • You’re paying a premium for portability
  • Performance is reduced when routing through a hub (like a keyboard or monitor)

Score

  • 9 / 10

score9

Links

About William Judd

Editor-in-Chief for XSReviews. Find me @Expert_Will or on G+.

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