SSDs are awesome, and so is USB-C. What could be better than a combination of the two? That’s the idea behind the Samsung T3, a portable SSD that operates over the USB 3.1 standard for extremely file transfers and access times. We liked the formula with the initial Samsung T1, so let’s see what new features the T3 brings to the table!
Summary and Score
The Samsung T3 is a technological marvel, allowing extremely rapid access to full terabyte of data in a super-slim portable package. The inclusion of encryption and Android compatibility are nice bonus features too. It’s not cheap, but you certainly get what you pay for.
Specifications & Design
- Capacity: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
- Sequential Read Speed: Up to 450MB/s
- Encryption: 256-bit AES
- Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.8 x 1cm
- Weight: 50 grams
- Warranty: 3 years
The Samsung T3 is sleek and stylish for a portable hard drive, with a two-tone plastic design in grey and black. It’s certainly larger than the average USB pen drive, but it’s still small enough to fit easily in a small pocket or sit safely in your bag. As it uses flash storage, you don’t have to treat it with kid gloves either; it should stand up to quite some abuse compared to a mechanical drive.
The Samsung T3 will be going against some tough competition, including the value-focused Sandisk Z410 and enthusiast grade drives from Samsung and Corsair. That includes the Samsung 850 Evo, which we’ve now tested in both M.2 and 2.5-inch forms, and is coincidentally also the drive at the heart of the T3.
We’ll be testing the Samsung T3 in our new test rig, which has a Core i5 6600K processor, 16GB of Crucial DDR4 RAM and runs Windows 10. We’re plugging into the USB 3.1 Type-A SuperSpeed port in the back.
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; all results are in MB/s.
|CDM 3 Read||Seq||512K||4K||4K QD32|
|Samsung 850 Evo M.2||502||447||45||368|
|Samsung 850 Evo||513||472||38||408|
|Samsung 840 Evo||515||473||35||397|
|Corsair Neutron GTX||450||376||27||328|
|CDM 3 Write||Seq||512K||4K||4K QD32|
|Samsung 850 Evo M.2||474||394||113||316|
|Samsung 850 Evo||504||479||68||352|
|Samsung 840 Evo||500||390||86||313|
|Corsair Neutron GTX||480||468||69||158|
We can see that the T3 is not quite as fast as Samsung claim, hitting 386 MB/s in its fastest result, the sequential read test. Write speeds are pretty strong throughout, but the poorest performance comes as the queue depth increases. This isn’t too surprising, given that delays due to the USB connection will be compounded here.
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. First three numbers are MB/s and access time is in ms.
|AS SSD Read||Seq||4K||4K QD64||Acc. Time||Score|
|Samsung 850 Evo M.2||493||40||328||0.093||417|
|Samsung 850 Evo||516||34||382||0.059||467|
|Samsung 840 Evo||513||32||330||0.059||413|
|Corsair Neutron GTX||507||25||334||0.068||N/A|
|AS SSD Write||Seq||4K||4K QD64||Acc. Time||Score|
|Samsung 850 Evo M.2||475||95||251||0.075||393|
|Samsung 850 Evo||497||66||299||0.051||415|
|Samsung 840 Evo||497||69||207||0.054||326|
|Corsair Neutron GTX||473||62||295||0.062||N/A|
The Samsung T3 shows again fairly decent performance given that it’s connected over SSD, with scores within 150 MB/s of our fastest drives. The access times are significantly higher though, and again we see a very poor result in the higher queue depths compared to the other drives. This indicates that performance will worsen considerably when multiple file operations are queued (like a traditional hard drive).
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. All results are in MB/s.
|Samsung 850 Evo M.2||83||286||537||553||552||553|
|Samsung 850 Evo||80||269||538||551||558||558|
|Samsung 840 Evo||94||280||535||551||555||555|
|Corsair Neutron GTX||15||61||336||452||530||540|
|Samsung 850 Evo M.2||79||251||510||526||525||525|
|Samsung 850 Evo||83||255||519||529||534||534|
|Samsung 840 Evo||81||260||515||527||533||534|
|Corsair Neutron GTX||15||142||474||470||493||498|
Trends continue in the ATTO benchmark, with the drive showing decent performance at high block sizes, and worse performance at lower sizes. This is unsurprising for a USB-connected drive, even for an SSD.
HD Tune Pro
We conclude with HD Tune Pro, a benchmark which produces three scores for average read speed, read access time, and burst read rate.
|HD Tune Pro 5.50 Read||Average||Access Time||Burst Rate|
|Samsung T3||269 MB/s||0.090 ms||171 MB/s|
|Sandisk Z410||358 MB/s||0.035 ms||140 MB/s|
|Samsung 850 Evo M.2||321 MB/s||0.087 ms||221 MB/s|
|Samsung 850 Evo||370 MB/s||0.044 ms||250 MB/s|
|Samsung 840 Evo||358 MB/s||0.041 ms||231 MB/s|
|Corsair Neutron GTX||340 MB/s||0.059 ms||231 MB/s|
The average speed is again some distance behind the internal SSDs we’ve tested, and there’s a bit more variance in that speed as well as you can see by the jagged graph. The access time is also on the high side.
The Samsung T3 provides a pretty strong account of itself in our tests, showing that it can still deliver good performance even if it’s a bit slower than an internal drive. For a supremely portable drive that works on Windows, Mac and Android, that’s no mean feat. If you can afford the high price, the T3 certainly delivers.