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Samsung T3 portable SSD review: better than ever

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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!


Pros

  • Bonafide SSD speeds
  • Super portable; plug and play
  • Works on PCs and Android
Cons

  • Expensive (£300 for 1TB)
  • Not as fast as internal SSDs
  • Cable remains unsightly

Summary and Score

score8-gif-200The 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.

See Samsung T3 Portable SSD on Amazon


 

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
  • Weight50 grams
  • Warranty: 3 years

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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.


 

Benchmarks

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.

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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.

Thanks to NZXT for providing the Manta case and Kraken X61 liquid cooler. Thanks to Samsung for providing the Evo 850 M.2 boot drive. Thanks to Zoostorm and Crucial for providing the DDR4 RAM.


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; all results are in MB/s.

CDM 3 ReadSeq512K4K4K QD32
Samsung T33863513335
Sandisk Z41050835713146
Samsung 850 Evo M.250244745368
Samsung 850 Evo51347238408
Samsung 840 Evo51547335397
Corsair Neutron GTX45037627328
CDM 3 WriteSeq512K4K4K QD32
Samsung T33573526977
Sandisk Z41040735597250
Samsung 850 Evo M.2474394113316
Samsung 850 Evo50447968352
Samsung 840 Evo50039086313
Corsair Neutron GTX48046869158

Screenshot 2016-06-12 00.15.22

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 ReadSeq4K4K QD64Acc. TimeScore
Samsung T334524320.10091
Sandisk Z410501111450.045206
Samsung 850 Evo M.2493403280.093417
Samsung 850 Evo516343820.059467
Samsung 840 Evo513323300.059413
Corsair Neutron GTX507253340.068N/A
AS SSD WriteSeq4K4K QD64Acc. TimeScore
Samsung T336756710.055163
Sandisk Z410407782150.237333
Samsung 850 Evo M.2475952510.075393
Samsung 850 Evo497662990.051415
Samsung 840 Evo497692070.054326
Corsair Neutron GTX473622950.062N/A

Screenshot 2016-06-12 00.04.14

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.

Atto Read1KB4KB64KB256KB1MB8MB
Samsung T31867329371377404
Sandisk Z41078247518531536533
Samsung 850 Evo M.283286537553552553
Samsung 850 Evo80269538551558558
Samsung 840 Evo94280535551555555
Corsair Neutron GTX1561336452530540
Atto Write1KB4KB64KB256KB1MB8MB
Samsung T32071315365366388
Sandisk Z41069184419423426428
Samsung 850 Evo M.279251510526525525
Samsung 850 Evo83255519529534534
Samsung 840 Evo81260515527533534
Corsair Neutron GTX15142474470493498

Screenshot 2016-06-12 00.08.42

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 ReadAverageAccess TimeBurst Rate
Samsung T3269 MB/s0.090 ms171 MB/s
Sandisk Z410358 MB/s0.035 ms140 MB/s
Samsung 850 Evo M.2321 MB/s0.087 ms221 MB/s
Samsung 850 Evo370 MB/s0.044 ms250 MB/s
Samsung 840 Evo358 MB/s0.041 ms231 MB/s
Corsair Neutron GTX340 MB/s0.059 ms231 MB/s

Screenshot 2016-06-11 23.59.38

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.


 

Wrap-up

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.

See Samsung T3 Portable SSD on Amazon

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About The Author
William Judd
Editor-in-Chief for XSReviews. Find me @wsjudd or on G+.