Samsung T5 1TB Portable SSD Review

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The Samsung T5 is an updated version of their portable line and the first to use Samsung’s 64-layer V-NAND technology. By using the most up-to-date advances in storage density and USB protocols, Samsung has produced a high speed, portable SSD that’s very compact and versatile.

Specifications and Features

By moving to the USB3.1 Gen2 interface with the Asmedia ASM235CM USB3.1 Gen2-SATAIII bridge chip, Samsung has managed to improve the transfer speed offering up to 540 MB/s sequential reads. It also supports UASP (USB-attached SCSI Protocol) which should aid in data transfer rates. The capacities available range from 250 GB to 2 TB with the 250 GB and 500 GB models coming in blue and the 1 TB and 2 TB models in a deep black metal casing.

The T5 is also equipped with Samsung’s latest 64-layer, 3-bit V_NAND flash. Their latest iteration of V_NAND offers higher density,  a 20% improvement in power consumption over their 48-layer V_NAND, and transfer speeds of 1 Gbps which is the fastest among currently available NAND flash memory.

The new portable SSD comes wrapped in a sharp-looking metal casing which aids in thermal transfer for the inner components and makes the T5 a tough little unit, it’s shock resistant to a distance of 2 meters according to Samsung.

The Samsung T5 is compatible with PCs and Macs and includes data management software on the drive for both these platforms. It’s also compatible with Android devices but requires a downloadable app for data management.

I was surprised at the size of the Samsung T5 with dimensions of 74 x 57.3 x 10.5 mm and weighing only 51 g, that’s amazing for up to 2 TB of portable storage. As you’ll see in the pictures coming up it’s about half the size of a standard 2.5″ SSD.

I couldn’t find any type of MTBF data on the drive but Samsung does give the T5 a 3-year warranty.

Full specifications are in the table below:

Samsung T5 1TB Portable SSD Specifications
Capacity 1 TB (also 250 GB, 500 GB  and 2 TB)
Interface USB 3.1 Gen2 Type A and C
Controller Samsung S4LN062X01
Flash Samsung K90MGY8H5A 250 GB Modules
Form Factor Portable
Dimensions 74 x 57.3 x 10.5 mm
DRAM Samsung K4E8E16-4EBSGCF 1 GB/8 Gbit LPDDR3
Security Hardware-accelerated AES-256 Encryption
Sequential Read/Write Speeds 540 MB/s
Service & Support 3 Years
Pricing 1 TB is $ 349.99 at Newegg.com

Packaging/Product Tour

The retail packaging for the Samsung T5 is a cardboard box with a picture and capacity of the drive on the front as well as OS compatibility. The package will stand on its own with the help of four small “feet” on the bottom or it can be hung on a rack. The back has a few more features listed such as transfer speeds, dimensions, a list of contents and warranty period. The drive itself is encapsulated in a plastic tray which buffers it from the edges of the packaging to help prevent any accidental damage during shipping. After removing the drive, there’s another level underneath which houses the included USB 3.1 type A and C cables as well as warranty information and a quick start guide.

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The Drive

Below we see some pictures of the Samsung T5 inside and out. On the outside, all we see are the name, size, serial and model number, and the USB3.1 Type C interface.  On the inside things are a bit more interesting. The T5 is essentially a mSATA drive connected to a board with a Type C connector and an ASMEDIA ASM235CM bridge chip. At the heart of the drive, we find the Samsung S4LN062X01 controller and a 1 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM memory chip. On the 1 TB model, which I have here, there are four 250 GB K9OMGY8H5A flash modules, the 250 GB and 500 GB models use the same modules but the 2 TB requires higher density packages which come as four 500 GB K9DUGB8H1A flash modules. The mSATA portion is covered on both sides with thermal tape to transfer heat and the whole unit is secured into a plastic frame which easily slides out of the casing after removing two screws on the end with the USB port.

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Software

The T5 mounts automatically when connected to a PC and displays an Explorer window with the included software. Installing the included Samsung Portable SSD software will allow you to setup a password and update the firmware if necessary. I also installed the latest Samsung Magician software but it reports the Samsung T5 as “unsupported”. However, it did report that TRIM was active and also allowed me to benchmark the T5.

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Testing Method and Test System

Typically, each SSD is Secure Erased (SE) using the included utility to make sure we get the best results possible. We do this before each and every test run to give the comparison samples the best environment possible for testing.  In this case, since that wasn’t possible for me through Windows, I formatted the drive between each test. I would also like to note that whether the drive was formatted in exFAT or NTFS it had very little impact on the results.

Below are the tests we run with a brief description.

  • Crystal Disk Mark – Run at Default Settings (5 Passes)
  • AS SSD – Run at Default Settings
  • ATTO – Run at Default Settings except for the QD Set to 10
  • Anvil Storage Utility Benchmark – Default Settings
Test System Components
Motherboard MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK
CPU Intel i9 7900X @ 4.5 GHz
Memory Corsair Dominator Platinum 4×8 GB 3600 MHz CL16
SSD Samsung 840 EVO 120 GB
Power Supply Superflower 1000 W
Video Card ASUS GTX 1080 Ti Strix

Performance/Results

CrystalDiskMark

On to the benchmarks! Our first stop is with CrystalDiskMark and its random reads and writes. For reads, we can see the Samsung T5 falls in line with the others, for the most part, nothing too out of the ordinary. Trading blows with the rest of them aside from the 4K single and 32QD where the 850 EVO is the obvious victor.

Moving on to writes, we see a solid performance in the sequential tests stacking up well against the others. The 4K single writes were the lowest of the group here, even with the added queue depth in 4K 32QD, it’s lagging behind the others. This was a common theme throughout the all the benchmark tests.

CrystalDiskMark – Reads

CrystalDiskMark – Writes

AS SSD

AS SSD is considered one of the toughest benchmarks available for solid state drives. It relies solely on incompressible data which translates to a “worst case scenario” for data transfer.  Reads are showing similar to above except in the 4K-64Thrd read where the T5 makes a strong showing slightly trailing the Samsung EVO.

Moving on the writes, the T5 again does well in the sequential portion of the test but it’s taking a back seat in the smaller data sets.

AS SSD – Reads

AS SSD – Writes

In this next set of tests, it’s easy to tell which drive is the portable Samsung T5. Both read and write access times are a fair bit higher than the other examples but, as I said this is a portable SSD connected through USB so there are a few added “handshakes” along the way.

AS SSD – Access Times

AS SSD – Scores

ATTO

ATTO works off the “best case scenario” for SSDs which is likely why it’s popular with the manufacturers. In this sequential, highly compressible benchmark, the T5 does very well throughout the testing particularly in the 4K segment where its read speeds were slightly above the competition. The write results, on the other hand, show the drive’s weakness in the smaller data sets again.

ATTO – Reads

ATTO – Writes

Anvil Storage Utility

This application goes through several different tests giving one an idea of all-around performance. The Samsung scores fairly well compared to the internal drives and actually beats a few from our previous reviews such as the Toshiba TR200 which came in at 3855.99.

Anvil Storage Utility Benchmark

Conclusion

With the inclusion of USB3.1 Gen2 and UASP, the drive is able to saturate the internal SATA III controller for sequential data transfer rates. There are some weaknesses such as the write speeds, particularly when transferring small data sets, and slower access times when compared to internal SSDs but overall the T5 performed very well. To me, this would be a perfect storage solution for your game folders such as Steam, to easily move from one PC to another without downloading all the files again.

I have to admit I haven’t had much experience with external SSD drives but I have to hand it to Samsung. They have created a high performing, portable SSD packed into a small, sturdy metal casing that fits into the palm of your hand. The Samsung T5 1 TB is also the same price ($349.99) as their own internal EVO SSDs, so there isn’t any premium applied for the portability.  Just shows that price and performance don’t need to suffer for convenience and versatility.

Click here to find out what this means.

Shawn Jennings – Johan45

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Discussion
  1. HankB
    Speed does not come cheap!


    But...but...that's why we're here! For the free processor and RAM upgrades! Time to start OCing storage, I guess. :clap:
    EarthDog
    Thunderbolt 3 already exists. :clap:

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1381233-REG/dynapower_usa_netstor_na611tb3_thunderbolt_3.html?ap=y&c3api=1876%2C%7Bcreative%7D%2C%7Bkeyword%7D&gclid=Cj0KCQiAwKvTBRC2ARIsAL0Dgk1mfCPRN7TI4-lanfsL0BR6o5S0M7Y83sLG9RIP4mKdhi4ffh_pf-0aAgYcEALw_wcB


    Oh no I don't. LOL
    HankB
    Then we'd need something faster. :D :comp:
    Thunderbolt 3 already exists. :clap:

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1381233-REG/dynapower_usa_netstor_na611tb3_thunderbolt_3.html?ap=y&c3api=1876%2C%7Bcreative%7D%2C%7Bkeyword%7D&gclid=Cj0KCQiAwKvTBRC2ARIsAL0Dgk1mfCPRN7TI4-lanfsL0BR6o5S0M7Y83sLG9RIP4mKdhi4ffh_pf-0aAgYcEALw_wcB
    Nice review . Those speeds would be nice ( when I use portable media) .

    My brother came over tonight with a 16g usb2 stick it took 10 min to transfer 3 ep of GOT .
    EarthDog
    ... If a PCIe NVMe based drive was there, that USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) would also be saturated.


    Then we'd need something faster. :D :comp:
    Currently I put all my game files on it and transferring 8 or so games (few hundred GB) had it pegged at ~ 400MB/s from interal SSD through USB 3.1 Gen1
    Right. I get it... was just clarifying your post as there are two different generations of USB 3.1. :)

    Yes, I have to agree that a system disk would see more small random r/w while an external drive is more than likely to peg the SATA controller for the drive. If a PCIe NVMe based drive was there, that USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) would also be saturated.
    EarthDog
    USB 3.1 Gen 2 is 10 Gbps... Gen 1 is 5 Gbps...


    From the specs in the article

    Interface USB 3.1 Gen2 Type A and C

    I suppose workload will vary from user to user and how they use a particular device. I think a system disk would tend to see random access patterns whereas a USB drive is more likely to see large files and/or large numbers of files written at the same time (e.g. backup.)
    USB 3.1 Gen 2 is 10 Gbps... Gen 1 is 5 Gbps...

    There isn't really a point with a SATA controlled device having more bandiwdth. It hits the bandwidth limit in sequential reads, indeed. I wouldn't call it a special case. It simply depends on what you are transferring to do the device as to what speeds it can run. Transferring a shed load of large files, it will peg it. A bunch of small random files, it will not. ;)
    SATA 3 => 6 Gb/s

    USB 3.1 => 10 Gb/s

    I wonder how much more it would have cost to use a bridge chip that was not limited to SATA speeds. I guess that also begs the question if it would really matter. SATA SSDs are bumping up against the SATA bandwidth limit for some special cases like sequential reads but for more typical benchmarks (more closely resembling real world workloads) I think this is not the case.

    Perhaps they'll come out with a portable SSD based on their NVME internals and which will be priced similarly.