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Samsung T5 Portable SSD Review

Portable storage units are invaluable assets in today’s busy world, where we demand ever more time-saving and performance from our machines. With the advent of the USB flash sticks, the public developed a taste for convenience. Portable drives no longer belong, primarily, in the sanctified domain of architects, game developers, RAW photographers, video editors, graphic designers and other high-end professionals. Today, everyone with a smartphone fancies themselves as a proficient photographer and most people spread their work online through social media. Computers have limited storage and are vulnerable to attacks (such as the ransomware debacle of 2017), thus, many among us prefer to keep the built-in drive for programmes and store work files elsewhere.


The product we are looking at here is one of the fastest solid-state drives or SSDs available on the market today. And it conveniently plugs in via your USB port. Since it uses USB Type-C for its interface, so this media is available not just for your Windows or Mac computer, but is compatible with Android systems, such as Samsung S8 64GB SIM-Free Smartphone as well. The transfer rate of the T5 is up to 540Mb/s, it also supports USB 3.1 Gen. 2 (10Gbps). We ran the Black Magic Disk Speed Test and AJA Systems Test, which confirmed the numbers. Astonishing! But what does this ‘warp speed’ mean for you? In the real world however, what these numbers mean is that the drive can copy data at a ludicrous pace—it took about a minute to copy 30 Gb of video footage! AND the device is robust enough to write and read 422HQ in 4k, making it ideally suitable for use as an agile scratch disk for editing serious video footage. Such miraculous potential in a thing that weighs 51 grams and is practically half the size of an iPhone?! That’s simply bonkers!

The drive is housed in a compact, shock-resistant structure (allegedly able to withstand falls from heights up to 2 metres or 6.6 feet), the shell of which is wrought from light-weight aluminium—the entire device weighs just 51 grams. This amazing feat of engineering also comes equipped with optional password protection (256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard or AES Hardware Encryption).

The primary edge over the Samsung T3, which it replaces, is that the T5 has a faster flash memory and a USB 3.1 2nd generation port.

If you want our quick opinion: after reviewing this product, we believe that if you can afford it and need it, go right ahead and buy the Samsung Portable SSD T5 500GB. It costs under 200 EUR and you can’t go wrong with this excellent storage device. If, however, you care for some background, to help you evaluate and make an educated decision, as to whether or not you need so much speed or can do with a more cost-effective solution, read on.

A look at the tech’s history, purpose and value

SSDs, sometimes erroneously called ‘solid-state disks’, utilize integrated circuit assemblies to store data persistently. Persistence, in computer science is the characteristic of state that outlives the process that created it. Visual editing programs such as word processors, achieve state persistence by saving their documents to files.

SSD shipments increased from just around 11 million units in 2009, to 83 million units in 2013 and to 227 million sold in 2017. Given the sector’s rapid growth due to falling prices and accelerating demand, the industry as a whole has undergone a quiet revolution. For example, new input/output interfaces such as the SATA Express and M.2 have been developed to accommodate the specific demands of SSD technology.

Samsung launched the first ever 1TB mSATA SSD in December of 2013. By August of 2015, they announced the launch of a 16TB SSD, which was an unprecedented capacity for a single storage device of any kind, at the time.

Pros and cons

One of the primary advantages of an SSD is that it has no moving components, unlike the well-established electromechanical magnetic disks, such as floppy disks and hard disk drives (HDDs), which comprise spinning disks and movable read/write heads. In contrast with the latter technology, SSDs run in virtual silence, offer lower latency, quicker access to data and are, generally, more resistant to physical shock.

SDDs do not heat up significantly, as they typically operate between 1W and 0.1W during moderate usage and have no mechanical moving parts. In contrast, modern 3.5”, 7200rpm HDDs use about 6-8W and Green drives claim 4-6W. They do not require special cooling, however, just like most computer parts, their reliability severely diminishes in ambient temperatures north of 35 °C (95 °F) and drives can become compromised to the point of failure at above 55 °C (131 °F). Some stellar advantages right?

Well, depending upon your intended purpose and budget, they may have significant drawbacks, as well. For one, as of 2017, they cost about 24 cents per gigabyte—about 400% the price of a standard HDD. Secondly, the electric charge, which enables SSDs to store information, slowly diminishes, making them unsuitable for long-term archiving purposes. Temperature and the wear of the drive play a significant role in charge drainage—older drives have proven to be unreliable for data storage beyond one year at temperatures above 27°C.

Furthermore, with great speed, comes reduced reliability. A phenomenon known as write amplification (WA) is the primary scourge, resulting in deteriorating performance of SSDs over time. WA is an affliction associated with flash memory (which must be erased before it can be rewritten) and SSDs, whereby the amount of data physically written is a multiple of the logical amount required. For higher-end drives tenuous solutions, such as wear-leveling algorithms and over-provisioning boost, do exist, however they ratchet up the cost.

CSW Verdict:

BUY IT if you need a small portable drive for intense, daily usage, where quick access is a priority. The Samsung Portable SSD T5 500GB, which costs around 190 EUR, is an ideal choice if you work in the design, advertising, photography or video-editing industry. Though for the latter niche, we would recommend investing in a higher-capacity drive such as the Samsung Portable SSD T5 2TB. Though subsequently pricier at around 800 EUR, you will have the freedom to work on several projects simultaneously and save a tonne of time in backing up and ‘housekeeping’ to clear space.

If, however, you need to store information long-term, for example in the worlds of accounting and law, we recommend the following HDDs:  WD 6TB My Cloud Home Duo Personal Cloud Storage and WD 3 TB Elements Desktop for a really cost-effective solution. Read further in the The Best Storage Devices Smart Money Should Buy. For the moment, I will just comment that if you go for the single drive, we recommend that you purchase two of them and create a manual backup of your work at regular intervals, for example, every month. Western Digital is our brand of choice at The Cornerstones of World Business. These are the drives we utilize around the office and we have verified the reliability of these drives over the years. However, having said that, even the most expensive drives can fail. So forewarned, is forearmed—we back up all projects regularly and multiple times.

In closing, keep in mind that Western Digital also offers SSDs at a similar price point: WD 512 GB My Passport Portable SSD for around 190 EUR, though the speed of transfer discrepancy is slightly slower. Thus, at this time, we still recommend the 500GB T5 from Samsung. Leave your questions and comments below and let us know whether you would like to read a full review of the WD alternative. Also, which tech gadget-related or business topics would you like us to cover next? Let us know. ◼︎


—Oleg K Temple, January 2018 




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