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How to choose the right portable SSD



The price of an external storage device is linked to some factors: how much storage capacity you are looking for, how fast the device is to transfer your files and its physical size.

At this point, high capacity external hard drives that require power adapters are surprisingly inexpensive. This is a good option for some, especially if it is not a big thing to fly around, or you rarely feel the need to disconnect it. But those looking for something smaller, especially a more user-friendly USB-C device that does not compromise storage capacity or speed, have some different ways to take. As you might expect, finding a device that marks all of these boxes can be very expensive. But thanks to the falling prices of SSD prices, you can get a fast external device with a lot of storage capacity for less than you would expect.

I tested some 1

TB USB-C solid state devices in the price from about $ 160 to $ 450. This includes two Samsung SSDs ready to go out of the box: a Samsung X5 Thunderbolt 3 1TB SSD and and Samsung T5 1TB SSD. Then there is a DIY external unit with an Intel 660p NVMe 1TB SSD and a separate enclosure.

What you should know before buying a USB-C SSD

Unlike the buying process for most technical products, you simply choose that you think fits your workflow or budget is not the end on the road – or at least it should not be. You also need to make sure that the MacOS or Windows 10 machine to which you connect it can take advantage of its speed. This means that you need to determine the USB interface of the device you are interested in and then compare it to the computer's USB-C port.

USB interface is confusing, and with USB 3.2 set to start later in 2019, the classifications are changed below. You will probably continue to see the products for a while with the following naming scheme:

  • USB-C ports with USB 3.1 Gen 1 supports up to 5Gbps bandwidth
  • USB-C ports with USB 3.1 Gen 2 supports up to 10 Gbps bandwidth
  • USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 support up to 40 Gbps bandwidth

The ports themselves are backward compatible, so a Thunderbolt 3 port works well with devices that use slower interfaces. But the same cannot be said to drive themselves. For example, you plug a USB 3.1 Gen 2 device with a laptop that can only handle USB 3.1 Gen 1 will work, but it is a recipe that knocks out disappointment, not fast transfer rates. If your computer has a Thunderbolt 3 port, it will work with devices without Thunderbolt 3, but conversely, the $ 450 X5 will not work at all on a USB-C port that does not support Thunderbolt 3.

For this comparison, I tested a 1TB Thunderbolt 3 external SSD, a 1TB USB 3.1 Gen 2 external SSD, and a 1TB NVMe SSD that I installed in an external cabinet for USB 3.1 Gen 2.

USB-C SSD Specifications

Comparison [19659014] Samsung X5 Samsung X5 Intel 660p
Comparison Samsung T5 Samsung X5 Intel 660p
Capacity


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