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Which portable SSD to choose?

Today, we are adding a model to our comparison:

– WD My PassPort SSD 1 TB

We also retested the Seagate Fast SSD 1TB and LaCie Portable SSD 2TB, as a recent Windows update disabled the internal cache on external storage media by default, explaining the poor write performance we found on both products. Of course, this comparison will be regularly updated thanks to the tests we carry out every month.

Halfway between external hard drives and traditional USB flash drives, the Portable SSD brings together the best of both worlds: the storage capacity of the former and the durability of the latter, while benefiting from a compact format and particularly interesting speeds.

Summary table of the best external SSDs in our comparison

Verdict:

By far the fastest of our comparison thanks to its Thunderbolt 3 connector and its internal NVMe interface, the Samsung Samsung…

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spec_capacity 1 TB (also available in 512 GB and 2 TB)
spec_interface Thunderbolt 3
spec_other NCQ, TRIM
spec_warranty 3 years

Verdict:

Its performance places it at the top of the basket, just behind the Thunderbolt 3 models. Be careful though…

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Tom’s Hardware Performance Index

In order to rank the external SSDs in our selection, we had to develop an overall performance index: this is based on the test results of each model, taking into account their performance in sequential and random access, reading and writing. The whole is then reported as a percentage of the performance achieved by the fastest model, which gives us an overall index out of 100.

Tom’s Hardware Index (out of 100)

Samsung X5 1TB(ThunderBolt 3)Seagate FastSSD 1TB(USB 3.1 UASP)LaCie Portable SSD 2TB (USB 3.1 UASP)G-Tech. G-Drive MobileSSD R 500 GoSony External SSD SL-EG5 480 GBSanDisk Extreme 900480 GBSanDisk ExtremePortable SSD 250 GBWD My Passport SSD 1ToSamsung T5 1TB(UASP)WD My Passport SSD512 GBWD My PassportWireless SSD 512 GoSamsung T3 SSD 250GoSanDisk Extreme 510480 GoSamsung T1 SSD 250GoAdata SE730 250GBHipDisk SSD EVO 850Plextor Ex1 128GBTrekStor Picco 256GBCorsair Voyager GTX256GB (USB 3.1 UASP)Digittrade RS256Verbatim VX450 256GoFreecom mSSD 256 GBTranscend ESD220C480 GBSanDisk Extreme 500240 GBLexar Prof. WorkflowDD 256 GBIntegral Portable SSD256 GoEmtec Portable SSDX600 128 GB10042,64223,42120,119,217,917,316,516,114,513,412,912,712,311,811,711,2111110,68,15,14,2

Interface

Embedding, like the internal models, NAND flash memory (most often MLC or TLC, sometimes SLC), these external storage media mostly use a USB 3.0 or 3.interface. Be careful though, some (rare) models are limited to USB 2.0, which will have a negative impact on performance. Also note that some portable SSD models use a Thunderbolt 3interface. The latter, which are particularly fast, will unfortunately not be compatible with all computers…

Capacity

The majority of external SSD models currently on the market are offered in 250/256GB and 500/512GB capacities. A few rare models also exist in a 1TB version (or even 2TB for the Samsung T3 and T5, as well as the RS256), but then the price goes up, even if the rates are gradually decreasing (about 530 euros for the 2TB Samsung T5, for example). Conversely, many portable SSDs are still available in 120/128 GB versions. This is the case with the RS256, the Verbatim VX450, the Freecom mSSD, the SanDisk Extreme 500 or the TrekStor Picco. In this case, pay attention to the performance, which is often lower than with higher capacities.

Performance

An external SSD will mainly be used to transfer files (movies, photos, documents or audio files) from one computer to another: the better and faster the SSD is, the less time you will spend copying data. From this point of view, performance in sequential reads and writes will therefore normally be slightly higher than performance in random access, especially with large files.

Let’s note in passing that some manufacturers, to improve the writing performance of their SSDs, use a part (a few GB) of the MLC/TLC flash memory cells as SLC memory, with 1 bit per cell actually used. This is for example the case of Samsung with its TurboWrite technology.