USB 3.2 Gen 2 Portable SSDs Roundup - Featuring the Samsung T7 Touch and the SanDisk Extreme Proby Ganesh T S on January 23, 2020 9:00 AM EST
Device Features and Characteristics
Prior to looking at the usage characteristics of the various drives, it is helpful to compare their specifications and also take a look at the internals. All the drives discussed in this review adopt the strategy of placing a NVMe SSD controller behind a USB 3.2 Gen 2 bridge chip.
|Direct-Attached Storage Characteristics|
|Upstream Port||USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C||USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C|
|Bridge Chip||ASMedia ASM2362||ASMedia ASM2362|
|Power||Bus Powered||Bus Powered|
|Physical Dimensions||85 mm x 57 mm x 8 mm||96.2 mm x 49.6 mm x 8.9 mm|
|Weight||58 grams (without cable)||79 grams (without cable)|
|Cable||30 cm USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C to Type-C
30 cm USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C to Type-A
|25 cm USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C to Type-C
25 cm USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C to Type-A
The table above shows that the Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch is the lightest of the new lot, coming in at 58 grams. In contrast, the Crucial Portable SSD X8 and the OWC Envoy Pro EX USB-C come in at 148g and 100g - both of them feel solid in hand with an aesthetically pleasing industrial design. The physical dimensions indicate that the Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch and the Lexar SL100 Pro do not integrate a standard M.2 2280 SSD. Both are credit-card sized units and small enough to unobtrusively fit in any pocket.
The Lexar SL100 Pro Portable SSD uses a JMicron JMS583 bridge chip (just like the Plugable USBC-NVME enclosure). All the other SSDs in the new set use the ASMedia ASM2362 bridge. While all units support some sort of SMART passthrough, most of the traditional SMART monitoring tools can't reliably track the internal SSD's parameters over the bridge chip. TRIM support exists in allof the drives.
Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch
Samsung's T7 Touch is a unique DAS, thanks to its fingerprint security feature. We had already covered various aspects of the drive in our launch piece.
Another key aspect of the T7 Touch is the availability of support for use with both PCs and smartphones - as in, Samsung provides mobile apps keeping the security aspect in mind. We had already covered this while reviewing the Portable SSD T5, and the T7 Touch can be used in the same way. On the hardware side, we find that the fingerprint recognition module is embedded in the inside of the casing. There is only one internal board which carries the MZBLQ product tag. The SSD controller is the S4LR033, and the ASMedia ASM2362 bridge chip is right next to it. The flash package has the K9DVGY8J5A tag, which decodes as: TLC, 5th gen V-NAND (92L), 512Gbit per die, 16 dies, 1TB for the whole package. This is the same NAND package used in 2TB 970 EVO Plus.
The thermal design also appears to tick all the right boxes - aluminum casing with a pink thermal pad (Samsung terms it as ePCM - encapsulated phase change materials) covering all the heat-generating PCB components. During operation, the LED around the fingerprint sensor lights up and rotates. The LED automatically turns off after the drive idles for 10 seconds. A blinking on/off status indicates that a security unlock is needed. All that said, it is possible to also use the T7 Touch as a dumb DAS without any of these security features activated.
SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD
SanDisk's Extreme Pro Portable SSD carries forward the gumstick form-factor that has served the previous Extreme Portable SSD models well. The key difference is that the fully plastic enclosure in the previous generation is replaced by a combination of plastic and aluminum.
SanDisk is now supplying two distinct cables (Type-C to Type-C, and, Type-C to Type-A) with the Extreme Pro, compared to the Type-C to Type-C and Type-C to Type-A adapter scheme used in previous SSDs. Internally, we see a wrapper around the mainboard (with the ASMedia ASM2362bridge chip and a Type-C port that is also protected by a gasket to prevent water ingress) with a single thermal pad in it. A WD Black NVMe SSD acts as a daughterboard. SanDisk also claims IP55 ratings for dust and water resistance.
Lexar SL100 Pro Portable SSD
Lexar's SL100 Pro adopts the same single-board strategy as the Samsung T7 Touch, enabling it to come in a more compact form-factor compared to the gum-stick offerings. The SSD controller is from Marvell and the bridge chip is the JMicron JMS583.
While most other USB 3.2 Gen 2 SSDs claim speeds of up to 1050 MBps, Lexar is conservative and claims speeds of up to 950 MBps only.
Crucial Portable SSD X8
The Portable SSD X8 is the only device being considered today to come with QLC memory. The device places their Pl NVMe SSD behind an ASMedia ASM2362 bridge chip.
It comes with a single Type-C to Type-C cable and a bundled Type-C to Type-A adapter. The unit proved quite difficult to disassemble, and we do not have any teardown photos of the device.
OWC Envoy Pro EX USB-C
The OWC Envoy Pro EX USB-C is available either driveless, or, with an OWC Aura P12 NVMe SSD pre-installed. Our review version came with a 2TB P12.
The enclosure is fully metallic and the single thermal pad affixed to the casing along the length of the M.2 drive is good enough to draw away the heat generated in the course of usage.
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zebrax2 - Thursday, January 23, 2020 - linkI don't know about the others but I'm not a fan of having the benchmarks hidden inside a drop down box unless selected. I also feel that for some of the benchmark 1 or 2 charts containing all the data ,e.g. ATTO and CrystalDiskMark, would be better instead of the screenshots.
chaos215bar2 - Thursday, January 23, 2020 - linkAgreed. Did I miss something, or are there no actual direct comparisons between the drives (aside from the feature table at the end)?
This reads like 6 separate reviews, where I have to keep messing with drop downs to follow each one. It’s all but impossible to follow in a mobile browser. On desktop, I could at least open the screenshots side by side.
sonny73n - Friday, January 24, 2020 - linkWho reads news on desktop anymore? Unless working on PC and want to have a peek at what’s on, nobody would give up the comfort of reading while lying down on the sofa or in bed with a mobile device. Therefore, drop down comparison is useless to most readers.
s.yu - Saturday, January 25, 2020 - linkSorry, I visit Anandtech almost exclusively on my PC.
dontlistentome - Sunday, February 2, 2020 - linkThis forum is increasingly populated by people with zero concept that other people may think or do things differently to them. Guess it's a microcosm of the wider no-platforming world.
My advice? Spend a morning learning keyboard shortcuts and you'll understand why we oldies still prefer to browse on desktop rather than mobile when doing anything other than *really* casual browsing.
bigboxes - Monday, February 3, 2020 - linkYeah, reading this on mobile platform sucks. Desktop is way more comfortable. Then again, my workstation is fairly ergonomic (and badass!). Get off the couch if you want to live to old age.
Sivar - Thursday, February 6, 2020 - linkI find mobile devices to be extremely annoying for web browsing. Small screen, slow CPU, extremely limited browser plugins, frustrating data entry, more difficult copy/paste.
I have a tablet and smart phone, but my web browsing on them tends to be light and often only directs me on what to read later on my "real" device.
JanW1 - Monday, January 27, 2020 - linkThat was my first thought on this review as well. Plus, the scales of the charts hidden behind the dropdown menu are all different for no good reason. This almost looks like every effort was made to prevent readers from comparing the drives. Just let the throughput scale on all charts go to 1000MB/s and the temperature scale to 70°. This fits the data from all drives nicely and readers can see the differences in a glimpse.
alphasquadron - Thursday, January 23, 2020 - linkYeah I agree as well. Don't it was like this previously or maybe it was a different reviewer.
ganeshts - Thursday, January 23, 2020 - linkWould it help you if I were to keep the 'Expand All' option as the default and allow readers to use the drop down to 'compress' it down to 1 graph / make the analysis text visible along with?
As for the ATTO / CDM 'graphs' instead of 'screenshots' - the aspect I need to trade off with is the number of data points. For example, CDM has 12 sets per drive (or 24 if you include the IOPS version also). ATTO has more than 20 sets * 2 (R/W). That would be 64 graphs. It doesn't make sense to have that many graphs for two synthetic benchmarks.