What is the Samsung Portable SSD T5?
The Samsung Portable SSD T5 is a small portable external storage drive that uses V-NAND technology and a USB 3.1 Gen interface. This translates to fast transfer times with Samsung claiming a maximum transfer speed of 540 MB/s. It’s available in two colours, ‘Alluring Blue’ with 500GB (£192.49) or 250GB (£125.49) capacity and ‘Deep Black with a capacity of 2TB (£754.49) or 1TB (£384.89).
Compatible with Windows 7 or higher and Mac OS X Mavericks (AKA version 10.9) or higher and Android 4.4 (KitKat) or higher, the T5 can be password protected if required.
Build and Handling
When the Samsung Portable SSD T5 turned up a few months ago I was expecting it to be small, but it took me by surprise just how compact it is when I pulled it from its box. It measures just 74 x 57.3 x 10.5 mm (3.0 x 2.3 x 0.4 in) but you need to see it in your hand to realise just how small those dimensions are.
It also weighs just 51g (1.8oz), which means you can slip it in your camera bag (along with the supplied USB cable that I weighed in at 18g) and forget you’re carrying it.
There’s no need to be concerned that the low weight translates into a flimsy build as the T5 looks and feels lovely with a curved aluminium shell. It also has a shock-resistant internal frame that can withstand a drop from 2m and force of 1500G. However, it’s worth noting that the black sample I tested picked up a small scratch in the finish despite careful handling and transport.
I measured the T5’s speed using SpeedTools QuickBench on a Mid-2014 MacBook Pro (15-inch Retina screen), which won’t get its peak performance. Nevertheless, I found that with large files (2-10MB) it achieved average read speeds of 424.7MB/s and write speeds of 412.3MB/S. With even larger files (20-100MB) these speeds extended to 436.9MB/s (read) and 430.6MB/s (write).
These file sizes are typical of what you’d expect to encounter with images but I also ran the standard test and found average speeds of 254.8MB/s (read) and 236.5MB/s (write).
In practice, the T5 is very fast, which means images copy across to and from it very quickly. For example, it took just under 1min 5sec to write 21.8GB of Sony A7R III images (comprising 455 files in total) from my MacBook Pro hard drive to the T5, and just under 1min 25sec from them to copy from the T5 to my laptop.
However, where it really scores is with populating previews in software like Adobe Bridge. For example, I found I have to wait for less than a second for 400 images from the 42Mp Sony A7R III to render. It makes browsing through and rating images very quick.
When I was away from home, I transferred images to the T5 and rated and/or processed them on the drive. Then when I returned home, I copied them to my NAS drive for permanent storage. However, the T5 is so quick (especially in comparison to my WD PR4100 NAS), that I found myself sometimes using the same process back at home.
The Samsung Portable SSD T5 is an excellent external drive that’s small enough to take with you wherever you might need storage. I found it very useful on the road with a MacBook (connected via an adaptor) or MacBook Pro as it avoids clogging up the on-board memory, but gives fast access to my images.
Because the T5 uses solid-state technology, the 1 and 2TB versions of the Samsung Portable SSD T5 are very expensive putting them beyond the reach of the average enthusiast. However, it’s possible to find the 500GB version for under £190 and the 250GB version for under £130 (scroll to the top of this review for some examples), which compares quite favourably with the competition.
Should I buy the Samsung Portable SSD T5?
There are more affordable bulk-storage options out there, but if you’re looking for portable storage drive that won’t slow you down, the Samsung Portable SSD T5 makes an excellent choice.