Introduction and Testing Methodology

The last few years have seen rapid advancements in flash technology and the rise of USB 3.0 as an ubiquitous high-speed interface on computers. These have led to the appearance of small and affordable direct attached storage units with very high performance for day-to-day data transfer applications. We have already looked at some flash drives with SSD controllers and a USB 3.0 - SATA bridge over the last couple of months. These include the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX 256GB using the Phison S9 controller and the Mushkin Ventura Ultra using the SandForce SF2281 controller respectively.

At CES 2015, Samsung introduced the Portable SSD T1. With the introduction of the T1, Samsung becomes the first tier one manufacturer to enter the external SSD market (if you discount SanDisk's Extreme PRO USB 3.0 flash drives, which, despite being a SSD behind a USB 3.0 - SATA bridge, was never advertised as one). Hardware wise the T1 is based on the 850 EVO, meaning that the T1 uses 32-layer TLC V-NAND and the same full-fledged MEX/MGX SSD controller. CrystalDiskInfo gives us further insight into the unit.

Even though CrystalDiskInfo reports TRIM as a feature, we were unable to get it to work through the bridge configuration. In any case, Samsung also doesn't make any claims about TRIM support. S.M.A.R.T data was not visible to most of the commonly used tools. On the USB 3.0 side, the drive supports UASP (USB-attached SCSI Protocol) that should provide increased performance for sequential transfers. Claimed transfer rates are 450 MBps for sequential accesses and 8K read IOPS / 21K write IOPS. We also have hardware-accelerated AES-256 encryption.

Our review unit was pre-formatted in exFAT. Upon connecting to our testbed, a 128 MB FAT32 partition popped up and provided directions for installing the software / service that allows for the drive to be monitored / utilized with encryption capabilities. After installation, the 128 MB partition disappeared, and the 1 TB volume was made visible. The Samsung SSD program / daemon continues to run in the background and allows for altering the security option (encryption) without reformatting the partition. The gallery below shows the UI of the software running on Windows 8.1 Pro.

Testbed Setup and Testing Methodology

Evaluation of DAS units on Windows is done with the testbed outlined in the table below. For devices with USB 3.0 connections (such as the Samsung Portable SSD T1 that we are considering today), we utilize the USB 3.0 port directly hanging off the PCH.

AnandTech DAS Testbed Configuration
Motherboard Asus Z97-PRO Wi-Fi ac ATX
CPU Intel Core i7-4790
Memory Corsair Vengeance Pro CMY32GX3M4A2133C11
32 GB (4x 8GB)
DDR3-2133 @ 11-11-11-27
OS Drive Seagate 600 Pro 400 GB
Optical Drive Asus BW-16D1HT 16x Blu-ray Write (w/ M-Disc Support)
Add-on Card Asus Thunderbolt EX II
Chassis Corsair Air 540
PSU Corsair AX760i 760 W
OS Windows 8.1 Pro
Thanks to Asus and Corsair for the build components

The full details of the reasoning behind choosing the above build components can be found here.

Samsung Portable SSD T1 - Size Comparison (standard credit card size also pictured for a frame of reference)

The list of DAS units used for comparison purposes is provided below.

  • Samsung Portable SSD T1 1TB
  • Corsair Voyager GTX 256GB
  • LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt 500GB
  • Mushkin Atom 64GB
  • Mushkin Ventura Ultra 120GB
  • SanDisk Extreme 64GB
  • SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB
  • VisionTek Pocket SSD 240GB
Storage Benchmarks
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  • Laststop311 - Wednesday, January 21, 2015 - link

    So this is a 450 dollar 1tb 850 evo in an external enclosure and a sata to usb chip and interface. So they are trying to say a sata to usb 3.0 bridge and a little enclosure and a tiny usb cable warrants raising the price 150 dollars. They need to cut that in half. 75 dollars extra for those things is more than fair for everyone.
  • baii9 - Wednesday, January 21, 2015 - link

    it looks pretty.
  • JohnTheSwed - Friday, January 30, 2015 - link

    Something is serious wrong with this test. First I tried with Black Magic Speed test, it said over 400 MB/s write and 432 MB/s read. I have a Macbook Pro Retina 2014. Anyways, you might say that synthetic soo I tried moving files to the external drive, guess what. 18,7 GB of real files took less than 1 minute to move AND I looked in the activity monitor and it said over 400 MB/s. That was real moving files, I can prove it if I have to. Why I get so much better speeds IRL? I don't know.
  • tlaile - Saturday, January 31, 2015 - link

    Since this is an external SSD I wondered how many watts it uses when writing to the drive. A normal USB port is one amp at 5 volts, for 5 watts. Some tablets only output half of that. I bought a Crucial M500 and an external USB 3 enclosure to use with a Surface Pro 2. The SSD needs over 3 watts to write and the enclosure uses enough excess that I could only read from the drive unless I use a powered hub.
    Anandtech reviews always do power consumption tests on internal SSD drives. I assume the reason that the USB external SSD's don't get the same testing is that there is not an easy testing rig to use. However, these drives are either somehow drawing less than 5 watts ever, or they need to be advertised as not compatible with some portable devices. Yes I know that some newer notebook computers can deliver more than one amp on some of their USB ports, but there are still many new devices especially among the well reviewed ultraportables that are limited to 5 watts or even 2.5watts per port. Or am I mistaken.
  • Ethos Evoss - Saturday, February 7, 2015 - link

    why no usb 3.1 ?
  • jondhall - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    I played with Trimcheck and made win8.1 optimise the disk. Trimcheck said trim was working. Using the drive as a Windows boot disk for my macbook and it really good. Just hope the longevity is there, if it is I will be buying more of these.
  • SSDFGD - Monday, August 17, 2015 - link

    Hi guys,,

    We are conducting a Digital Storage Study in New York City, NY between August 27th-August 29th and are looking for people who live in or around the NY Metro area to participate. Currently we need owners of a Samsung Portable T1 SSD.

    It will be a 2 hour Focus Group Discussion and if you take part we will compensate you for your time. A focus group discussion is where we invite a group of people to talk about their experiences with a certain product. We would like to speak to you to find out how we can improve upon our products. However, there are a few criteria that you must meet to take part:

    • Owner and user of a Samsung Portable T1 SSD,
    • Aged between 18-49,
    • Must have purchased the Samsung Portable T1 SSD between January 2015 and June 2015.

    If you meet the above criteria, it is very likely that you will qualify for our study. If interested, please fill out our pre-survey in the link below. If you qualify, we will reach out to you with an invitation to take part in our focus group.

    Many thanks in advance

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