Samsung Portable SSD T1 Review

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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