Samsung’s new portable drive offers fast, secure SSD storage in a sleek package

When using external storage for shunting large CAD datasets around, performance often gets overlooked. USB Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) peak at around 130MB/sec and grind to a halt when you try to copy data in parallel from two or more sources. Most USB thumb drives are shockingly slow, sometimes taking tens of minutes just to copy a few gigabytes of data.

If you’re fed up with waiting for your data, then it’s time to start thinking about an external Solid State Drive (SSD) and the Samsung Portable SSD T5 is a great example. It boasts read/write speeds up to 540MB/sec and is available in four capacities: 250GB (£125), 500GB (£186), 1TB (£375) and 2TB (£739). It has a sleek metal rounded unibody design, weighs just 51g and comes with both USB Type A and Type C cables to support USB 3.1 Gen 2 as well as older USB interfaces.

We tested read/write speeds over USB 3.1 Gen 2 with three real world 3D datasets from Revit, 3ds Max and SolidWorks.

The drive came formatted to exFAT so it can work on multiple operating systems, but we reformatted it to NTFS as it is known to give better performance, particuarly with small files.

We immediately saw an improvement in read/write speeds of up to 12% when copying our 8.2GB SolidWorks dataset, which comprises 14,000 CAD parts and assemblies. Because the files are relatively small (50k to 60MB) speeds averaged 105MB/sec read and 90MB/sec write.

Transfer rates increased signifcantly when copying larger files. With 68 Revit files, totalling 4.6GB, read performance averaged at 396MB/sec and write performance 335MB/sec.

Our 3ds Max dataset offers more of a mix, comprising 60 large scene files and 4,400 smaller materials, totalling 4.6GB. It ripped through the scene files, but slowed down with the materials, averaging 246GB/sec read and 217GB/sec write.

Acknowledging that not everyone has a workstation with USB 3.1 Gen 2, we also tested over USB 3.0 with the Type A cable. Performance dropped by 7 – 19% depending on the dataset. This is significant but still fast. Over USB 2.0, expect speeds to fall dramatically – below 50MB/sec.

The T5 is not just about high-speed data transfer. It offers optional AES 256-bit hardware encryption to keep confidential data secure should you lose the drive. This is managed through the bundled software and controlled with a password of your choice (which you simply must not forget as this is military-grade security).

We’re big fans of the Samsung Portable SSD T5. It’s sleek, well built and, unlike a HDD, is protected against accidental drops. The price per GB is high, but it’s a small price to pay if you don’t like waiting for data to copy. It’s certainly a big improvment over an external HDD or thumb drive, but there is only a small performance increase over the previous generation T3 model.

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