Review: Samsung Portable SSD T5

16 January 2018

Samsung’s new portable drive offers fast, secure solid state storage in a sleek package, writes Greg Corke

Product Samsung Portable SSD T5
Company name Samsung
Price from £125

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, particularly 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 significantly 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 improvement over an external HDD or thumb drive, but there is only a small performance increase over the previous generation T3 model.


This article is part of a DEVELOP3D CAD/Viz/VR workstation special report. To read articles and reviews in this report click on the links below.

Choosing a workstation for design and engineering is no longer straightforward
How to future proof your workstation to support new and emerging product development workflows

Desktop Workstation Buyer’s Guide
Essential advice for those looking to buy a workstation for product development

Lenovo ThinkStation P320 Tiny
In a world of shrinking workstations, Lenovo’s ThinkStation P320 Tiny in the smallest yet

Fujitsu Celsius W570POWER+
This compact workstation delivers the goods for 3D CAD, game engine viz and VR

Boxx Apexx S3
The overclocked six core ‘Coffee Lake Core i7 CPU makes this CAD workstation fly

Workstation Specialists WS-1160A
AMD CPU and AMD GPU combine for a powerful workstation for CAD,viz and VR

AMD Radeon Vega GPUs
What does AMD’s Vega GPU architecture bring to CAD, VR, viz and GPU rendering?

Scan 3XS WI6000 Viz
An overclocked 18-core Intel Core i9-7980XE CPU makes this a phenomenally fast workstation for CAD and design viz

Armari Magnetar R80 (Pre Production Unit) 
This dual Intel Xeon Gold workstation delivers the goods in single and multi-threaded workflows

Boston Venom EPYC (Pre Production Unit)
Dual 32 core AMD Epyc CPUs make this rendering beast fly, but it’s at the expense of single threaded performance

Iceotope EdgeStation
‘Total liquid cooling’ makes this specialist machine ideal for harsh and dusty environments

Mobile workstation buyer’s guide
A rundown of the things to look out when buying a professional 3D laptop

Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16
Wacom’s legendary pen technology is embedded in a pro 3D tablet

HP ZBook x2 G4 (Pre-Production Unit)
This detachable 2-in-1 combines Wacom pen technology with a Quadro GPU for 3D CAD

PNY PrevailPro P4000
This slimline 15-inch mobile workstation breaks all the rules by putting a powerful ‘VR Ready’ GPU at its heart

Fujitsu Celsius H970
This 17.3-inch mobile workstation offers incredible power for demanding VR and viz but there are some downsides

Dell Precision 7720
With powerful processors, impressive cooling, good serviceability and excellent build quality, this 17” mobile workstation is hard to beat

Download a PDF of the 36-page workstation special report, complete with charts

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