Samsung Portable SSD T7 Shield 4TB Review: Pro-Grade USB-C Storage
This Rugged External SSD is Very Large, Yet Small
I like big storage and I cannot lie. Especially when internal SSDs in laptops (and desktops from certain apple-themed computer makers) are often comically small for the type of work that many creative types busy themselves with every day.
It doesn’t matter if you edit video, work with massive RAW image libraries, or just like to collect (open-source) software and (public-domain) video files, your laptop’s internal SSD is probably approaching its limit if you aren’t using external storage of some kind.
To this end, Samsung, no stranger to compact, high-capacity external SSDs, has launched a 4TB model of their T7 Shield product. This is a rugged, high-performance offering with speeds that should max out an available 10 Gbps USB-C port.
- Model: Portable SSD T7 Shield
- Interface: USB 3.2 Gen2 (10Gbps)
- Capacities: 1TB, 2TB, 4TB (as reviewed)
- Sequential read up to 1,050 MB/sec
- Sequential write up to 1,000 MB/sec
- Water/Dust Resistant IP65
- Drop Resistant Up to 3m
- Encryption: AES 256-bit hardware encryption
- Samsung Portable SSD 1.0
- Samsung Magician Software
- Dimensions: 88 x 59 x 13 mm (3.5 x 2.3 x 0.5 inches)
- Weight 98 grams (3.47 oz)
- Warranty: 3 year limited warranty
$429.99 USD list
“The Samsung Portable SSD T7 Shield 4TB is the ideal choice for outdoor users and content creators who seek a high-capacity drive with outstanding performance, durability and compatibility.”
The Portable SSD T7 Shield
The T7 Shield is a small device with the approximate footprint of a credit card. Actual dimensions are 3.5 x 2.3 x 0.5 inches (88 x 59 x 13 mm), and it weighs approximately 3.5 oz (98 grams). A USB 3.2 Gen 2device, Samsung ships both USB-C-to-USB-C and USB-C-to-USB-A cables with the T7 Shield.
The T7 Shield is construction of aluminum, covered with a rubber material that gives the drive an extra layer of durability (and grip). Be aware, however, that this coating attracts dust and lint like a magnet. If you put this in your pocket, don’t be surprised if it comes back out looking a bit different.
This new 4TB model joins the existing 1TB and 2TB models, and all drives share the same rated performance of up to 1,050 MB/s sequential read and 1,000 MB/s sequential write speeds (full specs from Samsung reproduced below):
Features from Samsung:
Fast and Sustained Speeds with outstanding thermal control
The Samsung Portable SSD T7 Shield supports the USB 3.2 Gen2 interface, offering bandwidth of up to 10Gbps. The T7 Shield delivers a read speed of up to 1,050 MB/s and a write speed of up to 1,000 MB/s, while maintaining its speed for long durations. Even as the drive fills up, the Samsung T7 Shield supports heavy, continuous tasks such as high-quality video recording, editing, and encoding with consistent performance.
Easy laptop upgrades with Magician Software
Since Magician 7.0 release in September 2021, Magician has expanded its device support to portable SSD users. Portable SSD users can check their device health and status, test their speed using performance benchmarks, and set their passwords and other convenient features to manage their device. In the February 2023 update, portable SSD products will support the Data Migration feature to upgrade users’ desktops and laptops using the portable SSD. (Portable SSDs support Data Migration only on systems with Windows 8 or higher version.)
Durability and Compatibility
The T7 Shield is designed with a strong aluminum body and rubber cover which makes it withstand drops up to three meters1) or 9.8 feet. It is also IP65-certified dustproof and water resistant. Users can take their T7 Shield on an outdoor photo shoot or travel adventure without worrying about damage from the elements or life’s mishaps.
The T7 Shield is designed to connect with your daily devices. The T7 Shield follows USB power specifications which allows it to be compatible with a variety of host devices including mobile phones, tablets, and professional cameras. Users can experience the benefits of the T7 Shield on any device that supports USB 3.2 Gen2 interface and meets the USB power specifications.
I tested the T7 Shield drive on an 11th Gen Intel NUC Extreme unit powered by an Intel Core i9-11900KB processor with 32 GB of 3200 MT/s DDR4 memory. The drive was benchmarked as shipped (no partitioning or formatting), after switching to the “better performance” profile in device settings (default is quick removal).
The drive arrived pre-formatted with exFAT, with Windows and Mac versions of the Samsung Portable SSD application present on the drive (more on the software shortly).
Here is a look at potential performance, via CrystalDiskMark with the Peak Performance preset:
At 1065 MB/s not only was the T7 Shield able to comfortably exceed the 1050 MB/s seq. read speed rating, but it actually came close to that number on the write test (it is only rated for 1000 MB/s seq. writes), hitting 1041 MB/s. Obviously these are peak synthetic numbers, and the drive was empty other than the pre-loaded software installers.
Here’s a look at a couple of large file transfer operations under Windows 10 (writing to and from and internal NVMe Gen 3 SSD):
I used a 50 GB file (a virtual disk image), and both writes and reads were consistent at a bit over 800 MB/s – though, as you can see from the screenshot, I discovered too late that I had exceeded the limit of the write speeds on my test system’s SSD about halfway though the T7 Shield read test (reads dropped to the ~500 MB/s range about halfway through the operation, beyond what I am assuming is the SLC cache allocation of the drive being written to).
Moving on, we take a quick look at the included SSD software application, which is extremely simple as it only serves to enable or disable encryption on the drive:
The security aspect of the drive was transparent to me after I set up a password with this software, but it does work. Moving the drive to a different system resulted in a drive that only presented the software applications for Windows / Mac; none of the files I had added. This was explained by a look at Disk Management, which revealed two large “unallocated” partitions, and a small read-only partition containing the SSD application.
The T7 Shield is priced at $429.99 for this 4TB version, placing it at the high end of drives of this capacity with the USB 3.2 Gen 2 interface. Primary competition (based on a cursory scan of 4TB external SSDs) seems to be the SanDisk Professional 4TB G-DRIVE SSD, which is currently available for $399.99. Naturally, lower-cost options exist in this capacity, but not all offer the same mix of rugged construction and hardware encryption.
I found Samsung’s Portable SSD T7 Shield 4TB to offer effortless setup, excellent performance, and a reassuring measure of durability from the IP65 certification for dust and water (along with the 10-foot shock-resistance). As to security, I found Samsung’s implementation of 256-bit hardware encryption very simple to use; an essential feature if you want to keep your data safe even if the drive falls into unfriendly hands.
If you are in need of a pro-level external storage solution, this should be on your radar.
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How Product Was Obtained
The product was provided by Samsung for the purpose of this review.
What Happens To Product After Review
The product is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.
Samsung had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
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