Samsung Portable SSD T9 Review – The Power of USB 3.2 Gen2x2
This just in – 20 Gbps is faster than 10 Gbps
Samsung’s latest portable SSD, the T9 under review today, represents the current state-of-the-art in external storage. Offered in capacities ranging from 1TB up to 4TB (we have a 2TB sample), the T9 offers a native Gen2x2 (20 Gbps) interface, which is the biggest upgrade for external drives like this in years. Of course there is always a faster standard, but we will have to wait a bit for USB 4 devices at 40 Gbps to become common.
I’ve been seeing USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 USB ports on motherboards dating back to Intel Z490, but we are (finally) starting to see it in more places these days. Still, it isn’t as common as this editor would like it to be. Thankfully, the AM5 motherboard we’ve been using to test GPUs has just such a port, so it was easy to plug in the new drive and see what it’s capable of.
- Capacities: 1TB, 2TB (as reviewed), 4TB
- Interface: USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20Gbps)
- Sequential Read: Up to 2,000 MB/s
- Sequential write: Up to 1,950 MB/s
- Encryption: AES 256-bit hardware encryption
- OS: Windows, macOS, Android
- UASP Mode: Supported
- NVMe: Yes
- USB 3.1: Yes
- Dimension (WxHxD): 3.5 x 2.4 x 0.6 inches (88 x 60 x 14mm)
- Weight: 4.3oz (122 grams)
- Environmental Specs:
- Operating Temperature: 32°F to 140°F (0°C to 60°C)
- Non-operating Temperature: -40°F to 185°F (-40°C to 85°C)
- Durability: Up to 9.8 feet drop resistant
- Management Software: Samsung Magician Software, Samsung Portable SSD Software 1.0
- Warranty: 5 year limited warranty
- 1TB – $139.99 USD List
- 2TB – $239.99 USD List
- 4TB – $439.99 USD List
“Race through projects with our fastest Portable SSD for creators. Load, edit and transfer with sustained read and write speeds of up to 2,000MB/s. The T9 Portable SSD performs at high speeds even during longer processes–for high performers like you.”
The Portable SSD T9
The drive ships with a pair of USB cables, with both USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A represented.
A compact device, the Portable SSD T9 measures 3.5 x 2.4 x 0.6 inches / 88 x 60 x 14 mm (WxHxD), and weighs 4.3 oz / 122 grams. As with the Portable SSD T7 Shield we looked at back in January, Samsung has produced another external drive with a rubberized exterior, and this Portable SSD T9 boasts drop resistance of 3 meters.
Using our GPU testbed, an MSI X670E ACE motherboard outfitted with an AMD Ryzen 9 7950X processor and 32GB of 6000 MT/s memory, I attached the Portable SSD T9 and installed the software included on the drive.
This SSD software is only needed to manage the drive’s hardware encryption, and Samsung also offers their Magician Software for “firmware updates, extra encryption, and continual monitoring of your drive health”. I chose not to encrypt the drive, but enabling it is very easy.
If you choose to encrypt, this software runs in the background and allows access once the password has been entered. If you move the drive to another computer you will simply need to install the software (available on a separate, unencrypted partition), and enter your password to access you data.
The Portable SSD T9 was automatically configured for “quick removal” in Windows, so this was changed to the “better performance” mode, and write caching was enabled. I tested using the factory exFAT format (later testing with NTFS resulted in slightly slower performance, so I’d stick with the factory exFAT).
In CrystalDiskMark, run using the “peak performance” preset, we saw sequential reads of 2029 MB/s, with sequential writes of 1869 MB/s in the test. These were single-threaded numbers, but the default queue depth of 8 for the sequential test will produce higher transfer speeds than a typical Windows file transfer.
Speaking of file transfers, here is the result from 107 GB of files (my offline Cyberpunk 2077 1.63 install files from GOG) to and from the Portable SSD T9:
In both write and read operations the Portable SSD T9 slowed down after about 75% of our 107 GB in total files had been transferred, so it seems that the first 80 GB or so will be the fastest. That is still excellent, and unless you are consistently copying over 80 GB at a time, you will see higher transfer speeds. Performance still exceeds our 10 Gbps externals here, and we saw sustained transfer speeds of up to 1.67 GB/s before hitting that ~80 GB barrier.
We only tested the Portable SSD T9 on an AMD motherboard, and some Intel testing to see how USB 3.2 Gen2x2 performance might differ across platforms would be interesting.
Samsung’s latest portable was able to hit over 2000 MB/s (2029 MB/s) in sequential read speeds using CrystalDiskMark, though it was shy of the rated 1950 MB/s in the write test (1869 MB/s). Real-world results will often be slower, as we saw with the Windows file transfers, but even under extended operation the T9 was, as expected, faster than our 10 Gbps drives.
We will caution you, however: if you do not have a USB 3.2 Gen2x2 port on your motherboard (or laptop), you will see additional performance compared to a 10 Gbps device such as the previous-gen Portable SSD T7. More and more motherboards and laptops should offer 2×2, but the vast majority of systems around here have only 10 Gbps ports.
As to pricing, Samsung has the Portable SSD T9 1TB capacity listed at $139.99 USD, with the 2TB capacity (as reviewed) at $239.99 USD, and the 4TB capacity at $439.99 USD. These prices place a premium on the Portable SSD T9 when comparing the line to competitive products, but you are getting a trusted name, that durable enclosure, and a 5-year warranty. Still, we see market corrections on external storage all the time.
Bottom line, if you have a 20 Gbps USB-C port, the performance of Samsung’s Portable SSD T9 offers a meaningful upgrade over previous-gen external SSDs. The durable enclosure is reassuring when throwing it in a bag, and the encryption is easy to implement with the included software. It’s a solid product, though competition in the 20 Gbps external storage space is heating up.
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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 remains 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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