Since the advent of digital download, expanding file sizes, and monthly games provided via live services, console storage space is at a premium. While guides do exist for swapping drives and getting the right drive can be a little bit of a gamble, may have turned to external solutions. This is where Crucial steps in is a super portable, small form factor Solid State Drive with a promise of speed and performance over the competition. This is our review of the X8 Portable SSD from Crucial.
- MSRP: $119.95 (500GB), $164.95 (1TB)
- Bus: USB 3.1
- Connection Type: USB 3.2 Gen 2 (USB-C to USB-C), USB 3.0 with USB-A Adapter
- Sequential Read: up to 1050 MB/s
- Available in 500GB, 1TB
- Warranty: 3 years
If you are not familiar with the brand, you have likely heard of their parent company - memory manufacturing giant Micron. For over 35 years, Micron has been building its brands to meet specific needs. In the case of Crucial, that need is providing memory for both PC and Mac as well as aftermarket SSD solutions.
With the release of the X8, Crucial is branching into a new space. While this external SSD that is functional in the PC/Mac space, it is also geared toward the console market. Boasting speeds far outside of a traditional SATA connection, can the X8 cut down console load times? We’ll find that out.
Synthetic Benchmarks and Real-world Performance
To begin out tests, we ran a battery of synthetic benchmarks to give base-line performance numbers for the Crucial X8 External SSD. To collect this data, we used AS SSD Benchmark, CrystalDiskMark64, and ATTO Disk Benchmark. Before we get into the number, here are the system specifications for our PC test bench:
- CPU: Ryzen 5 2600X
- Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series H100i RGB Platinum SE (Closed loop cooler)
- RAM: 16 GB Patriot Viper Gaming RGB, 16 GB Silicon Power Gaming Turbine
- Motherboard: Gigabyte X470 AORUS Gaming 7 WiFi
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Founders Edition
- Storage: 1TB WD Black SN750, 1 TB Seagate FireCuda
- PSU: NZXT E850
- Case: NZXT H510 Elite
Further testing was performed on a Playstation 4 Pro. We will get into that information after the synthetic tests.
On to the data!
In the first round of tests, we put the X8 through AS SSD. This tool gives us sequential read/write data as well as an of how all three perform dealing with small chunks of data (4K). In this test, the Crucial X8 External SSD showed sequential speeds of 747.18 MB/s (read) and 780.38 MB/s (write). Side by side in the chart above, I want you to take a look at two different styles of storage drives for comparison. On the left side is the SK hynix Gold S31 SSD using SATA-III and on on the right, the Patriot Scorch using 2x PCIe lanes via NVMe. Firmly in the middle sits the Crucial X8 with some impressive speeds via USB 3.1. Not too shabby!
Next up, we put the Crucial X8 External SSD through ATTO Disk to give us some baseline for its performance numbers. The X8 capped out at 927.78 MB/s (read) and 784.91 MB/s (write). This is a bit shy of the advertised speeds, but it is not uncommon for numbers to be off slightly. Remember: advertised numbers are “best case” numbers
The final synthetic picture we get is from CrystalDiskMark. The Crucial X8 External SSD performed much lower than the “best case scenario” numbers. Again, you will see a side-by-side comparison of the performance numbers verses both SATA- and NVMe-based drives.
Now, keep in mind that, at this point we do not have a console yet utilizing the NVMe protocol. These numbers are purely illustrative and show promise for the future of storage and performance options in the console space. And this is where our testing shifts.
As mentioned earlier, we also tested the X8 out on the Playstation 4 Pro. For these tests, we copied game files to the drive and tested the difference in load times versus internal storage.
For this test, we took a digital download of Detroit: Becoming Human for our test purposes. Detroit is a very cinematic game, which means significant load times. Coming in at a girthy 43.50 GB, this file transfer took us around 39 minutes. That puts us at about 18.9 MB/s write speed to the drive form the PS4 Pro.
However, the place where this gets interesting is when it comes to load times. Launch from the internal drive, with Detroit in particular, it took one minute and fifteen seconds (1:15) to load, but a comparatively meager forty-five seconds (:45). That is a 40% speed improvement in load times over the console’s HDD! Not bad at all.
Crucial’s offering of a high-speed external SSD with the X8 is on point. It delivers solution for storage issues without voiding your console’s warranty. The reduction of load speed times alone may make this one of the better (albeit more expensive) options for adding enhancing your system. For current generation console gaming, any opportunity to improve system performance in a closed system is a welcome one.
Even outside of the console space (or if you are waiting for the next generation of consoles), the Crucial X8 delivers an option for portable storage that is both well built and versatile. Offering a connectivity to both USB 3.0 Type-A and USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C gives, this little drive is ready to meet your storage needs.
- Small form factor
- Solidly built
- Improves load times
- When compared to the cost of a console itself, price might be prohibitive