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Samsung T7 Portable SSD Review

NVMe on the Go

Christopher Coke | Posted: Aug 4, 2020 4:00 PM
Categorized under
Hardware Reviews | 0

If you’re a gamer on the go, ensuring you have fast portable storage is a must. Today, we’re looking at the Samsung T7 portable SSD. It’s NVMe storage in your pocket and supports the latest USB 3.2 Gen 2 standard, offering speeds of up to 10 Gbps. Should this be your next portable drive?

Specifications

  • Current Price: Available on Samsung.com
    • 500GB: $109.99
    • 1TB: $199.99
    • 2TB: $369.99
  • Interface: Compatible with USB 3.2 Gen2 (10 Gbps), backwards compatible
  • Capacity
    • 500GB, 1TB, 2TB (Indigo Blue)
    • 500GB, 1TB, 2TB (Titan Gray)
    • 500GB, 1TB, 2TB (Metallic Red)
  • Transfer Speed: Up to 1,050 MB/s
  • UASP Mode: Supported
  • Encryption: AES 256-bit hardware encryption
  • Security: Samsung Portable SSD Software 1.0 (*Optional Password Protection)
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 85 x 57 x 8.0 mm
  • Weight: 58g
  • Warranty: Limited 3-year

T7 SSD Unboxed

Whether you’re looking to supplement a space-limited laptop or game console, transfer games between devices, or are a creative that needs rapid access to media, there’s never been a greater demand for portable storage. This is especially true for gamers battling ever-increasing download sizes — even in my own living room, I have a separate SSD attached to both my Xbox and PS4 and a third I carry in my laptop bag. Not long ago, this would have out of reach in cost, but the price per gigabyte on portable SSDs has gone down so much that, put simply, there’s little reason not to choose one. 

The Samsung T7 Portable SSD is the company’s latest entry into this market and promises to deliver exception speeds for reasonable prices. The T7 is a portable NVMe drive and uses the USB 3.2 Gen 2 pathway to deliver maximum transfer speeds of 1,050 MB/s. That Gen 2 is important, because it doubled the bandwidth from USB 3.2 Gen 1, which allows this drive to offer double the transfer speed. 

About the size of a credit card

It’s also custom tailored for portable use. As you can tell from the picture above, the drive is tiny: about the size of a credit card. The chassis has been improved from previous version and is now made completely of aluminum. Like the Samsung T5, which I’ve used daily for nearly a year, it offers very good shock resistance and can withstand falls up to two meters. 

Speaking from experience, the T7 Portable is an excellent drive if you need to toss it into a bag and not worry about it. It’s small enough that you won’t need to worry about making room for it and the design protects it from scuffs, bumps, and scrapes. I’ve only had it for about a month, but since it’s so similar to the T5, I feel very confident its durability. For a good few months, I used the T5 on my PS4 (which is where the T7 is currently) and my two year old made a game of pushing it off the back of our entertainment center. By the time it made its way into my daily carry bag, it already had some bumps. After five months in my bag, scraping on keys and whatever else it came into contact with, the shell is in rough shape, but it connects reliably without missing a beat to any device I plug it into. 

I’m not in the habit of intentionally abusing my electronics, so I haven’t torture tested the T7, but given the improved shell, I’m confident the results will be similar if not better. The use of a full aluminum body also results in improved thermal dissipation, which means that, yes, the drive will become warm, but that you’ll have a higher ceiling before seeing any kind of thermal throttling (I never encountered it, even transferring a 20GB file directory).

The T7 is also secure, so if anyone absconds with it, your data will be safe. While the T7 Portable does away with the fingerprint sensor on the T7 Touch, it does support optional password protect with 256-bit AES encryption. 

And, because this is something you’ll be taking with you and plugging in where people can see, you can also choose your own color between Black, Blue, and Red. Ready to see how it performed?

Benchmark Results

Test System: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X CPU, Gigabyte X570 AORUS Master Motherboard, NZXT Kraken X72, G.Skill TridentZ Royal DDR4-3600MHz 16GB DRAM Kit, Corsair HX-1050 1050 Watt Power Supply.

To test the drive, I used our standard tools, ATTO and CrystalDiskMark, as well as complete a file transfer of a Skyrim directory to assess real-world, large scale copy/paste application. I also completed load time assessments in a variety of MMORPGs where large amounts of data would need to be loaded in. These are first time loads with no caching. Finally, I completed a second round of load time testing using the Playstation 4. 

An important note here is that the maximum possible speed is dependent on using USB 3.2 Gen 2. Prior generations will be limited to a maximum speed of 5Gbps, half of the rated speed of the T7.

ATTO

T7 SSD ATTO

Beginning with ATTO, this synthetic benchmark is used to cross-check manufacturer’s claims about speed. It’s a synthetic test that provides a “best-case scenario” for possible transfer speeds using sequential data that the drive is able to anticipate. The T7 did very well here, hitting the rated speeds quoted by Samsung.

CrystalDiskMark

T7 SSD CrystalDiskMark

Next, we move on to CrystalDiskMark. This is still a synthetic assessment but comes closer to real-world speeds thanks to its barrages of random data. It is very common to see speeds drop off some here. We do see a very slight drop-off in sequential write speeds, but the sequential speeds are remarkably consistent between the two tests. 

For random accesses, which are what most users will be encountering, the speeds drop substantially and expectedly. Like WD P50, however, it shows a very notable improvement over prior generation drives.  

Synthetics are great, but real world performance is where the rubber meets the road. To test that, we perform a transfer between drives of roughly equal capability (in this case, the WD Black P50) and copy/paste a large Skyrim directory, complete with many mods. The average speed of the T7 is again quite impressive, beating the other external drives in our round-up.

Game Load Times

T7 SSD PC Game Load Times

T7 SSD Console Game Load Times

Finally, we come to game load times. As we’ve experienced in the past, game load time improvements are present but not revolutionary.  Much more meaningful is how efficiently games stream in assets and the T7 offers a similar improvement to other external SSDs on PC. The conclusion here really is as simple as “get an SSD.” The biggest jump will easily come from from shifting from a mechanical drive to a solid state with other improvements becoming less noticeable sequentially.

Final Thoughts

Beginning at  $109, the Samsung T7 is an impressive drive, especially on PC. As a portable drive, it is excellent, though you’ll want to ensure you have the proper USB revision to make the most of it. Coming from their previous T5 drive, which was my daily driver, I’m happy to see the T7 offer a consistently durable design. It’s a great drive to throw in a bag and go, and with the improved drop rating, it should be even more reliable. 

Final conclusion? If you’re looking for a blistering fast external SSD, the T7 Portable SSD is an outstanding choice whether you’re gaming, creating, or just transferring files from PC to PC.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.

9.0Amazing
Pros
  • Supports USB 3.2 Gen 2
  • Durable aluminum chassis
  • Excellent speeds that make good use of the improved bandwidth
  • Small and easy to travel with
Cons
  • Still fairly pricey
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2 is a recent upgrade — many PCs will not be able to take advantage of the rated speeds


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight