These best ssd for xbox series x and s will solve your low storage space problem on xbox console. Best external hard drive for xbox series s will help your install some high quality games.
Smaller, tougher and faster than hard disks, SSDs make for good external hard drives. In this guide we’ll help you find a portable SSD that will leave any mechanical drive in the dust.
IT’S LONG BEEN true that a solid-state drive (SSD) should form the basis of your PC storage. They’re more expensive than hard disks, sure, but even the cheapest SSDs will handily outperform the very fastest mechanical drives, and higher-capacity models are becoming both more plentiful and more affordable.
What’s more, although SSDs make for good desktop storage, their inherent qualities make them even better as external storage. They’re smaller and lighter than hard disks, so the finished drive will be easier to carry around.
Their lack of moving parts makes them more resistant to knocks and shocks, reducing the chances that the drive – and therefore your data – will be damaged in transit.
And, thanks to their higher read and write speeds, they can save huge amounts of time when making big transfers, such as when backing up or restoring your PC or laptop, two of the most common uses for external storage.
Over the following pages we’ll walk you through the features and other potential benefits of external SSDs, then take a look at six different models, ranging from simple budget SSDs to PIN-protected drives and high-speed premium drives. Chances are you’ll find something here to replace that sluggish old portable hard disk drive.
One of the most important, yet often overlooked, factors in an external SSD’s performance is its USB interface. These ssds are also available in 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, and 8TB storage.
List of Best External SSDs For Xbox Series X / S
Here is our round up on best ssd for xbox series x / s, so choose your best xbox series s external hard drive wisely.
- ADATA SD600Q 960GB Ultra-Speed Portable Durable External SSD
- Apricorn Aegis Padlock 2 TB SSD 256-Bit Encrypted External Portable Drive
- MINIX NEO S4 Storage USB-C SSD Combine M.2 SSD Storage 480GB
- PNY Pro Elite 1TB USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C Portable Solid State Drive
- SAMSUNG X5 Portable SSD 1TB – Thunderbolt 3 NVMe External SSD
- WD Black 2TB P50 Game Drive Portable External SSD
The odd performance wobble isn’t enough to spoil this cheap and colorful SSD. As useful as external SSDs can be, genuinely interesting examples are few and far between. There are a few standouts, such as the blisteringly fast Samsung Portable SSD X5 or the encrypted and PIN-protected Apricorn Aegis Padlock SSD, but both of these come with high prices to go with their high aspirations.
In short, there’s room for something that’s a little different, while also costing less – and the Adata SD600Q might well be it. With an eye-catching design and overdraft-dodging pricing, it’s got charm to spare, and that’s not something anyone can say about most storage hardware.
It’s not exactly packing bleeding-edge tech, however. Adata rather sneakily claims – on its website, the packaging and the documentation – that the SD600Q uses a USB3.1 connection. This is true in a sense, but it’s only USB3.1 Gen 1, or USB3 by another name. This has a lower 5Gbit/s throughput than ‘true’ USB3.1, also known as USB3.1 Gen 2, which can hit 10Gbit/s.
While this means you can plug theSD600Q into USB3 ports – which are far more common on PCs and laptops – without any sense that you’re holding back performance, it also means you shouldn’t expect that performance to be particularly blazing in the first place. Adata itself claims some merely decent maximum read and write speeds of 440MB/s and 430MB/s respectively, about on a par with a budget internal SATA SSD.
Still, it’s cheap enough that lower speeds aren’t a turn-off in themselves. We’ve been testing the 480GB version, which works out at a very attractive 12.1 p per gigabyte. There’s also a 240GB model, which is 13.9p per gigabyte, and a 960GB model, which is the best value of the bunch at just 10.4p per gigabyte. Compare and contrast with the next-cheapest SSD covered here, the PNY Pro Elite, which ranges between 16.3p for its 1TB model and 25.4p for the 250GB version.
The SD600Q is well put together too, even with some slightly flimsy plastic. This is largely down to the patterned, textured silicone that extends in an X shape to all four corners. As this is raised slightly over the plastic bits, it’s almost impossible for the latter to come into contact with surfaces.
That, and the rubbery softness of the silicone, grants the SD600Q a limited degree of shock-proofing. Adata has apparently drop-tested it from 1.2 meters, and we didn’t suffer any problems after dropping it from similar heights.
The silicon can also optionally add a dash of color: blue or red on the two smaller capacities, though the 960GB model only comes in black. All three, however, are cutely compact at 15x80x80mm, and with an airy weight of 60g, the SD600Q is well and truly pocket-sized. You’ll just have to find room for the 33cm-long detachable U5B cable as well.
Data Transfer Speed
Performance testing with CrystalDiskMark initially yielded some disappointing results: the standard sequential test typically sees storage drives hit their highest quoted speeds, but the SD600Q only managed a read speed of 303MB/s and a write speed of 398MB/s.
The 4K random test was punishing, too, with the SD600Q averaging a 98MB/s read speed and a 92MB/s write speed. However, not only are these relatively better than the sequential results, they also come in a little higher than the Pro Elite’s respective 79MB/s and 68MB/s read and write speed results.
Otherwise, however, the Pro Elite’s faster USB3.1 interface allowed it to consistently outpace the SD600Q. In our huge file read test, the SD600Q actually crashed through its official speed estimates by averaging 544MB/s.
It’s highly unusual for a drive to perform better in our Windows transfer tests than in the synthetic CrystalDiskMark, but repeated testing showed this wasn’t a fluke. Even so, the Pro Elite comfortably beat this effort with 655MB/s.
The rest of our tests showed the same thing: the SD600Q is quick for the money, while not quite competing with great mid-rangers. The SD600Q’s huge file read speed may be brilliant, but it’s 314MB/s write speed is much more down to earth, and its showing in the large files test was middling, too.
Its 389MB/s read speed and 300MB/s write speed are further proof that the SD600Q is significantly better at one type of workload than the other.
A 239MB/s read speed result in the small files test is pretty good, although yet again, write speeds couldn’t match it, coming in at 192MB/s. That’s getting close to mechanical hard disk territory, so if you’re likely to be dealing with lots of little files at once (as the small file test entails), be prepared.
On balance, the Pro Elite is a better-value SSD even if it’s more expensive. Paying a few extra pounds shouldn’t be too off putting when you’re getting both slightly higher capacity and speeds that easily outdo the SD600Q except in very specific circumstances, and it’s not like PNY’s drive is anywhere near as costly as the Samsung X5 or the WD Black P50 Game Drive.
Nevertheless, the SD600Q still has plenty of appeal. It exceeds expectations for a relatively budget-friendly external SSD, offers decent shock proofing, and is more colorful and fun-looking than the majority of its peers. There may be quicker SSDs, but the SD600Q is a capable – and interesting – alternative.
As tough and secure as this PIN-protected SSD is, it’s just too expensive. This solid state drive is the cousin of Apricorn’s Aegis Fortress L3. It’s also an encrypted, PIN-protected external drive for your most sensitive files, but being an SSD rather than a mechanical hard disk, it’s smaller, faster and even more expensive.
Much more expensive, in fact: a 1TB Aegis Fortress L3 is no bargain at $215, or 21.5p per gigabyte, but a 1TB Aegis Padlock – like the one we were sent for testing – is a bank bothering $463, or 46.3p per gigabyte. There are a few other capacity options, but only the 2TB model – which, of course, has a greater outlay – works out with a lower per-gigabyte cost of 40p. The base 240GB model is an outrageous 70.5p per gigabyte, and the 480GB’s 56.1 p figure isn’t much better.
Even the Thunderbolt 3-powered Samsung Portable SSD X5 isn’t as expensive, and nor is the Minix Neo Storage, which also throws in USB hub functionality. What, then, do you get for your gigantic pile of money? Some aspects of the Aegis Padlock are oddly basic.
It only connects over a USB3 connection, for instance, not USB3.1 or USB Type-C, though the integrated cable does at least tuck neatly into the casing. The included carry pouch is a decent extra, too, though hardly worth an extra couple of hundred pounds.
Security / Protection
Instead, the Aegis Padlock attempts to justify its worth entirely through its security and ruggedness. A 12-button keypad enables the creation and use of both admin and individual user PINs, and any data saved is automatically protected behind military grade, 256-bit AES XTS encryption.
Setting it all up is simple enough, and the keypad buttons are sufficiently big for you to avoid accidental mis-presses even if you’ve got big thumbs. There’s also brute force protection: you can choose how many times, between four and 20, an incorrect PIN is entered, and if that limit is exceeded then the SSD deletes its own encryption key and renders the data onboard inaccessible.
This means that if the drive is stolen and the thief activates this self-destruct feature, you won’t get the data back even if you somehow retrieve the drive itself, but perhaps that’s better than giving someone unlimited chances to guess the code.
The Aegis Padlock is also tough to crack in a more literal sense. The majority of the casing – which is smaller than a pack of cards – is constructed from very sturdy-feeling metal, and the membrane keypad design allows for both dust- and water-resistance.
In fact, it’s been granted the IP56 certification, so while it won’t survive sustained dunks in water, it will shrug off rain, splashes and spillages, and has sufficient protection from solid dirt ingress to prevent dust or sand from harming the internals. This is, notably, the only SSD of the six on test to offer any kind of certified weatherproofing, which may well appeal if you need one to take far afield.
Data Transfer Speed
Security and durability are also both great qualities to have in any portable SSD, but as with most auto-encrypting drives, the practical trade-off is speed. The Aegis Padlock could only be considered fast if you’re comparing it to a hard disk, not another SSD. The fastest we saw it running during our benchmarks was in the CrystalDiskMark sequential read and write tests.
It only managed 301MB/s and 310MB/s respectively. These also dropped drastically in the 4K random tests, with the Aegis Padlock recording a 21MB/s read speed and a 29MB/s write speed. Both are mere fractions of what the Adata SD600Q, our favorite budget external SSD, scored in the same tests.
Curiously, in our own file transfers tests, the Aegis Padlock switched from having a higher write speed and a lower read speed to the other way around. In the huge file test, it averaged a read speed of 272MB/s and a write speed of 25OMB/s, again much slower on both counts than the SD600Q.
It then managed to average slightly faster in the (usually tougher) large files read test, with 295MB/s, although its 244MB/s write speed result brought the combined average down lower than with the huge file test.
To its credit, the Aegis Padlock avoided dropping much lower in the most difficult small files test, ending with a 262MB/s read speed and a 240MB/s write speed. These are actually both higher than the SD600Q’s equivalent results, so while peak speeds disappoint, it’s reassuring to see the Aegis Padlock can stand up to trickier tasks involving hundreds of tiny files.
Sadly, neither this nor the encryption feature is enough to overcome that prohibitively high price. True, the SD600Q lacks any kind of PIN protection, but the much more similar iStorage disk Ashur2 SSD is about $140 cheaper for a 1TB model. This also has 256-bit encryption and an integrated keypad, so you’re only really missing out on dust and water protection, which sounds to us like a more than acceptable trade.
As it stands, the Aegis Padlock’s security, pocket-friendly design and IP certification are all appealing traits, but without either lower prices or higher speeds, it’s not a terribly compelling proposition.
As an SSD alone, it’s slow and far too expensive, but the Neo Storage’s built-in ports make it one of a kind. Think of accessories you’d want for a laptop and gaming setup – admittedly after a case and a mouse – two that would probably pop into your head are a USB hub and an external storage drive.
The former is becoming increasingly necessary, as ultraportables continue to ditch full-size USB connectivity in favour of smaller USB Type-C ports that can help keep chassis dimensions slim. External storage also remains a cost-effective tool for ensuring you have adequate space, as upgrading from a 256GB laptop to a 512GB model can add hundreds of pounds to the price.
Combining the two is therefore a rather brilliant idea, the kind that makes you wonder why nobody thought of it before the Minix Neo Storage showed up. This multiport hub connects via USB Type-C and provides two USB3 ports, an HDMI output capable of 4K resolution at 30Hz, and a Type-C port of its own, though this is only for connecting the laptop’s charging cable so you can refuel while the hub is in use.
You can’t use it to connect or charge an external Type-C device. All the while, it contains your choice of a 120GB, 240GB or 480GB M.2 SSD, to use just as you would any other external SSD.
The Neo Storage also works with Apple’s MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops, and it shows. The rounded corners and grey, matt aluminum finish clearly evoke more recent MacBook designs, and the Type-C connector is a perfect fit: the MacBook is notoriously devoid of full-size USB ports, relying entirely on Thunderbolt 3 connectors instead.
You can, however, still use the Neo Storage with a Windows PC or laptop, although functionality will vary depending on what kind of Type-C port you’re using. A standard Type-C port will, as we’ve discovered, let you use both USB3 ports and the internal SSD as normal, but the HDMI port becomes useless if the port can’t carry video. A full-fat Thunderbolt 3 port is more ideal, as video support is guaranteed.
That the Neo Storage is only at its best with Thunderbolt 3 makes sense given its inclusion of a video port, though as a storage device, this brings it into the orbit of more exclusively Thunderbolt-focused drives such as the Samsung Portable SSD X5.
This makes for somewhat awkward comparisons, as Minix itself only claims maximum read and write speeds of 400MB/s on the 240GB and 480GB models, dropping to 35OMB/s read and write on the 120GB model. All of these figures represent a fraction of what the X5 can do, even on its slowest 500GB spec.
In fairness, the 240GB Neo Storage did come decently close to its advertised write speed, hitting 373MB/s in the CrystalDiskMark sequential test. Its read speed result, on the other hand, was a very modest 300MB/s, and switching to the more demanding 4K test saw the SSD drop down to a 103MB/s read speed and a 100MB/s write speed.
Data Transfer Speed
Interestingly, read and write speeds swapped around in our own file transfer tests, with read taking the lead. Starting with the huge file test, the Neo Storage averaged a read speed of 343MB/s and a write speed of 277MB/s – faster than any mechanical hard disk, but not terribly rapid for an SSD.
At least the tougher large files test caused only a slight fall in pace, with an average read speed of 333MB/s and a write speed of 266MB/s. Even so, it wasn’t until the small files test that the Neo Storage finally caught up with budget SSD standards, averaging a 224MB/s read speed and a 152MB/s write speed. These results are, again, nothing special, but they are comparable with the Adata SD600Q.
Sadly, this also raises a new problem: the SD600Q’s mediocre speeds are forgivable because it’s so cheap, starting at $33 for a 240GB model; the equivalent Neo Storage is nearly twice as expensive. The 120GB model also works out to an incredibly steep 58p per gigabyte, and although the 240GB model is better at 37.5p. It’s not until the 480GB model – at 21.p per gigabyte – where prices start sounding reasonable.Yes, it has Type-C connectivity and USB hub capability, but you could buy a separate Mac-friendly hub along with the SD600Q and still save about $40.
A Good Buy
That said, the entire point of the Neo Storage is to combine the two, saving you the trouble of having to carry around multiple accessories along with your laptop – or even just saving clutter on your desktop. Type-C port pickiness aside, this means it has value outside of its core SSD performance. It’s well made too, being light, stylish and slim all at once, and there’s a nice carry-case included in the box.
We can’t recommend it on monetary grounds, nor performance grounds, and if you’re more concerned with adding connectivity than storage, you could spend a lot less on something with a lot more than two USB3 ports. With all that in mind, however, this is a unique storage product, and even if it is on the slow side, it doesn’t entirely spoil the convenience of its 2-in-1 concept.
As long as you’ve got a USB3.1 port handy, the Pro Elite can reach blazing speeds – most of the time. The higher speed benefits of choosing an external SSD over an external hard disk are obvious, but don’t forget that solid-state drives can be a lot more compact as well. The PNY Pro Elite is a perfect example of how pocket-friendly solid-state storage can be: it’s barely thicker than the average smartphone, and is even less wide than a credit card.
This drive is a faster, higher-capacity relative of the PNY Elite, and it proudly derives its speeds from the USB3.1 interface. USB2 and USB3 are both backwards- compatible, but throughput will be more limited. It’s not a full-on Thunderbolt 3 SSD, but that’s fine, as standard USB3.1 ports are more common on PCs and laptops. You have a choice of how to connect, too, as both full-size Type-A and smaller, reversible Type-C cables are included.
Running the Numbers
In any case, PNY is making some bold claims about how quickly the Pro Elite can run, albeit with some weirdly varying figures. The middle 500GB model is, according to the company, the slowest, with a maximum read speed of 865MB/s and a maximum write speed of 875MB/s.
The 250GB model comes in at 880MB/s for reads and 900MB/s for writes, while the largest 1TB option reads up to 890MB/s and writes up to 880MB/s. This lack of consistency is unusual, to be sure, though all three are inarguably aiming high; for comparison, the USB3.1-based Samsung T5 only ever claimed to max out at 540MB/s.
The PNY Pro Elite is a perfect example of how pocket-friendly solid-state storage can be.
In the first and easiest of our benchmarks, CrystalDiskMark’s sequential test, the Pro Elite took a commanding lead over the USB3-based competition, with a 741MB/s read speed and 692MB/s write speed.
There’s a bit of bad news in that the Pro Elite doesn’t reach its advertised maximums, an otherwise common occurrence in this particular test. Even so, the fact that its top speeds are so much higher than the likes of the Adata SD600Q or MinixNeo Storage – which was a fast SSD to begin with – is more cause for celebration than concern.
Unfortunately, performance promptly went off a cliff in the 4K random test. Recording a read speed of 79MB/s and a write speed of 69MB/s, the Pro Elite was even less capable than the SD600Q at maintaining pace in this tougher benchmark. Adata’s drive read at 98MB/s and wrote at 92MB/s, which might not translate into a drastically noticeable difference in practice, but is the opposite of what we’d expect given the respective technologies behind these two SSDs.
With CrystalDiskMark providing mixed messages, we switched to our own, more realistic file-transfer tests. It didn’t take long for the Pro Elite to redeem itself, averaging an exceptional 655MB/s read speed in the huge file test, and while its write result of 440MB/s was less dramatically excellent, both figures still put PNY’s drive comfortably ahead of the SD600Q.
In the large files test, the Pro Elite came out on top again with a 590MB/s read speed and a 424MB/s write speed. The gap between this and the SD600Q closed significantly in the small files test, in which the Pro Elite produced a 266MB/s read speed and 391MB/s write speed, but those are decent scores nonetheless.
In the end, then, the Pro Elite showcases the benefits for USB3.1 over USB3, and it also looks good next to the older Samsung T5. This was faster in some individual tests, such as the small files read test, but on average the Pro Elite was considerably better at transferring files than this USB3.1 rival.
In the end, it almost doesn’t matter that the Pro Elite doesn’t run as quickly as it says on the box. It’s still plenty fast, and the only compromise it seems to make in the process is becoming very hot – not that there’s any particular reason to fret about touching an external SSD while it’s connected.Thermal throttling might help explain its 4K random results, but we wouldn’t say there’s much evidence of it elsewhere.
It’s also well priced. The 250GB model works out at 25.4p per gigabyte, the 500GB model at 21.3p and the 1TB model – the one we tested – at 16.3p. These are all less than what you’d pay for the Samsung T5, and keep the Pro Elite affordable for most potential buyers.
This is also one reason we slightly prefer it to the WD Black P50 Game Drive. This can go even faster, thanks to its USB3.2 Gen 2 2×2 k interface, but besides the fact that most laptops and PCs don’t feature fully compatible ports, it’s also considerably more expensive than the Pro Elite across all equivalent capacities.
On top of all this, the Pro Elite comes with a free activation code for Acronis’s TrueImage data protection and backup software.Not that it needs freebies to be a good deal: this is a wonderfully quick, extremely portable SSD at a very reasonable price.
If you can find the cash, the pocket-sized X5 will reward you with record-breaking transfer speeds. We originally thought of the Portable SSD X5 as a loose successor to the T5, Samsung’s brilliant and super-compact USB3.1 SSD. But the X5 is very much its own beast. Equipped with an NVMe storage drive and demanding a Thunderbolt 3 connection to make full use of its speeds, the X5 was practically pioneering when it first launched, and in the absence of a follow-up replacement from Samsung, it’s still going strong.
The combination of an M.2-style NVMe drive and a 40Gbit/s Thunderbolt 3 interface supposedly enables sequential read speeds of up to 2,800MB/s, as well as sequential write speeds up to 2,300MB/s, so even if the X5 falls short of these estimates in real-life use, it still has plenty of room to breeze past any SATA-based alternative. It stands up well against other, more modern SSDs, too: the WD Black P50 Game Drive puts up a good effort, but can ‘only’ claim a 2,000MB/s maximum read speed.
Sadly, such speeds come at a hefty cost, though not nearly to the extent of its launch pricing. There was a time you’d have to pay in excess of 4600 for the X5 capacity option we’re testing here, the 1TB model; now, it’s $344, or 34.4p per gigabyte. That is admittedly still an awful lot of money, and the $180 500GB model – 36p per gigabyte – and the $608 2TB model – 30.4p per gigabyte – will strain the purse strings as well.
There are some feature additions that help soften the blow, and not just to your finances: the casing, a mix of metal and soft, almost rubbery plastic, has been drop-tested to survive drops up to two meters. It’s reassuringly durable as a result – especially compared to any mechanical hard disk with moving parts – though there’s no waterproofing. There’s also256-bit encryption built in, so simply set a password and all your saved files are treated to professional-grade protection.
That’s fitting, as the X5 definitely has an eye on power users rather than those who might just use an external drive to back up personal files at home. The premium focus is evident everywhere, from the pricing to the exclusively high capacity options (the T5 wasn’t cheap either, but it did have a 250GB option).
In a Blink
Of course, for serious content creators, the biggest draw will always be performance, and it’s here where the X5 truly begins to acquit itself. We began testing with CrystalDiskMark, and in the standard sequential test, the X5 produced a read speed of 2,776MB/s and a write speed of 2,125MB/s – better than a lot of internal NVMe SSDs can manage. That read speed in particular is very close to the advertised maximum, which is typically attained through extremely controlled and favorable conditions.
That said, the basic sequential test is fairly easy-going, and speed dropped considerably in the tougher sequential 4K test: this time, the X5 ended up with a read speed of 379MB/s and a write speed of 35OMB/s. That’s a big drop, but both results are still a lot better than any other external SSD we’ve used, including the Black P50 Game Drive.
The same was true in our own file transfer tests. Starting with the easiest, the huge file test, the X5 averaged a read speed of1,533MB/s and a write speed of 1,509MB/s, about on a par with a middling NVMe internal SSD. Curiously, the write speed actually increased in the more challenging large files test, up to 1,633MB/s, and the average read speed was still remarkably high at 1,425MB/s.
Only the small files test appeared to give the X5 any trouble, with the final read speed working out at 497MB/s and the write speed at 629MB/s. Yet again, however, compared to what the world has become used to in terms of portable SSDs, these are a revelation: even the T5 only managed a read speed of 333MB/s and a write speed of 288MB/s, the latter being less than half of what this NVMe drive can achieve.
Find a Match
There is one other drawback, however. You can’t use the X5 with any old computer – at least, not unless you’re willing to cut down performance. You’ll need a Thunderbolt 3 enabled USB Type-C port to actually get these spectacular speeds, and that’s something you’re only likely to find on recent high-end laptops, motherboards and pre-built PCs. It’s yet another sign of the X5 being either a professional product or a luxury one.
A similar issue affects the Black P50 Game Drive, which uses an even less common connection interface. A good USB3.1 or even just USB3 SSD would therefore make more financial sense if your computing device of choice has these more common ports.
Otherwise you’re essentially paying for performance that can’t be attained without also upgrading your PC or laptop, and no portable SSD is really worth that alone.
Still, the X5 is – by miles – the fastest external SSD we have on record, and affords video editors, 3D modellers and other content creators a level of flexibility in their storage options that previously simply wasn’t possible. That’s Best Buy material if you ask us.
It’s expensive and uses a rare USB standard, but this hardy SSD’s high speeds are worth it. With all due respect to the WD Black PIO Game Drive, it was always going to be overshadowed by the Black P50 Game Drive. Being an SSD instead of a hard disk, it’s much smaller, lighter and faster, all good qualities to have in an external drive.
While it isn’t as truly tiny as the PNY Pro Elite, the Black P50 Game Drive is shorter, narrower and only slightly thicker than most smartphones, so it’s perfectly portable. It’s tough, too: there’s no bending or flexing at all, thanks to the shock-proof metal casing, and a set of four rubber feet help prevent it from being accidentally knocked off a table or from causing vibration noises when sat atop a desktop PC.
The most interesting thing about this drive, however, requires us to delve into the most confusing aspects of recent USB developments. The Black P50 Game Drive uses a ‘USB3.2 Gen 2 2×2’ connection, which is distinct from what manufacturers often call USB3.2 – really just USB3.1 – in that it uses two 10Gbit/s lanes instead of just one, as USB3.2/USB3.1 does. It’s backwards- compatible, naturally, but you’d be limited by the lower throughputs of the older ports.
The obvious benefit to the 2×2 standard is higher transfer speeds without needing to implement Thunderbolt 3, which – as we’ve seen from drives such as Samsung’s Portable SSD X5 – massively jack up the price. The 2TB X5, for example, is $608, or 30.4p per gigabyte; the Black P50 Game Drive’s 2TB model, which we reviewed, works out to 19p per gigabyte.
As this is a high-end SSD designed to store entire AAA game installations as well as photos, documents and videos, there are no small capacity options, but the 1TB model works out to a reasonable 22.p per gigabyte. Only the 500GB version is questionable, at26p per gigabyte.
In all three cases, the Black P50 Game Drive is undeniably expensive, and more so than high- performance USB 3.1 SSDs such as the Pro Elite and Samsung’s older T5.However, it has next-gen tech and is still a lot cheaper than any Thunderbolt 3 rival, potentially making for an attractive middle ground.
The downside is that because USB3.2 Gen 2 2×2 is still a relatively new technology, fully compatible ports are even rarer than Thunderbolt 3 sockets. Most PC motherboards won’t have any, and games console owners are completely out of luck: even the top-spec PS5 has USB3.1 connectivity, while the Xbox One makes do with USB 3. Indeed, we didn’t even have access to a suitable port for this review, forcing us to run tests via a USB3.1 connection.
Don’t walk away just yet, however. It might seem silly to pay more for technology that you probably can’t fully use, but the P50 Game Drive doesn’t actually need a 2×2 port to perform well: it’s extremely fast over garden-variety USB3.1, too. In the CrystalDiskMark test, we measured a sequential read speed of 1,061MB/s and a sequential write speed of 1,023MB/s.
Yes, on a 2×2 connection it’s very likely that the Black P50 Game Drive would be roughly twice as fast, but that also means it’s maxing out the much more common and attainable USB3.1 platform, and that’s impressive in its own right. The Samsung T5 was only just over half as fast in the same tests, and the Pro Elite’s respective results of 741MB/s and 692MB/s are far behind as well.
The much more challenging random 4K test produced a read speed of 208MB/s and a write speed of 202MB/s, low enough for at least the T5 to get back on even footing, but the Pro Elite was, again, much slower.
The WD drive’s speed advantage was made even clearer in our in-house file transfer benchmarks. In the huge file test, it averaged an excellent read speed of 691MB/s and a write speed of 653MB/s, handily beating the Pro Elite on both counts.
It also barely dropped performance in the harder large files test, producing an average read speed of 649MB/s and a write speed of 621MB/s. The Pro Elite’s write speed sits particularly far behind the P50here, although its 590MB/s read speed is much more competitive.
Lastly, the Black P50 Game Drive managed a 392MB/s read speed and a 461MB/s write speed in the most difficult small files test, winning once again. Ultimately there wasn’t a single test in which using USB3.1 seemed to trouble it much at all: the closest the Pro Elite came to beating it was scoring 655MB/s in the huge file read test, but otherwise the Black P50 Game Drive won by big margins.
You could say that since it’s more expensive, faster speeds should be expected, and that’s true – but the Pro Elite was already a great performer for its price.The Black P50 Game Drive is simply a good alternative if you want even higher speeds, but don’t quite have the budget to burn on a Thunderbolt 3 SSD.
How we test SSDs
We run a battery of different tests on the SSDs that pass through our labs. The first test measures the sequential read and write speeds of the drive, meaning how quickly it can operate when dealing with bytes of data that are stored in sequence – when playing a video file, for example, or writing a newly downloaded file as the bytes come in.This is relatively easy work for the drive, so it’s very common for SSDs to meet and sometimes slightly exceed their officially stated speeds in this test.
We also use CrystalDiskMark’s 4K random test, in which data is accessed non- sequentially in blocks of 4KB. This simulates the task of reading and writing data across various parts of the drive, which takes considerably longer than when the data is neatly stored in order. This is a more realistic indicator of SSD performance, as sequential access to data only occurs very rarely in everyday use.
That said, the 4K random test is still a synthetic benchmark, so for even greater authenticity we employ a set of our own tests that perform actual file transfers within Windows. After reading or writing files of varying sizes and quantities, Nodesoft’s DiskBench software (www.nodesoft.com/diskbench) records the time taken for each transfer in megabytes per second (MB/s).
The huge file test, for example, comprises a single but very long movie file, while the large files test consists of several music tracks. The small files test largely involves shifting dozens of image files.
All three of these tests give us a better idea of how an SSD will cope with jobs of different sizes: the huge file test is the easiest as it only requires moving a single file, even if it is, indeed, huge, while the small files test invariably takes the longest owing to the strain of reading or writing lots of little chunks of data in one go.
Things to Consider
One of the most important, yet often overlooked, factors in an external SSD’s performance is its USB interface. Different interfaces have different maximum throughputs, which in turn limits transfer speeds. The basic USB3 standard has 5Gbit/s of throughput, which translates to about 625MB/s, but USB3.1 doubles this to 1OGbit/s, and Thunderbolt 3 connections can reach as high as 40Gbit/s, or 5,000MB/s.
In reality, you’re unlikely to come near these theoretical maximum speeds, but our testing shows that faster USB standards do allow for faster read and write speeds. Is the answer, then, to simply stick with Thunderbolt 3 or the recent USB3.2 2×2 interfaces? Sadly, it’s not that simple: faster interfaces also mean higher prices, so USB3 and USB3.1 models might still be preferable if you’re on a tight budget.
You’ll also need to make sure that you can actually take full advantage of more advanced interfaces – in other words, that your PC or laptop has compatible ports. There’s little sense in paying more for a Thunderbolt 3 SSD if, say, your laptop only has USB3 ports.
Then again, all the different interfaces are backwards-compatible, so you’ll still be able to transfer files if you’re plugging a USB3.1 SSD into a USB3 port, or if the SSD is Thunderbolt 3-compatible but is only connected to a standard USB Type-C socket. Just be warned that you won’t be getting the best possible performance.
On that note, most storage manufacturers will give you an idea of an SSD’s top speeds by quoting them among the specs. These are close to reality more often than not, though they’re practically always based on the SSD’s sequential read/write speeds, which don’t strictly represent performance levels in standard usage.
Naturally we’ve tested all six of the included SSDs for their actual performance in different conditions, though you may be wondering what is an appropriate level of speed; for infrequent usage, say, you might be willing to settle for slower read and write speeds in exchange for a lower price.
If that’s the case, we’d still suggest aiming for speeds between 200MB/s and 500MB/s (the former for the most demanding read/ write tasks, the latter for easier ones), just to ensure you’re getting a sufficiently sizable bump on hard disk speeds. And, depending on what exactly you’re going to be using your SSD for, it’s probably worth aiming even higher.
If you’re just transferring Word files and spreadsheets between two computers this likely won’t be the case, but for backing up hundreds of photos or installing large applications such as games, go for the highest read and write speeds you can afford.
If you just want an external drive to keep whole OS backups in case of PC failure, you potentially won’t be using it enough to make the investment in a particularly speedy SSD worthwhile, but remember that as you’ll be copying huge amounts of data at a time, you shouldn’t go too slow, either.
A Head For Bytes
One disadvantage of SSDs next to hard disks is that higher-capacity models of the latter are typically more spacious, and certainly more affordable. Still, it’s not hard to find 1TB or 2TB external SSDs, both of which you’d struggle to fill up unless you were absolutely hammering them with video, RAW image or game files.
Smaller capacities are fine if you just want to keep copies of office software files and a handful of media files, and they’ll obviously be cheaper, too. However, cheaper doesn’t always mean better value: in terms of cost-per-gigabyte, you often get more capacity for your money with larger capacities.
We’ve calculated the cost-per-gigabyte of every available model for the six SSDs featured here, so consult the table on page 86 to see which capacity of a given drive offers the best deal.
SSDs may be harder to break than mechanical HDDs but for external drives, they should still be enclosed in a quality casing to prevent impact damage. Fortunately, most models are built to be at the very least shock-resistant, and some even come with water- and dust-proofing for even greater durability.
Weatherproofing arguably isn’t as important as shock resistance for an external SSD, though these days there are portable drives with all sorts of extra features. The Apricorn Aegis Padlock SSD is a perfect example, as it takes the concept of built-in encryption further by including a PIN pad on the chassis, so only you can access the data without using keylogger-susceptible software passwords. The Minix Neo Storage also takes the unique approach of being both an external SSD and a multiport hub.
In both cases, however, the results are both expensive and relatively slow when it comes to core read/write performance, so sometimes the simple approach is better.
If you’re mainly concerned with maximizing speed, and have both the cash and the appropriate Thunderbolt 3 ports to support it, only one of these SSDs truly pushes the limits of what portable SSDs are capable of: the Samsung Portable SSD X5. Its monster performance and multiple high-capacity models should make it the first port of call for anyone wanting the best of the best.
WD’s Black P50 Game Drive also impresses. It’s unfortunate that the USB3.2 2×2 interface isn’t more widely available, but it still races along in read and write tasks on lower-spec ports, and it’s a lot more affordable than the X5, although is still one of the more expensive external SSDs.
We think the PNY Pro Elite offers the better balance of performance, price and portability. Not only is it tiny and lightweight even by SSD standards, but it keeps its pace up well in demanding data transfers, and it’s considerably cheaper than the P50 both in terms of total outlay and cost-per-gigabyte.
Its interchangeable USB3.1/USB Type-C cables also ensure you’ll always be able to connect without needing to carry a separate adapter, which is handy.
The Adata SD600Q is also a great budget buy. It may not be close to the fastest SSD around, but it’s a major upgrade on any hard disk, and its colorful design provides some extra shock proofing as well as a fun look. This definitely helps produce the feeling that you’re not just getting bargain-bin basics.
As for the Apricorn Aegis Padlock SSD and Minix Neo Storage, both are interesting niche products; the Neo Storage is particularly creative, being both a multiport hub and a storage device in one. However, both stumble on the fundamental quality of speed, so are difficult to recommend when they’re both so much more expensive than their more straightforward SSD peers. Unless, that is, the Aegis Padlock SSD’s security or the Neo Storage’s flexibility will be of genuine use to you.
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