The Power of Thunderbolt 3

SSDs are getting faster: nowadays we are no longer surprised by speeds of 2,500 MByte/s. External SSDs have so far lagged behind this development. Up to now. Samsung's new Portable SSD X5 is just as fast as a modern internal one. The secret? A blazing-fast PCI Express m.2 NVME SSD in combination with Thunderbolt 3.

The new Samsung Portable SSD X5 is not the first external SSD, but thanks to Thunderbolt 3 it is a special one. The external SSDs that you could buy until now, such as Samsung's own Portable SSD T5, usually use USB 3.1. And although USB 3.1 with a speed of 10 Gbit/s (1250 MByte/s) is already quite fast, this is nothing compared to the latest SSDs of the m.2 mvme type. These models achieve read and write speeds of over 2500 MByte/s. A lot faster than the SATA SSDs with speeds of up to about 550 MByte / s. The usb3.1 interface is a good match for such sata ssds, but really lacks power for the modern m.2 nvme ssds.

Efficient cooling

With a size of 11.9 x 6.2 x 2 cm, the housing of the X5 is somewhat larger than the used m.2 ssd. That is not without reason, because a large part of the volume consists of a heatsink that efficiently dissipates the heat from the SSD. Due to the high performance, m.2 NVME SSDs get warm and they must be able to get rid of that heat. If not, performance will drop to prevent overheating. Samsung's X5 does not suffer from this thanks to the spacious heatsink. The housing is designed in such a way that it can reach a maximum temperature of 45 degrees Celsius. The housing is also very sturdy, a fall from two meters high is no problem.

The Power of Thunderbolt

In the form of Thunderbolt 3, there is a solution to the speed limitations of USB 3.1. Thunderbolt 3 is a peripheral connection interface invented by Intel and Apple that uses the USB-C port. Like graphics cards and NVME SSDs, Thunderbolt is based on the blazing fast PCI Express interface. Thunderbolt 3 has a speed of no less than 40 Gbit/s (5000 MByte/s) and therefore does not limit the performance of an SSD. Besides the fact that Thunderbolt 3 is a lot faster than its predecessors, the handy USB-C connection is now used instead of the mini-displayport. With a USB-C plug, for example, you no longer have to pay attention to how you insert the plug into the connection. Also, both ends of the cable contain the same plug. Thunderbolt 3 is a perfect connection, especially for laptop users, because it is also suitable for USB 3.1. A Thunderbolt 3 connection is therefore the fastest, most modern and most universal connection available at the moment.

No limits

More and more PCs and laptops are equipped with NVME SSDs whose performance is inhibited by external hard drives or SSDs via USB. Because although a copy action of 550 MByte/s to an external USB SSD is obviously a lot faster than that of an old-fashioned hard disk, it is a bit of a shame when you know that it can be done four times as fast. Especially if you often work with large files, this translates into a lot of (waiting) time. The combination of an m.2 nvme-ssd with Thunderbolt 3 means that you get an external ssd without limitations. Samsung's Portable SSD X5 has a read speed of 2,800 MByte/s and a write speed of 2,300 MByte/s. Field tests and benchmarks show no performance differences between the external Samsung Portable SSD X5 or an internal m.2 NVME SSD. In fact, the X5 is equipped with a Samsung SSD that is faster than most NVME SSDs from other brands. For example, a file with a size of 20 gigabytes can be copied to the X5 in 11.6 seconds. The X5 is therefore the ideal drive if you often work with large files such as 4K videos or raw files in high resolution.

Storage capacity expansion

However, the X5 does not only offer fast read and write speeds, because of the lightning-fast Thunderbolt interface, the T5 behaves exactly the same as an internally connected m.2 nvme-ssd. This allows you to use and edit files from the X5 as well. For example, you can edit 4K videos from the X5 in Adobe Premiere Pro or edit your photos in Lightroom or Photoshop. In addition, it is possible to install and use programs and games on the X5. The X5 can therefore also be used to expand the storage capacity of a laptop with Thunderbolt 3. More and more laptops are equipped with NVME SSDs that are soldered to the motherboard and therefore cannot be replaced. With Samsung's X5, you can still expand the storage capacity without speed limits.

Not via USB


Price From €409.99

Capacity 500 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB

Interface Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbit/s)

Read speed Up to 2,800 MByte/s

Write speed Up to 2,300 MByte/s (500 GB: up to 2,100 MByte/s)

Encryption AES 256-bit hardware encryption

Dimensions 119 x 62 x 19.7 mm

Weight 150 grams

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