Kingston HyperX Savage EXO Review: Fast Flash In A Slim Package

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The HyperX team did a phenomenal job designing a slim and very lightweight external SSD that looks ready for battle. With slick, edgy looks and excellent read performance, the Savage EXO appears to be a great buy for those looking to get a taste of what flash has to offer. 

But products aren’t always as good as they appear on the surface. Flash can be extremely fast, but that doesn’t mean it is fast all the time. Many new SSDs, including externals, feature an SLC write cache. This means a portion of the drive has a fast layer of flash that boosts write performance, but it has a finite capacity. Unfortunately, performance plummets when the SLC cache is full. In the case of the HyperX Savage EXO, the small size of the cache is its Achilles heel.

The Savage EXO excelled in synthetic tests where its read and write performance matched or exceeded the 500/480 MB/s specs, but that was short lived. The Savage EXO displayed very good read performance during our real-world file transfer tests, but it suffered from very poor write performance during the extended tests. The EXO averaged just 136 MB/s when we wrote 100GB of photos, movies, and documents to the drive. For reference, the much older Samsung T1 averaged 233 MB/s.

That means you shouldn't expect top-tier performance when you write large media files. The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD and Samsung’s latest T-series external, the T5, are both better for that job, especially given their price. But, to be fair, Thunderbolt 3 devices are still the best for those use-cases if you have the money.

The Savage EXO performed within our expectations during application-focused tests. It trailed the SanDisk Extreme and Samsung T1 slightly during the PCMark 8 test, but performance was adequate. The Savage EXO also performed well during light, bursty workloads where the SLC buffer helps deliver a fairly speedy experience. These types of applications are representative of many common applications, like games, so the EXO is a good fit for both PC and console gamers. Its small size, edgy look, and competitive pricing are plenty attractive, too.


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Sean Webster
Storage Reviewer

Sean is a Contributing Editor at Tom’s Hardware US, covering storage hardware.

  • Blytz
    Disappointing given the sandisk extreme usb (CZ80) which is a usb stick and 6 years old is faster on the writes (170 meg a second fo the 64 gig), the the pro is roughly double that write speed again.

    Obvious iops is a different kettle of fish, but it's time we had some faster usb type-c sticks without having to resort to SSD's