Samsung just increased production of the new 64-layer V-NAND in June. Samsung's Portable SSD series has been the vessel that brings new NAND technology to market for the last three generations, but it doesn't offer us a chance to compare the NAND technology to older versions. The flash is too fast for the SATA interface, so we will need to wait for an NVMe product to compare 3rd and 4th generation V-NAND.
Before we get too far along, we have an ethical duty to mention that our Portable SSD T5 2TB had a problem, but it didn't die completely. We filled the drive to 100% capacity with a single large transfer to test sustained performance. Performance didn't recover even after we deleted the 2TB test file and let the drive idle for several days. The drive could still read 128KB sequential data at 30 MB/s and write sequential data at 11 MB/s, but it wouldn't recover to full speed. Samsung plans to examine the issue and diagnose the error. Most users don't have a single 2TB file to move to the drive, so I doubt this will be a widespread issue. If I were to guess, it looks like the drive got stuck in a background activity loop that never ended. I'm confident Samsung will fix the condition and release an update.
The Portable SSD T5 builds on the success of the T3, but it doesn't bring enough new features to spur an upgrade if you own the previous-generation T3. If you want to upgrade to increase capacity that's an option but you won't see a large performance increase or a price advantage.
Previous versions of the Samsung Portable SSD did not support TRIM. The new T5 products accept the command from the host through the UASP protocol. The feature doesn’t work with the native exFAT file system that provides compatibility with Android and other devices. You will need to format the Portable SSD T5 with the NTFS file system for TRIM to work. Increased compatibility will be more important for some users, but if you only use Windows, we suggest using NTFS to gain access to the TRIM feature. TRIM will increase performance over time, particularly after heavy use.
We expected the new Portable SSD T5 to come to market with lower prices than the previous generation. That didn't happen this round, and it's disappointing. Samsung does a very good job of giving users of all budgets an option, but it would be nice to see a steady price reduction with each generation. Retailers have the final say when it comes to cost, but we don't expect to see the Portable SSD T5 offered at a discount any time soon. You may be able to find some excellent deals on the remaining stock of T3-branded drives, though.
The T5 has two standout features. The ability to use the T5 with an Android cell phone or tablet is a welcome addition, while the encryption feature is a close second for business users or anyone who wants to secure their data. Losing a portable SSD can be an expensive lesson, but losing the data extends beyond just the financial loss. Even though it's small and you will need to initiate simultaneous file transfers to see it, the performance increase is also a nice addition.
Samsung just didn't reach high enough with the Portable SSD T5 to make it an amazing product. The product fits with user's needs today, but we would have liked to see a Thunderbolt 3 / USB 3.1 Gen 2 combo. Over the last two years, Thunderbolt has gained traction in desktop and notebook systems. Later this year, Intel will bring native Thunderbolt 3 to the CPU, so every new computer will support the technology. We know other companies will have portable storage products with this technology before the end of the year. Samsung missed an opportunity to lead and set a new standard rather than just going with the flow.
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