Samsung Portable SSD T3 review:

A future-proof portable drive

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4.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Portable SSD T3 is super compact, rugged, fast and can have up to 2TB of storage space. The drive has a USB-C port, allowing it to work with more devices than other portable drives.

The Bad The T3 is a tad larger and slightly slower than its predecessor, the T1, while costing more. Its three-year warranty is short for a storage device at this price.

The Bottom Line Compact, rugged, fast and capacious, the Portable SSD T3 is an excellent portable storage device to take on the go.

8.8 Overall
  • Setup 9.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Performance 9.0
  • Support 7.0

If you love Samsung's Portable SSD T1 -- and you should -- you'll likely love the company's new Portable SSD T3 even more.

I say "likely" because in testing, the new T3 was actually a bit slower than the previous model while costing slightly more, at $130, $230 and $430 for 250GB, 500GB and 1TB respectively (£99, £159 and £302 in the UK). That's compared to the current cost of $85, $158 and $349 for the T1 at the same capacities (£88, £149 and £250 in the UK).

To earn that premium, the T3 has a rugged new aluminum case and now comes with a USB-C port instead of the old Micro-USB 3.0 port. What's more, the new drive is also available in a 2TB capacity for $850, which is huge considering how small it is. (A UK price is not yet available, but that converts to around £590. Australian prices for the T3 are yet to be announced.)

That said, if you're looking for a tiny yet tough, secure and capacious portable storage device to accompany your mobile devices, be it a laptop or a USB-C-enabled tablet, the T3 is an excellent choice. But if you just want a fast and super compact portable storage device and don't care about it being rugged, the T1 is still a great deal, especially given its now lower price.

For more options on excellent alternatives, check out this list of the top portable drives on the market.

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The Portable SSD T3 comes with a USB-C port.

Dong Ngo/CNET

Tiny and tough design

The new T3 is a tad larger than the T1, yet it's still small enough to be mistaken for a block of chocolate. A generous block of chocolate, sure.

The drive's sleek new aluminum casing, an upgrade from the plastic of the T1, allows it to be shock-resistant. Samsung says the drive can withstand up to 1,500 g's of force and survive a drop of up to 2 meters (about 6.6 feet). I did try dropping it a few times from above my head to a carpet floor and the drive was fine. Inside, the T3 has an integrated Thermal Guard feature that prevents overheating in extreme temperatures. All in all, it's safe to say that the T3 is a tough little thing.

Samsung Portable SSD T3 specs

Drive type mSATA-based portable drive
Capacity 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
Interface USB 3.0 (USB 2.0 compatible) with an USB-C port.
Dimensions (L x W x H) 2.9x2.3x0.4 inch (74x58x10.5 mm)
Weight 1.8 ounces (51 grams)
Sequential speed Up to 450MBps via USB 3.0
Encryption support AES 256-bit
Security Password setting (optional)
Operating system Windows 7 (or later), Mac OS 10.7 (or later), Android KitKat (version 4.4 or later)
Warranty 3 years

On one side, the T3 has a USB-C port, as opposed to the usual Micro-USB 3.0 port, but the drive supports the USB 3.0 standard with a top speed of 5Gbps. It's also compatible with USB 2.0. The use of the USB-C port means when coupled with a USB-C cable (not included) it can work with the new MacBook, and all mobile devices that offer a USB-C port -- mostly Android tablets and a couple of phones for now. The drive includes a USB-C to USB-A cable, which allows it to work with all existing computers and their regular USB ports. (For more about USB-C, check out this post.)

As for storage, similar to the case of the T1, the T3 houses a Samsung mSATA 850 Evo. This means it has all the features of the 850 Evo product line.

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The new T3 (top) is slightly larger than the T1.

Dong Ngo

Familiar features

The most important feature of the T3 is the use of 3D-vertical NAND flash memory, an increasingly popular technology in standard solid-state drive.

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