Samsung Portable SSD T1 review: Portability and performance redefined

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The Good The Samsung Portable SSD T1 is tiny yet super-fast. The drive has up to 1TB of storage space, supports data encryption and works with both Mac and Windows.

The Bad The drive is expensive and has only a three-year warranty.

The Bottom Line Other than its cost, the Samsung Portable SSD T1 is what any portable drive should be.

9.0 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 9
  • Performance 10
  • Support 7

The Samsung Portable SSD T1 is a one-of-kind portable drive. It's a bit larger than a thumbdrive, as easy to use, yet has up to 1TB of storage space and, most importantly, delivers unmatched performance.

What's more, unlike other compact storage devices, the T1 supports data encryption. It also works with both Windows and Mac computers, after a brief setup process.

All that makes it an excellent portable storage device that has enough to justify its current hefty cost of $179 (£125), $299 (£210), and $599 (£406) for 250GB, 500GB and 1TB, respectively. In Australia you'll pay AU$269 for 250GB, AU$429 for 500GB and AU$799 for the 1TB. If you can stomach the price, I recommend it without any reservation.

For other options, including some that are more affordable, check out this list of top portable drives on the market.

The Samsung Portable SSD T1 is tiny. Dong Ngo/CNET

Super-compact design

The T1 is based on the recently reviewed Samsung SSD 850 Evo solid-state drive -- but not the 2.5-inch version. Instead, it uses the mSATA version that's much smaller. The result: the T1 is tiny, measuring just 2.5 by 0.35 by 2.1 inches (64 by 9 by 53mm). It's basically about the size of a large thumbdrive.

Housed in a plastic chassis, the drive is also very light. At just 1 ounce (30 grams), it's about as heavy as the included 5-inch USB cable. The drive connects to a computer via its standard Micro-USB 3.0 port for both power and data.

Samsung Portable SSD T1 Specs

Drive type mSATA-based portable drive
Capacity 250GB / 500GB / 1TB
Interface USB 3.0 (USB 2.0 compatible)
Dimensions (W x H x D) 2.5 x 0.35 x 2.1 inches (71 x 9 x 53mm)
Weight 1 ounce (30g)
Encryption support AES 256-bit
Security Password setting (optional)
Warranty Three-year

3D-NAND with TurboWrite

Despite its size, the T1 has the main features of the 850 Evo, which include the use of 3D-vertical NAND flash memory. Traditionally, 2D-planar type NAND flash memory cells -- the storage units on an SSD -- lie flat on the surface of the silicon wafer. The T1's internal storage's flash memory cells are stacked in up to 32 layers, which allows for significantly more cells in the same number of wafer bits. This greatly increases the density and means, among other things, more storage space for less cost.

The T1 also supports Samsung's TurboWrite technology, which enables the drive to operate a portion of its flash memory in a simulated high-performance mode of single-layer-cell flash memory, as a buffer zone. During write operations, data is first written to this zone at high speeds, then, during idle periods, it's moved from the buffer to the primary storage region. The end result is much faster performance from the user's perspective.