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Samsung Portable SSD T1 review: Portability and performance redefined

The T1 is the tiniest portable drive you can buy, yet it also has the best performance.

Dong Ngo SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews
CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.
Dong Ngo
4 min read

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.


Samsung Portable SSD T1

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.

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.

The T1 doesn't have all of the 850 Evo's features, however. Most noticeable is the omission of the RAPID mode, which uses the available system memory (RAM) on the host computer as an input/output cache to boost the drive's performance. Since this feature is only applicable for internal drives and the T1 works externally, RAPID is not implemented. This means it's likely that the T1's write performance will not be as good as its read performance.

Simple setup

Out of the box, the T1 appears to the host computer as a small FAT32 partition that contains the Samsung Portable SSD setup software. Once run, this application walks you through a few steps to set up the drive, including naming it and, optionally, picking a password to protect its content. Depending on the system you're using, be it a Windows or a Mac, the software will then reformat the drive into a new full-capacity partition that uses an applicable file system -- NTFS or HFS+, respectively. The whole process took me just a few seconds.

You can always use the Samsung Portable SSD application later to change the password option. If you choose to password protect the drive, keep in mind that there's no way to access the data on the drive if you forget the password. This is because the drive supports AES 256-bit, which is currently the strongest encryption standard.

You can use the software to setup password protection for the drive. Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET


The Samsung Portable SSD T1 totally delivered in real-world performance. When used with USB 3.0, it registered a sustained write speed of almost 160MBps and a read speed of close to 300MBps.

The T1 also works with USB 2.0 with a sustained speed of around 28MBps and 30MBps for writing and reading, respectively.

CNET Labs' USB 3.0 external drive performance

Samsung Portable SSD T1 158.3 292.42Brinell Drive SSD 156.4 220.2WD My Book Duo (RAID 0) 116.7 210.96Seagate Backup Plus Desktop 150.9 180.45WD My Book Duo (RAID 1) 110.3 149.89Toshiba Canvio Slim II 118.8 118.49WD My Passport Ultra 118.5 117.87SiliconPower Armor A60 104.3 114.48Seagate Slim 110.4 111.49LaCie Christofle Sphere 105.5 111.43ioSafe SoloPro G3 109.1 110.8Seagate Backup Plus 90.94 110.1WD My Password Slim 107.7 107.89
  • Write
  • Read
Note: Measured in megabytes per second

Note that while super-fast, the drive wasn't as fast as Samsung claims, which is 450MBps. When it comes to storage devices, however, it's quite common for there to be a huge disparity between real-world performance and the number the vendor claims. So far, the T1 is still the fastest on the market among non-RAID portable drives.


Super-compact, the Samsung Portable SSD T1 redefines portability. Super-fast, it raises the expectation of what a portable storage device is capable of. In fact, it's how any portable drive should be. The drive is perfect for those needing to quickly back up data or even do some video editing on the go.

My only minor concern is its three-year warranty. Considering Samsung backs the 850 Evo drive with a five-year warranty and the 850 Pro drive with a 10-year, the T1 looks short-changed. Plus, of course, paying $600 for just 1TB of storage space is a luxury most people can't afford.

That said, the T1 is best suited for professional and high-end business users. For the rest of us, I'd wait till the price comes down before getting your own.


Samsung Portable SSD T1

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 9Performance 10Support 7