For quite a few years we’ve been using our Samsung T5 as a portable drive solution. It is a small SSD which we could take everywhere when we’re working remotely. It’s quite fast but we realised that it would be nice to have something even faster.
The top-end NVME drives are really expensive but luckily now there are NVME drives that are about double the speed of an SSD and not that much more expensive.
Dimensions: 96.5 mm x 53.6 mm x 12.5 mm
Connection Interface: USB 3.1 Gen 2
USB Type: USB to USB-C/USB-C to USB-C
Flash Type: 3D NAND flash
Capacity: 240GB/ 480GB/ 960GB (2 cables included – USB and USB type-C)
Read Speed: Up to 1050 MB/s
Write Speed: Up to 950 MB/s
Warranty: 3-year Limited Warranty
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7/8/10 and Mac OS 10 or later
So the drive itself is about the size of a credit card, just a bit thicker, but it is still very compact. It has this rubberized material – navy blue silicone rubber case – that helps with shock absorbing and provides US military drop-test standards. That comes especially handy when we’re travelling around and working on the go. We can quickly transfer our data from the shoots, throw the SSD in the bag and not worry about padding it or being extra careful with the bag. We can continue our shoot and trust that our data is gonna be protected and the work that we’re doing is safe and sound.
This drive is PCIe SSD and it also comes in three size options – 240GB/ 480GB/ 960GB. Upon purchase you’ll also get an exclusive Transcend elite software which can be used to set up backups and restores, encrypt your data and also cloud sync.
Let’s check out what else comes in the box. Here we have a USB type a USB type-C and USB type-C to USB type-C. This actually reversible cable so it’s super easy. There’s also an installation guide and information about some other products that Transcend sells, like, memory modules and other drives.
On paper this unit should deliver about twice the speed in comparison to Samsung T5. Let’s go and test this out in both – synthetic and real-life scenarios and take it from there.
In a synthetic test AS SSD it is clear to see that sequential read and write speeds are far superior on the Transcend drive. They are 300 to 400 MB higher. When it comes down to random 4k, it all changes and Samsung drive actually delivers better read speeds. This must be linked to the seek times having considerably lower latency on the Samsung drive in comparison to Transcend drive.
Next, we move on to Crystal Disk Mark and here we see similar results in which Transcend has 80% increase in sequential read and 67% in sequential write speed. Then we have a 26% drop in random read and a 34% increase in random write. This is pretty consistent with the previous testing.
Now onto the more realistic tests. We are creators and we constantly work on our projects on the go, this includes moving a lot of pictures and videos to and from portable SSD. Here we transferred just short of 200GB of small files from PC to the portable hard drive and immediately saw that the Transcend drive is about 100MB faster than Samsung. But after approximately 100GB for some reason transfer speed dropped to around 80-120MB per second and never recovered.
To compare, Samsung completed the transfer in 11min and 25 seconds. Transcend on the other hand took 24 minutes. Both drives were noticeably hot towards the end of a transfer and I wondered if that is the cause, so I immediately reversed the test – now we were reading the data from the drive and saving on the PC. Here Samsung speed was between 320 and 400mbps and it completed the test in 9 minutes and 2 seconds.
So I still had no answer to why the speed went down so much, I figured it may be the small files which eat up the IOPS and then drop the speed so I proceeded with copying 3 large files totalling of 230GB. Samsung drive started at about 400 mb speed and then dropped down to 300 and at about 70% completion dropped further down to 220. This one seemed to thermal throttle.
Transcend started off at 540 which gave me hope, but then after about 50GB, dropped down to 130 and never recovered.
The flip side – if you do one large file transfer like we did, that buffer will run out and you will be choking the drive – hence the slow speeds. But after the transfer is finished and you leave the drive for a little while, it will do its reshuffling of data and will have the cache available for you again. So let’s test it.
Here I copy our sample project folder. It’s about 36GB in size and contains a mix of video files in various sizes and pictures. I took a break between each transfer for about 5min and repeated the test again.
The drive was certainly getting hot, but speed stayed the same at around 550mbps. After 4 rounds I shortened the wait time to 3min. Same result. After 3 rounds shortened time to 2 min and here towards the end – the speed dropped. I gave it 3 minutes again and it started dropping speed about 30% in. Seems like I have pushed it too hard. But something to consider as well – when any SSD gets closer to full it naturally slows down.
What does it all mean for the general consumer? Well, this really depends on the use case. If you do massive backups which are time sensitive, such as quickly moving 100s of gigabytes of data to the drive, and expect it to maintain the speed, you would be better off with a drive like Samsung T5 or something much more expensive to achieve really good sustained write speeds.
However, people who work with smaller transfers or working directly on the drive will benefit from burst speeds that this drive provides.
In our case when we are out recording somewhere remotely – our standard workflow is to save footage and pictures from camera to the laptop and then we would make a copy of it onto the SSD, here the individual transfers would hardly ever reach 100GB. But this is not the main reason we like this drive – when we are back at the office and need to back up from the SSD to the server, this is where the crazy read speeds matter and we can offload the whole drive in minutes so we can immediately start the work. This massively improves our productivity.
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