Samsung's portable SSDs bridge the gap between a small, throwaway USB flash drive — usually with a tiny storage capacity — and a larger portable USB hard drive. The new T3 really is the best of both worlds, and brings the luxury of high-speed USB Type-C too, but you'll pay a hefty premium for it.
What Is It?
- Dimensions: 74x58x10mm, 51g
- Capacity: 250GB/500GB/1TB/2TB
- Connectivity: USB Type-C (USB 3.1)
The T3 is the second portable SSD from Samsung, the first being the T1 that we continue to love and use. Where the T1 packed a maximum 1TB capacity into its small 71x53x9mm and 25g plastic shell, the T3 boosts that to a top 2TB of all-flash, super-fast storage in a basically identical 74x58x10mm, although it's twice as heavy at 51g.
The cheapest 250GB Samsung T3 SSD will set you back $179 in Australia, while a 500GB is $289, a 1TB drive is $579 and the 2TB monster is a pants-wetting $1079. This is a lot of money, but it's also an easy route into the smallest, fastest, most capacious portable solid-state drive on the market right now, and that comes with an accordingly high price tag.
What's It Good At?
The Samsung T3 switches from the T1's old micro-USB 3.0 connector — you know, this one — to the much more versatile, reversible and much higher speed USB Type-C connector. That means the T3 gets along really well with Samsung's excellent and equally portable TabPro S Windows 10 convertible as long as you have a USB Type-C to Type-C cable, or any newer smartphone with a Type-C port. Any USB 3.0 or 3.1 device will be able to use the T3 to its fullest potential.
And that full potential is fast. We tested the Samsung T3's performance figure when it was around 50 per cent full, with 460GB of data already sitting on the 931GB metric capacity SSD — definitely not the best-case scenario. Using CrystalDiskMark's synthetic disk transfer tests, we clocked 435MBps read and 350MBps write speeds, which is close to Samsung's stated performance figures. In the real world, with a 100GB Windows 10 transfer back and forth from an extremely fast internal SSD, we achieved 395MBps and 185MBps read/write speeds — still incredibly fast.
What's It Not Good At?
To get the absolute utmost out of the Samsung T3's blazingly fast transfer rates, you'll need a computer that's compatible with the USB 3.1 Gen 1 transfer standard. At the moment, there's not a great deal of pre-built PCs and laptops out there that have native USB 3.1, so you'll have to have something built within the last few months to transfer at the fastest possible speed. And Samsung's bundled cable is fine, but a bit short at around 20cm long.
I also had a couple of hiccups connecting the T3 to a couple of USB Type-C compatible smartphones — the HTC 10 and the LG G5 — which required a little digging into the phones' settings and setting them to deliver power to an externally connected device rather than attempting to draw power from it. It's crazy that you can use a portable 1TB drive with a phone in the first place, don't get me wrong.
Should You Buy It?
Price: from $179
- Uses USB Type-C.
- Fast transfer rates.
- Small and portable.
- Not many USB 3.1 PCs out there.
- Minor hiccups with smartphones.
Do you really need all that capacity in an external hard drive? Probably, yes, with the proliferation of 4K video, Hi-Res Audio, high-resolution smartphone photos, media backups, external hard drive backups and every other kind of bloated-file-size storage widget that you can't store persistently on the cloud. Do you need it in a single, tiny drive? Probably not.
Despite the fact that you really have to want the $179-plus Samsung T3 to justify its existence over a larger traditional spinning-disk portable hard drive or even a portable 2.5-inch SSD, it's really easy to fall in love with it. I carry it around in my pocket with my phone and wallet and keys, and it has basically supplanted my big, old, clunky network-attached storage (NAS) drive for at-home media viewing.
If you have the cash to burn, picking up a 2TB Samsung T3 SSD is a very effective way to use $1000. Just think of all the files that you'll be able to carry.