A portable SSD has a number of benefits over a portable HDD, the biggest being that they're much smaller and much faster. There are trade-offs like ultimate capacity and a generally higher price tag, but if you move a lot of data on the go then one of the best portable SSDs is what you need.
Samsung makes some of the best SSDs around, and the South Korean electronics giant's portable offerings are also fantastic. The Samsung T7 is the latest model, with capacities up to a whopping 2TB. Read and write speeds are up to 1,050MB/s, and it connects to a USB-C Gen 2 port. The T7 is also ridiculously small, shock-resistant, and has an optional fingerprint scanner for added security.
If you're after the best of the best within the average SSD price range of $80-160, you can't go wrong with the Samsung T7 Shield. On top of the fact that it edges out the standard Samsung T7 and several other SSDs in terms of read and write speeds, the Samsung T7 Shield is also extremely durable thanks to its rugged rubber shell and IP65 rating. Like the normal T7, it's available with up to 2TB of capacity and connects via USB-C Gen 2.
It's exciting to see external storage that can beat out internal SATA drives and the OWC Envoy Pro Elektron is another such example. This pocket-sized SSD is built to withstand a beating, and because it uses USB-C 3.2 you're getting read and write speeds around 1,000MB/s. It's IP67 rated, too, and only really loses out to the Samsung T7 because it's hardly the most affordable SSD in town.
The PNY Elite is a no-frills portable SSD smaller than a credit card with 24/7 U.S.-based customer support and, oh, a pretty low price tag for its 240GB model. Need more? Fine! With 430MB/s read and 400MB/s write speeds, it's at least four times quicker than a portable HDD. The icing on the cake is the included license for Acronis True Image, a simple way to make a full backup of your drive in the event that anything bad happens.
Thunderbolt allows simply insane data transfer speeds on this 2TB SSD, utilizing NVMe technology to match performance from some of Samsung's best internal drives. We're looking at read and write speeds of 2,800MB/s and 2,300MB/s respectively, wrapped up in a shock-resistant shell. Not everyone can use one or would want to pay the extreme asking price, but this is the future of portable storage.
The idea of a portable SSD is that you take it places, so having one that can stand up to a beating is a good idea. We loved the CalDigit Tuff Nano for its ability to do just that, and the latest CalDigit Tuff Nano Plus model is even more of a tank. As a USB-C 3.2 SSD it's really fast, with insane transfer speeds and equally impressive read and write. It's incredibly tough, tested against dust, water, and shock, and the only real downer is that out of the box it comes formatted for Mac.
If we had to choose ...
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When we're choosing an internal SSD for a PC, there's one brand we always go for, and the same can be said now for external ones, too. Samsung makes some of the best portable SSDs on the market, and the tiny T7 is one excellent SSD. You get a range of sizes, even colors to choose from, it's fast and reliable, and doesn't even cost that much. It's a definite winner.
At the other end of the scale, Samsung is now pushing out Thunderbolt drives with the performance that once was a fantasy for portable storage. They're pricey and not everyone can even use them, but if you're looking for the future, today, then it's here with the X5.
There's also the CalDigit Tuff Nano Plus, which offers excellent performance in a package that's both rugged and compact. It doesn't come cheap, but you're getting stellar durability and speed in an SSD that's considerably smaller than the majority of competing drives.
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