Samsung make's great SSDs. Some of the very best you can buy, and it's usually the first brand we'll think of to recommend. When buying a Samsung SSD you know what you're getting into every time: Performance and reliability.
It's not limited to internal SSDs, either. The T5 has long been one of the best external SSDs around and at CES 2020 Samsung finally announced its successor. This is the T7 Touch, and it carries on where the T5 left off in the size stakes and gives the features and performance a little kick in the pants.
Tiny and secure
Samsung T7 Touch
Bottom line: Perhaps not the absolute fastest out there, but a combination of speed, reliability, and security makes the new T7 Touch one worth buying for your portable data carry assuming your PC can get the most from it.
- Tiny size
- Durable construction
- Integrated fingerprint scanner
- Great performance
- Easy use on Android
- Requires USB 3.2 for max performance
- Only short cables included
- Less expensive, fingerprint-free version not available at launch
What you'll like about the Samsung T7 Touch
Like the T5 that came before it, the T7 Touch is tiny and well made. It's about the size of a credit card and not a massive amount thicker than a USB-C port, so it's still entirely pocketable. SSDs, in general, are pretty small, but it's still nice to see Samsung stuck with a tiny metal box.
Being metal you might assume there's a little bit of warmth when it gets going, but it rarely gets any hotter than a smartphone under intensive load. After transferring an almost 50GB folder having been connected to my PC for a good hour it was still lukewarm.
Oh, and as it's a Samsung SSD it uses Samsung's own memory chips. Naturally. Which is good. Spec-wise, here's what we're looking at:
- Capacity - 500GB/1TB/2TB
- USB 3.2 (Gen 2, 10Gbps)
- Read / Write - Up to 1,050 MB/s / Up to 1,000 MB/s
- Encryption - AES 256-bit hardware data encryption
- Security - Password/Fingerprint
- Weight - 58g
- Warranty - 3 years
The USB 3.2 interface is backward compatible, at the cost of absolute performance. Connected to a USB 3.2 port on my ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming 4 motherboard with the included USB-C to USB-A cable yielded the best results.
In both CrystalDiskMark and ATTO Disk Benchmark, the T7 Touch reaches the sort of performance that Samsung claims, albeit only on read. Write performance is still very respectable, though, topping out at just over 750 MB/s across both tests. That's a little short of Samsung's claims, though that could be down to the USB-A to USB-C connection, even though the port on the PC is USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 like the T7 Touch. Unfortunately, I don't have a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port handy to compare.
You can manage password and fingerprint access from your Android smartphone, too.
What does this mean in a real-world situation, though? Copying a 3GB file to the T7 Touch took just 6.71 seconds, while a folder containing 49.2GB of data (the game files for The Witcher 3) clocked in at 2 minutes, 44 seconds. Both are excellent results, and a clear indicator that the T7 Touch is capable of being your portable data storage if you're handling large files frequently.
The other feature that stands out on the T7 Touch is the built-in fingerprint scanner. When enabled it secures the SSD and prevents access to any of the data stored on it without authentication. Better still, you don't need Samsung's companion application installed to recognize the fingerprint, it's all done on the SSD. So whatever PC you use it with you'll always be able to access your data, but other people will not. You could, if you really wanted to, also use it as an expansion to your Xbox or PlayStation that no-one but you could access games from!
This also applies to Android. Samsung has a similar companion app for Android smartphones available, and connecting the SSD is simple with the included USB-C to USB-C cable. You can't update the firmware without using a PC, but you can manage password and fingerprint access from your phone, which is a handy feature to have. It works perfectly, too, and is no more inconvenient than unlocking a smartphone or your laptop with your finger.
What you'll dislike about the Samsung T7 Touch*
If I'm being picky, which I am, the cables Samsung includes with the T7 Touch just aren't long enough. Both are fine if you're a laptop user, and they're certainly easy to pack in a bag, but if you also use a desktop they're a pain.
In my case, and I'm sure I'm not alone, I only have USB 3.2 ports on my motherboard, as in, at the back of my PC. So for the entire period of testing for this review, there was mild cursing every time I wanted to use the SSD since I had to reach a bit to activate the fingerprint scanner. Dealbreaker? Hardly, but if you're going to use it with a desktop PC like mine you'll want to invest in some longer cables.
If you're a desktop user you'll probably need longer cables.
It's also not really that attractive if your PC doesn't have USB 3.2. When you step down from USB 3.2 the speeds take a hit and become limited. At USB 3.0 speeds read and write both clocked in at around 450 MB/s at best, but that's not Samsung's fault. Nevertheless, at $130 starting price, you really need to make sure you've got the hardware to take full advantage before thinking of picking one of these up.
There's also no option to have the T7 without the fingerprint scanner right now. You'd assume the regular, touch-free version will be cheaper, but that's not coming at launch.
Should you buy the Samsung T7 Touch?
Assuming you can take full advantage, the T7 Touch is an excellent choice for your portable storage needs. It's pushing the limits of what we'll get over USB right now without stepping up to Thunderbolt 3, and it's still every bit as pocketable as the T5 that came before it.
If you don't have USB 3.2 on hand then it's expensive and not worth buying, but that's down to technology and not down to Samsung. The inclusion of a simple to use fingerprint scanner for added security, and seamless use with Android smartphones are also both nice touches.
Ultimately, the T7 Touch is everything we'd expect from a Samsung SSD. It's fast, well made, and with Samsung, you get a guarantee of reliability. You really can't go wrong with a T7 Touch.
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