Hands-On Review: The Portable, Rugged, and Fast Samsung T9 SSD

0Share
Hands-On Review: The Portable, Rugged, and Fast Samsung T9 SSD

Rugged, portable, and fast, Samsung’s T9 series of SSDs are the latest and greatest models in this content- creator-focused line of USB-C external storage. Following in line with the immensely popular T5, T7, and the T7 Shield, the T9 gains a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2x2 port, essentially doubles the transfer speeds of the T7, and retains the rubberized, durable exterior design of the Shield for extra protection during everyday use.

I had the chance to use the 4TB version of the drive. My quick takeaway: it’s an awesome drive, offering more than enough speed for my daily needs, even though Apple doesn’t support the full 20 Gb/s USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 connection.

Samsung T9 SSD
Samsung T9 SSD

This segment of durable and compact SSDs has seen an interesting amount of development over the past few years. With increased speeds and more applications for use, they’re essential devices, especially for creators on the go. Photographers on set who need an instant backup of their frames while transferring large editing projects from computer to computer or the art student who lives off a portable drive are just two examples of people who would benefit from this drive. The T9’s size and speed are a perfect match for these typical applications. More recently, though, compact SSDs have also been used for recording directly to/from a camera. First possible with the T5, this function is now even better with the T9 because its faster sustained read and write speeds, up to 2000MB/s, support higher bit-rate footage from the latest mirrorless and cine cameras.

For my own purposes, I ended up using the drive to record footage directly to/from an Apple iPhone 15 Pro. Using a direct USB-C to USB-C connection from the iPhone, you can record ProRes footage at up to 4K60 and save some of that precious onboard storage space. A feature worth noting for this use application is the Dynamic Thermal Guard, which helps prevent the drive from overheating and maintains an ideal temperature even during heavy use.

T9 SSD Connected to an iPhone 15 Pro, Ready for ProRes Recording
T9 SSD Connected to an iPhone 15 Pro, Ready for ProRes Recording

Other applications I used the T9 for include everyday file transfers, moving complete YouTube projects from my home computer to my work computer, backing up numerous gigabytes-worth of packaged InDesign projects, and creating immediate secondary backups of photos from my camera when importing them to my main desktop hard drives. In terms of these fairly typical storage scenarios, everything worked as expected and transfer speeds were as quick as I could hope for in realistic terms.

In measured terms, and as an Apple user, there’s a bit of a caveat with a drive like this (or any USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 drive for that matter). Despite having the latest MacBook Pro with M3 Max and Thunderbolt™/USB 4 ports, I’m unable to get the full 20 Gb/s speeds the Gen 2x2 spec touts. This will be the case for Apple users, and even most Windows laptop users, since USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 has yet to be widely adopted in creator-minded computers and can mainly be seen on high-end workstations or by using external enclosures.

Benchmark Testing with AmorphousDiskMark
Benchmark Testing with AmorphousDiskMark

In my tests, I hit speeds up to and around 1000MB/s—essentially what you’d expect from a USB 3.2 Gen 2 drive. It’s fine for my practical needs (for example, recording 4K60 ProRes footage from the iPhone 15 Pro only requires a drive with 220 MB/s transfer speeds) but perhaps negates the need for an immediate upgrade to this drive if you’re a Mac user and already enjoying a T7 Shield. Assuming you do have a machine that supports USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, I’d fully expect the drive to perform as advertised; with Apple, though, you’ll need a Thunderbolt™ 4-compatible drive to get above 10 Gb/s and hit those theoretical maximum transfer speeds of up to 40 Gb/s.

Benchmark Testing with Blackmagic Disk Speed Test
Benchmark Testing with Blackmagic Disk Speed Test
Benchmark Testing with ATTO Disk Benchmark
Benchmark Testing with ATTO Disk Benchmark

I appreciate the subtler aesthetic of the T9, compared to the T7 Shield. Both drives have rubberized armor but the T9’s feels a bit more modern, with curved diagonal lines and a deliberate texture in the rubber, compared to the more tactical-looking striped housing of the T7 Shield. Samsung also rates the durable exterior to sustain drops from up to 9.8', so your drive should be safe should it fall from a desk or out of your bag or pocket while walking. The drive is also a credit card-sized 3.5 x 2.4", only 0.6" thick, and weighs around 4.3 oz. It comes with a 1' cable that’s sensible but sometimes a bit too short for certain applications.

It's hard to critique the T9 SSD; it uses a proven concept but offers a worthy performance upgrade compared to the T5 and T7 drives. It’s a fast, compact, and durable drive that’s perfect for day-to-day file backups or as a versatile SSD for recording. The only issue I ran into is the lack of support for the USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 standard, which is something I wouldn’t expect to see if using a compatible machine. If you’re considering this drive specifically for that Gen 2x2 performance, make sure you’re working with a computer or device that explicitly supports it to get the 20 Gb/s speeds. Despite this one hiccup, the T9 performed well and slots right into my working setup as a versatile, portable drive I can use on-the-go for both storage and recording backups.

0 Comments