Crucial Portable SSD X6 and X8 2TB Review: QLC for Storage On-the-Go

2020-10-30

Bus-powered portable flash-based storage solutions are one of the growing segments in the consumer-focused direct-attached storage market. The emergence of 3D NAND with TLC and QLC has brought down the cost of such drives. NAND manufacturers like Western Digital, Samsung, and Crucial/Micron who also market portable SSDs have an inherent advantage in terms of vertical integration. Last year, Crucial/Micron had  into the segment with the QLC-based Crucial Portable SSD X8, which was reviewed in . A few months back, Crucial  the lineup with a 2TB model while adding a lower-performance X6 member to the portfolio. This review sets out to determine how these high-capacity portable SSDs fare against the competitors in this market segment.  e5-1620 v3

Introduction

External bus-powered storage devices have grown both in storage capacity as well as speeds over the last decade. Thanks to rapid advancements in flash technology (including the advent of 3D NAND and NVMe) as well as faster host interfaces (such as Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.x), we now have palm-sized flash-based storage devices capable of delivering 2GBps+ speeds. While those speeds can be achieved with Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, mass-market devices have to rely on traditional USB. Entry-level USB drives utilize a flash controller with a direct USB interface, while the mid-range and high-end ones use flash packages behind either a SATA or NVMe SSD controller in conjunction with a SATA/NVMe-USB bridge. In today's review, we take a look at the Crucial Portable SSD X6, a SATA SSD behind a USB 3.2 Gen 2 bridge chip, and the Crucial Portable SSD X8, a NVMe SSD behind a USB 3.2 Gen 2 bridge chip.

From a performance viewpoint, the X6 and X8 fall under different categories that are referred to here on as SATA-class and NVMe-class. Under the SATA-class devices, the Crucial Portable SSD X6 is pitted against the following external SSDs that were reviewed earlier:

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The Crucial Portable SSD X8 goes head-to-head against the following drives:

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A quick overview of the internal capabilities of the SATA-class drives is given by CrystalDiskInfo.