Crucial X8 Review: (Still) the Fastest USB Portable SSD to Date

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The Crucial X8 Portable SSD is eye candy.

Micron’s first try into the realm of portable solid-state drives proved to be a big deal. The Crucial X8 was the fastest USB-based portable SSD I first tested some 10 months go.

Now, with the release of the 2 TB version, it’s still the one with the fast read speed on the market. And the little storage device is eye candy to boot.

Even better, with the suggested price of some $120, $165, $330 for 500 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB, respectively, the X8 is more affordable than many of its (slower) competitors.

In all, if you need to copy a lot of data, the time saved by its super-fast speed alone is worth the extra cash. Just make sure your computer has 10Gbps or faster USB standard.

Dong’s note: I first published this review on November 2, 2019, and updated it on September 3, 2020, with the performance of the newly-released 2 TB version.

Crucial X8 Portable SSD

9

Performance

9.5/10

Features

7.5/10

Design and Setup

9.5/10

Value

9.5/10

Pros

  • Fast USB 3.2 Gen 2 performance
  • Friendly pricing
  • Compact, rugged, aesthetically pleasing design
  • USB-C ready, USB-A converter included

Cons

  • No bundled software or security feature

Crucial X8: Beautiful, rugged, compact design

Out of the box, the Crucial X8 resembles a bar of dark chocolate. It’s slightly longer than the WD My Passport SSD, but still very compact.

The drive has a unibody made of anodized aluminum that looks great and feels solid in hand. Both of its ends are covered in a layer of softer material to absorb shock in case of drops. As a result, per Micron, the drive can fall from some 7.5 feet (2m) on a carpeted floor without hurting the data it stores.

You should handle any storage device with care, but for the shake of testing, I did throw the X8 around a few times and even left it with my two toddlers to play for several hours. It survived without a scratch. The last time I accidentally left my phone with them, the result was quite different.

So yes, the X8 is rugged. Another thing I like about it is the fact that it doesn’t attract dirt or fingerprints, the way the WD My Passport does. This new portable SSD looks good right out of the box and remains that way.

Simple storage, USB-C connection

The Crucial X8 is quite simple and includes no special software of its own. The drive doesn’t feature hardware encryption, either, but you can use Windows’s Bitlocker Go (or mac OS’s FileVault) with it.

Out of the box, the drive is formatted using the exFAT file system to work with multiple platforms, including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. But you can always reformat it into any file system of your liking.

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The drive has a USB-C port on one of its end to connect to a host. It includes a short USB-C cable and a USB-C to USB-A converter. You can take it out of the box and use it with any computer, without having to get a cable of your own.

Crucial X8’s detail photos

Crucial X8 2 TB
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The Crucial X8’s retail box.

Crucial X8 Portable Drive
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The Crucial X8 is a nice looking little bar of portable SSD.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The Crucial X8 Portable drive features a USB-C port and is ready to work with any computer right out of the box.

Crucial X8 Portable Drive 5
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The drive is quite compact.

Crucial X8 vs X6 2
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech Though it’s not as compact as its newly-release younger brother, the X6.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The Crucial X8 is slightly longer than the WD My Passport SSD.

Crucial X8’s hardware specifications

The Crucial X8 houses an NVMe SSD on the inside, and it features USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps). That said, it has a theoretical copy speed of 1050 megabytes per second. By the way, if you’re unsure which USB standard is which, you’re not alone. I detailed different USB standards in this post.

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Crucial X8: Excellent performance

I tested the X8 using a 10Gbps USB port (USB 3.2 Gen 2), and it was the fastest of its type. The driver delivered the sustained copy speeds of more than 620 megabytes per second and more than 840 MB/s for writing and reading, respectively.

So, the drive has maintained the fast in terms of reading. In writing, it’s now just a tad slower than the much more expensive WD Black P50. Also, it’s worth noting that the X8 handles large operations well. During a test, I made it read then write some 600 GB at a time and its performance didn’t fluctuate at all.

Crucial X8 Portable Drive Performance
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

On the chart, you’ll note that the Samsung X5 is by far the fastest portable SSD on the market. However, it’s strictly a Thunderbolt 3 drive that doesn’t work with USB at all.

The X8, on the other hand, works with all USB ports (including USB 2.0) as well as Thunderbolt 3 port. (All Thunderbolt 3 ports have built-in support for USB 3.2 Gen 2.)

When tested with a USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) port, the X8 also excelled, topping the chart of same-standard portable SSDs. The drive also worked with USB 2.0 in my trial with a sustained speed of around 40 MB/s.

I used for the X8 for a couple of days continuously and ran into zero problems. The drive got a little warm during long operation but not to the point of concern.

Conclusion

Micron’s new Crucial X8 Portable SSD is an excellent storage device. It’s currently one of the fastest USB external drives on the market. The rugged and aesthetically pleasing design doesn’t hurt, either, and the affordable pricing means it’s an easy recommendation.

And now with the newly-minted 2 TB version, the drive is also one of the most spacious you can find. My only complaint is the fact it has no extra security feature or built-in encryption. But, if you’re looking for a fast, rugged, frill-free, little device that works well, everywhere, including your game consoles, this is an excellent buy.

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6 thoughts on “Crucial X8 Review: (Still) the Fastest USB Portable SSD to Date”

  1. Just wanted to say after lots of testing with different software, copying games from other drives, zippy, this is fricken awesome and value.. They must have improved or it’s my newer PC letting it go off tap! Purchased one today and I am getting almost 1100MB/s Read and 1050MB/s Write. +- 5-10MB/s. Just tested again on CrystalDiskMark 7.0.0 x64.

    It is plugged into the Type-C connector and it’s nicely/safely tucked away in a slot between the top glass and above the top fans on my case. So, while its portable it neither takes up any of my Sata spots, goes twice as fast as them and unlike the M.2 NVMe Samsung 970 evo plus 1tb that utilises sata2, I didn’t have to give up sata5&6 for another M.2 drive. Thus, retaining my other 5x SSDs. (7 hard drives total)..

    My mboard is the MSI MPG z490 Gaming Carbon Wifi that has an onboard ASMedia ASM3241 USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 20Gbps port on the back panel.

    On all benchmark software I am getting or slightly exceeding the rated max speeds.

    Reply
  2. Dong, I think you have some typos in your USB standard table or I’m really not understanding what you meant. .Example: “USB 3.2 Gen 1: … later renamed to USB 3.1 Gen 1:

    I do appreciate this review; it seems like none of the large capacity USB keys can handle sustained writes but the portable SSDs can which is great to know. I’m guessing that the USB keys can’t handle the heat and have to throttle to protect themselves? That would make an interesting article if you haven’t already done one like that.

    Reply
    • I rewrote that part to make it clearer, Rob. But the naming of USB standards has been confusing, to put it mildly. USB thumb drives are different from portable SSDs. The later delivers much faster performance. They are internal drives put inside an external enclosure.

      Reply

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