Micron’s first try into the realm of portable solid-state drives sure makes a bang. The Crucial X8 is the fastest USB-based portable SSD I’ve tested. And the little storage device is eye candy, to begin with.
With the suggested price of some $120 and $165 for 500GB and 1TB, respectively, the X8 is slightly more affordable than slower counterparts of the same capacities. But 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 support 10Gbps or faster USB standard.
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, but you can use Windows’s Bitlocker Go (or mac OS’s FileVault) with it.
If you want to monitor the drive, you can use Micron’s Crucial Storage Executive software, which with all Crucial SSDs. On the X8, it allows for checking on the drive’s condition as well as updating its firmware.
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.
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.
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 confused about which USB standard is what, here’s the breakdown:
- USB 3.2 Gen 1: Formerly USB 3.1 Gen 1, which was also called USB 3.0 at one point. Cap speed: 5Gbps
- USB 3.2 Gen 2: Formerly USB 3.1 Gen 2, which was also called USB 3.1 at one point. Cap speed: 10Gbps.
- USB 3.2 Gen 2×2: Formerly USB 3.2, and is the latest USB specs. Cap speed: 20Gbps.
Crucial X8: Excellent performance
I tested the X8 using a 10Gbps USB port (USB 3.2 Gen 1), and it proved to be 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. That’s more than 50 percent faster than the second-fastest drive, the SanDisk Extreme. Also, it’s worth noting that the X8 handles extended operations well. During a test, I made it read then write some 600GB at a time and its performance was consistent throughout.
On the chart, you’ll note that the Samsung X5 is much faster. However, it’s strictly a Thunderbolt 3 drive that doesn’t work with USB. 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 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 35 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.
Micron’s new Crucial X8 Portable SSD is an excellent storage device. It’s currently the fastest USB-based drive on the market. The rugged and aesthetically pleasing design doesn’t hurt, and the affordable pricing means it’s an easy recommendation.