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: 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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.