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Samsung T7 Touch Review: A Well-Rounded Portable SSD

The Samsung T7 Touch comes with a pure USB-C and a compatible USB cable. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

At a current cost of $120 for 500GB — or $230 and $400 for 1TB and 2TB, respectively — the Samsung T7 Touch is quite a decent deal. 

It’s not the fastest portable SSD I’ve tested or is it the most affordable, but it sure has an excellent combo of speed, features, and design. And the integrated fingerprint sensor is a cool security bonus.

Samsung T7 Touch Portable SSD

8.4

Performance

8.0/10

Features

9.0/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

8.0/10

Pros

  • Hardware encryption with an integrated fingerprint scanner
  • Compact, rugged design
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2-Class performance
  • Includes both USB-C and compatible cables

Cons

  • Write speed reduction during extended operations
  • More expensive than similar portable SSDs

Samsung T7 Touch: A familiar drive plus a security bonus

At a glance, the Samsung T7 Touch Portable SSD looks almost identical to the previous model, the T5, but it has a lot more to offer.

Compact, rugged design with USB-C

The new drive is a compact drive that fits in your palm. Made with a solid aluminum casing, the T7 Touch is rugged. Samsung says it can handle drops from a height up to 2 meters (6.6 feet).

You should always handle storage devices with care, but for testing, I tossed the drive around a few times, and it survived unscathed. Note, though, that the drive is not scratch-resistant. So, don’t expect it to remain pretty if you drop it on a hard surface or keep it together with hard pointy objects like keys or nails.

But the drive can indeed take some beating without causing harm to its information. And like the T5, the T7 touch comes with a USB-C port and includes a pure USB-C cable and a UB-A to USB-C cable. As a result, out of the box, you’ll be able to plug it into any host, both old and new.

Super-compact, the Samsung T7 Touch fits right in one’s palm. Note the fingerprint scanner. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

Samsung T7 Touch’s specifications

Lightweight, high-security, integrated fingerprint scanner

What makes the T7 Touch different from the T5 is the little square on top, of which edges work as a Motion LED indicator light, which shows the drive’s lock status and activities. The square itself is a fingerprint scanner that works with the drive’s built-in AES 256-bit hardware encryption to protect the information it stores. 

Despite this added security feature, the drive still manages to remain light, at just 58 grams (2.05 ounces.) On the inside, the T7 houses an NVMe solid-state drive (SSD) as its storage space and its USB-C port features USB 3.0 Gen 2 (10Gbps). This combo promises significantly better performance than the previous Samsung USB portable SSDs.

READ MORE:  Device Connections Explained: It's All about USB-C

Helpful security software utility

The Samsung T7 Touch comes formatted using the exFAT file system allowing it to work with all supported platforms, including macOS, Windows, and Android. The drive also has its security feature turned off by default. 

To turn that on, you first need to install Samsung Portable SSD Plus software, of which the installer comes preloaded within the drive. This utility allows for password-protecting the drive’s content and enables users to register up to four fingerprints to conveniently unlock the drive.

It’s easy to register a finger. The process is the same as when you do that on the phone. By the way, if you, for some reason, register one finger more than one time, it will be recognized as a different finger each time.

Once the security feature turned on, the T7 Touch is locked each time you plug it into a host — its Emotion LED will pulse blue. You now have two options to unlock it. You can touch the fingerprint scanner using a registered finger or run the Samsung Portable SSD Plus software and enter the password.

It’s super easy to register a finger with the Samsung Portable SSD software. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

In case the software hasn’t been installed on the host, the locked T7 Touch has a small read-only partition that contains the application’s installer. Once the drive is unlocked, the Emotion LED will glow solid blue for a few seconds before turning itself off, until there are data activities which will cause the LED to light up in a circular motion.

Samsung T7 Touch: Interesting performance

I tested the 500GB capacity of the Samsung T7 Touch, and it delivered quite an interesting performance. When using with USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps), its write performance changes depending on how much data you want to write to it at a sitting.

Reduced sustained write speed in heavy operations

Specifically, if you want to copy 15GB of data or less, you can expect the T7 Touch to be quite fast, with a sustained speed of almost 600 megabytes per second (MB/s). However, if you write more than that, starting with the 16th gigabit or so, the drive will slow down and remain at about 330 MB/s for the rest of the process.

This type of write speed reduction during extended operations is common in certain NVMe SSDs that use low-cost flash NAND memory, such as the Crucial P1. It’s unclear which SSD the T7 Touch uses on the inside, but, according to Samsung, it features the company’s 3-bit MLC V-NAND with TurboWrite. That said, 15GB is about the largest amount of data you can write to the drive at a time before its TurboWrite cache runs out.

Consistently fast read performance, a cool operator

The T7 Touch’s read performance was much better without any reduction of speed. In my testing, the drive averaged about 760 MB/s, no matter how much data I wanted to copy from it.

The drive was quite fast, too, when working with USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps), which is the currently most popular USB standard. In this case, it delivered the sustained copy speed of some 280 MB/s for writing and almost 360 MB/s for reading.

The drive also worked with USB 2.0 in my testing and had a sustained speed of around 40 MB/s.

By the way, the T7 Touch remained cool during my testing, even during extended operations. Its security feature and the fingerprint scanner worked well, too. I just needed to tap once on the scanner to get the drive unlocked. This level of ease of use makes it easy to take advantage of the drive’s security feature.

Conclusion

Performance-wise, the new Samsung T7 Touch Portable SSD is not earth-shattering. It’s also not the most affordable on the market, costing significantly more than the Crucial X8, for example. But the drive’s unique integrated fingerprint scanner can come in quite handy. And its rugged, compact design and hardware encryption are valuable bonuses.

So, while the Samsung T7 Touch Portable SSD is more expensive than its counterparts, for those needing a fast and secure portable storage device, it’s a choice they won’t regret making.

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About the Author: Dong Ngo

Before Dong Knows Tech, I spent some 18 years testing and reviewing gadgets at CNET.com. Technology is my passion and I do know it. | Follow me on Twitter, or Facebook!

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