Review: Samsung's Portable SSD T7 Touch is Compact, Super Speedy and Keeps Your Files Safe With Fingerprint Sensor

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Samsung at CES unveiled the T7 Touch SSD, a follow-up to its super popular T5 SSD. The T7 Touch is now available for purchase, and Samsung sent us a 500GB model for review purposes.

Design wise, the T7 Touch SSD is just about palm size, measuring in at 3.35 inches long, 2.24 inches wide, and 0.31 inches thick. It weighs just two ounces, so it's small enough to tuck into a bag or even a pocket. Compared to an object, it's just about credit card sized, though thicker.


Available in silver or black aluminum, the T7 looks similar to the T5 with flat sides, a USB-C port, and Samsung branding, but there's also a square-shaped fingerprint sensor on the top that can be used to prevent other people from accessing the SSD.

According to Samsung, the SSD can withstand drops up to two meters high, so it should be safe in the event that it gets accidentally dropped. I didn't test dropping the SSD, but I did tuck it into a backpack and carry it around for a week with no issues.


Samsung says there's Dynamic Thermal Guard technology included to minimize heat, and the SSD didn't get beyond warm while I used it.

The T7 Touch features USB 3.2 Gen 2 and PCIe NVMe support for read/write transfer speeds of up to 1,050MB/s and 1,000MB/s, respectively, which makes it twice as fast as the T5 SSD. With the 500GB model that I have, I didn't quite hit maximum transfer speeds, presumably because I'm using an older 2016 MacBook Pro.


I did see read speeds of close to 900MB/s and write speeds of 800MB/s, which is still super fast. Transferring a 50GB folder with thousands of photos took just about four minutes, which is quite a bit faster than the other SSDs I own. Getting maximum speeds requires an NVMe SSD and a USB port that supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 - expect slower transfer speeds on older machines without these features.


When transferring files of various sizes, I noticed that with extended file transfers, there's some throttling of the speed, perhaps due to thermal concerns. Smaller files in the range of 5 or 10GB transfer over quite fast, but speeds slow a bit with larger file sizes. I didn't find this to be a dealbreaker, but it's something to be aware of if you're constantly working with very large file sizes.

Samsung provides both a USB-C to USB-C cable and a USB-C to USB-A cable with the T7 Touch, making it compatible with any computer, whether it uses USB-C or USB-A.

The unique feature of the T7 Touch is the included fingerprint sensor, which locks it down. The fingerprint sensor works as any fingerprint sensor does, reading a fingerprint to identify ownership. As with other fingerprint sensors, the T7 Touch can have issues identifying a fingerprint when a finger is damp or cold, but for the most part, it worked well in my testing.


In lieu of the fingerprint sensor, the T7 Touch can be unlocked with a password, and setting up the fingerprint sensor and password requires Samsung's Portable SSD software, which can be downloaded from Samsung's website for free.


After getting the software up and running, there are options to turn security mode off, add security with password, or add security with password and fingerprint. Setting up the fingerprint sensor requires creating a password and then following a prompt to place a finger on the SSD multiple times, much like the way a fingerprint sensor works on the iPhone. Multiple fingerprints are supported so more than one person can access a drive, but I just used a single finger.


Once the fingerprint sensor is set up, plugging the SSD into the computer will require a fingerprint or password to unlock it, with the files not visible until the SSD is unlocked. On a computer with the Samsung software enabled, plugging in the SSD opens up the software automatically and opens up the fingerprint reader interface. On a computer without the software, the encrypted content of the SSD remains invisible until you use a finger to unlock it.

During my testing, the SSD worked flawlessly on all of the computers that I plugged it into, reading my fingerprint and unlocking in just a second or two so I could use it wherever I was. Ejecting the SSD locked it back up again, making sure it was only accessible when I wanted it to be.


Without a fingerprint, the T7 Touch has no files that are able to be opened except for Samsung's software, which is a bit of a negative. If it's lost, there's no way to leave a message for someone with a name and an email address. Make sure not to forget the password to the drive either - there's no way to reset it that I found.

An LED built into the fingerprint sensor lets you see whether it's locked or unlocked, if the SSD is connected to power, and if files are transferring. When plugged in and locked, for example, the blue LED flashes as an instruction to place a finger on it, and it's also useful to see when file transfers are happening.

Bottom Line

I'm not sure the fingerprint sensor adds a ton of value to the Portable SSD T7 Touch from Samsung, but its compact size, the reliability of the brand, and the super fast transfer speeds make it a worthwhile choice for those in need of an external SSD.

I like the idea of having the SSD locked and encrypted, making my files inaccessible to others should I lose the T7 Touch or should someone else try to access it without permission. The Samsung T7 Touch is a solid option for anyone looking for a portable SSD, especially those who are privacy minded.

For those who would prefer a similar drive without a fingerprint sensor, Samsung has a standard T7 SSD coming in the future, which should be a bit more affordable when it launches.

How to Buy

Samsung's Portable SSD T7 Touch can be purchased from Samsung's website or from Amazon, with prices starting at $130 for the 500GB model. A 1TB model is available for $230, and a 2TB model is available for $400.

Note: Samsung provided MacRumors with a 500GB Portable SSD T7 Touch for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.

Article Link: Review: Samsung's Portable SSD T7 Touch is Compact, Super Speedy and Keeps Your Files Safe With Fingerprint Sensor
 

RamGuy

macrumors 6502a
Jun 7, 2011
914
997
Norway
The need for third-party software is what's holding devices such as these back. I guess it's hard for Samsung to utilise a fingerprint reader on the device without pushing it's own software. I suppose they could integrate with Windows Hello in some way on Windows? On macOS on the other hand I don't think there is anyway for Samsung to use any kind of system API's to have the fingerprint work without utilising it's own software.

I would much rather have a external SSD that integrates directly with BitLocker on Windows and FileVault on macOS instead of relying on third-party software. As both BitLocker and FileVault can be accelerated if the proper optimisations are done on the firmware of these external devices I see no real reason to relay on anything that is not native to the operating system in this day and age.

Sadly from my experience with the previous generation Samsung T5 (why did they skip T6?) it does not feature support for accelerated BitLocker or FileVault so the transfer speeds get greatly reduced when you decide to encrypt them using the native tools in Windows and macOS which is a shame. It's still rather speedy for a external device when utilising USB3.x but it's sad to see how much the throughput drops when Samsung could have easily made them compatible with BitLocker and FileVault accelerated encryption.
 

nutmac

macrumors 601
Mar 30, 2004
4,345
2,296
For those who would prefer a similar drive without a fingerprint sensor, Samsung has a standard T7 SSD coming in the future, which should be a bit more affordable when it launches.
This is a great news. I rather not pay extra for fingerprint security. I prefer APFS encrypted file system instead.
 
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ChromeAce

macrumors regular
Jun 11, 2009
163
145
This makes zero sense to MacRumors readers. Why bypass a superior encryption and authentication system on your Mac? Macs have fingerprint readers and long passcodes using AES-256 whole disk encryption from a Secure Enclave with the option to store the password in your keychain. The only reason you could possibly have to unlock a drive with a finger is if you’re being legally forced to do so by border security or law enforcement.
 

Populus

macrumors 65816
Aug 24, 2012
1,032
871
Valencia, Spain.
The need for third-party software is what's holding devices such as these back. I guess it's hard for Samsung to utilise a fingerprint reader on the device without pushing it's own software. I suppose they could integrate with Windows Hello in some way on Windows? On macOS on the other hand I don't think there is anyway for Samsung to use any kind of system API's to have the fingerprint work without utilising it's own software.

I would much rather have a external SSD that integrates directly with BitLocker on Windows and FileVault on macOS instead of relying on third-party software. As both BitLocker and FileVault can be accelerated if the proper optimisations are done on the firmware of these external devices I see no real reason to relay on anything that is not native to the operating system in this day and age.

Sadly from my experience with the previous generation Samsung T5 (why did they skip T6?) it does not feature support for accelerated BitLocker or FileVault so the transfer speeds get greatly reduced when you decide to encrypt them using the native tools in Windows and macOS which is a shame. It's still rather speedy for a external device when utilising USB3.x but it's sad to see how much the throughput drops when Samsung could have easily made them compatible with BitLocker and FileVault accelerated encryption.
And why Samsung SATA SSD (those installed as internal drives) work flawlessly with FileVault, and the external USB drives don’t?
 

Razeus

macrumors 603
Jul 11, 2008
5,230
1,859
I'll wait for the non finger print version.

I'm eager to get rid of my spinning drives. I was hoping to see 4TB SSD drives.
 
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ChromeAce

macrumors regular
Jun 11, 2009
163
145
I'll wait for the non finger print version.

I'm eager to get rid of my spinning drives. I was hoping to see 4TB SSD drives.
You can buy Micron SATA SSD drives on Amazon for $700 at 8TB and use a cheap SATA to USB-C cable.
- - Post merged: - -

And why Samsung SATA SSD (those installed as internal drives) work flawlessly with FileVault, and the external USB drives don’t?
The external Samsung SSDs work just fine with FileVault. In fact. I boot MacOS this way.
 

MauiPa

macrumors 6502a
Apr 18, 2018
695
923
" I didn't quite hit maximum transfer speeds, presumably because I'm using an older 2016 MacBook Pro." Can you explain that? MBP 2016 has TB3 and supports USB 3.1 gen2 which is 10gbps, which s/b plenty fast for this drive. Just doesn't sound like a correct reason.
 

lec0rsaire

macrumors 65832
Feb 23, 2017
1,500
1,415
" I didn't quite hit maximum transfer speeds, presumably because I'm using an older 2016 MacBook Pro." Can you explain that? MBP 2016 has TB3 and supports USB 3.1 gen2 which is 10gbps, which s/b plenty fast for this drive. Just doesn't sound like a correct reason.
It’s because it was the 500 GB version. Only the higher capacity ones hit the advertised speeds. It’s the same situation with the current internal MBP drives. He probably forgot this. While the newer MBPs have a newer TB3 controller it still has the same transfer speeds.

The main feature of this Titan Ridge controller is DP 1.4 capability instead of DP 1.2 on Alpine Ridge found in the 2016 and 2017 MBPs. Even then I believe only 2018 and newer 15” and 16” MBPs have full 1.4 capability (4K120p, 5K60p and 8K30p without compression).
 
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donlab

macrumors 6502
Jun 3, 2004
292
80
USA
" I didn't quite hit maximum transfer speeds, presumably because I'm using an older 2016 MacBook Pro." Can you explain that? MBP 2016 has TB3 and supports USB 3.1 gen2 which is 10gbps, which s/b plenty fast for this drive. Just doesn't sound like a correct reason.
Probably blowing through the cache when transferring large files.
 
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Futurix

macrumors 6502
Nov 22, 2011
446
420
London
If you want to secure external drive, format it as encrypted APFS with a strong password using Disk Utility.

Relying on third party software is not a good strategy as it will be abandoned in a couple of years and then you are stuck. Plus Samsung has a horrible security record.
 

widestload

macrumors 6502
Jun 10, 2008
338
104
manchester UK
As ive recently been moving more of my ’work’ to my iPad Pro 11” I’d been interested to know how the drive performs with that. Has you done any tests there? I find file transfers quite slow on my ipad, but maybe thats because its limited by the iPads interface rather than the drive speed? Does anyone know the max rate an ipad can transfer at so whether the T7 would be worth it?
 

deconstruct60

macrumors G3
Mar 10, 2009
8,555
1,508
....
I would much rather have a external SSD that integrates directly with BitLocker on Windows and FileVault on macOS instead of relying on third-party software. As both BitLocker and FileVault can be accelerated if the proper optimisations are done on the firmware of these external devices I see no real reason to relay on anything that is not native to the operating system in this day and age.
While Bitlocker integrates with internal drive hardware encryption via TCG Opal and some standard protocols ( Encrypted Hard Drive for Windows ), FileVault is a completely platform neutral solution. It is all done in Apple software. ( The exceptional corner case is T-series drives which pragmatically is yet another implementation of FileVault. ). The dual edge sword feature of FileVault is that it is portable to any drive. The backside edge of that is that it doesn't get to take advantage of any specialized hardware that could shift the encryption workload.

The encrypting capabilities in the host system CPU ( where Apple's software is running) reduces most of the 'costly' overhead, but there isn't drive hand off. Poorly implemented TCG Opal instances have had security holes. That has probably partially motivated Apple to stay away from those. ( similar excuse as to why they ignore TRIM on non Apple drives by default, but not quite as weakly motivated as that one. )

If you turn off all of the T7 security, then FileVault will work just fine on this drive. Since it has zero hardware integration then turning the hardware stuff off has little impact.
 

JayMysterio

macrumors 6502a
Apr 24, 2010
891
15,453
Rock Ridge, California
As ive recently been moving more of my ’work’ to my iPad Pro 11” I’d been interested to know how the drive performs with that. Has you done any tests there? I find file transfers quite slow on my ipad, but maybe thats because its limited by the iPads interface rather than the drive speed? Does anyone know the max rate an ipad can transfer at so whether the T7 would be worth it?
Hopefully this will help.
 
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diamond3

macrumors 6502a
Oct 6, 2005
834
257
A comparable option without the fingerprint is the Crucial X8. I recently purchased it since it was kind of the only portable SSD drive out there with the faster speeds (1050MB/s) and not requiring a separate ssd and enclosure purchase. The only downside is no 2TB option, but the 1TB is $165 right now.
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
10,641
14,206
Central U.S.
I'm holding out hope for a 4TB model without the fingerprint scanner for around $700 later this year. I already have a 2TB and 500GB T5. Thought for sure we'd have 4TB by now. Also that fingerprint scanner light is really annoying.
 

jlc1978

macrumors 68020
Aug 14, 2009
2,490
872
This makes zero sense to MacRumors readers. Why bypass a superior encryption and authentication system on your Mac? Macs have fingerprint readers and long passcodes using AES-256 whole disk encryption from a Secure Enclave with the option to store the password in your keychain. The only reason you could possibly have to unlock a drive with a finger is if you’re being legally forced to do so by border security or law enforcement.
FileVault and my Mac’s fingerprint reader is nice but what happens when I want to move the drive to another machine?

This drive is great for storing sensitive client files. I have an Ironkey but it is only 8GB, the T7 gives me a lot more room at a good price. It’s not for everyone, but for specific use cases it is worth it.
 

avtella

macrumors regular
Nov 11, 2016
222
169
A comparable option without the fingerprint is the Crucial X8. I recently purchased it since it was kind of the only portable SSD drive out there with the faster speeds (1050MB/s) and not requiring a separate ssd and enclosure purchase. The only downside is no 2TB option, but the 1TB is $165 right now.
Other downside with the Crucial X8 is it’s a QLC drive, if you use it for large transfers then depending on use once cache is saturated it drops to like 100 MB/s and will be significantly slower than almost any older external SSD including the Samsung T5, WD SSD and SanDisk Extreme SSD. The T7 at least uses TLC NAND.

A cheap but fast performing option that’s better than a X8 is to buy an Inland 1TB nVME SSD at $100 or 2TB at $240 + external nVME USB 3.2 Gen 2 casing for ~$40-50, if going for thunderbolt enclosures ~$80. I’m using a Samsung 970 Pro 1TB pulled from a previous laptop that I gave away in an external case, pretty fast.
 
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diamond3

macrumors 6502a
Oct 6, 2005
834
257
Other downside with the Crucial X8 is it’s a QLC drive, if you use it for large transfers then depending on use once cache is saturated it drops to like 100 MB/s and will be significantly slower than almost any older external SSD including the Samsung T5, WD SSD and SanDisk Extreme SSD. The T7 at least uses TLC NAND.
This is true, but it seems to take a while to actually max it out. 200GB or more. https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/crucial-x8-portable-ssd/3
 

leebroath

macrumors 6502a
Jul 26, 2010
589
126
Scotland
So in the UK, the release date on Amazon has now jumped back 3 times

I just don‘t know why they cant just put ’releasing soon’ rather than a date to get people hyped and purchase, Ebuyer now changed from 20th Feb to March, and Scan is unknown