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Samsung T7 Shield Review: The Best Portable SSD, Now Rugged

Samsung T7 Shield plugged into a MacBook

Samsung introduced the T7 at CES 2020, and it has been one of our favorite portable SSDs ever since. Its greatest weakness is the lack of a water or dust resistance rating. The latest addition to Samsung’s SSD lineup, the T7 Shield, fixes that with IP65 protection and greater drop resistance.

Here’s What We Like

  • Compact and rugged design
  • Fast read/write speeds
  • IP65 water and dust resistant

And What We Don’t

  • Premium price tag

When buying an external SSD, you’re going to want something easy to carry with you, has fast read and write speeds, and can also securely keep your data safe. The Samsung T7 Shield checks off all of those boxes.

Design and Read/Write Speed

Samsung T7 Shield sitting on top of a computer

Coming in 3.5-inches long, 2.3-inches wide, and half an inch thick, the Samsung T7 Shield is roughly the size of a handful of credit cards stacked on top of each other. It’s the perfect size to squeeze into any tech organizer or backpack pocket.

The drive has an aluminum body, is covered in durable rubber, and features a ridged design. It’s relatively lightweight, coming in at 98 grams, and has a single USB-C port and an LED light on one of its edges that is solid blue when connected to a device and blinks when data is being transferred. Storage size, regulatory information, and model information are printed on the opposite end.

All I can say here is that the construction feels premium and solid. I wouldn’t be too worried if I ever dropped the SSD onto a hard surface from table height. Remember, though, that the rubber finish will collect lint. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to wipe off any debris.

Additionally, the Samsung T7 Shield comes with premium-feeling USB-C-to-C and USB-C-to-A cables. Each cable supports the drive’s USB 3.2 gen 2 USB-C port and is around 18-inches long. There isn’t much to say about them other than that they’re an ideal length for carrying in a bag and offer speedy data transfers.

Note: My first review unit (which I used for most of my testing) was a pre-production model, and its USB-C port was rather loose. A light nudge was enough to disconnect it from the drive. A final product that will ship to buyers was delivered to me a day before the review was published, and I’m happy to report that the connection is solid and secure.

Samsung advertises the T7 Shield as having a read/write speed of up to 1,050/1,000MB/s. These speeds are thanks to the company’s embedded PCIe NVMe flash memory over SATA. The latter limit read/write rates to a little over 500MB/s, but Samsung’s faster storage allows double that.

As you can see from the benchmark scores found above, I was never able to reach that peak transfer speed. Using BlackMagic’s Disk Speed Test (only available on Mac), I was able to get just over 800MB/s write speeds and a little more than 700MB/s read speeds. These aren’t terrible speeds and are fast enough to use while video editing.

Samsung’s advertised speeds were based on internal testing, plus the company notes that “performance may vary depending on host configuration.” Basically, the T7 Shield can reach its advertised speeds in perfect conditions, but you’ll likely see rates similar to mine.

Software and Security

The T7 Shield works with Samsung’s Portable SSD software and comes with the Windows and Mac installers already on the drive. After installing the application on your computer, you are directed to name the SSD and asked if you’d like to enable “Security with Password.” Samsung uses AES 256-bit hardware encryption, so as long as your password is strong, your data should stay secure.

Note: Samsung’s Portable SSD app is also available on Android, but you’ll have to head to the Google Play Store to download it.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to keep the Portable SSD software installed on your devices if you turn on password protection. Without it, there is no way to unlock the drive. Thankfully, the application is fast to load and pops up, prompting you for your password when you plug the T7 Shield into your machine.

If this is a dealbreaker for you, I recommend checking out the Samsung T7 Touch. It’s the same drive internally (more on that below) but with a fingerprint sensor. Having the optical sensor allows you to plug the SSD into any device (like an iPad or game console) and authenticate yourself without typing in a password.

Samsung T7 Touch SSD

Access your password-protected data with the assistance of this SSD’s built-in fingerprint sensor.

Of course, if you’re not worried about securing any sensitive data on your T7 Shield, you don’t need to install the Portable SSD software or enable password protection.

Samsung T7 Shield vs. the Regular T7

The differences between the T7 Shield and the several-year-old T7 SSD are surface-level. Under the hood, both share identical hardware and offer the same read and write speeds. The only internal difference (if you can call it that) is that the standard model is available in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB variants, while the T7 Shield is only available with 1TB or 2TB of storage.

What really differentiates the two portable drives is the T7 Shield’s durability. The regular T7’s aluminum casing protects your data from drops up to 6ft, but doesn’t offer any protection against the elements.

The Samsung T7 Shield, on the other hand, has a rugged rubber exterior protecting its aluminum body. It is also IP65 water and dust resistant, meaning it’s completely dust-tight and is protected from low-pressure jets of water. It can also absorb falls of up 9.8ft.

The T7 Sheild does cost a slight premium compared to the standard T7, but your data is better protected from drops while on the go for the extra cash.

Should You Buy the Samsung T7 Shield?

If you’re in the market for an external and portable SSD, there is little reason to avoid the T7 Shield. It’s rugged, water and dust resistant, has reliably fast read and write speeds, and can fit into any bag. The only reason to look at another option is if you’re shopping on a budget.

The T7 Shield comes in Black, Beige, and Blue colorways, each available with 1TB and 2TB configurations. The 1TB drive retails for $159.99, and doubling the storage will cost you $289.99. At launch, Samsung is discounting the portable SSDs to $143.99 and $260.99, respectively.

Here’s What We Like

  • Compact and rugged design
  • Fast read/write speeds
  • IP65 water and dust resistant

And What We Don’t

  • Premium price tag

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