Crucial X8 Portable SSD Review: Fast, Value-Priced Storage

The Crucial X8 Portable SSD Is Fast, Durable, And Affordable

Over the last few years the USB connectivity has gone through some major changes. We've been through USB 3.0, USB 3.1, and now USB 3.2. And that's not even taking into account all the different generations that were released. Like USB 3.1 Gen 1, USB 3.2 Gen 1, USB 3.2 Gen 2, and now USB 3.2 Gen 2x2. Oh, and don't forget, Gen 4 is coming soon as well. If just going through the names is enough to make your head spin, try keeping track of all their respective bandwidth and throughput specs. 

crucial x8 box

The reason we wanted to start with the USB interface is because there's going to be a handful of people out there that assume just because they have a high-end system, they'll be able to use the Crucial X8 portable SSD at it's full potential. In all honesty, there's a chance you may not have that opportunity. There are only a few USB standards that support speeds of up to 1050MB/s (USB 3.2 Gen 2 being one of them) and not all motherboards have these ports. If you're system older it's likely you're going to bottleneck the NVMe SSD on board this external drive, effectively dropping the performance down to speeds of around 480MB/s (SATA speeds), or less. To avoid this make sure you have at least a USB 3.1 Gen 2 port, or a Thunderbolt 3 port. Regardless, for those on newer platforms, this is a serious lift in performance for an external storage option.

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Now that we have the USB standard you need out of the way, let's take a look at this drive and see what makes it so fast. First and foremost, the Crucial X8 isn't a copy and paste external SSD with low cost NAND flash memory. Instead it uses high quality Micron NAND flash memory and a NVMe PCIe interface designed for performance. When connected to the right port, the X8 SSD has read and write speeds of up to 1,050MB/s. Meaning it's 1.8 times faster than similar portable SSDs within the same price category, and up to 7.5 times faster than portable hard drives. 

You'll find a quick run down of the specifications below...

Crucial X8 Portable SSD (1TB) 
Specifications & Features
Crucial X8 Series External SSD Specs
   Pricing -   $164.95 - Find it at Amazon

The exterior of the drive has a stylish but clean design with an anodized unibody aluminum core. As far as 1TB portable SSDs go, the X8 is actually on the smaller side. However, you can find smaller storage devices, if size is your ultimate determining factor. In total the X8 is just 4.3 inches long and 2 inches wide. The drive also only weighs in at 3.5oz, making it extremely portable. All you need to do is disconnect put it in your pocket and be on your way. The enclosure is also extremely durable. According to Crucial, the X8 is shock, weather and vibration resistant. And it can even take a 7.5-foot drop and keep on ticking, Crucial claims.

The drive uses a USB-C port, but can connect to either Type-A, or Type-C thanks to the included adapter. Crucial has also included a cable with the drive, but at just 9-inches it's on the short side. 

crucial x8 ports

The X8 can be used with a multitude of platforms, including the PC, Mac, PS4, XBOX One, iPad Pro, Chromebooks, and select Android devices via a USB 3.2 Gen2 interface. With support across a vast array of platforms, the X8 can be used as backup storage for your gaming consoles, as a mobile storage device, for portable app installations or even a Steam game library storage device for that matter. It's not going to be as fast as a standard NVMe drive, but it's 400MB/s faster than any drive running on a SATA connection.

crucial x8 cable

The Crucial X8 we're reviewing comes with a 1TB storage capacity and has a MSRP of $164.95 currently. We're impressed Crucial was able to keep the price so low. Sure, you can find other 1TB drives for less, but most are off brand and only half as fast.

Benchmarking The Crucial X8 External SSD

Under each test condition, the Solid State Drives tested here were installed as secondary volumes in our testbed, with a separate drive used for the OS and benchmark installations. Out testbed's motherboard for the internal drives was updated with the latest BIOS available at the time of publication and AHCI (or RAID) mode was enabled.

crucial x8 port
The SSDs were secure erased prior to testing where applicable, and left blank without partitions for some tests, while others required them to be partitioned and formatted, as is the case with our ATTO and CrystalDiskMark benchmark tests. Windows firewall, automatic updates, and screen savers were all disabled before testing, and Windows Quiet Hours was enabled. In all test runs, we rebooted the system, ensured all temp and prefetch data was purged, waited several minutes for drive activity to settle and for the system to reach an idle state before invoking a test.

Synthetic HDD Benchmarking

 First up, we have some numbers with SiSoft SANDRA, the the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. Here, we used the Physical Disk test suite and provide the results from our comparison SSDs. The benchmarks were run on unformatted drives and read and write performance metrics are detailed below.

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In our first test the X8 didn't reach its full potential, but it still smoked the other USB-based external SSDs and SATA SSDs. The majority of the drives we have tested to this point peak around 500MB/s; the Crucial X8 was able to average write speeds that were roughly 250-300MB/s faster than the drives limited by their interface.

As you can see the more expensive, native Thunderbolt Samsung X5 managed to blow the Crucial X8 out of the water, but comparing the two is apples to oranges. First off the Samsung X5 is over double the price of the Crucial X8 and only work on Thunderbolt ports. The Samsung X5 is for high-end users looking for the fastest portable drive on the market, while the Crucial X8 is about bringing higher speeds to the masses.

ATTO Disk Benchmark
More Information Here:

ATTO is another "quick and dirty" type of disk benchmark that measures transfer speeds across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and graphs them out in an easily interpreted chart. We chose .5kb through 8192kb transfer sizes and a queue depth of 6 over a total max volume length of 256MB. ATTO's workloads are sequential in nature and measure bandwidth, rather than I/O response time, access latency, etc.

crucial x8 atto write

crucial x8 atto read

In our ATTO testing the Crucial X8 was able to sustain an average write speed in the high 700MB/s range, and an average read speed in the high 800MB/s range. The X8 can do more, but overall the performance has so far has been consistent, and it's leaving most similarly priced portable SSDs in the dust.

CrystalDiskMark is a synthetic benchmark that tests both sequential and random small and mid-sized file transfers using incompressible data. It provides a quick look at best and worst case scenarios with regard to SSD performance, best case being larger sequential transfers and worse case being small, random transfers.

CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks
Synthetic File Transfer Tests

crucial x8 cd sequentail

crucial x8 cd 512k

crucial x8 cd 4k

crucial x8 atto qd32
CrystalDiskMark shows the Crucial X8 once again offering consistent performance across the queue depths. This is also the first test where the Crucial X8 nearly hit the 1GB/s mark and approached its rated read-speed specifications. It didn't quite hit the marke, but 918MB/s reads is an impressive feat for a sub-$200 external SSD that clearly outpaced Samsung's excellent T5.

Crucial X8 Portable SSD: The Verdict

The Crucial X8 portable SSD didn't break the 1GB/s mark in our testing, but in the end, it was not really a concern, and here's why. Crucial isn't charging a premium for the relatively high performance offered by the X8. The Crucial X8 is priced similarly to drives that don't offer nearly the same level of performance. There is a caveat, however. Regardless of the drive's capabilities, if your system doesn't have a USB 3.1 Gen 2 port the drive isn't going to approach its rated specifications anyway. We should not that also means console gamers won't be able to take full advantage of an external drive like the the X8 in terms of peak transfers, but it it will still offer the latency and durability benefits inherent with fast SSD storage.

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  1TB Crucial X8 Portable SSD -- Find Them At Amazon

The Crucial X8 portable SSD is currently available in two capacities, a 1TB model, with a $164.95 MSRP, and there's a 512GB model available for $120.99. At this point in time, there is no larger 2TB option, but we expect to see one hit the market at some point. Regardless, the 1TB model is definitely a better value, from a cost per GiB perspective.

You need the necessary ports and connectivity to get the most out of the Crucial X8 portable SSD, but if you do have a system with either USB 3.1 Gen2 or Thunderbolt 3, then it's a no brainier. The Crucial X8 is roughly the same price as many other well-known external drives on the market, but it offers nearly double the read and write performance of many of its competitors. On top of that, the drive comes in a sleek and durable enclosure that is shock, temperature and vibration resistant. It's also strong enough to sustain a fall from just over 7 feet and not compromise your data. During our testing we didn't intentionally drop the X8 from quite that high, but we did drop it a few times from about 4 feet without incident.

Regardless, if you need a reliable, durable, high-capacity solid state external drive for content creation project storage, or an ultra fast portable solution for gaming, the Crucial X8 has you covered, and at a competitive price.

 hot  not
  • Excellent Performance
  • Price To Performance Ratio
  • Includes Type-A and Type-C Adapter
  • Durable Chassis
  • Compact Size
  • Requires USB 3.1 Gen 2 For Full Speed
  • Short Included Cable
  • Capacity Tops Out At 1TB

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