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TR RoboBench — Real-world transfers
Since our usual storage fare tends to be internal components, we weren't exactly set up to test what is more of an external accessory. Nonetheless, we concocted a plan to put the T3 up against its closest non-portable brethren, the 850 EVO 2TB. Of course, weighing a USB storage device against a SATA one would be neither fair nor productive, so we found a way to give the 850 EVO an appropriate handicap: StarTech's USB 3.1 dock for SATA drives. Paired with our standard Z97 storage rig (with its handy array of USB 3.0 ports), we've got all the ingredients we need to see just what the T3 can do. As a point of reference, we've also included results for the 850 EVO 2TB when used in its natural undocked SATA state.

As for the actual benchmarking, we've trimmed away all our tests that are irrelevant to a USB drive for on-the-go. This time around, Robobench is king, since it encompasses the natural use cases for an external storage drive.

RoboBench is comprised of real-world transfers with a range of file types. Developed by our in-house coder, Bruno "morphine" Ferreira, this benchmark relies on the multi-threaded robocopy command build into Windows. We copy files to and from a wicked-fast RAM disk to measure read and write performance. We also cut the RAM disk out of the loop for a copy test that transfers the files to a different location on the SSD.

Robocopy uses eight threads by default, and we've also run it with a single thread. Our results are split between two file sets, whose vital statistics are detailed below. The compressibility percentage is based on the size of the file set after it's been crunched by 7-Zip.

  Number of files Average file size Total size Compressibility
Media 459 21.4MB 9.58GB 0.8%
Work 84,652 48.0KB 3.87GB 59%

The media set is made up of large movie files, high-bitrate MP3s, and 18-megapixel RAW and JPG images. There are only a few hundred files in total, and the data set isn't amenable to compression. The work set comprises loads of TR files, including documents, spreadsheets, and web-optimized images. It also includes a stack of programming-related files associated with our old Mozilla compiling test and the Visual Studio test on the next page. The average file size is measured in kilobytes rather than megabytes, and the files are mostly compressible.

RoboBench's write and copy tests run after the drives have been put into a simulated used state with 30 minutes of 4KB random writes. The pre-conditioning process is scripted, as is the rest of the test, ensuring that drives have the same amount of time to recover.

Let's take a look at the media set first. The buttons switch between read, write, and copy results.

Those are pretty good numbers! Despite the USB handicap, the T3 puts up speeds that can compete even with some SATA drives. Additionally, the T3 is on par with or ahead of the docked EVO in every test across both queue depths. Its writes are particularly peppy, handily beating the USB-constrained EVO. It beats the pants off some of the slower SATA drives our regular data set, like the Trion 100 and BX200, whose writes languish below 200 MB/s. Faster drives like the undocked EVO 2TB still blow the T3 out of the water on the write side. Now what about the harder-to-tackle work set?

Mostly the same story. The Portable SSD T3's reads are still competitive with the SATA pack, but it doesn't keep up in the write or copy tests. It can claim a couple of victories over the X25-M, but the other drives are all faster. Nonetheless, we weren't expecting a USB 3.0 drive to keep pace with SATA devices as well as it did.