Review of the Crucial X8 portable SSD

External SSDs are becoming increasingly popular, faster and bigger. Crucial sent me their 2TB X8, a model that is only 110mm long. It’s not their newest, that would be the X6 which is even smaller at 70mm and available in sizes up to 4TB, but it’s the fastest with a performance that reaches 1050MB/sec. Both X models are drop proof to around 2m on a carpeted floor, made from aluminium and formatted with ExFAT for use in any device, including Macs, iPad Pros from 2018 onwards, Windows, Xbox One, PS4 and Android devices.

The Crucial X8 weighs 108 grammes and with its small form factor and design it could well be mistaken for Apple’s Magic Mouse if that would be available in black. Its weight and aluminium enclosure give it a solid and robust feel, while its rubberised extremities give it just enough grip on a smooth, flat surface to keep it in place.

Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test gave it a thumbs up, with 909MB/sec maximum throughput. Write speed is lower, as always, with a still nice 869MB/sec. It’s not a speed demon, but it certainly performs fast enough for backing up — or acting as a synchronisation device between, for example, a Windows PC and an iPad Pro.

To see how the X8 holds up when writing and reading data it for longer periods of time, I took out the AJA System Test and let it run for five minutes. I was interested in dropped frames and how hot the device would get. The X8 lacking any sort of visible heat dissipation system such as cooling ribs, I imagined it would get hot very quickly.

After five minutes, though, the drive felt lukewarm and there was only a one-frame speed drop consistently from the start. There was no throttling taking place, so performance didn’t suffer. I let the test run for another five minutes and after a total of 10 minutes the drive had become as warm as my hands and still going at full speed.

This could mean that either:

  1. The drive will fail sooner than a drive like CalDigit’s Tuff Nano that throttles back after five minutes under this sort of stress, or
  2. The enclosure has some very clever heat dissipation technology applied internally, or
  3. Crucial is using a much faster-rated NVMe SSD inside that can perform much faster.

It’s impossible for me to say which of the last two it could be as you can’t open the enclosure without breaking it — and the drive inside with it, I should imagine.

As Crucial gives the X8 a 3-year (limited) warranty, though, I can’t imagine the drive will fail sooner than the average lifespan of these types of SSD. Judging from the short time it took the drive to return to its cold state on the outside, I’d say option 2 is the most probable one.

And that makes me conclude that it’s hard to see how you could go wrong with Crucial’s elegant X8 as its 2TB version retails for $239.95 at the time of writing ($279.95 normal price).