Thank you EMTEC for sending us this USB SSD Drive to review!
We recently had the good fortune to review EMTEC's fantastic SpeedIN' S600, which is by far the fastest USB flash drive we have ever seen, much less tested. Unfortunately, the prices on it have been going up as far as we can tell, and availability is hard to come by in the US. (The situation seems different in Europe.) Thankfully, this model, the X600, is available right now on Amazon for a much more reasonable price. While the performance isn't quite up to the speed of the S600, it's still very good – and I suspect good enough for most use cases.
To start with, I always evaluate a flash disk using CrystalDiskMark. It seems to be a great way to baseline a drive's performance. As you can see here, the sequential writes of close to 350MB/s is slightly over spec, while the write speed of close to 70MB/s is a fair bit under spec.
A utility I used quite a long time ago, and still pull up on occasion, is the venerable HD Tune 2.55. It's the last version that was free, and it's still useful for read testing; write tests are not supported in the free version. I use it for a few reasons: it shows drive consistency across available disk space, and it shows access times. This here shows the one area that the X600 is faster than the S600 – the access time of 0.5ms is less than the S600's 0.7ms, and the burst rate is also higher at 63.3MB/s vs, 26.7MB/s. Otherwise, the transfer rate seems to fluctuate between 200MB/s and 250MB/s, while the S600 is an almost perfectly flat line at 250MB/s.
Next is the file transfer benchmarks. Here, I simply copied a file from my desktop's SSD drive over to the USB drive. Now, the picture kind of lies; it appears to be going over 300MB/s, but in reality, it quickly drops off to zero, climbs back up, then repeats. I used a stopwatch to do the copy of an approximately 1GB file, and doing the math, I got a transfer rate of just short of 90MB/s.
Then I copied it back to my other SSD (a different path) as a read test. Again, it goes very fast, then tapers off. The fast part is well over 300MB/s, and you can see that near the end it's 'only' 226MB/s. Still plenty fast for most use cases, and way faster than virtually any non-SSD drive.
The size and apparent durability and build quality of the X600 is quite excellent. It has a nice, premium feel, and feels like it can take a few drops and survive (not that I plan on testing that, nor should you). I have always greatly disliked the long and skinny micro-USB 3.0 connector, and while I understand it's a necessary evil, I can't wait for USB Type-C connectors to become more commonplace on products like this.
EMTEC's SpeedIN' X600 USB 3.0 Portable External 1.8” SSD is a very nice, fast external drive for a competitive price. While I can't say I've scoped out all of the competition, what we do have here is a drive that performs much better than your typical USB key. If you don't need the speed, then it absolutely makes sense to pay much less for a much slower drive. You can get slower USB drives for about half of the price, but the read speeds are typically one half of the speed (or less). If you are looking for an external drive fast enough to do more intensive work on, or even play games off of, then definitely take a good look at EMTEC's SpeedIN' series.