SSD Showdown: Seagate Fast vs Samsung T5

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A little while ago I ran into some issues that required me to do a full clone of my MacBook Pro’s disk, erase, and restore from an external. It was painful with my external Thunderbolt drive (a Buffalo MiniStation 1TB Thunderbolt). Then (after a week of banging my head on the desk) I realized that in the process of restoring, I had also converted my disk back to HFS from APFS. Which meant I couldn’t update the OS or install the latest version of Xcode. Which is a problem.

So to make it less painful, I decided to invest in a newer external SSD drive. At a 1TB requirement and a limited budget, there were only so many options. After reading a lot of reviews, I went with the Seagate Fast ($199.85). Yeah, they named it “Fast.” To be fair, it is pretty fast.

Whereas the backup/restore from my internal SSD with the Buffalo MiniStation had taken about 14 hours (and that was only a partial “Smart Copy” backup), the Fast did the whole process (full backup to a blank drive, full restore) in just over 4 hours. That’s more than 3x faster. Given that the price of the external SSD isn’t much more than I originally paid for the Buffalo, this was a really good investment for me.

When I would boot from my clone disks previously (Rugged and MiniStation), the OS would be barely usable. I mean 20 minutes to finish booting. With the Fast, it was almost like booting directly from my internal SSD. Not quite, but entirely usable.

I enjoyed the speed so much that I wanted to replace my old LaCie Rugged 1TB Thunderbolt with one of these newfangled SSDs, now that the price has come down a bit. So I did some more research and picked up the Samsung T5 ($167.99). And then I had to compare.

Head to Head

Both drives are the 1TB capacity models, with USB-C outputs. I don’t have a USB-C machine, so I’m running all tests with a USB-C to USB-A cable attached directly to my MacBook Pro’s USB3 ports. All of these tests are miserable when connected through any USB3 hub, including through my Thunderbolt display. So I’m skipping any stats from those tests and just saying “don’t try connecting these through hubs”1.

I think the physical differences are irrelevant at this size, but I’ll mention them anyway. The T5 comes in smaller than the Fast at 74x57mm to the Fast’s 94x79mm. And the T5 is lighter, too, coming in at 51g to the Fast’s 82g. So if you’re looking for small, the T5 wins by a good margin.

What I’m really judging by is speed, so I ran some tests with BlackMagic Disk Speed Test. Both drives claim 540MB maximum sequential performance speeds. Here are my actual results with a 5GB load test:

  Seagate Fast Samsung T5 LaCie Rugged Buffalo MiniStation
Read (MB/s) 416 422 92 110
Write (MB/s) 372 416 88 106

So these read/write tests were fine in the abstract, but what really mattered was how long it took to back up my drive. I ran a complete backup using Super Duper to the freshly formatted (HFS Journaled) SSD drives.

Total times to clone internal SSD:

  • Seagate Fast: 3:25:21
  • Samsung T5: 2:53:32

So the T5 comes in at a full 30 minutes less than the Fast. Compared to the 4-6 hours with my MiniStation, I’ll take either, but the T5 is going to be my main clone drive from now on.

Both drives come with USB-C (with USB3 type-A adapter). I’m testing on an older MacBook Pro, so I can’t speak to whether a USB-C to USB-C connection would change the test scores.

Conclusions

If you’re looking for small and sexy, the T5 wins.

If you’re looking for the fastest SSD in the price range, the T5 wins.

If you’re looking for the lowest price, the T5 wins.

In short, the T5 wins.

I know there are a bunch of SSD options available, and I wish I could afford to give you a comparison of several more. You know, budget issues. All I can definitively say is that the Samsung T5 is smaller, faster, and cheaper than the Seagate Fast. I pick the Samsung T5.

Model Capacity Price
Seagate Fast 1TB $199.85
Samsung T5 1TB $167.99

The Seagate Fast is available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB models. The Samsung T5 starts at 500GB, along with 1TB, and 2TB models.

  1. If any readers know of a hub setup that would give me decent speeds, I’d welcome the info!

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