The odd performance wobble isn’t enough to spoil this cheap and colourful SSD
- Capable for the price
- Well designed
- Not as fast as other SSDs
- Performance could be better
As useful as external SSDs can be, genuinely interesting examples are few and far between. Recently, the only two that have really stood out are the Samsung X5 and T5.
Besides these coming from the same manufacturer, they also share the same traits of high speeds and high prices. In short, there’s room for something that’s a little different, while also costing less than Samsung’s premium drives, and the Adata SD600Q might well be it.
With an eye-catching design and overdraft-dodging pricing, it’s got charm to spare, and that’s not something you can say about most storage hardware.
Adata SD600Q review: Features
It’s not exactly packing bleeding-edge tech, however. Adata rather sneakily claims – on its website, the packaging and the documentation – that the SD600Q uses a USB3.1 connection. This is true in a sense, but it’s only USB3.1 Gen 1, or USB3 by another name. This has a lower 5Gbit/s throughput than ‘true’ USB3.1, also known as USB3.1 Gen 2, which can hit 10Gbit/sec. While this means you can plug the SD600Q into USB3 ports – which are far more common on PCs and laptops – without any sense that you’re hamstringing performance, it also means you shouldn’t expect that performance to be particularly blazing in the first place.
Adata itself claims some merely decent maximum read and write speeds of 440MB/sec and 430MB/sec respectively, about on a par with a budget internal SATA SSD. Still, it’s cheap enough that lower speeds aren’t a turn-off in themselves. We tested the 480GB version, which works out at a very attractive 12.5p per gigabyte.
There’s also a 240GB model, which is 15.6p per gigabyte, and a 960GB model, which is the best value of the bunch at just 11.2p per gigabyte. Compare and contrast with the Samsung T5, which has been around since 2017 and still costs 20p per gigabyte for the 500GB model.
Adata SD600Q review: Design
It’s nicely put together, too, even with some slightly flimsy plastic. This is largely down to the patterned, textured silicone that extends in an X shape to all four corners. Because this is raised slightly over the plastic bits, it’s almost impossible for the latter to come into contact with surfaces. That, and the rubbery softness of the silicone, grants the SD600Q a limited degree of shock-proofing.
Adata has apparently drop-tested it from 1.2 metres, and we didn’t suffer any problems after dropping it from similar heights. The silicone can also optionally add a dash of colour: blue or red on the two smaller capacities, although the 960GB model only comes in black. All three models, however, are cutely compact at 80x80x15.2mm, and with an airy weight of 60g, the SD600Q is well and truly pocket-sized. You’ll just have to find room for the 330mm-long detachable USB cable as well.
Adata SD600Q review: Performance
Performance testing with CrystalDiskMark initially yielded some disappointing results: the standard sequential test typically sees storage drives hit their highest quoted speeds, but the SD600Q only managed a read speed of 303MB/sec and a write speed of 398MB/sec. The 4K test was punishing, too, with the SD600Q averaging a 98MB/sec read speed and a 92MB/sec write speed – relatively better than the sequential results, but nowhere near the Samsung T5’s 299MB/sec read speed and 203MB/sec write speed.
Amazingly, however, Adata’s SSD outpaced the T5 (which actually does use a proper USB3.1 connection) in our huge files transfer test: 544MB/sec to the T5’s 457MB/sec, crashing through its official speed estimates in the process. It’s highly unusual for a drive to do better in our Windows transfer tests than in the synthetic CrystalDiskMark, but repeated testing showed this wasn’t a fluke.
Otherwise, the T5 remains a much faster external SSD. The SD600Q’s huge files read speed may be brilliant, but its 314MB/sec write speed is much more down to earth, and its showing in the large files test was middling, too. Its 389MB/sec read speed and 300MB/sec write speed are further proof that the SD600Q is significantly better at one type of workload than the other.
A 239MB/sec read speed result in the small files test is pretty good, although yet again, write speeds couldn’t match it, coming in at 192MB/sec. That’s getting close to mechanical hard disk territory, so if you’re likely to be dealing with lots of little files at once (as the small files test entails), be prepared.
Adata SD600Q review: Verdict
One standout read speed result won’t be enough to bother the mighty T5, and we’d still recommend Samsung’s SSD if performance is paramount. The SD600Q still has plenty of appeal, however – speed discrepancies with the T5 are a lot easier to look past when you’re paying close to half as much, and some bold design touches help mask the fact that this is a budget-friendly drive. There may be quicker SSDs, but the SD600Q is a capable – and interesting – alternative.