Kingston XS2000 2 TB Review - World's Smallest and Fastest Portable SSD 10

Kingston XS2000 2 TB Review - World's Smallest and Fastest Portable SSD

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Value and Conclusion

  • Extremely fast—fastest portable SSD we ever tested
  • Very compact
  • Extremely competitive pricing
  • Supports USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 20 Gbps
  • Outstanding sequential performance
  • No mechanical components inside
  • 5-year warranty
  • IP55 rating (only with included rubber sleeve)
  • USB-C cable included
  • Compatible with PC, Mac, and game consoles
  • Sustained write performance of only 300 MB/s
  • SLC cache rather small
  • DRAM-less, low random writes
  • No IP water-resistance rating (without rubber sleeve)
  • Included cable is very short
  • Only few motherboards support USB 3.2 Gen 2x2
  • Consoles don't support 20 Gbps USB
The Kingston XS2000 is the first portable SSD we test that uses the new Silicon Motion SM2320G controller, which combines the USB interface and SSD controller into a single IC. This helps reduce cost and complexity, as only one instead of two chips are required. Obviously, this also means that drives can be more compact because things are more tightly integrated. Unlike many other vendors, which build external SSDs by including a full-sized M.2 NVMe inside the case, Kingston was smart and chose to go for a proper, highly compact design with the XS2000. As a result, you get the smallest portable high-performance SSD in the world—all other competitors are considerably bigger.

Performance numbers of the Kingston XS2000 are impressive. Thanks to the fast USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 20 Gbps interface, the 1 GB/s bottleneck of most external SSDs is no longer a problem. In terms of sequential speeds, the drive almost reaches 2 GB/s at even low queue depths, which is important if you copy just a single file at a time, the most common usage scenario for a portable SSD. Another important data point is that sequential mixed—write a file and read another file at the same time—completes at 1.2 GB/s, which is much faster than the next-best competitor. Random IO is not that important for a portable SSD unless you want to run programs or games from it; for example, when using the SSD to expand storage on game consoles. In that use case, performance is better than all the other drives in our test group, too, but not by as big a margin as with sequential IO. The only weak spot of the Kingston XS2000 is random IO mixed, as there is no DRAM cache for the mapping tables of the SSD. However, that isn't a big deal as it is an ultra-rare workload for a portable SSD.

The physical construction of the XS2000 is good, and it looks nice thanks to the silver and black combination. I guess it would be even better if the case were made out of metal, but given the competitive pricing, I can understand why Kingston went with plastic. Kingston advertises an IP55 rating, which really only applies if you put the drive inside the included rubber sleeve. While Kingston explains this clearly on their website, I would have preferred some kind of rubber seal inside the drive; it would have only added cents to the production cost. Unlike some competing drives, you do get an activity indicator LED, which is great for a quick glance to find out whether an operation has completed yet. Temperatures were no problem on the XS2000—it gets just warm.

Sustained write speeds of the Kingston SSD aren't that impressive. With 300 MB/s to fill the whole disk, it's slower than many of its competitors. If you plan on copying hundreds of gigabytes per session without pause, then look elsewhere. If your working sets are smaller, up to 30 GB writes, or you have pauses in transfers that give the drive room to breathe, the XS2000 can shine; 1.5 GB/s for 30 GB are no problem—the pseudo-SLC cache size is 30 GB. By today's standards, 30 GB is a bit small as most competitors offer 100+ GB so bigger write bursts can be soaked up more easily.

Priced at $285 for the tested 2 TB version, the Kingston XS2000 is priced aggressively and will definitely make a splash in the market. Competing 20 Gbps drives, like the WD Black P50 ($360), SanDisk Extreme Pro ($365), and Seagate FireCuda Gaming ($400) are considerably more expensive. Only the ADATA SE900G at $290 is comparable in terms of pricing, but offers lower performance overall and takes up more space on your desk. To enjoy the blazing speeds of the Kingston XS2000, your computer has to support the USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 20 Gbps interface or the SSD will operate at 10 Gbps or even less. For AMD AM4, only four motherboards exist with 20 Gbps USB, so you'll probably have to use a PCIe add-in card. For Intel, the selection is decent, but requires the LGA1200 platform. You can also pair these super-fast USB SSDs with the new consoles, but neither PS5 nor Xbox Series X have support for 20 Gbps USB, so your gains will be limited.
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Jun 25th, 2022 04:21 EDT change timezone

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