Portable storage has been invigorated by companies using proven SSD technology bridged over to USB. Latest models tout 2GB/s sequential reads and writes, helped by adopting the 20Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2 2×2 interface.
Understanding even faster transfer speeds are available via Thunderbolt and incoming USB 4, component giant Kingston believes there’s lots of mileage left in today’s USB. To that end, the pocketable XS2000 deserves review attention.
Available in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities and connecting to systems via USB Type-C, you will naturally need a motherboard capable of 20Gbps throughput for this series to make most sense. Such requirements preclude optimal use in the majority of laptops, and going by how the desktop motherboard market has evolved, limits XS2000’s appeal to a niche range of premium boards and to those willing to purchase an add-in USB 3.2 2×2 card. Of course, one can use this drive on any board/laptop with USB, albeit with peak speeds dictated by port bandwidth.
Get past that technical hurdle and there’s plenty to like. XS2000 measures just 69.54mm x 32.58mm x 13.5mm – not much larger than a pack of gum – and weighs 28.9g. Manufacturers are often accused of hyperbole, but Kingston’s claim of XS2000 being pocketable is spot on.
Supplied with an optional rubber sleeve for enhanced protection, the drive is IP55-certified to withstand water flow and limit dust ingress, though it must be cleaned and dried before use. Not quite IP67 levels and do be aware the sleeve is required for the IP55 rating to be relevant.
Build quality is generally very good. Bevelled chassis edges alongside an indented upper section combine to offer good grip. High-quality metal surrounds a central plastic section which carries a solitary USB Type-C port and blue activity LED. XS2000’s use of USB 3.2 2×2 means it is limited to half the speed of cutting-edge Thunderbolt 4 or USB 4 – both newer technologies also ride on Type-C – so it’s something to bear in mind if absolute top-notch performance matters.
Supplied with a 20cm double-ended Type-C cable, Kingston misses a couple of tricks by not including a Type-A adapter or bundled software, especially as the drive is aimed at the premium end of the market. Our 2TB sample uses a four-channel Silicon Motion SM2320G bridging controller alongside Kingston-branded 3D TLC NAND.
Current pricing of £80, £130, and £240 for 500GB, 1TB and 2TB models, respectively, is on the attractive side; SanDisk’s rival Extreme Pro 2TB NVMe SSD, offering similar headline speeds, costs £330.
|Kingston XS2000||USB Type-C||20Gbps||2TB|
|SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable||USB Type-C||20Gbps||1TB|
|WD MyPassport SSD||USB Type-C||10Gbps||1TB|
We test on a Gigabyte Aorus Z690 Master motherboard equipped with the necessary 20Gbps USB I/O. A 1TB Corsair MP600 Pro XT PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe host SSD is used to minimise transfer bottlenecks.
The original review was published with the shipping firmware which resulted in low write file-transfer performance within Windows. The issue revolved around how the drive allocated dynamic caching; shipping firmware capped this at approximately 30GB after which the drive would struggle and record a sawtooth sequential pattern, alternating between 1,400MB/s highs and 30MB/s lows.
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Running sequential throughput tests reinforces the 2GB/s transfer potential made available by Kingston XS2000’s controller and 20Gbps interface. There’s a healthy uptick over an already-fast WD MyPassport external SSD.
This test involves transferring a 67GB large-file folder from the host PC to each external drive. Latest firmware ensures XS2000 tops the chart with ease.
Copying the same files back to the host Corsair drive provides performance excellence, where the XS2000 sets new records. Kingston’s decision to run with Silicon Motion’s SM2320G controller also pays dividends in this scenario.
Having a large capacity means XS2000 is a considered choice as a gaming repository. Running a couple of storage benchmarks shows trivial differences between the trio of drives, and knowledge that no console features 20Gbps ports means it’s not the best fit for this purpose.
Measuring peak chassis temperature after a 10-minute read/write Iometer torture test reveals XS2000 to remain the coolest, coming in at 35.8°C compared with 39.2° C and 41.3°C for the WD and SanDisk, respectively.
Absolutely pocketable and offering blistering peak speeds, Kingston XS2000’s attractive street price makes it a tempting choice for users who regularly move large files to and from external storage.
Excellent all-round performance places it at the top of our external SSD charts more often than not, and Kingston’s decision to use an all-in-one Silicon Motion controller is a wise move.
Keen street pricing adds further gloss to the fastest USB drive we have tested to date, so if you need to move large files around and have the requisite 20Gbps connector on your PC, the XS2000 External SSD is a great choice.
Kingston XS2000 External SSD 2TB
Verdict: The fastest USB drive we’ve tested, performance freaks will like the XS2000.
Basic element protection
20Gbps mobos limited
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