Kingston XS2000 USB 3.2 Gen 2 x 2 external SSD review


Two minute review

The XS2000 has been billed by some as the world’s fastest native USB SSD; the keyword here is native as it is a USB 3.2 Gen2x2. As confusing as it sounds, it is a 20Gbps-class external portable SSD that requires a compatible port to get the most out of it. It will be most likely backward compatible with the next big update to the venerable data technology, USB 4.0, so some might question the wisdom of launching something that comes with strings attached. 

An industry insider candidly told us that he thinks “it’s a rather niche market that’s better suited for players who are already heavily invested in storage or flash technologies. It also makes more sense for desktop PCs rather than notebooks”. That might explain why Samsung and Crucial have yet to launch USB 3.2 Gen2x2 products.

Don’t get us wrong, the XS2000 like the Data Traveler Max USB Flash Drive that we reviewed recently, is a superb storage device and Kingston went for the jugular by keeping its price tag as low as it could. It is water resistant, shockproof, more compact than its rivals and comes with an industry-leading five year warranty.

Pricing and availability

The Kingston XS2000 external SSD is available in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB configurations for $100, $160 and $285 respectively at Amazon US. The Adata SE900 sells for the same price and while it does come with nice RGB lights, it is physically bigger and has a shorter warranty.

Side View

(Image credit: Future)

Design

Kingston says that the drive has been tested to be water resistant, dust resistant and shockproof with an included rubber sleeve. However, it doesn’t say that it has been certified an IP67-rating but a spokesperson told us that the XS2000 is “IEC/EN 60529 IP55-certified to withstand water flow and limited dust contact” and therefore, “must be clean and dry before use”.

Underside

(Image credit: Future)

Removing the rubber sleeve exposes the bare body of the drive, its chassis being made of plastic and metal, most likely aluminum. This makes it light (29g), small (13 x 31 x 67mm without the sleeve) and just about warm when under load. Other than a status LED and the usual stickers and logos, there’s not much to mention.

USB-C Port and Status Light

(Image credit: Future)

Hardware

The device uses the SM2320, a native USB 3.2 Silicon Motion controller, paired with 3D TLC NAND chips, probably Micron’s 96-layer one as found in the Kingston DataTraveler Max we reviewed recently. Other than the usual cables and the sleeve, there’s not much to shout about.

Front of Device

(Image credit: Future)

Performance and in use

We used the beautiful Bleujour Kubb Gen 11 Intel Mini PC, which we reviewed earlier this year, as the benchmark machine. It hosts a Thunderbolt 4 port which is not compatible with USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 protocol, therefore we were unable to assert Kingston claims that the device can reach up to 2000MBps read/write speeds.

As such, the XS2000 didn’t hit any high notes: tests show that it is an above average performer on USB 3.2 Gen 2. It really, really needs a compatible system to hit its headline speed of 2GBps, allowing it to rival Thunderbolt 3 SSD like.

Benchmarks

Here’s how the Kingston XS2000 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

CrystalDiskMark: 1062MBps (read); 999MBps (write)

Atto: 1019MBps (read, 256mb);  957MBps (write, 256mb)

AS SSD: 954MBps (seq read); 893MBps (seq write)

AJA: 951MBps (read); 909Mbps (write)

Also, we were sent a statement from Kingston as to why the technology is NOT compatible with Thunderbolt 4 or Thunderbolt 3: 

“Thunderbolt and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 are different technologies with different specs that use the same connector (Type-C). Basically, the XS2000 SSD needs to be connected to a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 USB (Type-C) port and use the appropriate cable to reach the advertised speed. Even though Thunderbolt 3 & 4 use a Type-C connector and advertise up to 40Gbps of transfer speed, the pins layout (aka lanes) are different from the one of USB 3.2 Gen 2×2. The pins of the Type-C connector need to be allocated for data transfer to reach the 20GBps of USB 3.2 Gen 2×2. For the Thunderbolt Type-C connector, some of the pins (2 lanes) are used for video signals (or else) and not specifically dedicated to data transfer, that is why the data transfer speed is lower with Thunderbolt.”

Note that there’s no bundled software (cloud storage or cloud backup) or any data recovery services (like on most LaCie portable SSD). This is a very low-cost way of grabbing a unique selling point that might sway potential customers on more than just price.

Should I buy the Kingston XS2000 external SSD?

Buy it if:

You have a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 compatible device with plenty going for it

If you have a compatible system, the XS2000 is a no-brainer with speeds that are within touching distance of Thunderbolt 3. Even if you don’t, the fact that it comes with a long warranty, a tiny form factor, a very affordable price tag and is IP-rated makes it a very attractive purchase.

Don’t buy if:

You’re looking for the absolute cheapest price

At the time of writing, there are far cheaper 2TB USB 3.2 Gen 2 drives available on the market. The Crucial X8 remains the undisputed price champion with a price tag that’s a third less than the XS2000 at the time of writing. 

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