It has a higher-end sibling in the Crucial X8, released last year, but Crucial’s X6 has a design and a feature set that, mathematically, seem like a bigger step downward than from an “eight” to a “six.” This external SSD feels more like it should be dubbed “X4,” given the body and the speeds, both reduced by almost half. Alas, the price isn’t halved, too: The X6 is $154.95 for its 1TB version, or $284.95 for the 2TB model we tested. It remains a durable, go-anywhere drive, but it’s a mismatch for shoppers for whom lots of file-transferring is on the menu (especially versus slightly pricier external SSDs with 1,000MBps peak sequential transfer rates). It doesn’t take the lead on price, performance, or design, but it’s a serviceable general-use SSD if you find it at the right price.
The Design: A Simple Square
Crucial offers the X6 in two storage capacities: 1TB and 2TB. At MSRP, you’ll pay a bit over 15 cents per gigabyte for the 1TB version and 14 cents per gigabyte for the 2TB. The larger capacity is the slightly better choice for raw cost-per-gig value, but not by much.
Black plastic is the name of the game on this model, as opposed to the aluminum build of the Crucial X8. This SSD’s chassis is nearly square (2.7 by 2.5 inches) and a bit over four-tenths of an inch thick, easy to fit in your pocket. It weighs just a touch less than 1.5 ounces. It’s not as portable as a USB thumb drive, but it’s close. The X8, in contrast, is 4.3 inches long—with about the same footprint as a standard PC mouse—and more than twice as hefty, at 3.5 ounces.
The drive comes in simple packaging, with a USB Type-C-to-C cable, and a brief starter manual plus notice of the three-year limited warranty. The drive body proper has a USB-C port on one edge for accepting one end of the bundled cable. If you want to use the X6 with a more common USB Type-A port at the computer end (or with a game console), you’ll have to buy a USB-C-to-A adapter or cable. Considering these cost well under $5, one should have come in the box. (Crucial’s own C-to-A dongle, pictured here and included for our review, was $10 on Amazon at this writing, which seems excessive.)
The X6’s plastic shell may feel lower-rent than the X8’s more luxe body, but Crucial says it is drop-proof (to a carpeted floor) up to 6.5 feet, as well as resistant to shock, vibration, and extremes of temperature. Dropping this drive shouldn’t do much beyond scratch it, seeing as it’s so light to start with; a few casual thumps did nothing to it. However, Crucial does not share any formal Ingress Protection (IP) ratings for the X6 that quantify its resistance to environmental factors like water. We’d call this drive “casually rugged,” in contrast to a drive like the IP-rated ADATA SE800 that you can splash and dunk.
Testing the Crucial X6: Serial ATA All the Way
Crucial notes that the drive works with (or can be formatted to work with) Windows, macOS, and Linux. It also can be used with the iPad Pro, running iPadOS 13 or later. The X6 supports the USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface (which peaks at 10Gbps of bandwidth), and it is backward-compatible with USB 3.2 Gen 1 and USB 3.0 (5Gbps).
That said, there’s no strict need for the 10Gbps interface, as the guts of this drive are based on Serial ATA technology bridged to USB, which means that the drive is limited to typical SATA speeds. The flow through this USB pipe will never fill it. In this case, that means rated sequential reads of up to 540MBps. Given that many newer drives, among them Crucial’s own X8, use PCI Express-based internal components and top out at about twice as fast (or more), this drive is a clear speed step downward from those.
We ran our usual suite of SSD tests on the X6, comprising Crystal DiskMark 6.0, PCMark 10 Storage, BlackMagic’s Disk Speed Test, and our own folder transfer test. The first two are run on a PC with the drive formatted in NTFS, and the latter two on a 2016 MacBook Pro using exFAT. (See how we test SSDs.)
Crucial says the SSD’s fastest speed is 540MBps for sequential reads at both capacities of the X6. The 2TB version we tested poked a bit above that, for 557MBps on reads in Crystal DiskMark. But the drive delivered a lackluster 212MBps for sequential writes…
The X6 is faster than any portable platter-based hard drive, but, among the external SSDs PC Labs tested in 2020, the X6 only consistently beat HP’s Portable SSD P500, also a SATA-based model. Even there, it did not prevail on every test.
Verdict: It’s All About That Final Price
The bottom line? The X6 is fine for most users in casual, everyday use, but we wouldn’t recommend it for constant, heavy reads and writes of large files or folders. If speed is your main concern, the Crucial X8 or another PCI Express-internal drive (with near-double peak reads and writes) will be a better choice. Pick among the models in the charts above that score in the 900MBps to 1,000MBps range on Crystal DiskMark.
That said, most external SSDs these days are discounted more or less off of the MSRP, and if you can find the X6 in the “more” camp, it will satisfy if you’re easy on the reads and even more so on the writes. But for $20 or so more, the Crucial X8, several ADATA SE drives, and other drives in that class get you a whole lot more in the speed and ruggedness columns.
The Bottom Line
Crucial’s X6 Portable SSD is a good basic external drive for everyday use and small backups, but its performance and build will fall short for incessant file movers and active users.
Crucial X6 Portable SSD Specs
|Internal or External||external|
|Interface (Computer Side)||USB-C|
|Capacity (Tested)||2 TB|
|Bus Type||Serial ATA|
|Rated Maximum Sequential Read||540 MBps|
|Warranty Length||3 years|