The Kingston XS2000 Portable SSD ($99.99 for 500GB, $159.99 for 1TB as tested, $284.99 for 2TB) is one of the smallest external solid-state drives we have reviewed, but within its diminutive frame is a fast, durable, and powerful SSD that can take advantage of the latest USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 technology. The drive targets creative pros who need spacious storage for high-resolution files while on location, but it’s a good choice for anyone who needs to save large files while traveling. The XS2000 earns an Editors’ Choice award among premium general-purpose SSDs.
This Drive’s a Mighty Mite
Measuring 0.5 by 1.3 by 2.7 inches (HWD) and weighing barely an ounce, the Kingston is puny for an external SSD, as long as a typical USB flash drive but about a third wider. A silver-colored top (bearing the Kingston name in black) and bottom sandwich the matte-black body of the drive. The company added a couple of stylistic touches: One end of the drive is tapered, while on top is an oval indentation. The drive’s black, stretchable, and removable protective rubber sleeve is cut so the oval shows through when it’s in place.
In the middle of one end is a USB Type-C port that supports USB 3.2 Gen 2×2. To achieve its highest transfer speeds, the XS2000 must be connected to a computer with a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2×2 port, but it’s fully backward-compatible with USB 3.2 Gen 2 as well as USB versions 3.1 and 3.0 and will automatically default to the highest speed your system allows. The drive comes with a 12-inch USB-C to USB-C cable.
Few current laptops have native support for USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, but some (usually higher-end) desktop motherboards do, and desktop PCI Express expansion cards are available. Although Gen 2×2 drives are capable of blazing speeds, you may have to roll up your sleeves to craft a properly optimized system.
The Kingston XS2000 comes preformatted in the exFAT file format, which means it should work with Windows, macOS, and Android systems out of the box.
The rough-and-tumble XS2000 gets points for durability thanks to its removable rubber sheath. Its IP55 ingress protection rating—the same as the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD V2—provides some security against sand and rain (or even pressurized water jets). It is, however, still potentially vulnerable to fine dust and shouldn’t be immersed in water. A more ruggedized external solid-state drive is the ADATA SE800, whose IP68 rating—the best of any consumer-grade drive we’ve tested—means that it’s been proven dustproof and can survive a swim, thanks to its rubberized (and permanently attached) port cover, a feature that the XS2000 lacks.
Based on current Amazon pricing, the XS2000’s 500GB model goes for 21 cents per gigabyte, the 1TB version for 18 cents a gig, and the 2TB drive for 15 cents per gigabyte. This compares favorably with the SanDisk Extreme Pro V2, which sells for 23 or 18 cents per gigabyte in 1TB or 2TB guise respectively. (There’s also a 4TB version of the Extreme Pro, which goes for 22 cents per gig.)
One feature the SanDisk drive provides that the Kingston lacks is 256-bit AES hardware-based data encryption, a useful extra for a grab-and-go drive.
Testing the XS2000: Good General Storage Prowess
We subjected the XS2000 to our usual suite of external SSD benchmarks, 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. Crystal DiskMark’s sequential speed tests provide a traditional measure of drive throughput, simulating best-case, straight-line transfers of large files. The PCMark 10 Storage test measures an SSD’s readiness for a wide variety of everyday tasks. (See more about how we test SSDs.)
Overall, the XS2000 did well in our performance tests. Its Crystal DiskMark sequential read score of 1,977MBps is typical of a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 drive, and essentially matches its 2,000MBps rated speed. Its write speed is rated the same but we saw only 1,762MBps, the slowest among the Gen 2×2 drives we tried, but that’s still much faster than any USB 3.2 Gen 2 drive. (Their write speeds max out at about 1,000MBps.)
Its PCMark 10 Storage score of 1,389 was in the top third of the drives in our comparison table. Unlike with Crystal DiskMark, there is much less of a correlation between a drive’s PCMark 10 Storage score and its USB connection type, as the drive’s throughput isn’t being stressed to the max at all times. That is because PCMark 10’s test is a simulation of everyday productivity tasks, not straight-line, all-out transfers.
Turning to our results garnered from testing on our MacBook Pro in exFAT, the XS2000’s folder transfer time was a healthy 2 seconds (typical of modern externals), and its BlackMagic results put it among a group of drives with scores in a narrow range at the top of the pack.
Verdict: Small Storage Wonder
Geared to creative professionals, the tiny and semi-rugged Kingston XS2000 Portable SSD is equally at home in a studio, an office, or outdoors. When paired with a computer with a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2×2 port, it’s exceptionally speedy as single-drive external SSDs come, and it proved its mettle for everyday storage tasks in our PCMark 10 testing.
The Editors’ Choice award-winning SanDisk Extreme V2—which is limited to USB 3.2 Gen 2—and SanDisk Extreme Pro V2 are also semi-rugged. The two SanDisk drives support 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption, a useful feature that the Kingston lacks. The XS2000 costs slightly more than the SanDisk Extreme V2, but supports the higher throughput of USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 and is more compact. The old adage “good things come in small packages” holds true for this petite yet powerful solid-state drive, which earns its own Editors’ Choice as a general-purpose portable storage solution.