Paired with the release of its 20Gb/s X10 Pro, Crucial’s X9 Pro series pocket drives deliver half the bandwidth at reduced cost by relying on only one USB 3.2 Gen2 link, as opposed to the Gen2x2 configuration required to get that bandwidth back. Because the motherboard header that feeds front-panel Type-C ports usually has the same limitation, the X9 Pro’s lower price may make it the more attractive option. It still caries the same 5-year warranty and comes in the same sub-palm-sized casing as its faster sibling despite its lower price.
|Crucial X9 Pro 2TB (CT2000X9PROSSD9)
|USB Flash Drive
|USB3.2 Gen2 (10Gb/s)
|IP55 water/dust resistant
2m Drop Proof
The $40 price difference recently became 1/3 of the drive’s price after a temporary $10 rebate that put the 2TB drive at $120. To put that pricing in perspective, an $85 2TB PCIe Gen3 NVMe drive and a $15 USB 3.2 Gen2 adapter that could provide similar functionality would not likely be as rugged or compact. At roughly 2” by 2.5”, these are smaller than the palms of all but the smallest adult hands.
Packed with a short (~24cm) USB3.2 Type-C cable, the X9 comes in a media-blasted aluminum finish with a rubberized aluminum back cover. That cover appears to be pressed into place like a watch back, but after lifting the edge of the rubbery material we were still unable to remove it without damage. It’s definitely designed to stay in one piece for its entire five-year life.
Factory formatted in exFAT, our 2TB unit came loaded with the below-screenshot PDF and several direct links, including a promotional subscription for one month of Adobe Creative Cloud, another promotional subscription to Mylio Photo and a link to Crucial’s Storage Executive free SSD management software. That last part give you access to firmware updates, which is rarely but occasionally important (the T700 series of M.2 drives got a soft throttling update for thermal management, for example).
We’re comparing the performance of Crucial’s X9 Pro 2TB palm-sized portable USB 3.2 Gen2 drive to recently-tested M.2-loaded USB 3.2 Gen2 drive adapters.
|AMD Ryzen 9 7950X: 16C/32T 4.5-5.7 GHz, 64MB L3 Cache, Socket AM5
|Alphacool Eisblock XPX CPU, VPP655 with Eisbecher D5 150mm, NexXxoS UT60 X-Flow
|ASRock X670E Taichi, Socket AM5, BIOS 1.11 (10-21-2022)
|Powercolor Red Devil Radeon 6750 XT: 2324-2623MHz GPU, 12GB GDDR6
|be quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 850W: ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Platinum
|G.Skill F5-6000J3038F16GX2-TZ5N 2x16GB (32GB) DDR5-6000 CL30-38-38-96 1.35V
|Integrated HD Audio
|AMD Adrenalin Edition 2022.10.1
A slower NVMe drive would have ran cooler in our USB 3.2 Gen2 adapters, but we didn’t have any of an appropriate 2.0TB capacity to compare. The X9 Pro 2TB walks away with an easy thermal win by being designed as a complete solution, lacking the hot 64Gb/s controller that made our M.2 test drive a stellar performer before it was choked down to 10Gb/s by the Sabrent and Orico USB 3.2 Gen2 adapters.
Our recent ASRock motherboards use native USB3.2 Gen2 for 10Gb/s Type A ports, but feed I/O panel Type-C ports through a 40Gb/s USB4 / Thunderbolt 4 controller that adds some latency. Of the drives and adapters we’ve tested, only the Orico unit came with the Type A to Type-C cable that would allow us to test the motherboard’s native 10Gb/s interface.
The X9 Pro takes overall wins in both Sandra (above) and Aida64 (below).
Gaming from an external drive sounded like a ludicrous idea until we tested a micro PC with no internal upgrade option. The X9 Pro missed the mark slightly, but not significantly, compared to our cobbled-together solutions.
PCMark indicates that the X9 Pro’s small loss might be due to latency, which isn’t usually an issue for users who just want to backup or manually transfer files.
ATTO shows excellent 128K but mediocre 4K performance, concurring with PCMark’s latency finding.
CrystalDiskMark shows the X9 Pro bouncing around between second and third place compared to our adapter-mounted M.2 drive.
DiskBench tests an internal transfer. As much as we’d have expected the X9 Pro to perform similar to other drives here, it lagged behind even after repeated retests. That benchmark in turn destroyed the X9 Pro’s performance average. We’re deemphasizing the benchmark on this occasion simply because people buy external drives to move files…externally.
Crucial’s X9 Pro delivers a well-designed portable storage solution that breaks neither performance records nor bank accounts: We’re attracted to its convenient palm-size design and would even consider buying one for its five year warranty.
|Crucial X9 Pro 2TB (CT2000X9PROSSD9)
|Compact, convenient design
|The Crucial X9 Pro’s design and warranty are winning features, but its most competitively priced 2TB version is still only a middling value.
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Because it does everything we expected it to do expectedly, the X9 Pro’s splendid design and warranty have pushed the 2TB model onto our approval list. Having said that, our decision would been far easier had Crucial added a touch of thrift to the unit’s Pros list.