Lexar SL500 1TB Portable SSD Review - The best of native USB

Lexar's SL500 portable SSD is the best we've encountered. It offers the speed, compatibility, and portability that only SM2320-controlled devices can.

Published
Updated
Manufacturer: Lexar (LSL500X001T-RNBNG)
3 minutes & 26 seconds read time
TweakTown's Rating: 97%
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The Bottom Line

It's overall the best performing native USB device we've encountered to date.

Pros

  • + Compatibility
  • + Throughput
  • + User experience
  • + PS5/Xbox

Cons

  • - None

Should you buy it?

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Introduction & Drive Details

We've seen many portable SSDs based on the Silicon Motion SM2320 native USB controller, which ranks among the best devices ever made. The main reason is that SMI's SM2320 controller is native USB, meaning it doesn't need a bridge chip to translate NVMe to USB. No bridge chip means less heat, less power draw, and universal compatibility.

Lexar's SL500 is a roughly credit card sized, slim, supremely compatible, pocket-friendly portable speedster offering plug-and-play compatibility with iPhone 15 series, mobile devices, laptops, cameras, Xbox X|S, PS4, PS5, gaming, E-sport, and more via an included USB-C to USB-C cable. Additionally, Lexar's SSD SL500 includes Lexar DataShield 256-bit AES encryption software to protect files.

The SL500 is a USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 interfaced ultra-portable device offering performance of up to 2000 MB/s sequential read and 1800 MB/s sequential write throughput. The device is backward compatible, going all the way back to USB 2.0 thanks to being native USB controlled. It's also inherently rugged due to its 4.8mm aluminum unibody construction, which also contributes to its cool running nature.

Drive Details

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Buy at Amazon

Lexar SL500 1TB Portable SSD

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$105.99$119.12-
* Prices last scanned on 5/17/2024 at 6:54 pm CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Synthetic Benchmarks: CDM, ATTO & Blackmagic

CrystalDiskMark

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Lexar SL500 1TB Portable SSD Review - The best of native USB 08
Lexar SL500 1TB Portable SSD Review - The best of native USB 09

2,097 MB/s is the highest throughput we've attained from any USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 interfaced device. 41.87 MB/s QD1 random read performance indicates that the drive will deliver in spades if serving as a portable gaming device. Outstanding.

ATTO

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ATTO demonstrates the SL500 1TB is capable of delivering full sequential throughput at 256K transfers at the standard test queue depth of 4. Excellent.

Blackmagic

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Lexar SL500 1TB Portable SSD Review - The best of native USB 14
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When serving data to the host (reading), we find our test subject delivering more than any similarly interfaced device we've ever tested, and second most when writing data. The drive shows itself capable of keeping up with just about any video file format you would want to use.

Real-World Testing: PCMark 10, 3DMark SSD Gaming & Transfer Rates

PCMark 10 Data Drive Benchmark

The Data Drive Benchmark is designed to test drives that are used for storing files rather than applications. You can also use this test with NAS drives, USB sticks, memory cards, and other external storage devices.

The Data Drive Benchmark uses 3 traces, running 3 passes with each trace as follows:

  • Copying 339 JPEG files, 2.37 GB in total,?into?the target drive (write test).
  • Making a copy of the JPEG files (read-write test).
  • Copying the JPEG files to another drive (read test).
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Lexar SL500 1TB Portable SSD Review - The best of native USB 17

Best-in-class performance here. It's the best we've ever attained from any native USB device. Impressive.

3DMark SSD Gaming Test

UL's newest 3DMark SSD Gaming Test is the most comprehensive SSD gaming test ever devised. We consider it superior to testing against games themselves because, as a trace, it is much more consistent than variations that will occur between runs on the actual game itself. This test is the same as running the actual game, just without the inconsistencies inherent to application testing. In short, we believe that this is the world's best way to test an SSDs gaming prowess and accurately compare it against competing SSDs. The 3DMark SSD Gaming Test measures and scores the following:

  • Loading Battlefield V from launch to the main menu.
  • Loading Call of Duty Black Ops 4 from launch to the main menu.
  • Loading Overwatch from launch to the main menu.
  • Recording a 1080p gameplay video at 60 FPS with OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) while playing Overwatch.
  • Installing The Outer Worlds from the Epic Games Launcher.
  • Saving game progress in The Outer Worlds.
  • Copying the Steam folder for Counter-Strike Global Offensive from an external SSD to the system drive.
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Lexar SL500 1TB Portable SSD Review - The best of native USB 19

Gaming is a performance metric that matters to most DIY consumers, especially to the enthusiast crowd that TweakTown caters to. We are now including gaming performance as a part of our external SSD reviews, as using portable storage for gaming duties is very popular among avid gamers.

Ultra-portable, fully compatible storage is a nice complement to any console or PC gaming device. The SL500 is among the best choices out there for this role.

DiskBench - Transfer Rates

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We brutalize our test subjects with our extremely hard-to-swallow 100GB data block. This data block is the same one we use for our internal SSD testing and is composed of more than 62K files. 100GB is probably right at the upper limit for a single transfer, so as we see it, this is a much more realistic test scenario than a sustained filling of the entire drive. Our test subject delivers an above-average write transfer rate and the best-of-its-kind read transfer rate, with only Thunderbolt/USB 4 devices able to deliver more.

Final Thoughts

We love Lexar's newest flagship portable SSD. Its slim pocket-sized form factor is appealing, as is its high-quality in-hand feel, but even more than that, we love its class-leading performance.

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Lexar's SL500 is overall one of the best portable SSD's we've ever encountered, earning it our highest award. Editor's choice.

Photo of product for sale

Performance

98%

Quality

100%

Features

100%

Value

90%

Overall

97%

The Bottom Line

It's overall the best performing native USB device we've encountered to date.

TweakTown award
97%

Lexar SL500 1TB Portable SSD

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$105.99$119.12-
* Prices last scanned on 5/17/2024 at 6:54 pm CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Jon joined the TweakTown team in 2013 and has since reviewed 100s of new storage products. Jon became a computer enthusiast when Windows XP launched. He was into water cooling and benching ATI video cards with modded drivers. Jon has been building computers for others for more than 10 years. Jon became a storage enthusiast the day he first booted an Intel X25-M G1 80GB SSD. Look for Jon to bring consumer SSD reviews into the spotlight.

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