How Does the T-Create External SSD Stand Up to Rigorous Testing?

How Does the T-Create External SSD Stand Up to Rigorous Testing?

Photographers and videographers require equipment that’s good enough to do the job. Wanting to discover whether this new solid state drive would make the grade, I put it through a series of rigorous tests.

A Little Background About Why I Chose to Review This Product

As a writer, I am constantly bombarded with requests to review things, and I don’t want you to waste your time reading about gear that is no good. However, I don’t read other reviews until after I test gear as I don’t want my opinion swayed by what others have thought of a product. Likewise, I try to avoid the marketing blurb too and only look at the specifications of a product to decide whether I want to test it. Considering all that, I have a personal checklist that a product must pass before I agree to review something.

Good reviews sometimes bring about the uninformed criticism that they are advertorial. They aren't. All sponsored reviews are marked as such, and the reviews here are genuine and as we find gear to be during testing. If we give something a good review, it's because we found it worked well.

A few weeks back, I received a request to review Team Group’s T-Create Cinema P31 External SSD. I didn’t know Team Group, but a search of their products online showed that they produced a lot of good quality computer hardware, including solid state disks and RAM, at an affordable price point. So, with that information and with their request ticking the other prerequisites I require, I got back in contact with them. Subsequently, they sent me a unit to test.

First Impressions

With so much badly designed junk available in the photography world, there's something special about well-engineered gear. It is especially satisfying to unbox something and discover something even better than you expected.

Indeed, unboxing the T-Create Cinema P31 External Hard Drive, I was in for a pleasant surprise. The unit arrived in neat, recyclable packaging with minimal plastic, which is always pleasing. Even the internal tray that housed the drive was cardboard. I later discovered that T-Create commits to sustainability. So, that was a great first impression.

In the box is the drive, a heavy-duty USB-C cable, and three ¼” screws fixings, one of which was double-ended with a locking nut, for mounting the drive onto a cage. Although suitable for photographers, this drive can be mounted on a cage, favored by those doing video work, as suggested by its name.

Taking the drive from the packaging and removing the protective labels, I found the drive was small, solid, and well-made. It weighs only 3.42 oz (97 g) and measures 3.5” x 1.7” x 0.4” (90mm x 50mm x 10mm). At one end, underneath, and on both sides are three evenly spaced ¼” threaded holes (i.e., 12 holes altogether) that offer multiple different cage mounting options, breaking free of the constraints of many traditionally designed cage-mounted drives. The unit has a tough aluminum casing and a rubberized area that will help stop the unit from slipping when cage-mounted.

The T-Create P31 is certified for IP67 weather sealing. That indicates that the drive has a high level of ingress protection. The "6" in that code means it offers complete protection against dust over an extended time including contact with objects less than 1 mm in size. Meanwhile, the "7" means the device can withstand short periods underwater down to a meter depth.

The version I was sent was a 2TB model, which will store around 100,000 20-megapixel photos. With the rise of 4K, 6K, and 8K video, large storage is essential. But it’s not just the storage size but, with cinema hard drives, the speeds at which data can be written to and read from the drive are important. Too slow and the video will start to drop frames. Some cameras designed especially for video can write directly to an external SSD. This SSD is rated up to 1,000MB/s read speed.

The unit sports unique, patented graphene cooling technology and it stayed cool to touch throughout my speed tests.

The Type-C connector tongue features a red accent. They say that it mirrors the red "REC" dot indicating recording in progress. I am not sure I thought of it like that. Nevertheless, little design features like that show a manufacturer pays attention to detail and that extra effort always gives me more confidence in a product.

Putting the T-Create P31 External SSD Through Its Paces

Speed Tests

The 1 TB and 2 TB versions have read speeds up to 1,000 MB/s and the larger 4TB version 2,000 MB/s. Read and write speeds depend upon the machine the device is plugged into. I connected via an adaptor using a USB-3 port on my computer, which sports an 8-core 3.4 GHz processor and 32 GB RAM; my machine lacks a direct USB-C input onto the motherboard. It should be noted that my computer's motherboard has only USB-C Generation 1 ports, so the read and write speeds were limited by that. However, using a USB-C Generation 2 port with a faster connection, the results are impressive.

You will always get lower speeds than the advertised maximum transfer rate, and the results are as good as other high-quality SSDs I have tested. Even with my USB-3 Generation 1 USB ports, the speeds were good enough for my purposes. It’s worth noting that by connecting directly to a compatible camera, the read/write speeds will be faster than I can obtain with my computer. So, the drive is more than good enough for recording 8K 60p video directly from the camera.

Environmental Tests

The SSD is rated to run from 0 °C to 70 °C and can be stored from -40 °C to 85 °C. It is also able to be submerged in water and continuously run. As I mentioned earlier, it is also IP67 certified. I dunked the drive into my kettle heated to 70 °C and, afterward, put it in my freezer at -17°C. After both tests, it still worked.

What I Liked and What Could Be Improved about the T-Create P31 External SSD

What I Liked

  • Excellent build quality and finish
  • Durable in many environments
  • High capacity
  • Small dimensions, about the same area as a credit card
  • Multiple mounting options
  • Fast enough
  • Affordable
  • Five-year warranty
  • Packaging has a low environmental impact and Team Group has sound sustainability priorities.
  • It is made in Taiwan, which has a good human rights record.

What Could Be Improved Next Time

  • A rubber bung to protect the USB socket in dusty and sandy environments would be advantageous.
  • Although the SSD appears tough, unlike the ingress protection rating, there are no details regarding robustness and physical shock resistance. However, rigorous testing proved it to be tough and able to withstand shocks.

In Conclusion

As I suggested earlier, I am usually particular about what I review, choosing only quality products and rejecting stuff that isn't produced to a high standard. I've ignored about a dozen offers to review gear this month.

I am glad I decided to review this as it is a super piece of kit because it stood up to the hard tests I put it through. It’s by no means a slouch, and this 2TB version will be good enough for recording 4K, 6K, and 8K video, and large enough for storing 100,000 images or over 450 minutes of 4K 60 fps video. The 4TB version will, of course, have double that capacity.

The unit is a 2024 Red Dot Design Award winner. Besides its obvious appeal for filmmakers, its diminutive size and weight make this a super asset for travel photographers and those who venture into the wilds. I can also see it being a useful asset for wedding photographers and videographers for the same reasons.

You can buy the T-Create P31 External SSD from the TEAMGROUP Amazon store.

Ivor Rackham's picture

A professional photographer, website developer, and writer, Ivor lives in the North East of England. His main work is training others in photography. He has a special interest in supporting people with their mental well-being. In 2023 he accepted becoming a brand ambassador for the OM System.

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Subsequently to writing this article, the manufacturers got in contact and asked me to share a photo of the drive being cage-mounted and clearer CrystalMark results. Happy to oblige.

Excellent and thorough review - thanks!

I am glad you added these photos ... photos of gear in use, taken by the reviewer himself/herself, are another way for a review to be more helpful to the reader. I did not know what you meant by a "cage" when I read the article. I have been a very avid photographer for decades, and yet had no idea what a "cage" was in relation to photography. So the addition of the photos saved me the tiresome task of Googling "external hard drive cage" and combing through the results to try to figure out what it is.

Great review, I like the physical design of the unit, as the threaded mounting options are quite good.

The only issue is the pricing is far too high for the capacity offers. You are essentially paying $300 for a 2TB SSD that uses TLC NAND. and $170 for a 1TB TLC NAND SSD.
Most 1TB NVMe SSDs are in the $50-60 price range for TLC NAND. Many 2TB TLC NVME SSDs are in the $ 130 range (e.g., the Samsung 990 Evo).

For such a price, ideally it should offer 2 bit per cell MLC NAND and USB 4, or 20Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2X2 for the 1TB-2TB version as well.

Many waterproof IP67 m.2 enclosures are in the $30-$50 range, though none that I have seen so far where you install your own m.2 SSD, offers the threaded mounts, thus alternatives would require those adjustable clamps to be used to mount them.

If they were to lower the price to around $100 for the 1TB model and $179 for the 2TB model, it would be a much better value.

With all of that in mind it is good to have fast USB storage if your camera can record to it. They are also useful if you have a smartphone that lacks a micro SD card slot, as you can use the m.2 enclosure to backup the user data in your phone to the m.2 drive.

I ended ended up assembling a few when there were sales on the 1TB SN770 (since discontinued) for $50, though I went with cheaper $15 enclosures where half of the frame is plastic and the other half is an aluminum heatsink that uses a thermal pad to make contact with the SSD.
All of the major branded NVMe to USB 3.2 gen 1 10Gbps controllers will do a little over 1000MB/s, even for the USB 3.2 gen 2x2 units, the bottleneck is often still the USB controller.

You should have reviewed this product. The only useful information on this page is your comment!