Netac ZX20 Portable Solid State Drive Review

A very good everyday pocket-sized SSD

Netac Zx20 Portable Solid State Drive Featured2

Pros

  • Small and pocketable
  • High capacity
  • High Speed, much faster than a memory stick

Cons

  • No activity light to show when it's running
  • Inflexible cable

Our Rating

9 / 10

Offline storage and backup can be a big problem. Basically, the data we generate monthly in 2022 would have been a lifetime supply only 10 years ago. Even with cloud storage, there is still a very present need for physical storage for temporary backup, transportation, security, and backup off site. With USB sticks so darn easy to lose, what we really need is some kind of reliable, high-capacity storage in a form factor that’s bigger than a USB stick and smaller than a USB hard drive. This leaves room for the Netac ZX20 Portable Solid State Drive.

This is a sponsored article and was made possible by Netac. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of the author who maintains editorial independence even when a post is sponsored.

Netac’s Tiny Drive

The Netac ZX20 Portable Solid State Drive takes a small SSD and puts it into a small form factor suitable for your bag or even your pocket. It’s so small and neat, you could even slip it into the trouser pocket of a suit and not spoil the lining.

The case dimensions are only 8 cm x 4.3 cm, about as big as a cigarette lighter for comparison. The case is robust and silicone protected on five sides. It has a hole built into the corner so that you can use a carabiner clip to lash it to a bag or jacket or link it to your keys for easy transport. Attachment to a computer or device is handled by the included USB-C to standard USB cable.

Netac Zx20 Boxshot

Also included is a USB-C to USB-C cable for connection to the growing lot of devices using that standard. You also get a tiny leatherette pouch that doesn’t protect it so much as look nice. I can’t say I use it much, but it’s nice to have.

Netac is one of the claimants to being the inventors of the USB memory stick, which tells you something important: it has been doing this kind of thing for a long time.

Big Storage, Small Package

The initial response to opening the box and taking out the drive is how small and neat and nicely made the drive is. It feels expensive. Out of the box it is formatted for Windows, so I plugged it into the PC, and it recognized it easily. The USB lead is very well made and feels robust enough to carry around in a coat pocket without risking any damage in transit.

Connecting the cable to the drive has a very positive click, which is unusual in my experience, as USB connectors on devices are notoriously loose and cheap, but this is really snug and positive.

Netac Zx20 Usb Socket

The first thing you notice while using it is how fast it is compared to the bulk of the external storage you use on a PC. Obviously, you only get full speed if you have certified USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (20Gbps) sockets on your machine.

Of course, the primary limiting factor and primary bottleneck in any USB-based storage system is the speed of the socket itself, which is a serious thing you should bear in mind.

On that note, I have USB 3.0 and not 3.2, so I have to cite test results supplied to me by Netac. The USB-C test results sound impressive: 2031Mb/s sequential read, 1774Mb/s sequential write. If you can’t get a certified USB 3.2 with a USB-A interface (easy to spot with the blue tab), then clearly, USB-C is your best bet.

Zx20 Data

This doesn’t mean that if you don’t have USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (20Gbps) this drive is useless. To the contrary, in fact.

Netac Zx20 Drive Solo

Although the peak performance of the ZX20 can only be achieved with the USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (20Gbps) interface, this product supports full backward compatibility with a variety of interfaces and can still be used when connected to a USB 3.0 interface. This means that if you take the product out and about and use it on someone else’s device, it will work fine.

Using the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test tool and a regular USB socket, I could see the ZX20 managed speeds as high as 145MB/s. That’s good enough to read and write 2K cinema-quality video attached to a digital cinema projector.

This product gets on well in connection with a standard USB 3.0 interface. As you can see, it can reach levels of 429Mb/s read and 405Mb/s write. Basically, the type of performance you get depends entirely on the kind of interface you have. Suffice to say, whatever you are using with it will be fast.

Netac Zx20 Blackmagic Test4

I really like the Netac ZX20 Portable Solid State Drive. It’s difficult to put across how small it is – yet powerful and fast. The speed of regular USB sticks is usually terrible, as they are almost always cheap. That’s understandable, as if you are going to carry around something small AND expensive, it’s a recipe for disaster. But this device is not only compact, powerful and fast – it’s also not that expensive, and with USB 3.2 it really flies.

Netac Zx20 Drive Back

I only have two quibbles with it, and they are very minor and purely personal. Number one: it would have been nice to have a little LED activity light on it. I don’t like indicators that are too bright, but a nice discreet little light that flashes when it’s working would have been nice.

Netac Zx20 Full Kit

I also question why the cables you get with this and similar items are so stiff. I get that they have to be durable, but it doesn’t lie flat when I plug the drive. Admittedly, this is more to do with my own OCDs than any technical deficiency in the product, so it’s not a major issue, and the PSSD willl be dangling in some way anyway.

Where to get it

All things considered, the Netac ZX20 Portable Solid State Drive is a great little drive, and for an estimated retail price of about $70, not crazy expensive either. It’s probably about $10 more than I’d like to see, but the quality is great, so I’ll forgive the price immediately, as you can’t go wrong with the capacity.

All images by Phil South.

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