Crucial Unveils X9 Portable SSD: QLC for the Cost-Conscious Consumer

Crucial entered the portable SSD market relatively late, with their X6 and X8 PSSDs being the mainstay for many years. Based on QLC NAND, they were marketed for read-intensive use-cases, though the generous amount of SLC cache ended up delivering good write performance too for mainstream consumers – particularly in the X8. Recently, the company also started focusing on the prosumer / power users market with the launch of the X9 Pro and X10 Pro. Based on Micron’s 176L 3D TLC NAND, these drives came with guaranteed write speeds.

Earlier this week, the company launched a successor to the Crucial X8 in the same form-factor as that of the recently launched X9 Pro and X10 Pro. The new USB 3.2 Gen 2 Crucial X9 PSSD takes on the same 65 x 50mm dimensions, but opts for an ABS plastic enclosure instead of the metal one used in the Pro units. Similar to the X8 that is being replaced, the X9 also doesn’t advertise write speeds and there is no hardware encryption available. The lanyard hole is retained from the Pro design, but the LED indicator has been dropped. While the X9 is drop-proof up to 2m, the water- and dust-resistance features are not included.

The Crucial X9 PSSD utilizes Micron’s 176L 3D QLC NAND and retains the Phison U17 native flash controller. The 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB capacity points are being introduced at $80, $120, and $250, though Amazon currently lists them at $90, $140, and $280 respectively. It is no secret that there is a glut in the flash market currently, resulting in very attractive (P)SSD price points for consumers. However, it is also well-known that it is a cyclic trend. Industry observers expect prices to go up sometime next year, and based on inventory levels of various models with different retailers, we might see strange pricing swings.

The Crucial X9 PSSD is a much-needed upgrade to the aging X8, and we are glad that Crucial has decided to release a new model instead of silently updating the NAND in the older version. The new form-factor and design for this product class is also a welcome change. Crucial’s expanded product lineup ensures that it is competitive against established players like Samsung and Western Digital across all high-volume PSSD market segments. The only missing part is a Thunderbolt / USB4 model, and we hope Crucial will address that in the near future.