Storage capacity: 1TB (931MB after formatting)
Interface: USB 1.1
Special features: Portable
Disk type: Solid State Hard Drive
Hard disk form factor: 2.5 inches
Size: 11.03 x 5.73 x 1.02 cm
The SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD comes with trusty brand recognition for photographers and storage-demanding smartphone users in particular, who will have used SanDisk SD cards for several years, so it’s little surprise that an external hard drive from the company would underline portability and ease of carrying.
With a grippy texture, it aims to be comfortable to hold out and about without fear of the drive slipping out of your fingers and into the elements, and its compact size means it fits nicely in your pocket and even has a loop in one of its corners to enable it to be put on a keyring or carabiner. But does it do its core job – storing your valuable data – well enough to earn inclusion among the best external hard drives and SSDs for Mac and PC? Coming in options of 1, 2 or 4TB, I got the 1TB option in for review and put it to the test.
SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD: Design
Most external hard drives are a rote variation on a black box, but the SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD eschews that with an eye-catching golden-orange metallic strip around the sides and on the inside of the top-corner notch, making it stand out nicely. Sitting against the textured black of the rest of the drive, I think it looks a lot better than those usual black bricks, at least, and I imagine that if you’re a photographer or videomaker on the go, the reflective orange strip will make it easier to find in your bag pockets.
SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD: Features
The drive comes preloaded with SanDisk Security For Mac and PC, and the pack includes both a USB to USB-C cable and a USB-C to USB-C cable. There’s no SD card reader, so photographers will have to make sure they have the right cable to transfer directly from their camera or smartphone to the drive if there’s no USB-C port on their other device. You can password-protect the drive with 256-bit hardware encryption, and the kit is IP55 rated for dust and water protection, which definitely helps battle the environment.
I set up password protection without a fuss and took it out and about, dropping it in a flower bed in the park and onto a hard pavement surface, and I’m happy to report that the aluminium chassis holds up admirably, and there was no visible damage to the drive, and no loss of functionality either. The textured surface of the drive also helps grip onto it to reduce the chance of accidentally depositing your precious files into the nearest body of water, and gives it a nicely premium feel too.
SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD: Performance
Atto: Write: 445.43 MB/s, Read: 434.78 MB/s
CrystalDiskMark: Write: 465.51 MB/s, Read: 454.07 MB/s
SanDisk has promoted the drive claiming transfer speeds of up to 2000 MB/s. While I found reports online with screenshots of transfer speed benchmarks topping out at about 900 MB/s, I’ve been unable to replicate those speeds myself. Using benchmark tests with both Atto and CrystalDiskMark via a USB 3.0 connection, write speeds topped out at about 465 MB/s and read speeds at approximately 454 MB/s.
Of course, real-world experience is different to idealised benchmark testing. Transferring a few gigabytes of photos from my computer to the drive, I achieved a maximum speed of around 220 MB/s, and the same when copying a large folder of gaming files to the drive, with speeds understandably slowing when copying thousands of very small files together.
While professional filmmakers or photographers running a tight deadline might get frustrated with the slower-than-advertised speeds, it’s more than fast enough for regular use, even at a professional level, and stacks up nicely alongside many other portable SSDs, with speeds far above any HDD at its price point.
I did run into an issue where I tried transferring files from my phone directly to the drive, as it came included with a USB-C to USB-C cable. However, the admittedly moderately specced phone I used, a budget Nokia running on Android, started behaving erratically and kept forcing a restart after linking to the drive.
After initial confusion, I found out that this was not the SanDisk drive’s fault, but simply that my feeble phone couldn’t handle the power demands of the SSD so went into recovery mode. When hooked up to my desktop computer again, everything ran smoothly so no damage was done.
SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD: Price
At the time of writing, the SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD ranges in price from around £186 for the 1TB option to over £610 for the largest drive, which can store a massive 4TB. You can certainly find cheaper alternatives, including well-liked WD and Samsung products. They won't feel as nice to hold, though...
Should you buy the SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD?
I love the design and ruggedness of this drive, which, along with its dinky size, makes it an ideal choice for people who need access to an external storage drive when out in the wild. And while I was unable to replicate the advertised transfer speeds myself, it still performs well enough to remain a good option even for demanding professionals, and as an SSD it easily outperforms any HDD in its price bracket. If you’re looking for a tough external storage drive that won’t be an eyesore in your house or office, with a 1TB option available for under £200, it’s hard not to recommend the SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD.