SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD full review
The SanDisk brand was bought by Western Digital in 2016, and continues alongside the WD and G-Technology products. And, confusingly it makes external SSDs using all three brand names.
That forces its new SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD to compete not only against the likes of Crucial, Samsung and Seagate, but also against sister brands from its own company.
Has the SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD go enough to stand out in an increasingly busy marketplace?
As with most WD, SanDisk or G-Technology products, the SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD is available directly from the Western Digital shop available in most regions. We discovered that pricing isn’t entirely consistent between regions when we looked at the all three capacities in the UK and USA.
The 500GB model is £133.99 (US$119.99), 1TB £257.99 (US$229.99) and 2TB £521.99 (US$429.99).
Cranking those numbers, makes the SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD between 44% and 56% more expensive in the UK than the USA based on the exchange rate at the time of writing.
But even for Americans, this isn’t a cheap option as the very similar spec Crucial X8 1TB is £149.99 (US$144.95). Prices are closes at 500GB with the X8 at £112 and the Extreme Pro at £109 if you're buying on Amazon.
The pricing of the SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD is much closer to the Samsung T7 Touch, a similar performance drive that comes with inherent biometric security and full hardware encryption.
Check out our chart of the best portable hard drives and SSDs to see what else is available.
As a brand, SanDisk has favoured simple and cost effective construction of their devices using mostly plastic. So the Extreme Pro SSD breaks slightly with tradition by being easily the best made external SSD we’ve seen from this brand.
That said, it still isn’t as gorgeous as the rippled metal WD My Passport Portable SSD, because the metal parts in this design are limited to a banding between plastic top and bottom sections.
The underside has an tactile soft neoprene finish, which the top has a harder coating that’s made to look a little like carbon fibre weave.
The connecting port is a USB-C variety, and along with the drive the box contains two very short (20cm) cables to connect it to USB-C or USB-A ports on a computer or mobile devices.
There is no carry pouch for the drive or cables, just an opportunity for a third-party to make money selling you one once you’ve invested in this.
One slightly odd thing about the drive is that it has a hole bounded by the orange metal banding that looks like it was meant either for lanyard or belt carabiner, but neither of these items are included either.
We’re not convinced that anyone would mount this drive on a carabiner since you won't want the cable dangling and you might as well pocket that and the drive.
Specs & Features
The special features of this design are subtle but worth discussing.
One is that this drive is resistant to both water and dust, to a degree. It’s only IP55, which isn’t a rating that includes submersion (despite the press shot below suggesting otherwise), but this drive should handle a few raindrops at the very least.
The other selling point is an encryption solution that can password-protect files and folders stored on the drive.
Unlike fully encrypted solutions, this is just software that allows the owner to create virtual vaults on the drive and copy files and folders to these password-protected structures. With just 128-bit AES encryption and no means to automatically sync a computer folder to the vault, the software is a free trial but upgradable to a more sophisticated solution for a small fee (£14.99).
Although it is disappointing that you don’t get these features included, the upgrade does offer up to 1024-bit encryption, automated backups, synchronisation across devices and data sharing options.
What we liked even about the trial version was that the vault files are freely mixed with unprotected files and folders. The upside of that is the drive isn’t partitioned into protected and unprotected, allowing the full capacity to be easily utilised.
One downside is that it is possible to delete vault files without having the password. Those looking for secure mobile storage should probably consider a product that offers hardware encryption of the entire drive, but the software choices here could be useful to some people.
What’s fascinating about all the NVMe derived external USB drives we’ve seen recently is that internally they’re undoubtedly faster than the interface they use to connect to a computer.
This is also true for the SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD, and therefore when we benchmarked it, we ended up mostly testing USB 3.2 Gen 2 performance on our test system.
SanDisk quotes more than 1,000MB/s for this drive, and it may be possible on a very high-end system with the best possible USB 3.2 chipset, but on our computer is was closer to 900MB/s.
One slight oddity in the results was that the drive appeared faster at writing than reading that might suggest the internal cache has been tweaked to boost the writing performance.
If you don’t have USB 3.2 Gen 2, and only Gen 1, then the best speed you will see from this drive is about 500MB/s. That’s a bandwidth limitation imposed by Gen 1 and not a fault with this drive.
In short, the performance of this drive is good, given the right connection, although it isn’t massively different from the Samsung T7 Touch and Crucial X8.
Seen in isolation, the SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD offers speedy performance with the right port, in an attractive and highly portable package. It’s also securable, should you use a Windows PC or an Apple Mac.
The elephantine issue in this room is the price. The costs are high given what other brands are offering for substantially less money. The quintessential nemesis of the SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD is the Crucial X8, a drive that has equivalent construction quality and performance but is much cheaper in most regions.
The X8 might not have software encryption or a five-year warranty, but the extra that the SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD costs when buying 1TB or more won't justify the difference for many users.
SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD: Specs
- Capacity: 500GB, 1TB and 2TB
- Interface: USB 3.2 Gen 2 (backward compatible with USB 3.0 and 2.0)
- Texture: Plastic
- Operating Temperature: 0–35°C
- System requirements: Compatible with Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7 and Mac OS 10.9+
- Accessories: USB-A to USB-C and USB-C to USB-C cables, Quick start guide
- Colour: Black
- Dimensions: (L x W x H): 112 mm x 58 mm x 11.5mm
- Rugged Features: IP55 for water and dust resistance
- Weight: 79g
- Warranty: 5 years