Top Notch Solid State External Hard Drive (aka External SSD)

The Adata SE730 External SSD ($149.99) packs 250GB of storage into a tough, compact case. At the end of the PCB, there is a small DIP switch set and a switch button that can be used to change the hardware setup of your drive. However, 38 cents per gigabyte is reasonable considering that the USB 3.0 Samsung T3 is 35 cents per gigabyte, and internal SATA SSDs still run around 25 cents. The Samsung T3 2TB is a high-performance model, but it’s restricted to USB 3.0 performance. Following on from the T1 (what happened to the T2?

Why to go for a portable SSD

Keep in mind, this will erase all data on the installed drives. However, it also paves new ground with a whopping 2TB version at the top of the line. It’s high-performance V-NAND still makes it a strong option for those looking for a speedy experience in a small package. The cheapest 250GB Samsung T3 SSD will set you back $179 in Australia, while a 500GB is $289, a 1TB drive is $579 and the 2TB monster is a pants-wetting $1079. But these features do allow you to both upgrade the internal drives as well as their setup.

While the T3 is “USB 3.1” and has a USB-C port, I harbored fantasies that it might be a full-on SuperSpeed+ 10Gbps implementation, not the USB 3.1 Gen 1 SuperSpeed 5Gbps that we’ve grown bored with. The SanDisk Extreme 900 Portable SSD is the other high-performance model that, on paper, should be slightly faster than the preloaded Boost. This enables 10 Gb/s connectivity to the device for full performance to the end-user. During my testing, I checked the market and there are several 1TB mSATA MO-300 full-size drives available which would allow you to double the capacity of your Boost down the line. And while the G-Drive mobile USB-C comes in four colors, the slim comes in only space gray and silver (like our review unit). As the name suggests, the slim is a smidge thinner and lighter.

portable SSD

The 900 is a little larger and a little heavier. High-performance flash-based DAS units carry a premium as they are still reliant on MLC flash for providing consistent performance. On the other hand, it also allows you to change to RAID 1 mode for redundancy over capacity or to JBOD for pure capacity. Now with the retail version hitting the shelves, it’s time to see if the performance has changed because the exterior design certainly has. Two more flash-based portable SSDs made our list.

At the time of writing, it cost 46p per GB, making it more expensive than the SanDisk Extreme 500 and Samsung T3. There is no need to guess the DIP switch settings either as there is a print on the back of the board telling you the settings. Dubbed the SE730, it weighs a mere 33g (1.1oz) and measures 72.7mm long, 44mm wide and 12.2mm thick (2.8″ x 1.7″ x 0.4″). The bulk of the enclosure has been constructed from aluminum and depending on your preference comes in either an anodized red or gold finish. We loved the Adata SD700 in our review, and it features Micron’s 384Gbit TLC flash. It’s also water-resistant, dust-sealed, and shockproof, proving that it’s way more than just a pretty slice of silicon.

Choosing the best external SSD

We also see holes in the PCB to support half-length mSATA modules. This sturdy solid-state drive can easily fit into the tiniest of pockets, and delivers speedy performance over USB-C. The SanDisk Extreme 510 is also a TLC-based model. External USB hard drives? Isn’t that just an amazingly built drive?
We have no idea) it’s tiny, stylish and comes with a convenient and fast USB 3.1 Type-C connector. The LaCie Rugged RAID with two hard disk drives in a predefined RAID 0 array is the only disk-based model in this review. That 2TB monster is the one we’ve got on hand to test. Amazing out of the box and even upgradeable and usable beyond the original intended usage. This is a lot of money, but it’s also an easy route into the smallest, fastest, most capacious portable solid-state drive on the market right now, and that comes with an accordingly high price tag.

The Rugged features USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt II connections, but we tested the drive with USB like the other products in this review. Well, it’s not. That’s a win in my book. Capacity options include a 500GB solution that was sent to us for testing and a larger 1TB model. The 4KB through 16KB performance is nearly identical for all of the drives.

It measures 0.39 by 5.08 by 3.23 inches (HWD) and weighs 4.48 ounces, while the mobile USB-C measures 0.51 by 5.08 by 3.23 inches and weighs 5.92 ounces. MyDigitalSSD is backing the Boost with a 3-year warranty which is a year longer than most, but the drive doesn’t come with official TBW rating besides what the included drives have themselves. In the last five years, Western Digital (WD) has made a string of acquisitions as part of the overall consolidation trend in the market. The SanDisk Extreme 900 is slightly faster with small block reads and writes, and also scales faster than many of the other drives as we increase the transfer size. Coming from the white and silver aesthetic of the preview, the retail version of the SE730 features a gold exterior with black endcaps and is IP68 certified.

external solid state drive

The MyDigital Boost SSD comes in a simple brown box with a large sticker on the top that contains all relevant information about the included drive. Don’t confuse the new SE730 with the older drive of the same name: the new one has a completely different design. The MyDigitalSSD Boost 1TB also scales well with larger blocks. Like Samsung’s T3, ADATA’s SE730 features a Type-C (USB 3.1 Gen2) connector but comes with a Type-C to Type-A USB cable for broader compatibility. Besides the SSD itself, there are two cables in the box, one for USB type-A connections and one for USB type-C connections.

Solid State External hard drive types

Note that external SSDs are distinct from plain old flash drives; they use a different grade of flash-memory modules inside, and many are at the core just internal drives in an external shell, with some silicon running interference between the Serial ATA interface of the drive and the USB of the external connection. There is a nasty dip in both 512KB reads and writes that we can’t explain. The Adata SE730$119.99 at Amazon rides the line between stylish and functional. The MyDigitalSSD drive is still being rolled out at the time of review, so the availability is limited so far. Around 5 to 6 cents.
The MyDigitalSSD Boost delivers the highest read and write performance across the full LBA range with 128KB sequential blocks. This lot is combined with Samsung’s excellent SSD hardware, which should offer high read and write speeds and long term reliability. You can get it through the official MyDigialDiscount shop or through Amazon where the 1TB version of the Boost will set you back as little as $279.99. The deceptively diminutive 2TB T3 measures 2.9″ by 2.3″ by 0.4″ (73.6 by 58.4 by 10.2 mm), a slight increase over the 2.8″ by 2.1″ by 0.36″ of its predecessor. The drive squeaks by the SanDisk Extreme 900 Portable SSD in throughput, but the performance is slightly less consistent.

The Samsung T3 switches from the T1’s old micro-USB 3.0 connector — you know, this one — to the much more versatile, reversible and much higher speed USB Type-C connector. You can also get the enclosure itself without any pre-installed drives for just $49.99 and then add your own preferred mSATA drives. And yes, I said it. The Extreme 900 had a sizable dip around the 75-percent mark, which was amplified during the write test. Marketing performance comes in at 540 MB/s for this solution while being compatible with both OS X and Windows platforms.