Top 10 Best External SSDs with Fast Read and Write Speeds – Q2 2016 Edition
Today, I am going to share to you some of the best external SSD or solid state drives for your data, images, video or audio files. Most of these external SSDs are the latest in the market. I find no reason to introduce older products not unless they are still as good that the latest ones or it has not been succeeded yet. You might be wondering, why choose an external SSD? Why not an internal HDD or a portable hard drive, like the popular WD My Passport Ultra? Before I begin with my list of top 10 best external SSDs, let me just give you some brief information regarding the difference between an SSD vs HDD, and their respective advantages and disadvantages. If you already know about this, skip the next few paragraphs and go straight to the list below.
SSD vs HDD – Pros and Cons of an SSD
An SSD or Solid State Drive is a non-mechanical storage drive, meaning there are no moving parts within the drive. Unlike an HDD or a hard disk drive, there are spindles inside that spins at a very fast speed. On an SSD, data are stored on NAND flash chips, whereas on a hard drive data are stored on the platter. Since there are no spinning platters or moving parts on an SSD, SSDs are more durable and shock resistant than HDD. An external or portable hard drive could easily break from a fall, specially if the platter(s) are still spinning.
SSDs are generally fast, really fast! It’s like comparing a bike to a car. SSDs typically have faster read/write speeds compared to a hard drive, and take note portable HDDs are not as fast as a full-sized internal hard drives. With an SSD, data can be accessed or stored instantaneously, making it great for copying or transferring numerous files or large amount of data.
Aside from being fast, SSDs are also cooler and consumes less power compared to an HDD. They are also typically smaller and lighter compared to an HDD. SSDs sound so fantastic right? Yes they are, that’s why I’m making this list first.
So watch the catch with SSDs? All products have a downside or cons right? Well, not long ago SSDs are limited in terms of capacity and could be considered as a disadvantage. However, newer SSDs today offer capacities up to 2TB, so I wouldn’t consider capacity as a con anymore. The only disadvantage of an SSD left is its price. SSDs are typically more expensive than an HDD, specially when it comes to price/capacity. However, SSDs nowadays are getting cheaper and more affordable; and most of the time, the benefits of an SSD outweighs its “disadvantage”.
Why an external SSD and not an external HDD?
In this article, I am recommending the use of an external SSD since it’s faster and more durable compared to an external hard drive. You can copy, save or transfer files easily and fast with an SSD. Thus saving you time and you become more efficient in the process. They are also more durable and resilient than portable external hard drives.
So without further ado….
Top 10 Best External SSD Currently Available
I have listed below the 10 portable external SSDs that I believed to be some of the best or most popular external SSDs that are currently available in the market. I sorted the list below starting from the best and/or latest external SSD, down to the “yeah it’s good…” or “still worth to consider” or “not really the best but it’s an option”, get what I mean?
SanDisk Extreme 900 Portable SSD
First on my list is the SanDisk Extreme 900 Portable SSD. It’s one of the latest and fastest portable SSD that SanDisk has to offer. It is designed to move hi-res photos, videos, audio files and graphics-intense files. It features read/write speeds of up to 850MB/s, or up to 9x faster than a typical external hard drive. It also features a 128-bit AES encryption software (not hardware based encryption).
Now we know that the 850MB/s is really not the actual speed in real life. Based on reviews, the actual read/write speed on the SanDisk Extreme 900 portable SSD is roughly around 670MB/s and 620MB/s respectively. Still, that is fast for a portable storage drive. You might be wondering how was it able to achieve that speed if it’s a SATA based SSD? Well, there are actually two SSDs inside that are configured to run in RAID-0. That way it can break the 6Gbps speed limit of a standard SATA interface.
Its connectivity interface is USB 3.1 gen 2 Type-C, and comes with a cable for both Type-A and Type-C, so it’s pretty much backwards compatible. It measures 133.35mm x 82.55mm x 17.78mm and weighs around 210 grams. It’s available in 480GB, 960GB and 1.92TB capacities.
Check out the latest pricing and availability of the SanDisk Extreme 900 Portable SSD here.
Samsung T3 External SSD USB 3.1
Next on my list is the Samsung T3 External SSD featuring a USB 3.1 interface. This tiny external SSD is fast, but not as fast as the Extreme 900 above. It offers a sequential read/write speed of up to 450MB/s somewhat similar to an internal SATA SSD. It features the company’s V-NAND technology. I’m not sure if it’s the same V-NAND found on the popular Samsung 850 EVO or 950 Pro SSDs, but more or less it is similar. It also features an AES 256-bit security encryption like most of Samsung’s SSDs.
Based on some reviews, actual sequential read/write speed using CrystalDiskMark 5.1 is around 400MB/s and 380MB/s respectively. Actual performance may vary depending on the host configuration and data type. Also it is recommended to use USB 3.1 connection with UASP mode enabled to get the most out of its performance. It features a USB Type-C interface and comes with a USB-A adapter cable. It measures 2.91 x 2.28 x 0.41 inches and weighs around 51 grams. The Samsung T3 External SSD is available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities.
Check out the latest pricing and availability of the Samsung T3 External SSD here.
SanDisk Extreme 500 Portable SSD
The SanDisk Extreme 500 Portable SSD is third on my list of best external SSDs. This diamond-shaped external storage is also fast and small. But not as fast as the Samsung T3. It features a USB 3.0 interface and offers sequential read/write speeds of up to 430MB/s and 400MB/s respectively (for the 480GB variant), or up to 415MB/s and 340MB/s respectively (for the 120GB and 240GB variants).
Based on reviews, actual sequential read speeds should be around 385MB/s for the 480GB variant, or around 360MB/s for the lower capacities. Meanwhile sequential write speed is around 330MB/s for the 480GB capacity and around 300MB/s for the lower capacities. It also features a 128-bit AES encryption via software, shock resistant of up to 800 G. It measures only 10.67mm x 75.69mm x 75.69mm, and it’s small enough to fit inside your pocket.
Check out the latest pricing and availability of the SanDisk Extreme 500 Portable SSD here.
In addition to the SanDisk Extreme 500 portable SSD, the company recently released a newer version called the SanDisk Extreme 510 portable SSD 480GB. Its sequential read/write speeds is similar with the 480GB variant of the Extreme 500, but it features an all-terrain durability. It is IP55 certified, meaning it’s water and dust resistant, and could stand up to typical trek hazards such as rain, splashes and spills. The new Extreme 510 portable SSD is somehow geared towards photographers, videographers or creative professionals who are on the go to capture scenes from nature or the wild.
Check out the latest pricing and availability of the SanDisk Extreme 510 Portable SSD here.
Samsung T1 Portable External SSD
On my fourth spot of best external SSD is the Samsung T1 Portable external SSD. This is actually an older version of the T3 with USB 3.0 as its primary interface. Just like the T3, the T1 external SSD is also based on 3D V-NAND technology. It features a sequential read/write speed of up to 450MB/s and features AES 256-bit encryption. However the T3 is more or less faster than the T1 thanks to its USB 3.1 interface. Nevertheless, performance difference shouldn’t that be huge.
The Samsung T1 portable external SSD is also small, measuring 71mm x 53mm x 9mm and weighs only 25 grams. It’s available in 1TB, 500GB and 250GB capacity.
Check out the latest pricing and availability of the Samsung T1 Portable External SSD here.
Now starting from my 5th external SSD downwards, these are my “okay” pick. Not the best of the best, but okay and still worth to consider buying one. Some offers a smaller form factor, not necessarily faster but still fast enough, and some of them are cheaper and more affordable. So let’s proceed…
MyDigitalSSD OTG mSSD Portable External SSD
The MyDigitalSSD OTG portable external SSD is an mSATA based SSD that relies on SuperSpeed USB 3.0 with UASP technology. Most external SSDs with USB 3.0 interface features UASP and this makes the transfer rate faster compared to the external storage drives that doesn’t support UASP. It’s light, very portable and can be inserted in your pocket. It offers a sequential read/write speed of up to 460MB/s but expect that actual speed is lower specially with the lower capacities.
The MyDigitalSSD OTG mSSD portable external SSD measures only 1 x 3 x 0.3 inches and weighs about 3.2 ounces. It’s available in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB.
Check out the latest pricing and availability of the MyDigitalSSD OTG mSSD Portable External SSD here.
Transcend ESD400 External Solid State Drive
Next is the Transcend ESD400 portable external SSD. It features USB 3.0 connectivity with UASP support and it’s USB 2.0 backwards compatible. It’s also ultra-portable, similar size with a poker card and can fit on your pocket. It features a one touch auto-backup button and comes with a 3-year limited warranty.
The Transcend ESD400 portable SSD offers speeds of up to 410MB/s sequential read and 380MB/s sequential write. Again actual real world performance is expected to be slower than advertised. It measures 92mm x 62mm x 10.5mm and weighs 59 grams. It’s available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB capacities.
Check out the latest pricing and availability of the Transcend ESD400 External SSD here.
LaCie Porsche Design Slim P’9223 SSD
If you want something flashy, sleek-looking and solid, consider the LaCie Porsche Design Slim P’9223 external SSD. It features a USB 3.0 interface and offers speeds of up to 400MB/s. Its body is made of solid aluminum casing and it’s resilient to shock, vibration and extreme temperature. However, this external SSD is built for Mac only.
Check out the latest pricing and availability of the LaCie Porsche Design Slim P’9223 SSD here.
Patriot Supersonic Phoenix External SSD
Next we have the Patriot Supersonic Phoenix External SSD. It’s not a new product and the company is known for their cheap but reliable memory and storage solutions. The only downside I see here is that this drive is not that fast. It only offers speeds of up to 260MB/s and 170MB/s sequential read and write speeds respectively. (I don’t think this should be included in the first place). It’s compatible with Windows, Mac and Linus though. It’s available in 256GB, 512GB and 1TB capacities.
Check out the latest pricing and availability of the Patriot Supersonic Phoenix External SSD here.
Oyen Shadow Mini External Portable SSD
Second to the last is from Oyen Digital. They have the Oyen Shadow Mini External Portable SSD. It’s also very small like the T1 or MyDigitalSSD OTG mSSD. It features USB 3.0 interface and offers speeds of up to 400MB/s. Its body is made of aluminum and it’s also compatible with Windows or Mac. The Oyen Shadow Mini is available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB capacities.
Check out the latest pricing and availability of the Oyen Shadow Mini External Portable SSD here.
Oyen U32 Shadow External Portable SSD
Finally, there’s the U32 Shadow External Portable SSD also from Oyen Digital. This one is slightly larger than the Shadow Mini but specs wise they feature the same USB 3.0 interface and offers speeds up to 400MB/s. Body is also made of aluminum and it’s available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities. Again actual read/write speeds are expected to be slower on lower capacities compared to the higher ones.
Check out the latest pricing and availability of the Oyen U32 Shadow External Portable SSD here.
Okay there you have it guys. Let me know if I missed anything interesting or an external SSD that should be on this list. Again I’ll update this whenever something new or better comes out. Please don’t forget to share, tweet or like this post.
Why RAID 0 is not declared in the SanDisk Extreme 900 SSD specifications in SanDisk web page? RAID 0 is the best way to lose data. If one drive or the controler fails, all is lost.
not sure why, but check the reviews. You will see two SSDs inside the Extreme 900 configured in RAID 0.
Can these disks be used to boot Mac OS X and work from it all day long?
I’m not sure, haven’t tried booting a Mac from an external drive.