The best external SSDs you can buy in 2020

Guidemaster: The best portable SSDs you can buy right now

Valentina Palladino

Moveable SSDs are a great way to extend the quantity of storage it’s a must to protect digital information and take that information with you wherever you go. These highly effective equipment allow you to pack an enormous quantity of storage in your day by day bag, supplying you with a spot the place you may offload recordsdata out of your laptop or smartphone, entry recordsdata you solely want in sure circumstances, and backup vital data on the go.

However the world of moveable SSDs is a big one, and selecting the very best machine to your wants could be a problem. It is not nearly how small the machine is, how sturdy it’s, or what number of gigabytes of storage it has—the pace of a conveyable SSD can closely affect your satisfaction with it. SSDs typically promise higher learn and write speeds than HDDs, so you will see a basic enhance in the event you’re going from one to the opposite. Nonetheless, not all moveable SSDs carry out the identical—even when they promote comparable most speeds.

That can assist you resolve which moveable SSD may give you the results you want, Ars put among the latest and hottest moveable SSDs available on the market to the check and judged them on pace, design, sturdiness, compatibility, and value. Listed here are our findings:

Notice: Ars Technica might earn compensation for gross sales from hyperlinks on this submit by means of affiliate packages.

The brief model

  • The greatest moveable SSD you should purchase proper now’s the $149 CalDigit Tuff Nano (512GB). It was one of many quickest performing SSDs we examined, beating out a lot of the competitors in learn and write speeds. It is one of the crucial moveable drives as properly, with a steel physique that has dimensions smaller than the scale of a typical bank card. The machine is IP67 water- and dust-resistant, and it has a particular USB-C port that has its personal waterproof ranking. We solely want it got here in additional capability variations, however for now, the CalDigit Tuff Nano moveable SSD in 512GB is properly price its value of $149. Buy now CalDigit Tuff Nano (512GB) at Amazon.
  • Our runner-up moveable SSD is the Samsung T5 (500GB). This palm-sized drive has been extremely popular over the previous few years as a drive that is as dependable as it’s moveable. It is not as quick as our prime decide, nevertheless it was one of many quickest among the many common performers in our benchmark checks. We additionally respect that it has AES 256-bit encryption and non-compulsory password safety to offer much more peace of thoughts that your information is safe. The Samsung T5 is an efficient selection if you need a dependable moveable SSD that is fairly quick and barely extra inexpensive than our prime decide. Buy now Samsung T5 (500GB) at Amazon.
  • The most sturdy possibility is the SanDisk Extreme portable SSD (1TB). We like this drive for its tiny dimension, shock-, vibration-, drop-, and waterproof physique and its learn and write speeds which might be almost an identical to our runner up. It additionally has AES 128-bit encryption for a further degree of knowledge safety. In the event you’re terrified of dropping the Samsung T5’s tiny, all-metal physique or simply desire a drive that has just a few extra bodily safeguards, the SanDisk Excessive is an efficient possibility. Buy now SanDisk Extreme SSD (1TB) at Amazon.
  • Our greatest luxurious decide is the OWC Envoy Pro EX (2TB) due to its blazing quick learn and write speeds and slick design. It outperformed virtually each different moveable SSD we examined, studying and writing even the most important recordsdata with ease. The OWC Envoy Professional EX begins at $129 for a 240GB mannequin and prices a whopping $499 for a 2TB mannequin. Those that want a conveyable SSD for his or her day by day workflow that may deal with almost something they throw at it would discover the OWC Envoy Professional EX funding. Buy now OWC Envoy Pro EX (2TB) at OWC.

Greatest general

CalDigit Tuff Nano

Specs at a look: CalDigit Tuff Nano
Worth $149
Capacities 512GB
USB interface USB three.1 Gen 2
Max pace (learn/write in MB/s) 1088/900
Dimensions/weight 2.99×2.14×zero.57 in/ 2.6 ounces
Compatibility macOS and Home windows
Extras IP67 rated, iPad Professional suitable (with iPadOS), included USB-C to A cable, included silicone case

CalDigit’s Tuff Nano (512GB) moveable SSD shocked from the very starting of our testing. A lot of the different SSDs we examined have been round for a while—CalDigit solely simply launched the Tuff Nano lower than a yr in the past, so there is not lots of historic information for instance anticipated efficiency. However it proved to be one of many quickest moveable SSDs we examined, blowing virtually each different machine out of the water when it got here to learn and write speeds.

CalDigit advertises learn speeds as much as 1088Mb/s and the Tuff Nano both surpassed that or got here fairly near it in all of our checks. Nonetheless, learn speeds usually are not essentially the most correct technique to decide an SSD’s efficiency—the actually telling information lies in write speeds.

A lot of the units we examined had been excessive MLC (multi-level cell) performers, which signifies that they don’t depend on a small quantity of cache to buffer write speeds. That is factor as a result of it signifies that efficiency will not plummet after the cache is full.

Nonetheless, that does not imply that the entire drives we examined carried out equally throughout the board. As we elevated file sizes in our testing, CalDigit was one of many stand-out drives that did not decelerate considerably beneath heavy, concurrent entry. It dealt with writing giant recordsdata higher than the vast majority of the competitors, and people who did beat the $149 Tuff Nano are rather more costly SSDs. As a rule of thumb, we suggest the Tuff Nano or our luxurious decide (the drives that stood out in our testing when it comes to write pace) to those that intend to do closely work immediately on their moveable SSD fairly than utilizing it as a dump drive.

The efficiency is spectacular not solely in a sub-$200 SSD, but additionally in such a small machine. Measuring 2.99 x 2.14 x zero.57 inches, the CalDigit Tuff Nano matches comfortably within the palm of my hand and might simply disappear in a deep pocket. The steel rectangle has an IPX67 ranking, that means it might stand up to being submerged in a single meter of water for 30 minutes and it is proof against mud. The USB-C port on the SSD has its personal waterproof ranking of IPX8 as properly.

The Tuff Nano additionally comes with a rubbed edge case that provides it a bit extra drop safety. Obtainable in crimson, blue, inexperienced, and black, the case acts as a bumped of kinds that can take the influence of a fall higher than the chilly steel of the SSD’s physique. The case features a tiny flap that may cowl the USB-C port on the SSD as properly, and whereas it is a bit finicky, it’s going to give the machine much more safety when not in use.

Whereas CalDigit pre-formatted the Tuff Nano for macOS, it may be reformatted to work with Home windows and there are directions included with the SSD that specify how to take action. These come within the type of a small piece of paper within the field fairly than a digital doc saved on the SSD, like many different SSDs have. I make word of this since you might simply miss the directions whereas unboxing the machine, but additionally as a result of in the event that they had been solely included as a digital file on the drive, Home windows customers would not be capable to entry them in any respect. Additionally included within the field are USB-C to C and USB-C to A cables, permitting you to make use of the Tuff Nano with older machines.

Except for presumably dropping it within the depths of your backpack, there aren’t lots of cons to the Tuff Nano. My greatest criticism about it’s that this machine will get fairly sizzling after long-term use. After operating all of our benchmark checks, the steel physique of the Tuff Nano measured 110 levels Fahrenheit.

I additionally want the Tuff Nano had extra capability variants. Presently, you may solely purchase a 512GB mannequin of the Tuff Nano. Hopefully CalDigit will broaden the machine and add at the least 1TB and 2TB choices sooner or later. At $149 for 512GB, it is admittedly costlier than among the extra popularl opponents, however we expect its above-average efficiency is price the additional cash.

The Good

  • A sooner than common moveable SSD with a compact design and value.

The Unhealthy

  • Will get sizzling after long-term use.
CalDigit Tuff Nano product image

CalDigit Tuff Nano

(Ars Technica might earn compensation for gross sales from hyperlinks on this submit by means of affiliate packages.)

Runner up

Samsung T5

Specs at a look: Samsung T5
Worth Begins at $94
Capacities 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
USB interface USB three.1 Gen 2
Max pace (learn/write in MB/s) 540/520
Dimensions/weight 2.three×zero.four×three in/ 1.eight ounces
Compatibility Android, macOS, and Home windows
Extras AES 256-bit encryption, shock-resistant, non-compulsory password safety, included USB-C to A cable

The darling of moveable SSDs made it onto our record for good purpose. Recognized for its small dimension and dependable efficiency, the Samsung T5 (500GB) moveable SSD is a strong different to our prime decide due to its comparatively quick learn and write speeds, its easy design, and its first rate price ticket.

Except for the few stand-out SSDs we examined, most units carried out comparatively equally. Not one of the drives we examined had been significantly dangerous (which is an efficient factor), and that signifies that their benchmark scores all landed in the identical vary on most checks. The Samsung T5 at all times produced scores that had been consistent with, or higher than, the remainder of the competitors. And, apparently sufficient, the T5 carried out barely higher than the brand new Samsung T7 Contact on virtually each check (it was bested by the T7 as soon as).

That is to not say the latest model of Samsung’s moveable SSD is dangerous—fairly the opposite. The T7 Contact is nearly nearly as good because the T5 in almost each means, and it has a built-in fingerprint reader along with the usual AES 256-bit encryption and password safety that the T5 has. Nonetheless, the brand new fingerprint reader is the one purpose why it will make sense to pay for the T7 Contact—in any other case, you are basically getting a more recent model of the T5 that does not provide a lot in the best way of efficiency features.

The Samsung T5 has an honest design that is enticing due to its minimalism. The aluminum physique is barely wider than a bank card and takes up solely a bit more room in width. Obtainable in blue, crimson, gold, and black, it is a tiny storage companion that’s shock-resistant and might stand up to drops as much as two meters.

So let’s discuss value: a 500GB Samsung T5 will price you $94. Of the opposite moveable SSDs we examined that carried out equally to the T5, most had 500GB fashions that had been additionally priced between $90 and $95. It is the typical value for a conveyable SSD of this dimension and pace, which implies you will not be paying additional for the Samsung title like it’s possible you’ll do in the event you purchase a distinct drive (or any variety of different client electronics that up-charge for a sizzling model title).

General, the Samsung T5 lives as much as its hype. In the event you do not wish to spend the additional cash on our prime decide, the T5 is an efficient different with its easy but enticing design, quick efficiency, and non-compulsory password safety.

The Good

  • Quick moveable SSD with a pocket-size profile and non-compulsory password safety.

The Unhealthy

  • Does not are available in a 250GB mannequin.