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SanDisk Extreme Pro review: A hefty price tag, but the performance is worth it

The SanDisk Extreme Pro is one of the first external drives we’ve seen that uses the USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 standard. When it’s connected to a compatible socket, it can sustain speeds of up to 20Gbits/sec.

The catch might be the “compatible socket” part – even on the newest laptops and desktops, 2×2 ports are still rare. If you don’t have one, you can plug this drive into a regular USB socket for now, and look forward to a big speed boost when you next upgrade your computer.

Alternatively, for a desktop system, you can buy a PCI Express card that adds the requisite USB connector for around £30.

SanDisk Extreme Pro review: Features and performance

That’s what we did, and we don’t begrudge the investment at all. With sequential read and write rates of over 1,800MB/sec, the Extreme Pro’s performance over a Gen 2×2 connection vies with low-end NVMe drives. Multithreaded performance isn’t quite so stellar, but this SSD was still around twice as fast as drives using the older 10Gbits/sec connection. That makes it a super choice for any outboard storage role: the PCMark benchmark suite gave it a data disk score of 1,788.

The Extreme Pro fares well in the portability stakes, too. It weighs just 85g and even has some ruggedisation, thanks to a tough plastic and rubber outer. An IP55 rating promises protection against dust and splashes, and it’s backed up with a five-year warranty, which is unusually long for an external drive.

All of this makes the Extreme Pro a great choice if you’re looking for a drive you can just chuck into a bag and go. The only thing we’re ambivalent about is the showy orange trim – and we’re doubtful that even the most outdoorsy types will make use of the carabiner loop in the top corner.

It’s also slightly disappointing to note that hardware encryption isn’t supported. SanDisk offers its own SecureAccess tool for Windows and macOS, which you can use to create password-protected “vaults”, but you can do the same thing with free tools such as VeraCrypt.

SanDisk Extreme Pro review: Verdict

Finally, there’s no getting around the fact that the SanDisk Extreme Pro is one of the more expensive external drives we’ve seen, working out to 19p per gigabyte (at the time of writing). But for the money, you get an unusually sturdy and compact SSD that delivers true next-generation performance. The design might be a little ostentatious, but for an exceptional drive like this, perhaps that’s justified.

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