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External USB-C SSD review – The best external SSD for the new MacBook Pro and Windows competitors

Klaus Hinum, Sven Kloevekorn (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 04/24/2017

We review modern USB-C SSDs from Samsung (T3), WD (G|Drive), Angelbird (SSD2go PKT), SanDisk (Extreme 900) and a USB 3.1 USB-C case for M.2-SSDs from DeLock. Which drive is the fastest and how much power do they consume? We will answer these questions in the following article.

The review group is pretty mixed and the only common denominator is the USB-C interface. The external solutions are particularly interesting as additional storage for MacBook Pro users with USB-C ports, where inexpensive storage is rare. The most popular test model is the Samsung SSD T3. It only supports USB 3.1 Gen.1, but is small and inexpensive in return. SanDisk's Extreme 900 combines two SSDs via RAID 0 and wants to be the fastest drive. The WD G|Drive Slim SSD also uses USB 3.1 Gen.2 and is available directly from the Apple Store. The Angelbird SSD2go PKT is an external SSD designed for professional users. It supports TRIM and the specs are specifically tuned for video editing (e.g. short latencies and steady performance), so it is not particularly interesting for private users. Finally, we also chose an external adapter from DeLock. It is an interesting alternative if you already have an old M.2 SATA SSD.

Design and Build Quality

The test models clearly differ in terms of design, and we prefer the small Angelbird SSD2go PKT. The two-color aluminum case is sophisticated and looks nice. It is also available in six different colors. The drop-down USB-C connector is a clever idea, but it also means you can only use the provided cable. Samsung's T3 is a bit thinner, but larger in return. It is therefore just as portable and uses a two-color case. The plastic part and the model designation at the bottom affect the high quality impression a bit. The next model in the size comparison is the adapter from DeLock. It is just as long as the WD G|Drive Slim, but much slimmer. It is completely made of metal, appears sophisticated, but the lettering already came off after the short review period. Both the G Drive and the SanDisk 900 series remind us of a 2.5-inch drive. Both feature metal cases with plastic (G|Drive) or rubber (Extreme 900) at the sides, respectively. The G|Drive is much slimmer, whereas the Extreme 900 leaves a more durable impression. SanDisk also advertises the temperature and shock resistance of the drive.

Benchmarks

PCMark 8 Storage – Angelbird and Samsung are leading

The benchmarks show a mixed picture. PCMark 8 Storage tests the SSD with traces of the Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, and some games. It is supposed to represent daily workloads for a system drive. The professional Angelbird SSD2go PKT is slightly behind the PCIe SSD in the MacBook Pro (Bootcamp). Samsung's SSD T3 is basically on par, while the DeLock case with a 128 GB Toshiba SSD (-5%) and the WD G|Drive (-6%) are a bit slower.

We also tested the SSDs with a Ryzen 1700X octa-core processor in combination with the Aorus AX370 Gaming 5 mainboard for the comparison. It uses the popular ASMedia chip as 3.1 solution. The values are slightly lower compared to the MacBook Pro 15 with Thunderbolt 3 (except for the Toshiba SSD, but it is filled by the operating system and therefore takes an outsider role).

PCMark 8 - Storage Score v2
MacBook Pro 15 - Apple SSD SM0256L
5052 Points ∼100%
Angelbird SSD2go 512GB
4942 Points ∼98%
Samsung Portable SSD T3 1TB MU-PT1T0B
4934 Points ∼98%
DeLock Enclosure M.2 USB 3.1 Gen.2 Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU
4694 Points ∼93%
WD G|DRIVE slim SSD USB-C 500GB
4638 Points ∼92%
PCMark 8 Storage Apple MacBook Pro 15 2016 Ryzen 1700X Aorus AX370-Gaming-5 ASMedia
Angelbird SSD2go 512 GB 4942 4932
Samsung Portable T3 1 TB 4934 4927
DeLock Enclosure M.2 USB 3.1 Gen.2 Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU 128 GB 4694 4724
WD G-Drive slim SSD USB-C 500 GB 4638 4625
SanDisk Extreme 900 480 GB 4915 4897

Synthetic Tests

The synthetic benchmarks CrystalDiskMark and AS SSD leave a mixed impression. The SanDisk Extreme 900 is clearly ahead in the AS SSD benchmark (Total Score), but it reveals some weaknesses in the CrystalDiskMark 3.0 4K write test, where the drive falls behind. The sequential read and write results on the other hand are excellent.

Performance Rating
MacBook Pro 15 - Apple SSD SM0256L
86.6 pt ∼87%
Angelbird SSD2go 512GB
44.5 pt ∼45%
WD G|DRIVE slim SSD USB-C 500GB
42.3 pt ∼42%
Samsung Portable SSD T3 1TB MU-PT1T0B
39.7 pt ∼40%
ADATA DashDrive Elite SE720
39.2 pt ∼39%
SanDisk Extreme 900 480GB
33.3 pt ∼33%
DeLock Enclosure M.2 USB 3.1 Gen.2 Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU
27.1 pt ∼27%
ADATA SE720 128G
24.2 pt ∼24%
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
Write 4k QD32
MacBook Pro 15 - Apple SSD SM0256L
443 MB/s ∼100%
WD G|DRIVE slim SSD USB-C 500GB
179 MB/s ∼40%
Angelbird SSD2go 512GB
167 MB/s ∼38%
Samsung Portable SSD T3 1TB MU-PT1T0B
139 MB/s ∼31%
DeLock Enclosure M.2 USB 3.1 Gen.2 Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU
30.3 MB/s ∼7%
ADATA SE720 128G
29.2 MB/s ∼7%
ADATA DashDrive Elite SE720
27.4 MB/s ∼6%
SanDisk Extreme 900 480GB
15.4 MB/s ∼3%
Read 4k QD32
MacBook Pro 15 - Apple SSD SM0256L
630 MB/s ∼100%
SanDisk Extreme 900 480GB
183 MB/s ∼29%
WD G|DRIVE slim SSD USB-C 500GB
181 MB/s ∼29%
Angelbird SSD2go 512GB
171 MB/s ∼27%
Samsung Portable SSD T3 1TB MU-PT1T0B
129 MB/s ∼20%
ADATA DashDrive Elite SE720
18.8 MB/s ∼3%
ADATA SE720 128G
14.2 MB/s ∼2%
DeLock Enclosure M.2 USB 3.1 Gen.2 Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU
12.6 MB/s ∼2%
Write 4k
ADATA DashDrive Elite SE720
27.2 MB/s ∼100%
Angelbird SSD2go 512GB
22.5 MB/s ∼83%
DeLock Enclosure M.2 USB 3.1 Gen.2 Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU
17 MB/s ∼63%
Samsung Portable SSD T3 1TB MU-PT1T0B
16.6 MB/s ∼61%
WD G|DRIVE slim SSD USB-C 500GB
15.5 MB/s ∼57%
MacBook Pro 15 - Apple SSD SM0256L
13 MB/s ∼48%
ADATA SE720 128G
11.8 MB/s ∼43%
SanDisk Extreme 900 480GB
7.6 MB/s ∼28%
Read 4k
ADATA DashDrive Elite SE720
21.7 MB/s ∼100%
SanDisk Extreme 900 480GB
15.1 MB/s ∼70%
WD G|DRIVE slim SSD USB-C 500GB
14.5 MB/s ∼67%
Samsung Portable SSD T3 1TB MU-PT1T0B
14 MB/s ∼65%
Angelbird SSD2go 512GB
12.4 MB/s ∼57%
ADATA SE720 128G
10.5 MB/s ∼48%
MacBook Pro 15 - Apple SSD SM0256L
9.8 MB/s ∼45%
DeLock Enclosure M.2 USB 3.1 Gen.2 Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU
9.2 MB/s ∼42%
Write 512
MacBook Pro 15 - Apple SSD SM0256L
945 MB/s ∼100%
WD G|DRIVE slim SSD USB-C 500GB
397 MB/s ∼42%
Angelbird SSD2go 512GB
396 MB/s ∼42%
Samsung Portable SSD T3 1TB MU-PT1T0B
356 MB/s ∼38%
SanDisk Extreme 900 480GB
201 MB/s ∼21%
ADATA DashDrive Elite SE720
191 MB/s ∼20%
ADATA SE720 128G
163 MB/s ∼17%
DeLock Enclosure M.2 USB 3.1 Gen.2 Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU
154 MB/s ∼16%
Read 512
MacBook Pro 15 - Apple SSD SM0256L
842 MB/s ∼100%
SanDisk Extreme 900 480GB
375 MB/s ∼45%
DeLock Enclosure M.2 USB 3.1 Gen.2 Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU
368 MB/s ∼44%
ADATA DashDrive Elite SE720
361 MB/s ∼43%
Samsung Portable SSD T3 1TB MU-PT1T0B
358 MB/s ∼43%
Angelbird SSD2go 512GB
341 MB/s ∼40%
ADATA SE720 128G
313 MB/s ∼37%
WD G|DRIVE slim SSD USB-C 500GB
277 MB/s ∼33%
Write Seq
MacBook Pro 15 - Apple SSD SM0256L
1343 MB/s ∼100%
WD G|DRIVE slim SSD USB-C 500GB
458 MB/s ∼34%
Angelbird SSD2go 512GB
437 MB/s ∼33%
Samsung Portable SSD T3 1TB MU-PT1T0B
385 MB/s ∼29%
SanDisk Extreme 900 480GB
238 MB/s ∼18%
ADATA DashDrive Elite SE720
192 MB/s ∼14%
ADATA SE720 128G
163 MB/s ∼12%
DeLock Enclosure M.2 USB 3.1 Gen.2 Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU
140 MB/s ∼10%
Read Seq
MacBook Pro 15 - Apple SSD SM0256L
1298 MB/s ∼100%
SanDisk Extreme 900 480GB
690 MB/s ∼53%
Angelbird SSD2go 512GB
477 MB/s ∼37%
WD G|DRIVE slim SSD USB-C 500GB
477 MB/s ∼37%
DeLock Enclosure M.2 USB 3.1 Gen.2 Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU
422 MB/s ∼33%
Samsung Portable SSD T3 1TB MU-PT1T0B
410 MB/s ∼32%
ADATA DashDrive Elite SE720
355 MB/s ∼27%
ADATA SE720 128G
342 MB/s ∼26%
AS SSD - Score Total
SanDisk Extreme 900 480GB
463 Points ∼100%
Angelbird SSD2go 512GB
292 Points ∼63%
WD G|DRIVE slim SSD USB-C 500GB
292 Points ∼63%
Samsung Portable SSD T3 1TB MU-PT1T0B
275 Points ∼59%
ADATA DashDrive Elite SE720
174 Points ∼38%
DeLock Enclosure M.2 USB 3.1 Gen.2 Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU
160 Points ∼35%
ADATA SE720 128G
138 Points ∼30%

AS SSD: Copy Test

We use the AS SSD copy test to check the main application area of consumer SSDs. We can see heavily fluctuating results influenced by the caches in particular. The first place is secured by the SanDisk Extreme 900 thanks to the two SSDs in a RAID configuration. The drives Samsung T3, G|Drive Slim, and Angelbird SSD2go PKT follow from some distance. The internal SSD in the MacBook Pro did not work in two out of three tests, however, it clearly beats even the Extreme 900 in the ISO copy test. This shows what fast internal NVMe-SSDs are capable of.

Performance Rating
MacBook Pro 15 - Apple SSD SM0256L
100 pt ∼100%
SanDisk Extreme 900 480GB
73.5 pt ∼74%
WD G|DRIVE slim SSD USB-C 500GB
50 pt ∼50%
Samsung Portable SSD T3 1TB MU-PT1T0B
46.9 pt ∼47%
Angelbird SSD2go 512GB
43.6 pt ∼44%
ADATA DashDrive Elite SE720
36.1 pt ∼36%
ADATA SE720 128G
30.8 pt ∼31%
DeLock Enclosure M.2 USB 3.1 Gen.2 Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU
27.9 pt ∼28%
AS SSD
Copy Game MB/s
SanDisk Extreme 900 480GB
257 MB/s ∼100%
Samsung Portable SSD T3 1TB MU-PT1T0B
155 MB/s ∼60%
Angelbird SSD2go 512GB
151 MB/s ∼59%
WD G|DRIVE slim SSD USB-C 500GB
150 MB/s ∼58%
ADATA DashDrive Elite SE720
107.4 MB/s ∼42%
ADATA SE720 128G
97 MB/s ∼38%
DeLock Enclosure M.2 USB 3.1 Gen.2 Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU
86 MB/s ∼33%
Copy Program MB/s
SanDisk Extreme 900 480GB
166 MB/s ∼100%
WD G|DRIVE slim SSD USB-C 500GB
131 MB/s ∼79%
Samsung Portable SSD T3 1TB MU-PT1T0B
112 MB/s ∼67%
ADATA DashDrive Elite SE720
96.6 MB/s ∼58%
Angelbird SSD2go 512GB
96 MB/s ∼58%
ADATA SE720 128G
78 MB/s ∼47%
DeLock Enclosure M.2 USB 3.1 Gen.2 Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU
72 MB/s ∼43%
Copy ISO MB/s
MacBook Pro 15 - Apple SSD SM0256L
1335 MB/s ∼100%
SanDisk Extreme 900 480GB
273 MB/s ∼20%
Angelbird SSD2go 512GB
188 MB/s ∼14%
Samsung Portable SSD T3 1TB MU-PT1T0B
172 MB/s ∼13%
WD G|DRIVE slim SSD USB-C 500GB
169 MB/s ∼13%
ADATA DashDrive Elite SE720
111.7 MB/s ∼8%
ADATA SE720 128G
101 MB/s ∼8%
DeLock Enclosure M.2 USB 3.1 Gen.2 Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU
92 MB/s ∼7%

Additional Benchmarks

SanDisk Extreme 900
SanDisk Extreme 900
Angelbird SSD2go
Angelbird SSD2go
G-Drive slim SSD
G-Drive slim SSD
Samsung T3
Samsung T3
DeLock + Toshiba
DeLock + Toshiba
SanDisk Extreme 900
SanDisk Extreme 900
Angelbird SSD2go
Angelbird SSD2go
G-Drive slim SSD
G-Drive slim SSD
Samsung T3
Samsung T3
DeLock + Toshiba
DeLock + Toshiba

We cannot see any compression-dependent data in the AS SSD compression benchmark. You can still see the consistency of SSD read and write operations. Samsung and Angelbird show the best results here.

The ATTO benchmark determines the theoretical maximum performance, which is often advertised by the manufacturers. It clearly shows the USB 3.0 limitation of the Samsung T3 as well as the RAID 0 performance of the SanDisk Extreme 900.

Performance OS X

The SanDisk Extreme 900 is also the fastest drive running on OS X (MacBook Pro 15). SSD2go and G|Drive are on par. The Samsung T3 – quite interestingly – falls slightly behind.

AJA SanDisk Extreme 900
AJA SanDisk Extreme 900
AJA Angelbird SSD2go
AJA Angelbird SSD2go
AJA WD G-Drive
AJA WD G-Drive
AJA Samsung SSD T3
AJA Samsung SSD T3
AJA DeLock Toshiba SSD
AJA DeLock Toshiba SSD
AJA ADATA SE720
AJA ADATA SE720
AJA WD My Passport HDD
AJA WD My Passport HDD

Performance: USB 3.0 (3.1 Gen 1)

We also tested the external SSDs at a USB 3.0 USB-C port via an Acer Aspire E 15 E5-553G-15FM. The fast SanDisk Extreme 900, for example, loses almost 30 percent of its performance in the AS SSD overall score. However, the result in the ISO copy test of the heavily fluctuating AS SSD copy benchmark is similar. It should therefore depend on the scenario how much performance you lose, but you cannot take advantage of the high sequential transfer rates of the SSD 900. However, the Samsung T3 also loses some performance.

Power Consumption

The Samsung T3 is clearly the most efficient drive while idling. At just 0.1 watts in Windows and 0.6 watts in OS X, it is clearly ahead of the competition. It is also the only drive where we can see a clear difference between Windows and OS X. The next drive in the ranking is the old ADATA SE720 at 0.9 watts. G|Drive and SSD2go are roughly on par at 1.4-1.5 watts depending on the platform (three tested). The old WD Passport HDD is in the same ballpark at 1.5-1.6 watts, which is also the case for the SanDisk Extreme 900 at 1.6 watts. At the bottom of the list is the DeLock adapter with the Toshiba SSD; this combination consumed between 2-2.1 watts in the test.

The old ADATA SE720 is the most efficient drive (1.9-2.3 watts) under load, followed by the Samsung T3 (2.3-2.7 watts). The next drive is the WD Passport at 3.1-3.7 watts. WD G|Drive and the DeLock combination follow at 3.3-4 watts. The fast Extreme 900 needs the most amount of power at 3.7-6.3 watts as well as the small SSD2go at 4.4-6.8 watts. However, the load measurements are more of a class indicator, because the values differ quite a lot and the USB-C measurement device from Satechi refreshes the values slowly and does not log them.

Prices

The least expensive way to get 500 GB USB-C storage right now is the Samsung portable SSD T3 500 GB (192 Euros/~$209 at Amazon). The combination of DeLock adapter (40 Euros/~$44 at Amazon) and an inexpensive M.2 SATA SSD like the Crucial MX 300 525 GB (153 Euros/~$167 at Amazon).

The next SSD is the G-Drive with 500 GB (290 Euros/~$316 at Amazon; price should drop, 245 Euros/~$267 at Apple) or the SanDisk Extreme 900 SSD 480 GB (280 Euros/~$305 at Amazon). The most expensive solution is the Angelbird SSD2go PKT 512 GB (320 Euros/~$349 at Amazon), which is designed for professional users.

A conventional external hard drive is still the least expensive method. Western Digital's 1 TB Elements Portable, for example, is available for around 54 Euros (~$59) at Amazon.

Price Comparison – Street Prices
Angelbird SSD2go 512 GB 344-379 (price comparison)
Samsung Portable SSD T3 1 TB 194 - 254 (price comparison, 500 GB), 348 - 467 (price comparison, 1TB)
DeLock 42573 M.2 USB 3.1 Gen.2 Toshiba THNSNJ128G8NU 128 GB 38 - 52 (price comparison, adapter) + 512 GB SSD (155 - 200 Euros)
WD G-Drive slim SSD USB-C 500 GB 249.95 (Apple) / 290 Euros (Amazon)
SanDisk Extreme 900 480 GB 268-339 Euros (price comparison)

Verdict

The Samsung T3 SSD wins this comparison, mainly due to the lowest street price. It even beats the combination of DeLock adapter and an inexpensive SSD on Amazon. It convinces with low power consumption, small case, and good performance results. You can hardly notice the limitation to USB 3.1 Gen.1 in the tests. The larger SanDisk Extreme 900 is the fastest drive (except for PCMark 8 Storage). However, the power consumption is comparatively high. The small and well-designed Angelbird SSD2go scores with excellent AS SSD and PCMark 8 Storage performance as well as TRIM support for both Windows and OS X. The high price and the comparatively high power consumption under load should be considered though. The G|Drive Slim SSD is not easy to get, so the price is still very high. The performance in the copy and synthetic tests is very good, but falls behind in PCMark 8. It would be an interesting alternative when the price drops below the Samsung T3.

However, you can save a lot of money by purchasing an external hard drive if you just want to back up your files periodically. The low performance is not the only drawback though; you also have to live with the audible operating noise as well as the susceptibility against shocks.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > External USB-C SSD review – The best external SSD for the new MacBook Pro and Windows competitors
Klaus Hinum, 2017-04-24 (Update: 2017-04-25)
Andreas Osthoff
Andreas Osthoff - Senior Editor Business
I grew up with computers and modern consumer electronics. I am interested in the technology since I had my first computer, a Commodore C64, and started building my own PCs after that. My focus here at Notebookcheck is the business segment including mobile workstations, but I also like to test new mobile devices. It is always a great experience to review and compare new products. My free time is filled with a lot of sports, in the summer mainly on my bike.