Plugable launches speedy 1TB and 2TB Thunderbolt 3 portable NVMe SSDs [Review]

Portable solid state drives are great, as they are fast and very reliable since they have no moving parts. They are particularly useful for content creators, as they often have a ton of media that they need to access quickly. Currently, the best option for those wanting fast external storage is an NVMe drive connected with Thunderbolt 3. If you own a computer with TB3 from manufacturers such as Apple, Dynabook, or Dell, you should absolutely try and get an external SSD that can maximally utilize it.

Today, Plugable is launching such a drive, and it is quite incredible. The drive comes in two capacities -- 1TB and 2TB -- and offers insane read and write speeds. How fast is it? It is rated as being able to exceed 2800 MB/s read and 1800 MB/s write. I've been testing the 2TB variant of the drive lately, and I can confirm that it is fast as heck -- but that's not all.

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"These high capacity drives give you more space for more footage. The Plugable 1TB drive is capable of storing 155 minutes of ProRes 422 HQ 4K video or 175 minutes of DnXHR HQ 4K video. Through the combined power of Thunderbolt 3 and NVMe technologies, the Plugable drive surpasses the limitations of traditional SATA III SSDs and interfaces directly with CPUs via PCI Express, resulting in rapid performance, lower latency and reduced CPU usage. With up to 4x faster transfer speeds than SATA, the Plugable drive is designed to maximize the throughput for the SSD making editing quick and easy," says Plugable.

The company further says, "The Plugable drive is a highly efficient plug-and-play solution, pre-formatted with exFAT right out of the box to make it compatible and interchangeable with any Thunderbolt 3-enabled Mac or Windows system. Videographers can import media directly into Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere or any of their favorite editing applications seamlessly. The Plugable drive is also designed for optimal portability, weighing in at 6.1oz (or 173g) and having a surface area slightly larger than a smartphone. Encased in anodized aluminum, the full metal body is designed to keep the SSD cool while also protecting your data. The Plugable drive comes with a plush velvet carrying case so that you can go from shoot to shoot without worry of scratch or damage."

Plugable shares specifications below.

  • Portable aluminum design
  • Thunderbolt 3 interface with integrated 18cm/7" 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 cable
  • 1TB/2TB NVMe Solid State storage with PCIe Gen3 x4 link
  • Sequential transfer speeds of 2800+ MB/s read and 1800+ MB/s write
  • 36 month warranty

In my multiple tests, I was able to reach or exceed 2800 MB/s read, but I never achieved 1800 MB/s write. I averaged around 1,500 MB/s write following multiple tests. To be fair, that is still faster than most folks need, and there are many factors that can impact performance. I am beyond satisfied with these speeds, however.

Also impressive is the build quality. The enclosure is a giant piece of aluminum with fins around the body for better heat dissipation. While the body does get warm under high stress, I never once felt it get hot. With that said, I am confident that heat is being properly drawn from the drive itself. My only complaint is that the Thunderbolt 3 cable is permanently attached to the portable drive. I would prefer a removable/replaceable cord, but it is not a deal breaker.

If you need this type of speed from a portable drive, I absolutely recommend Plugable's latest offering -- if you can afford it. You can buy the 1TB model here for $299, while the 2TB variant can be had here for $499. You may see lower prices, however, as Plugable is planning limited-time launch-day discounts on both drives -- $50 off the 1TB and $100 off the 2TB. The company already sells a cheaper 480GB variant of this drive, which you can see here.

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