SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD For Mac Review Title Image

MacTakeAwayData Rank – 9 stars out of 10

9 out of 10 stars

When you’re looking for a fast SSD drive for your Mac.

Either because you’re a HEAVY WEIGHT user. And what you do leaves ordinary mechanical drives crying.

Or you’re looking for a drive to extend the life of your older Mac. And give it a rocket boost.

The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD could be just what you’re looking for.

Take a stroll through the Pros and Cons.

And see if you want to grab yourself one of these.

*Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. And at no extra cost to you this site earns a commission through image links, Amazon button and text links should you buy. Western Digital kindly loaned us this portable SSD for testing for a few weeks so that we could tell you all about it.

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD – Why You WANT IT

  • You’ll find this SanDisk portable SSD perfect for your wickedly taxing tasks. Tasks like video editing, compute intensive CAD software, and mega spreadsheets.
  • You’ll find out that the SanDisk Extreme Portable is an SSD drive you can work directly from
  • When you check out the costs of upgrading an older MacBook Pro with an SSD. And you’re horrified that the cost is more than you paid for your MacBook Pro in the first place. Then treating your MacBook to a fast SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is an attractive option. Because you can consider turning it into a boot drive
  • And when you simply want the fastest, speediest backup. Use your SanDisk Extreme Portable to backup your files

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD – Why You’d Pass It By

  • You’ll need a Mac or iPhone. Or iPad recent enough to take full advantage of your SanDisk Extreme Portable. Or enjoy the speed bump this SSD drive gives you and live with the fact you’re not driving it as hard as you could
  • When you’re pushing this drive it can get hot in use. It has a thermal cut out to slow down the drive when hot, to stop damage to the drive
  • You may find the USB C to USB C cable at a bit over 6 inches short for what you want. Working with your MacBook on your lap will see your SSD drive dangling in space. You may want to invest in a longer USB 3.1 Gen 2 cable
  • You’ll find no flashing light on the drive enclosure to tell you when your drive is working. And that’ll leave you with a question mark in your mind after ejecting your drive from your Mac…. Is everything copied down to the SSD drive ok?

Recommended Drive: SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD

SanDisk Extreme SSD Hand Leaves

Check Price Of The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD On Amazon

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD Verdict

When your current drives are whimpering. And you need to step it up a notch. You could do worse than choose the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD.

Its looks may not be the most glamorous.

But when you need a serious drive for serious work.

An SSD drive you could take with you on site.

One to clear your creative log jam.

Or give your older Mac or indeed your newer Mac a boost.

And with the latest incarnation doubling the speed you can get out of this drive.

Well this drive could be for you.

Specification Review Of The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD’s

Extreme Portable

SSD Sizes : 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB

Headline Speed : 550 MB/s

USB Interface : USB 3.1 Gen 2

Hardware Encryption : 128-bit AES

Warranty : 3 years

Extreme Pro Portable

SSD Sizes : 500GB, 1TB, 2TB

Headline Speed : 1050 MB/s

USB Interface : USB 3.1 Gen 2

Hardware Encryption : 128-bit AES

Warranty : 5 years

Western Digital who owns the SanDisk brand. Made a Press Release on the 30 September 2020. They announced the next generation of the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD.

You can view their statement here.

The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD got a spring, JUMP, bump in speed. And your SSD drive got even more impressive.

Just take a look at the table below.

Extreme Portable

SSD Sizes : 500GB, 1TB, 2TB

Headline Speed : 1050 MB/s

USB Interface : USB 3.1 Gen 2

Hardware Encryption : 256-bit AES

Warranty : 5 years

Extreme Pro Portable

SSD Sizes : 1TB, 2TB

Headline Speed : 2000 MB/s

USB Interface : USB 3.1 Gen 2

Hardware Encryption : 256-bit AES

Warranty : 5 years

Unboxing The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD YouTube Video

Want to see how your SanDisk Portable SSD comes out of the box?

If your answer is ‘Oh, YES Please.’

Then check out this 2 minute 51 second video.

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD External Drive Unboxing

Video Credit: MacTakeAwayData

What You’ll Find Inside The Extreme Portable SSD Box

In the lightweight compact box, you’ll find your SanDisk Extreme Portable.

A safety and warranty guide.

And your USB 3.1 Gen 2 cable.

Western Digital also provides a USB C to USB A converter.

And you’ll need this adaptor if you plan on plugging in your new SSD into an older iMac or MacBook with USB A ports. No need for you to buy an adaptor cable. One is right there in the box.

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD Box

SanDisk Extreme Portable Design

You’ll find it’s smaller than you might think. It easily fits in the hand

SanDisk Extreme Portable In The Hand

A shade longer than your credit card. Yet a bite size smaller in width.

Matt black with a dimpled effect on the front.

The SanDisk logo text contrasts in white on the front. Matt Black on the back. And a splash of orange around the loop.

Why is that hole there?

Extreme Portable SSD Carabiner Loop
Extreme Portable SSD Carabiner Loop

Why it’s your carabiner loop. A place where you can clip and fasten your SanDisk Portable SSD to your backpack. Or onto your belt loop.

Whether you’d want to treat your SanDisk that way is up to you.

But the option is there.

You’ve rounded corners and rubber around the sides. That gives you that 6 foot drop protection the drive boasts.

The feel on the matt surfaces is like touching suede.

And you may think it seems far too small and light to hold that much info.

But It DOES.

Size Extreme: 3.79″ x 1.95″ x 0.35″

Size Extreme Pro: 4.34″ x 2.26″ x 0.4″

So it’s not going to take up much room in your rucksack, purse or equipment bag.

SanDisk SSD Extreme Portable Speed

Juicily Impressive. The SSD drive uses an nVMe interface. Non-volatile memory (NVM) host controller interface.

So what?

This is an industry standard way solid state drives and flash drives talk to computers. It’s an interface specifically designed for SSD’s and their high speed.

Netting this down it means your Mac can get to your SSD quicker. And store your files on it super quick compared to a mechanical drive.

I tested the 1TB SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD on a 2020 MacBook Pro. Using the Black Magic Disk Speed Test software. With the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD out of the box ExFAT formatted.

The SanDisk SSD drive achieved 450.5 MB/s write speed. With 512.6 MB/s read speeds.

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD Back Magic Test
SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD Back Magic Test

Then for fun I formatted the drive APFS.

The Apple File System format is designed for solid state drives. And was interested to see there was little difference in speed recorded.

452.7 MB/s write speed. Versus 511.1 MB/s read speed.

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD Black Magic APFS Test
SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD Black Magic APFS Test

Impressive when seems only a few years ago a mechanical drive boasting 110 MB/s would have us high 5-ing

The speeds you’ll see will depend on your generation of Mac.

Rugged Features Of Your SanDisk Extreme SSD Portable

You’ll get some rugged, take with you out into the wilds features.  But remember you don’t have a full RUGGED drive here.

But what you do get will keep you working in some mildly hostile environments.

You’ve an SSD drive that meets IP 55.

What’s that?

The IP bit means ingress protection. Ingress – stopping stuff from getting inside.

Dust and water inside any of your electrical gadgets can affect how it works. And even break your device.

IP is an international standard. And it means that you know exactly what this drive can stand up to. And the standard gets you away from vague terms like ‘robust’ and ‘water resistant’.

So what does this mean for the Extreme Portable SSD and Pro SSD?

IP 55 sets the levels electrical gadgets need to reach to achieve that rating.

The first 5 of the 55 is to do with dust particles getting inside. At this level dust is not entirely prevented from getting inside. But when if does, it’s low enough not to stop your Extreme Portable SSD working.

The second 5 means the level of liquid protection.

Specifically, the SanDisk Extreme Portable can put up with a jet of water coming out of a nozzle 0.25 inches in size.

At 3.3 gallons per minute at 4.4 psi pressure from 9.8 ft away. From any direction for at least 3 minutes. 

Which is more than casual splashing of water.

BUT its USB C port has no cover or protection on it.

And that has to be its most weak place for water getting in.

What’s not part of the IP 55 standards is drop protection. And you have up to 6ft 6ins (2 meters) drop protection.

And a degree of vibration protection.

Still, if your footage is important to you. Getting a case while your SanDisk Extreme Portable in transit. Or knocking about in your backpack, would be a good idea.

Protection On the Extreme Portable SSD For Your Mac’s Data

You’ve Western Digital’s hardware encryption. And to use it you need the Western Digital software.

The Windows PC compatible version of the software comes on the drive.

You’ll have to download the Mac version from Western Digital’s site.

You’ll get 128 bit AES encryption.

This is upgraded to 256-bit AES hardware encryption on the October 2020 versions of the Extreme SSD and Pro SSD drives.

Beware though.

Apple has a habit of regularly updating their Mac software. And that may mean you waiting for an updated version of this software from Western Digital.

Or you may find you can’t access your drive.

Plus forget your password and there’s no coming back from that.

Wiping your SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD of your files is the only answer.

Your alternative is to use the encryption in your Mac’s operating system.

At least then you know that software will always be in lock step with your Mac’s operating system.

Disk Utility and Time Machine can encrypt your files. And give you robust password protection.

Though to be fair.

If you forget Disk Utility. Or Time Machine‘s encryption password to your drive. There’s no way of getting to your files… Same as using the Western Digital software.

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD Connecting To Mac

Extreme Portable SSD USB

You’ll find a USB C interface on the SSD drive itself.

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD USB C Port
SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD USB C Port

It’s a USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface which is why the drive is so fast. You get an approximately 6 inch USB C to USB C cable in the box. A little short.

Remember though that if you want to buy a replacement longer cable it needs to be of the 3.1 Gen 2 standard. Or you’ll slow down your drive.

You do get a USB A to USB C adaptor. The USB standard is backwards compatible. And your SanDisk Extreme Portable will talk to older Macs.

You’ve a light weight drive that is USB powered.

And that means it takes its power from your Mac to work.

Keep this in mind when you’re connecting to the oldest Mac’s. You may need an independently powered USB hub. Because the USB 2.0 standard wasn’t designed for the power draw of modern SSD drives.

And your older Mac will struggle to power the drive from its ports.

One more thing.

When you’re using the USB A adaptor on your USB C cable. Make sure the arrows on the cable end match up. And are firmly plugged in.

I fell foul of this one and my Mac couldn’t see the drive. Simply make sure your cables are all the way in and seated right.

Formatting Of Your SanDisk Portable SSD

You’ll find it’s ExFAT formatted out of the box. And this means you plug in and your Mac can see your drive right away.

This is also a format a Windows PC can use. So perfect if you want to share the drive.

But not so good if you plan to use the drive as a Mac boot drive. Or for a zippy, fast Time Machine backup. Or you want to the max APFS formatting. APFS is faster on a Mac than ExFAT. And is an Apple designed file system for SSD drives.

Then the thing to do is to format the drive on your Mac to the format you want.

Storage Sizes You Can Buy Your SanDisk SSD Portable In

The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD starts with a 250 GB drive.

And you can get 500GB, 1TB and 2TB’s of storage.

The SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD has 500GB. 1TB and 2TB drive options.

The October 2020 drives now come with;

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD, 500 GB, 1TB and 2 TB.

SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD in 1TB and 2TB versions.

Warranty Offered On Your SanDisk Extreme SSD Portable Drive

You get 3 years limited warranty on the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD.

That goes up to 5 years limited warranty with the newer SanDisk Extreme Portable and Pro SSD’s.

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