Eventually, you’re going to need extra storage—especially as modern technology enables higher-quality videos, photos, and other media. The SanDisk Extreme 900 Portable SSD ($499.99 for 960GB) is a versatile, higher-capacity solid-state drive (SSD) that can take its fair share of knocks. It’s not going to turn heads in terms of style, but if you’re looking for speedy transfers, the Extreme 900 should definitely be on your short list. It’s not quite as affordable as the Oyen Digital MiniPro 3.1 USB-C Portable Solid-State Drive, but the Extreme 900’s versatility earns it an Editors’ Choice for specialized SSDs.
Design and Features
It feels a tad odd to call the Extreme 900 “bulky,” when just a few years ago its size would have been considered the norm. Measuring 0.7 by 5.3 by 3.3 inches (HWD), the drive dwarfs more compact rivals like the Samsung Portable SSD T3, the Adata SE730 External SSD, and the VisionTek USB Pocket SSD. But despite its relative bulk (by contemporary standards), the Extreme 900 weighs a light 5.7 ounces. The body is made from charcoal-gray-colored aluminum, which gives it a premium feel, and it features a black, perforated, rubberized border. The USB-C connector is located on the left side, while the top also sports the SanDisk logo in reflective metal and a discreet disk activity light.
Despite looking nothing like its cousin, the SanDisk Extreme 500 Portable SSD, the Extreme 900 has quite a few things in common with it. They’re both shock resistant to 800Gs and can withstand 5.35gRMS, which measures the energy of a vibration, or 20 to 2,000Hz of random vibration. In real terms, the clumsy and uncoordinated can rest a little easier knowing that every bump and scrape won’t spell disaster for their data. (Super klutzes may also be assured that the drive is covered by a limited three-year warranty.) It can also operate in temperatures ranging from -4° F to 158° F. That said, the Extreme 900 wouldn’t count as fully ruggedized, like the LaCie Rugged Raid.
Capacity-wise, the Extreme 900 we tested has 960GB, which is an ample amount of storage for an SSD. The drive is also available in 480GB ($299.99) and 1.92TB ($799.99) versions, which should be enough for the average user’s multimedia library. The Extreme 900 comes formatted for exFAT, which means it will work with both Macs and PCs straight out of the box. This is particularly useful for anyone who wants to transfer files between multiple computers running different operating systems, whether for work or lending multimedia to friends and family. It also comes with both USB-C–to–USB 3.0 and USB-C–to–USB-C cables. While not entirely necessary, this does help to future-proof the Extreme 900 as an increasing number of systems and devices adopt USB-C as a standard. For security, you can use SanDisk’s software to enable 128-bit AES encryption on the drive.
The most obvious reason for choosing SSDs over traditional hard drives, which offer greater capacities at lower prices, is speed. On our PCMark 7 test, the Extreme 900 scored an impressive 4,980 points. That’s a higher score than the Samsung T3 (4,908), the VisionTek USB Pocket SSD (4,127), and the Adata SE730 (3,076). The only SSD that scored higher was the SanDisk Extreme 500 (5,649).
The Extreme 900 delivered excellent speeds on the Blackmagic desk test, with a write speed of 417.3MBps and a read speed of 425.8MBps. That’s roughly on par with the speedy Samsung T3 (430MBps read, 376MBps write), though the Extreme 900 did achieve faster write speeds. It was also noticeably faster at writing than the VisionTek USB Pocket SSD (138MBps), the LaCie Rugged RAID (245MBps), and the G-Technology G-Drive slim SSD (290MBps).
How do these scores translate to real-life usage? In our file transfer test, the Extreme 900 copied a 1.22GB folder in a flat 5 seconds over a USB 3.0 connection. By comparison, the Seagate Backup Plus Portable Drive—our Editors’ Choice for external hard drives—completed the test in 12 seconds. That makes sense, given that SSDs are capable of higher transfer speeds. The Samsung T3, for example, copied the file in 6 seconds, while the SanDisk Extreme 500 did it in 7 seconds. It’s also faster than the VisionTek USB Pocket (8 seconds), the G-Drive slim (13 seconds), and the Apricorn Aegis Portable 3.0 (11 seconds).
The speed edge SSDs have comes at a price—literally. Because traditional hard drives can deliver greater storage capacity at a lower cost, it’s a bit like judging apples and oranges. At a list price of $149.99, the Seagate Backup Plus, for example, gives you 4TB of storage at a value of 3.8 cents per gigabyte. The Extreme 900 we tested has a list price of $499.99, a little less than a quarter of the capacity, and a per-gigabyte cost of 52 cents. And that’s actually quite reasonable for an SSD. The 2TB Samsung T3 has a little more than double the capacity, and a better per-gigabyte value of 42 cents, but it will also set you back a hefty $850. Still, if you must have an SSD and price is your number-one concern, the 1TB G-Drive slim SSD is a good compromise for about $125 less and a superb value of 38 cents per gigabyte.
Usually you have to make a few compromises when buying an SSD. Either you sacrifice some speed for greater capacity, minimal features, and a better price, or you plunk down a lot of cash. The Oyen Digital MiniPro 3.1, our other Editors’ Choice, is a little friendlier to your purse—especially if you’re not looking for extra bells and whistles. But if the Extreme 900 isn’t exactly cheap, it delivers excellent performance, capacity, and a little extra durability and security for a good per-gigabyte value. That’s why it’s our Editors’ Choice for anyone who needs a little more than the bare minimum from an SSD.