SanDisk Extreme PRO (2020) Review: USB Speed of the Future is Here

SanDisk Extreme PRO 2020 5

Western Digital’s 2020 SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD is not to be taken lightly. It’s the first in the SanDisk Extreme family (including the PRO and non-PRO lineups) that support the venerable USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 USB standard that has the cap speed of 20Gbps.

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That plus the use of an NVMe SSD on the inside means the new portable drive is fast. In fact, in my testing, it proved to be the fastest USB portable drive to date. It’s a new grade of performance entirely.

Available in 1TB and 2TB, both sharing a tough casing, the new SanDisk Extreme PRO is an excellent non-compromising portable drive to carry on the go, especially for those working in nature or rough environment. At the current cost of some $380 for 2TB, it’s an excellent buy. (The 1TB version is currently not yet available.)

SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD

9

Performance

9.5/10

Features

8.5/10

Design and Setup

9.5/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Super-fast performance thanks to the combo of USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 and NVMe SSD
  • Compact, rugged and beautiful design
  • Excellent security feature with built-in hardware encryption
  • Android support

Cons

  • A bit expensive
  • Slightly bulkier than non-PRO model
  • Runs hot

SanDisk Extreme PRO of 2020: A New Height of USB portable SSD Performance

The new Extreme PRO is not the first USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 on the market. The first I’ve worked with was the WD Black P50, which came out late last year. At the time, though, there was no computer that supported this latest standard, so it was a bit ahead of its time.

(I recently updated the review of the P50 to reflect its true performance.)

That said, this 2020 Extreme PRO comes out just in time. There are now options to upgrade the certain desktop computers to USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 via an add-on card. Likely there soon will be laptops that feature this standard.

That’s said, the support for 20Gbps USB standard is the main thing that sets this new drive apart from the previous 2019 version. And it makes a huge difference.

SanDisk Extreme PRO’s hardware specifications: 2020 model vs. 2019 model

Other than the USB standards, the 2020 SanDisk Extreme PRO, similar to the 2020 SanDisk Extreme case, now also supports Android. As a result, you can use it as the backup drive of your phone.

SanDisk Extreme 2018 vs 2020vs Extreme PRO 2020
SanDisk portable drive’s design, from left: 2019 SanDisk Extreme, 2020 SanDisk Extreme, and 2020 SanDisk Extreme PRO. The 2019 Extreme PRO version looks exactly the same as the 2020 model.

On top of that, it also comes with hardware encryption and uses the SanDisk Security app to password-protect its content.

Familiar features

The 2020 SanDisk Extreme PRO shares the same look like the 2019 version. On the inside, though, it has the same feature set as that of 2020 SanDisk Extreme.

SanDisk Security Extreme PRO 2020
The new 2020 SanDisk Extreme PRO has an excellent security feature, thanks to its support for built-in hardware encryption.

Since I’ve written about these in the review of the 2020 Extreme, I’ll highlight them here.

  • Rugged yet still compact design: The new Extreme PRO is slightly larger than the non-PRO version but still very compact and light. It has a design that allows you to easily hook it to a key-chain or a backpack. It’s rugged and waterproof and will survive the outdoor easily.
  • NVMe SDD storage: On the inside, the new Extreme PRO hosts an NVMe SSD, allowing it to deliver fast performance. Built-in hardware encryption with convenient SanDisk Security app: You can password-protect the drive’s content from prying eyes. This feature worked well in my testing.
  • Android support: In addition to Windows and Mac computers, the 2020 SanDisk Extreme PRO also works with Android devices. In this case, you might need to reformat it into FAT32. Out of the box, the drive is formatted using the exFAT file system.

2020 SanDisk Extreme PRO: Detail photos

SanDisk Extreme PRO 2020
The 2020 SanDisk Extreme PRO’s retail box.

SanDisk Extreme PRO 2020 1
The portable SSD comes with a USB-C and a USB-A-to-USB-C cable.

SanDisk Extreme PRO 2020 6
Though larger than the Extreme, the 2020 SanDisk Extreme PRO remain quite compact and light.

SanDisk Extreme PRO 2020 2
The 2020 SanDisk Extreme PRO uses an USB-C port to connect to a host.

2020 SanDisk Extreme PRO: Excellent performance

I tested the 2020 SanDisk Extreme PRO the same way I did other portable SSD by compy a large amount of data from the host computer, running a PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD, to it and back. And it delivered! Indeed it was the fast USB portable drive I’ve worked with.

SanDisk Extreme PRO 2020 Performance

It’s important to note though, that USB tends to have very high overheads, so you won’t get the 2000MB/s speed as WD claims. That’s just the nature of the standard.

Instead, I got the sustained speed of some 1115MB/s and 920MB/s for reading and writing, respectively, or about 60 percent faster than those of the 2019 SanDisk Extreme PRO. The drive did well with USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps) and USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps), too.

It also worked with USB 2.0 but in this case would deliver no more than 40MB/s which is the cap sustained speed of this standard.

Like all other NVMe-based portable drives I’ve tested, the 2020 Extreme PRO ran pretty hot during heavy operating. It was not hot enough to cause concern, but you definitely do not want to hold it for a long time.

Conclusion

The latest 2020 SanDiks Extreme PRO is an excellent portable drive but likely not a must-have yet.

That’s because chances are your computer doesn’t support the latest USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 yet. And in this case, it’ll deliver the same speeds like those of the 2019 version or the 2020 SanDisk Extreme. Both are plenty fast.

But if you want to make sure you get the latest and stay future proof, this portable drive is an excellent buy.

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