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

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 with a cap speed of 20Gbps.

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That, plus using 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 harsh environments. 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 2020 5

SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD's Rating

9 out of 10
SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD 10
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 2×2 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 the 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. Only a few computers supporting this latest standard existed at the time, though, so it was a bit ahead of its time.

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

That said, this 2020 Extreme PRO comes out just in time. There are now options to upgrade some 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, 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
From the left, SanDisk portable drives share a similar design: 2019 SanDisk Extreme, 2020 SanDisk Extreme, and 2020 SanDisk Extreme PRO. The 2019 Extreme PRO version looks 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.

SanDisk Extreme Pro hardware specifications 2020 model vs 2019 model
SanDisk Extreme Pro hardware specifications: 2020 model vs. 2019 model

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 remains relatively compact and light.

SanDisk Extreme PRO 2020 2
The 2020 SanDisk Extreme PRO uses a 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 SSDs by copying 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 tested so far.

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. That was some 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 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 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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