Sandisk Extreme SSD Thumb

Review: Sandisk Extreme SSD

Rating: 5/5

Posted in Mac, Reviews on 05/03/2012 by J. Glenn Künzler

29s

We’ve reviewed a number of SSDs in the past, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to get my hands on Sandisk’s latest drive – the Sandisk Extreme SSD. It’s the fastest SSD we’ve ever tested, and is surprisingly affordable compared to the competition!

Overview

Sandisk’s Extreme series of SATA III SSDs is based on the latest SandForce SSD chips, promising write 520MB/s and read speeds of up to 550MB/s. It’s attractive red-on-black color scheme and solid metal casing make it both a durable and attractive option for customers seeking faster storage for their machines.

Test Method

As usual when I review an SSD, I installed the Sandisk Extreme in the main hard drive bay in my MacBook Pro, with a larger standard HDD in a caddy where the optical drive would usually be. I used several different methods to test the drive, including “common” benchmarks such as testing boot, program loading, and file transfer times, as well as formal benchmarks, which I performed using DigLloydTools amd BlackMagic Disk Speed Test (Free, Mac App Store Link). The formal benchmarks were performed with the drive completely empty, while the “common” benchmarks were performed with a fresh install of OS X Lion, as well as the necessary programs for testing.

Benchmarks

  • Common Benchmarks

While I always perform common benchmarks very last, they’re usually the first results most non-technical users want to hear about. The common benchmarks I used included converting a large video file (the exact same video file I use in all my SSD reviews) using Handbrake (10 minutes, 59 seconds), timing how long it takes the machine to fully boot into a fresh install of OS X Lion (7.6 seconds), and timing how long it takes the machine to boot into a fresh install of Adobe Photoshop CS5 (1.2 seconds).

In general, the common benchmarks showed the Sandisk Extreme SSD to perform faster overall than any previous SSD I’ve ever tested, including the OCZ Vertex 3 (review).

  • Formal Benchmarks

As with the common benchmarks, the formal benchmark results demonstrated extremely fast performance. Using DiskTester, I was able to measure write speeds of up to 514MB/s and read speeds of up to 545MB/s, showing the Sandisk Extreme as having a slight performance edge over other models I have tested.

As my final benchmark, I performed a speed analysis using BlackMagic’s DiskSpeedTest, which provided similar results  (a max write speed of 515.6MB/s and a max read speed of 547.1MB/s), confirming the numbers I was able to gather using DiskTester.

Assessment

Both the real-world and benchmarked speeds I was able to achieve with the Sandisk Extreme were faster than any previous model I have tested, although the differences were slight enough that there would be no discernable difference to the vast majority of users.

Besides its “laboratory” performance, however, there are two main ways that the Sandisk Extreme would be able to demonstrate a very noticeable difference: build quality and price. With its solid metal casing and its extremely strong performance, it’s quite surprising that the Sandisk Extreme SSD actually ends up being cheaper than its competitors.

A 240GB Sandisk Extreme retails for $399.95 ($326.95 lowest retail), whereas the Vertex 3 retails for $549 ($349.99 lowest retail) and the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G retails for $459.99. What’s more, that price includes a full 3-year warranty.

Installing an SSD is the single most effective way to seriously boost the speed and performance of your Mac. Most SATA III SSDs are around 5 times as traditional hard drives (and may seem even faster than that for common tasks). In comparison to the benchmark speeds above, I’ve never benchmarked a traditional hard drive with speeds faster than 105MB/s.

Rating & Conclusion

Rating: 5/5
Rating: 5/5

Not only is the Sandisk Extreme SSD a great deal faster than a traditional hard drive (which benchmark at around one fifth the speed of a SATA III SSD at best), it also modestly outperforms its peers, all while maintaining an extremely competitive price.

The Sandisk Extreme SSD is hands-down the very best consumer SSD I’ve ever tested, and the fact that it also happens to be one of the most affordable SSDs on the market makes it a no brainer for anyone considering purchasing an SSD.  If you’re looking for an ultra-fast SSD for as affordable a price as possible, I highly recommend the Sandisk Extreme.

For more information on the Sandisk Extreme, head on over to Sandisk’s official product page. The Sandisk Extreme SSD can be purchased for as little as $169.95 for a 120GB drive, or $326.95 for a 240GB drive.



  • http://jaysonjphillips.com/ Jayson

    Interesting. I just installed the same drive into my Early 2011 MBP 13″. While still SUPER fast, I’m only getting 153MB writes and 445MB reads with the Blackmagic Disk Speedtest. 

    • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

      153MB is an abnormally slow write speed for a drive like this. Even so, it’s the read speeds that make the biggest difference.

      • Jayson

        I thought the write speed looked off. I tried using the TRIM 2.0 app to enable TRIM, seeing if that would help. It didn’t. I’m going to try and figure this out. 

        • Sampson Wong

          I got myself one of this drive today, installed it in to my 2011 MacBook Pro 15″, I am only getting 276.8MB/s Write and 450MB/s Read.

          • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

            276.8 is not bad – a lot of folks are reporting that they’re only getting about half of that. There seems to be some issues with this drive that we didn’t experience. Perhaps they made a bad batch?

          • Daniel Kempe

            I’m also getting same issue, 17 inch MacBook pro early 2011, wrire speed is approx 250 and read is great at approx 495. Any help to increase my write world be great ! Im on latest firmware r201.

          • Joaoferreira

            For all the people who have 150 mb/s for write speeds with blackmagicdesign software … don’t worry! It’s a buggy software problem. I have a brand new Sandisk Extreme SSD 120 GB with firmware version 201. Look at the screenshot. At the left, version 2.1 of the software … At the right version 1.0! Hope that help you guys with this ;)

          • MBPowner77

            It’s actually not a bug. Ever since version 2.1 blackmagic disk speed test uses uncompressible data vs the older versions with compressible data.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kyledavidday Kyle Day

    Hi Glenn-

    I am getting the same problem as Jayson.  I have a 2011 15″ Macbook Pro and bought two of these 120GB Sandisk Extreme SSDs.  Both of them read at over 400MB/sec, but they both are only writing at an even 150MB/sec.  Looks like some sort of limitation with the SSD’s firmware because I have also tried putting them into my 2008 Mac Pro on a SATA III PCIe card and get the exact same write limitation.  150MB/sec is just poor.

  • Joaoferreira

    Hi! Thanks a lot for your fantastic review. I have a Macbook Pro 13 Early 2011 and i just bought the Sandisk Extreme SSD 120 GB. No major problems at all, but i’m getting 390 MB/S write and 384 MB/s read with Aja Test. I notice that the TRIM is not enable ? Can you check if you have it enable .. and if yes .. what you do to enable it ? Thanks a lot.

  • Joydeep Ghosh

    Can I install it in a Macbook pro 15 Early 2008?

    • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

      Yes, but you won’t be able to take full advantage of its speed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.errington.10 David Errington

    This thread is 9months old…but I figured seeing it was the most informative i’d give this a shot…
    MacBook Pro 4,1- Mac Osx 10.6.8, SanDisc Extreme 240 GB (installed in HDD drive)
    Love the drive, though this trim thing is killing me! I know there is a SATA 2 vs 3 issue …but I am getting read/write speeds (with the latest BM DST)

    So, I tried using the Terminal commands….even went and created a separate TXT file and made the suggested changes. I didn’t notice any Terminal replies to the commands other than the first sudo command (A warning to be sure I wanted to mess with sudo commands)

    I restarted and checked the Trim status….still off

    I downloaded and ran Chameleon…..same situation…I’d prefer to do this form the command line though…

    Any thoughts…suggestions? I might try the Trim App in the comments below…but not sure if that’ll help.

    • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

      It’s likely that the Sandisk Extreme doesn’t need or support TRIM, as it already has something similar built into firmware.

  • Alex

    how did you get your write speeds so high I cant get mine to budge past 290 MB/s I have the identical setup

    • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

      I’m told is has to do with the firmware installed on the drive.

      • Alex

        I have the latest firmware update from sandisk just did that revision r211 and I also enabled trim

        • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

          Then I do not know.

          • Alex

            Do you know what revision you have of the firmware, and what macbook pro did you conduct the test on?

          • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

            Not certain about which firmware revision. I believe at the time it was a mid-2011 MacBook Pro, but could have been one of the 2012 models. I don’t remember exactly when I switched.

          • Alex

            Do you know what version of blackmagic you used for the benchmark, have you done any recent benchmarks, or have you done a benchmark with any other application?

          • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

            It’s an older version that is now no longer available. I also used the DigLloydTools benchmarks.

          • Alex

            Do you know if the DigLloydTools Benchmark uses compressed or uncompressed data? Sorry for asking so many questions just been trying to figure out why my sandisk ssd is not getting anywhere near your results or sandisks advertised results.

          • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

            Unfortunately, I have no idea. Might be worth sending a message to their support team.

  • Greg Holland

    hi all, i purchased the sdssd-240g-g25 2 months ago to use on my my 2010 mbp. (a1278) at first the drive worked. then a few days later, it started freezing a few minutes after starting up. so formatted, and tried re-installing mac os (10.6.3), but it would just freeze randomly during the setup process. managed to get a replacement drive under warranty (wasnt told what the problem was). so tried installing mac os today and installed fine, but when it got to entering personal information, it just freezes for no reason! so, tried installing windows 7, worked first time with no issues. so must be some sort of issue with the drive and mac os? anyone have any ideas? maybe its a driver issue. if it is, how do i install a new driver without having the os in the first place? any help would be great!

    cheers greg

    • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

      That’s a question for SanDisk tech support.

Author

J. Glenn Künzler

Glenn is Managing Editor at MacTrast, and has been using a Mac since he bought his first MacBook Pro in 2006. Now he's up to his neck in Apple, and owns an old iBook, a 2012 iMac with an extra Thunderbolt display for good measure, a 4th-generation iPad, an iPad mini, 2 iPhones, and a Mac Mini that lives at the neighbor's house. He lives in a small town in Utah, enjoys bacon more than you can possibly imagine, and is severely addicted to pie.