[expires on=”10/15/2013 + 3 days”]
* Giveaway – Scroll to the bottom for a chance to win an Angelbird SSD2go of your very own!
Solid state drives have become practically mainstream in today’s market – they’re built in or available as an upgrade to nearly any notebook you can buy today. As flash memory costs continue to decrease, they’re becoming more popular by the day, and the reasons why are pretty clear: They offer a tremendous performance increase that leaves spinning hard drives in the dust.
While SSDs are great as built-in options, however, what about users without the ability to upgrade their Mac or PC with an SSD (such as, for instance, owners of the 2012 or 2013 iMac)? Thunderbolt solutions have been around for a couple of years – but not everyone has a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac or PC. Is there a solution for the rest of us? Angelbird thinks the answer is a resounding YES – and they sent us their excellent SSD2go USB 3.0-powered portable SSD (starting at $259.99, link) to put their money where their mouths are!
With the SSD2go, Angelbird has taken their commitment to quality to an extraordinary level, producing a device roughly the size of a standard SSD, but with a USB port, and a strong, protective precision-milled aluminum shell to allow for durability and easy transport. The appearance of the device reflects design values that rival even those of Jony Ive.
The SSD2go uses proprietary internal SSDs to achieve its small size – and to exceptional effect. I don’t commonly spend much time talking about the design of an SSD – but in the case of the SSD, it merits some discussion. It’s the smallest portable drive I’ve ever seen, and it manages to achieve that without sacrificing a single shred of durability. Angelbird’s commitment to quality and design could not be more apparent.
Benchmarks and Performance
The SSD to go isn’t just pretty and durable – it’s also a serious speed demon. According to the official specs, the Vector is capable of read and write speeds of up to 460MB/. Our benchmarks will put that claim to the test.
Test Method / Setup
My current hardware setup for reviewing SSDs is a 2012 iMac set to booth the SSD from a Thunderbolt-based PCIe SATA card (in the case of internal cards), or attached directly to the USB port. To run the benchmarks, I booted the MacBook with a fresh install of OS X Mountain Lion, loaded my benchmarking tools, and got straight to work..
The benchmarks were captured using BlackMagic Disk Speed Test and DigLloydTools to capture raw read and write speeds. All formal benchmarks were conducted on a freshly formatted drive. File transfers were between a Samsung 840 Pro and the SSD2go.
– Common Benchmarks
I began my testing using common benchmarks. This involved transferring a test batch of 83GB of files of various sizes (made up of MP3s on the small side, and 6-8Gb video files on the large side). As I’d hoped, the SSD2go performed extremely well. Transferring the 83GB batch of files to the drive took only 3 minutes and 42 seconds, with a time of 3 minutes and 31 seconds on the return trip.
– Formal Benchmarks
Testing the SSD2g0 with formal benchmarking tools yielded the sort of impressive results I would expect based on it’s common benchmark performance. Using BlackMagic’s DiskSpeedTest to perform a speed analysis, I was able to achieve max write speeds of nearly 310 MB/Sec and max read speeds of nearly 430MB/s. Unfortunately, no matter what I tried, I was not able to generate results anywhere close to Angelbird’s claim of 460MB/s read and write speeds (especially the read speeds).
Using a separate benchmarking tool (DiskTester from the DigLloydTools Suite), I was able to achieve maximum read and write speed results of 420-425MB/s consistently, which still, once again, are slightly lower than the projected 460MB/S speeds offered by the manufacturer (but not really too far off.)
I wasn’t immediately able to account for the discrepancies in read speeds between the two third-party tools, so I also clocked speeds using Activity Monitor while transferring files to and from the drive, which observed read speeds of up to 421MB/s. The BlackMagic DiskSpeedTest is clearly the “odd man out” with its low reported read speeds.
By way of comparison, the LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt SSD that we tested previously was able to consistently offer read speeds of around 700MB/s, and write speeds of around 453MB/s. The Little Big Disk makes use of two SSDs rather than one, however. That means the speed of each single drive in the Little Big Disk is significantly lower than what the SSD2go achieves. It’s also worth nothing that the LBD also operates over Thunderbolt rather than USB 3.
All things considered, I’d say the SSD2go performed quite admirably, although just shy of the level the manufacturer suggests. The price per GB of the Little Big Disk is also significantly higher, making the SSD2go a bit more attractive value-wise.
* UPDATE: According to the manufacturer, Mac OS X achieves lower overall USB 3.0 performance than Windows, which could account for the decrease in performance that we measured. This, according to Angelbird, is due to USB3 and UASP support on Windows being better than that on OS X. I have briefly tested the claim using a Mac Mini with Windows 8 and USB 3.0, and did indeed find that I was able to achieve higher speeds – just over 455MB/s on average, which is well in line with Angelbird’s claims.
Excellent Data Safety Features
On the plus side, the SSD2go includes its own dedicated power circuit with overload and static protection. It also includes an Uninterruptible Power Supply, or UPS, which keeps the drive powered up for several seconds in the event of power loss. This ensures that the drive has a chance to safely power down, keeping data loss to a minimum.
In the long run, I consider the Angelbird SSD2go to be a solid choice for anyone looking for an external SSD. While it’s not as fast as an internal SSD, it is much, much faster than a typical external hard drive. The only real downside to the SSD2go is the price – the SSD2go starts at $259.99 for a 128GB drive, costs $449.99 for a 256GB drive, and goes up to $779.99 for a 512GB drive. That’s a pretty hefty price tag, even factoring in the quality. It does include a full 3-year warranty, however, which is a big plus.
Rating & Information
The SSD2go is a stunning drive. It looks great, it feels great, and it performs well. Unfortunately, it could offer significantly more bang for the buck (or a lower price point), which speaks against its availability for most consumers.
The fact that it doesn’t quite offer the read and write speeds suggested by the manufacturer is also a little disappointing, and something which I have no choice but to deduct for. (Note: This statement has been redacted. See above update at the end of the “Formal Benchmarks” section for details.)
Despite the high price and inability to match manufacturer specs, however, it is still an excellent drive. For its many merits, contrasted with its downsides, I award the SSD2go a rating of
4 out of 5 stars 4.5 out of 5 stars (see above redaction).
For more information on the SSD2go, or any of Angelbird’s other offerings, visit Angelbird’s product page on the web.
[expires on=”10/15/2013 + 3 days”]
You’ve seen the review, so here’s your chance to try this drive for yourself by winning one from MacTrast! We’re giving away one of these great portable SSDs to one lucky reader. To enter the giveaway, simply post the following message on Twitter:
Win an @Angelbird_ SSD2go USB 3.0 SSD – a sleek, aluminum-clad beauty for your Mac! Details: http://mctr.st/17pIsBG #MTSSD
To be eligible to win, you must follow @MacTrast and post the message, including the hashtag. The giveaway is open immediately, and will run until Thursday, October 10, 2013, at 11:59 PM Mountain Time. A winner will be announced on Twitter and in this post shortly thereafter.
Congrats to @RoninM – he’ll be receiving a new AngelBird SSD2go 256GB of his very own! As for the rest of you – there’ll be plenty more great giveaways coming up soon! Stay tuned![/expires]