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Lifewire / David Kukin
High transfer speeds
Solid state drive in flash drive design
SecureAccess File Encryption
Slower than advertised
Inconsistent read speeds
The SanDisk Extreme Pro is an expensive solid-state flash drive that demands a powerful PC to operate at full potential. It’s very fast (though not as fast as it claims), and most users are better off buying a more affordable alternative or simply investing in a typical external hard drive.
We purchased the SanDisk Extreme Pro so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
Solid state flash drives truly blur the line between USB storage and external hard drives. The SanDisk Extreme Pro provides better durability and much faster transfer speeds than a traditional flash drive while maintaining the portable form factor.
Our own internal testing left us disappointed that the Extreme Pro didn’t reach its advertised speeds, but even an underperforming solid-state flash drive is still faster than most other flash drives on the market.
The Extreme Pro is encased in an aluminum shell surrounded by a hard outer plastic shell that covers everything except the lever action on the top and the key ring. The product measures 2.79 x 0.84 x 0.45 inches. A small blue LED light turns on when the drive is connected to a powered PC and blinks during active file transfers.
The inner aluminum case makes the Extreme Pro feel quite durable, but beware that it has some sharp edges where the plastic meets the aluminum in the lever slide (if angled just right you could definitely cut yourself on the plastic edging). The slide lever also requires some significant pressure, which makes it difficult to extend and retract the connector. We’re not sure these literal corner-cutting measures are worth the added durability to the case.
The SanDisk Extreme Pro is designed for USB 3.1 Gen 1 (3.0) and can be used in USB 2.0. It supports Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10, and Mac OS X running v10.7 or higher.
The Extreme Pro is ready to transfer files the minute it’s plugged into a USB 3.0 or 2.0 port. It comes packaged in an actual box with a plastic insert (rather than a hanging package) that makes it far easier to open than most other USB packaging we’ve encountered.
We expected to be blown away by the SanDisk Extreme Pro … but the results didn’t quite add up.
Once we plugged in the SanDisk Extreme Pro, we were prompted to set up a password and immediately began transferring files using the 128-bit AES encryption. The interface was intuitive and easy to navigate — we just had to drag and drop the folders we wanted to move, or copy and paste them. We were a bit annoyed that it doesn’t show the file sizes for folders. Individual file sizes are displayed in KB.
The flash drive also includes SanDisk’s SecureAccess file encryption software. It’s entirely optional to use and can be removed from the drive if you don’t want it. Running SecureAccess requires zero installation or download for Windows, though it will most likely take a few seconds to update. Mac X OS requires a download.
Generally speaking, solid state drives are faster and perform better than their hard disk counterparts. We expected to be blown away by the SanDisk Extreme Pro, especially since it advertises transfer speeds around 400 MB/s. Unfortunately, the results didn’t quite add up.
Benchmarking program Crystal Disk Mark’s sequential file test resulted in read speeds of 230 MB/s and write speeds of 215 MB/s. Those are very impressive numbers compared to standard flash drives, but they’re still way under SanDisk’s advertised 420 MB/s read and 380 MB/s write speeds.
We were able to write Avengers: Infinity War in 30 seconds, but it took a full 90 seconds to transfer it back.
Our more hands-on tests were even more disappointing. SanDisk boasts that a full-length 4K movie can be transferred in 15 seconds. It took about 40 seconds to transfer Avengers: Infinity War with an average write speed of 135 MB/s as we reached the upper limits of what our internal hard disk could handle (about 140 Mb/s).
When transferring 1GB folders full of media files, such as MP3 and JPG, write speeds remained consistent. While transferring those same folders back to the PC, we saw a steep drop in speed about halfway through, resulting in slightly longer read speeds. A 1GB media folder took about 10 seconds to write and about 15 seconds to read.
Transfer speeds improved a bit when using our internal Solid State drive, which has transfer speeds of around 500 MB/s. We were able to get up to 185 MB/s but still ran into the problem of speeds dropping off sharply halfway through the read process.
Using the solid state drive, we were able to write Avengers: Infinity War in 30 seconds, but it took a full 90 seconds to transfer it back. We also noticed that using the SecureAccess file encryption software more or less doubled the transfer speed of any file or folder.
It’s also important to note that for most users, there’s not much appreciable difference between 150 MB/s and 350 MB/s in terms of transfer speed. Anything over 100 MB/s feels lightning fast, whether you’re transferring single large video files, media collections, or system folders.
A solid-state flash drive is a high-end USB storage device, and the price reflects that. SanDisk sells the Extreme Pro with two different capacities: a 128GB model for $46.99 and a 256GB model for $82.99. It’s priced well above other flash drives, but also features much higher transfer speeds. Even when achieving only half the listed speed in our personal tests, the Extreme Pro still outpaces almost all of the competition.
The related SanDisk Extreme Go is only incrementally less powerful and is more reasonably priced.
That being said, the 256GB is so pricey that you may as well start looking at external solid state drives, which are slightly less portable but come equipped with much more storage space. It depends on how much you need the ultra-compact form factor.
As a solid-state flash drive, the SanDisk Extreme Pro doesn’t have much competition. The Corsair Flash Voyager is a similar product that boasts even higher solid state read and write speeds, but is also even more expensive, listed around $70 for the 128GB model. The related SanDisk Extreme Go is also only incrementally less powerful and is more reasonably priced, which probably makes it the better option for most typical users.
We could also compare the Extreme Pro to cheaper, smaller external solid state drives, such as the PNY Elite. This particular device features more cost-effective transfer speeds at 430 and 400 MB/, and the 240GB model retails for $69.99. It’s also barely larger than a flash drive, making it a more wallet-friendly option for speedy, high-capacity file transfer and storage.
Unless you have money to burn and a top-of-the-line PC that can really take advantage of the speed capabilities, we’d recommend the SanDisk Extreme Go over the Pro. If you have an even bigger budget, we’d recommend looking for a nice big external solid state drive.
A high-end solid-state flash drive that, while very fast, is hard to recommend for the price.
The SanDisk Extreme Pro can achieve some bonkers transfer speeds — if your PC can take advantage of them — and is a durable and ultra-compact alternative to a traditional external solid state drive. But it can’t perform as advertised, and for the price, most people will be better off buying a less expensive drive with less power or investing in a typical storage drive with better capacity and speed for the money.