by Chris Thomas

SanDisk Extreme 510 Portable SSD Review (480GB)

Any photographer can tell you: when it comes to storage, speed is king. Bringing back the Extreme 500’s successful design, SanDisk updated its Extreme series portable solid-state drive with the new 510 model. Able to withstand far more physical abuse than a portable HDD, the Extreme 510 will appeal to photographers and videographers of all stripes. While this particular drive won’t be adequately suited to stand in for a larger-capacity external storage device for archival purposes, the 480GB storage and notably improved transfer speeds will be more than enough for just about any on-location professional shoot.

Despite getting off to a slow start, SSDs are gaining in popularity for portable drives. SSDs are a natural choice for portable use, given their inherent durability advantages over HDDs. There aren’t any moving parts on the SanDisk Extreme 510—making it resistant to shock damage—and it can withstand more extreme temperatures than its HDD competitors. By updating an already rugged design, the IP55-rated Extreme 510 is dust and splash-resistant. Considering how easy it is to irreparably damage an HDD with an ill-timed shock or strike, their use in portable drives is less than ideal. If you want to make a sound portable storage investment, get an SSD like the SanDisk Extreme 510.

If you’re more aesthetically inclined, you’ll appreciate the style of the Extreme 510. Crammed into a chic black chassis, the Extreme 510 can fit easily into most pant pockets, and it’s smaller than your smartphone to a considerable degree. If you choose to carry it elsewhere, a rubber coating and a metal lug allow you to clip it to a bag or strap without too much worry.

It offers 128-bit encryption through SanDisk SecureAccess, and carries a 2-year warranty. The Extreme 510 comes in a 480GB model, with a price tag of $249.99.

SanDisk Extreme 510 Specifications:

  • Capacities
    • 480GB (SDSSDEXT-480G-G25)
  • Interface: USB 3.0
  • Performance
    • 480GB model: 430MB/s (read), 400MB/s (write)
  • Physical
    • Dimensions: 0.42 x 2.98 x 2.98 in. (10.67 x 75.69 x 75.69 mm)
    • Weight: 0.3375lbs (153.087g)
  • Environmental
    • Temperature
      • Operating temperature: 32°F to 113°F (0°C to 45°C)
      • Storage temperature: - 4°F to 158°F (- 20°C to 70°C)
    • Shock: Resistant up to 800G @ 0.5m/sec
    • Vibration: 5.35gRMS, 20-2000Hz
  • Compatibility
    • PC & Mac computers - no driver needed
    • Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Mac OS 10.4+
  • Warranty: 2 years

Design and Build

Much like its predecessor, the SanDisk Extreme 500, the 510 is very small and sleek. However, the increased capacity of the 480GB model makes for a minimally bulkier unit. On the top is the same bright-red SanDisk branding we’ve grown accustomed to, while the sides are protected by a red rubber bumper and metal lug. On the bottom lives some basic product information.

Protected by a dust and splash-resistant rubber door is the USB 3.0 port, opposite the metal lug. Though rendered ineffective while connected to a computer, when the drive isn’t connected, the door can be pushed into small recesses to protect the port opening.

Performance

To put the SanDisk Extreme 510 through its paces, we’ll cover two different performance tests: the BlackMagic disk speed test on a current generation MacBook Pro and a 2MB sequential and random transfer speeds via IOMeter. We’ll also compare this drive to its main competitor, the Samsung Portable SSD T3.

Using a current MacBook Pro, the Mac-specific BlackMagic disk speed test is used to see how well drives are able to handle high-quality video. We found that the Extreme 510 was able to outperform its predecessor, narrowly edging it in read speeds of 430.8MB/s, and leaving it in the dust with 408MB/s write speeds. This is great for a portable drive and definitely something that should help sway you—especially if you plan to edit video using your new drive..

Testing 2MB read/write speeds with IOMeter, we found that the Extreme 510 was able to achieve speeds of 322MB/s read, and 159MB/s write sequential. In our 2MB random transfer test, we measured 270MB/s read and 159MB/s write. This is a drastic improvement over the Extreme 500, and it narrowly bests the performance of the Samsung T3 (318.95MB/s read and 158.28MB/s write).

Conclusion

Following up an already-admirable attempt at a durable, portable SSD, SanDisk’s Extreme 510 may not be the most exciting sequel—but it is a competent one. At $249.99 for 480GB vs. Samsung’s $199.99 for the 500GB model T3, you’re definitely paying a bit of a premium for the rugged design. However, in my time as a professional photographer, I can safely say that the extra $50 is worth it, especially if you take archival storage with you outdoors.

Performance-wise, this is a very competent drive with impressive read/write speeds for the category. In our BlackMagic test the 510 gave us 431MB/s read and 408MB/s write, a large improvement on write speed from the Extreme 500. In our 2MB IOmeter benchmark the 510 out performed the 500 considerably while also giving a slightly better performance than the Samsung T3. The 510 gave us sequential speeds of 322MB/s read, and 159MB/s write and random speeds of 270MB/s read and 159MB/s write. The SanDisk Extreme 510 will run circles around any WD Passport you may have used in the past. The natural advantages of NAND memory over platter drives are dramatic.

Pros

  • Very durable compared to portable HDDs
  • Competitive performance
  • Sleek design

Cons

  • Top-capacity model is 480GB

The Bottom Line

The SanDisk Extreme 510 is a great choice for vacationers and professional photographers alike, as it offers impressively durable storage in a package that offers far better performance than an HDD. 

SanDisk Extreme 510 on Amazon

Discuss this review

Sign up for the StorageReview newsletter

Related News and Reviews