Best Portable SSDs Windows Central 2021

A portable SSD has a number of benefits over a portable HDD, the biggest being that they're much smaller and much faster. There are trade-offs like ultimate capacity and a generally higher price tag, but if you move a lot of data on the go then one of these is what you need.

Top choice: Samsung T5

Staff favorite

Samsung makes some of the finest in-PC SSDs around and the Korean electronics giant's portable offerings are also fantastic. The T5 is the latest model, with capacities ranging from 250GB up to a whopping 2TB. Read and write speeds are up to 540 MB/s, on par with an internal 2.5-inch SSD, which is quite fast compared to a portable HDD. The T5 is also ridiculously small, shock resistant, and uses USB-C 3.1 for superfast transfer to and from your laptop.

From $93 at Amazon

Great outdoors: Sandisk Extreme

If you're the outdoors type, perhaps needing a tough portable SSD to stick in your camera gear bag, then the Extreme from Sandisk is worth your time. Shockproof and IP55 rated for water and dust resistance, it's not going to let you down when you need it most. Read speeds are up to 550MB/s, it uses USB-C, and has a ring on it that you can use to clip it to your backpack.

From $80 at Amazon

Little and tough: ADATA SE730

This teeny little SSD boasts read/write speeds up to 500MB/s and USB-C 3.1 at a solid price. Throw in an IP68 water/dust-proof rating and MIL-STD-810G 516.6 shockproof certification plus a 3-year warranty and there's little to complain about. There's no fancy security software on the SE730 though, which may account for the lower price than some of the competitors.

From $150 at Amazon
PNY Elite

Basic option: PNY Elite

The PNY Elite is a no-frills portable SSD smaller than a credit card with 24/7 U.S.-based customer support and, oh, a pretty low price tag for its 240GB model. Need more? Fine! With 430MB/s read and 400MB/s write speeds, it's at least four times quicker than a portable HDD. The icing on the cake is the included license for Acronis True Image, a simple way to make a full backup of your drive in the event that anything bad happens.

From $67 at Amazon

Great value: Pioneer portable SSD

Pioneer isn't the first brand you consider when you're looking for storage — car stereos, maybe — but this little portable SSD is worth attention. It supports USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 and with read speeds of 480MB/s it's fast enough to keep up with anything you need to do on the go while using the same cable you might be using to charge your phone. It's also well priced and represents great value.

$92 at Amazon

Super speed: Samsung X5

Thunderbolt 3 allows simply insane data transfer speeds on this SSD, utilizing NVMe technology to match performance from some of Samsung's best internal drives. We're looking at read and write speeds of 2,800MB/s and 2,300MB/s respectively wrapped up in a shock-resistant shell. Not everyone can use one, or would want to pay the asking price, but this is the future of portable storage.

From $200 at Amazon

If we had to choose...

When we're choosing an internal SSD for a PC, there's one brand we always go for, and the same can be said now for external ones, too. Samsung makes some of the best quality products on the market, and the tiny T5 is one excellent SSD. You get a range of sizes, even colors to choose from, it's fast and reliable and doesn't even cost that much. It's a definite winner.

At the other end of the scale, Samsung is now pushing out Thunderbolt 3 drives with the performance that once was a fantasy for portable storage. They're pricey and not everyone can even use them, but if you're looking for the future, today, then it's here with the X5.

Sandisk is also another trusted brand in storage, and the Extreme is particularly good if you're outdoors a lot, say as a photographer or a drone operator, and need a storage solution that won't let you down when the going gets tough.

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