Tech

SanDisk Desk Drive USB SSD review: High-capacity, 10Gbps performance

Sandisk Desk DriveImage: Jon L. Jacobi

At a glance

Expert’s Rating

Pros

Available in large 4TB and 8TB capacitiesGood 10Gbps performerAttractive and unusual, if somewhat large, heat-shedding design

Cons

Requires AC adapter

Our Verdict

More capacity is always better when it comes to storage, and the Desk Drive USB SSD from SanDisk delivers that in either 4TB or 8TB flavors, along with good 10Gbps performance.

Price When Reviewed

4TB: $250 I 8TB: $700

Best Prices Today: SanDisk Desk Drive 10Gbps USB SSD

RetailerPriceWestern Digital$249.99View DealPrice comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwideProductPricePrice comparison from Backmarket

SanDisk’s new 10Gbps USB Desk Drive is all about capacity. In fact, it ships only in larger 4TB and 8TB flavors, for $250 and $700 MSRP, respectively — demonstrating a real commitment to a marketing strategy that frames the product as a hard drive replacement.

The Desk Drive is also on the large side for an external SSD and requires external power to function, which while not unheard for an external USB drive of this capacity is a bit unusual for a drive that is only 10Gbps. Perhaps SanDisk is trying to make hard drive transitioners more comfortable?

Further reading: See our roundup of the best external drives to learn about competing products.

What are the Sandisk Desk Drive’s features?

I’ve already spilled some of the beans on this subject — however, as to its size, the Desk Drive measures a rather solid 3.9-inches wide and long, and about 1.5-inches between the slightly concave top and anti-skid bottom. It’s colored in SanDisk’s familiar dark gray, with orange piping encircling the unit near the vertical mid-point of the enclosure.

The back of the Desk Drive has the Type-C USB port, AC adapter jack, and a Kensington lock port. And yes, the drive requires an external power source which the company provides. We did try to use the drive without it, and no dice.

SanDisk apparently learned from its own Extreme Pro whose data-wiping issues may have stemmed from a lack of power, and Seagate’s FireCuda Gaming SSD 20Gbps SSD, which would only perform at 10Gbps on some systems, likely due to the same issue (although thermal throttling could have been the culprit). Note that I have tested many a 10Gbps and 20Gbps SSD that performs just fine using only bus power.

How much does the Desk Drive cost?

Though I already covered pricing up top, it’s helpful to discuss the Desk Drive’s price in relation to what it’s intended to replace — a hard drive. At the time of this writing you could find a name brand external 8TB hard drive for $150 — around 21 percent of the $700 (MSRP) 8TB Desk Drive. Of course, the hard drive provides only around 10 percent of the performance.

So the equation remains roughly the same when it comes to HDDs and SSDs: The former are significantly cheaper per gigabyte, while the latter are far faster, less delicate, and more reliable. That said, HDD reliability is much better than it used to be.

Buy according to need. If your backup is firing off in the middle of the night when speed doesn’t matter as much, go HDD and get a couple for redundancy. If you’re constantly banging on your external storage for work when seconds, minutes, or hours count, pony up the extra bucks for an SSD.

How fast is the SanDisk Desk Drive?

As a 10Gbps USB SSD, the 8TB Desk Drive I tested is of course light years faster than a hard drive and held its own in our testing against its 10Gbps rivals. That said, it’s no match for 20Gbps or 40Gbps SSDs, which generally double the benchmark results and halve the transfer times.

CrystalDiskMark 8 rated the Desk Drive as very facile in sequential transfers for a 10Gbps USB SSD as you can see below. It wasn’t the fastest in every test, but overall it performed quite well.

Jon L. Jacobi

The results were more mixed in the random 4K operations. The Desk Drive was fastest in two tests and below average in the other two. As you may notice, this is not unusual for external SSDs — a couple of the other drives are inconsistent as well.

The SanDisk Desk Drive is a hair behind the curve in 48GB transfers, but not enough to significantly impact your buying decision.

Jon L. Jacobi

Being an 8TB drive, I wasn’t expecting the Desk Drive to slow down at all in in our 450GB write — it didn’t. Once I threw another 2TB at the drive, performance wavered a bit — waffling between 250MBps and 900MBps. This was undoubtedly some smart secondary caching going on with varying degrees of success.

There’s little distinction performance-wise between the SanDisk Desk Drive and its competitors. This puts the buying decision down to price and form factor. All its rivals in the charts above are smaller and more portable.

Should you buy the SanDisk Desk Drive?

If you’re looking for high-capacity, high-speed upgrade from external hard drives, then the Sandisk Desk Drive will do the job nicely. It also looks good next to your PC, in my opinion. That said, there’s a lot of competition out there, especially at the 4TB capacity. Shop carefully.

How we test

Drive tests currently utilize Windows 11, 64-bit running on an X790 (PCIe 4.0/5.0) motherboard/i5-12400 CPU combo with two Kingston Fury 32GB DDR5 4800MHz modules (64GB of memory total). Both 20Gbps USB/Thunderbolt 4 are integrated to the back panel and Intel CPU/GPU graphics are used. The 48GB transfer tests utilize an ImDisk RAM disk taking up 58GB of the 64GB of total memory. The 450GB file is transferred from a 2TB Samsung 990 Pro which also runs the OS.

Each test is performed on a newly NTFS-formatted and TRIM’d drive so the results are optimal. Note that in normal use, as a drive fills up, performance may decrease due to less NAND for secondary caching, as well as other factors. This is less of a factor with the current crop of SSDs with their far faster NAND.

Caveat: The performance numbers shown apply only to the drive we were shipped and to the capacity tested. SSD performance can and will vary by capacity due to more or fewer chips to shotgun reads/writes across and the amount of NAND available for secondary caching. Vendors also occasionally swap components. If you ever notice a large discrepancy between the performance you experience and that which we report, by all means, let us know.

Best Prices Today: SanDisk Desk Drive 10Gbps USB SSD

RetailerPriceWestern Digital$249.99View DealPrice comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwideProductPricePrice comparison from Backmarket

Jon Jacobi is a musician, former x86/6800 programmer, and long-time computer enthusiast. He writes reviews on TVs, SSDs, dash cams, remote access software, Bluetooth speakers, and sundry other consumer-tech hardware and software.

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