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SanDisk G-Drive hands-on: Putting the ArmorATD and SSD to the test

We look at two new Western Digital external drives from their SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE series and put them through performance tests. How do they compare to internal storage and to our previous favorite, the Samsung T5? Read on to find out.
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Written by David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer on
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SanDisk

I just found out a little bit of insider baseball knowledge about the storage industry. SanDisk, which was founded way back in 1988, is now owned by Western Digital. SanDisk is primarily a solid-state storage vendor. WD is well known as a hard drive vendor. In 2016, the hard drive vendor bought the solid-state storage vendor, and now SanDisk is a brand of Western Digital.

I've looked at other WD products in the past, and this time, the SanDisk team asked me to take a look at some of their professional-grade storage products. They sent me two of their SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE products. Now, before we go into any details, check this thing out on the right.

Look at that. How much more appropriate could a storage device be for a guy named Gewirtz? It's like it was built just for me -- much gruntle.

Also: Best external hard drives

Before we dive in on speed tests, let's talk about robustness. The company reports that the G-DRIVE SSD is engineered with IP67 water and dust resistance (i.e. immersion in water up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes), up to 3-meter drop protection (onto carpeted concrete) and 2,000lbs crush resistance (but you'd be wise not to drive over it if you can at all help it).

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Speaking of robustness, WD also sent me the G-DRIVE ArmorATD. It also has that great "G" on the side. More to the point, this is a ruggedized drive. 

The cable port caught my attention, which is very well sealed behind a rubberized gasket. So if you're traveling and happen to drop it into a puddle, no water should get in through that seal.

Speed tests

Now, let's run through some speed tests. I tested these using a factory fresh M1 Mac mini using Mac OS Extended (Journaled) as the file system. I do most of my performance and video work using Macs, so I wanted to see how these would hold up.

Let's get the painfully obvious out of the way first. No external drive, even using a USB C interface, is going to come anywhere close to internal storage speed. Look at the insane performance of the Mac mini clocks using just its own internal bits. Wow.

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Now, let's look at the G-DRIVE SSD. Admittedly, it reads and writes in the 700s, and that's far lower than the native performance, but as I'll show you in a minute, it's still pretty good.

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That's because I compared it to my previous favorite USB C SSD, the Samsung T5. I use the T5 to capture 6K video from my Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and it keeps up. But take a look at the performance tests. The T5 clocks in at roughly half of the SanDisk G-DRIVE (and does not have that "makes David so happy" G logo on it).

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Finally, we'll take a look at the hard drive. I didn't have high-speed expectations for the G-DRIVE ArmorATD and I wasn't wrong. It's a hard drive and spinning platters are always a LOT slower than solid state storage. Even so, it's an inexpensive and robust external drive that's ideal for backups and carrying between locations.

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So there you go. The G-DRIVE SSD is definitely faster than my previous favorite external SSD but doesn't come close to the M1's native internal storage. Not a surprise. Overall, the robustness and quality of the SanDisk offerings make them good buys if they meet your needs.

What are you rocking for external storage? Do you backup to a local hard drive or to the cloud? Do you use a small external drive to move between machines? Let us know in the comments below.


You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

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