Pros

Incredibly-fast; huge capacity; backed by the best name in the business

Cons

Large for a thumb drive; cost for this much performance is arguably unjustified in a flash drive

Star Rating

SanDisk Extreme Pro

Description

The SanDisk is an ultra-high capacity USB thumb drive; in fact, as of our publication date it's one of the very few 128GB drives available. It has another trick up its sleeve, however, and that is extreme performance, worthy of the name Extreme Pro. Then again, give it's extreme size, you'd expect nothing less - at a time when many USB drives are no bigger that the USB port itself, the Extreme Pro has no pretensions of compactness. It's a portly 2.8" long and 0.83" wide. When you have a system full of other USB devices, that size may in fact become somewhat of an issue. That's the price you pay for speed and capacity, along with the very real price in dollars: with a retail price of $149.99, this drive comes in above just about every 128GB solid-state drive on the market. Yes, it's more compact, but not by much!

Let's see whether the Extreme Pro properly takes advantage of its size and cost of entry, shall we?

Features

There isn't too much to say in terms of features - this is a USB thumb drive, after all, and it's properly judged most on its capacity and performance. That being said, it has a few noteworthy features. First, it has a retractable USB 3.0 connector, which means it's easy to protect and there's no cap to lose. Second, it has a durable and attractive aluminum skin, a couple steps up from the typical plastic shell used for most thumb drives. Third, the included vault software is a great bonus - it's very easy to use, and considering that you can fit a lot of data on this drive, it's nice to have the option to password encrypt it just in case you lose the drive.

Performance

Yes, this is an expensive product, but it has little competition. SanDisk is in fact the only manufacturer to market 128GB microSD cards, and that's really the only comparison product performance-wise. While we don't have one of these cards in our test suite, we do have a few of SanDisk's 64GB Ultra SD products, which we've benchmarked against the Extreme Pro. We've also thrown in a high-performance Corsair solid-state drive hooked up via USB 3.0 for comparison.

The speed on this flash drive is impressive. Tested in CrystalDiskMark, the Extreme Pro nearly matches the speed of the the fast solid-state drive we have in our bench (surpassing it in pure sequential tests), and is simply leagues beyond the SD products. Keep in mind that only a microSD card can fit in a proper USB thumb drive, so that's really the competition the Extreme Pro is up against. In a real-world test involving reading and writing JPEGs, the drive was still fairly fast, although as can be seen, its write speed isn't quite SSD-class, at least when you leave the realm of a purely theoretical sequential burst transfer.

SanDisk Bench

Keeping in mind that this drive will fit in your pocket (though maybe not on your keychain), the performance is a huge selling point.

Conclusion

It may seem that the Extreme Pro did not make a good first impression. Well, that is in fact correct. A $150 thumb drive that's actually bigger than many peoples' thumbs isn't the kind of thing that comes in the door a winner. It needs to prove that it's worth the price of entry. SanDisk knows where its bread is buttered, though, and there simply is no company out there doing more to advance the state of the art in flash memory products. From microSD cards to thumb drives to solid-state drives, SanDisk has it covered. And the Extreme Pro does not disappoint with regard to moving the technological ball forward. It is a speed demon, simply put, in an entirely different league from products that have come before it. Whether you need this much speed in your knapsack or purse (or in a large pocket) is up to you. It's an extreme product at an extreme price, and probably best caters to the extreme PC user who needs instant access to large amounts of data on the go.

The SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive is available from Newegg for $144.99 at the time of publication.

Special thanks to SanDisk and Newegg for providing this review sample.