4TB SSD Roundup: All 4 TB+ Solid State Drives in 2021

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4TB SSDsIf you work with storage-heavy apps or simply want quick access to your complete Steam library, there is no substitute for a high-capacity SSD. While we are now starting to see 8 TB capacities in most areas, but 4 TB SSDs are still significantly more common in the consumer market.

From the manufacturers’ perspective, building SSDs in large capacities is not really an engineering problem. The major stopping block is the high cost for end-users. This is why we mainly see the largest drives in the enterprise market. However, the cost of Flash memory has been dropping for some time. And thanks to the arrival of cheaper chips in the form of TLC (triple-level cell) and QLC (quad-level cell) NAND, it’s now easier than before to justify investing in roomier drives.

Here, we’ve rounded up every 4TB or larger SSD we could find as of May 2021. The number of alternatives in this space has grown significantly since 2020 and there are now quite a few high-capacity drives in all common form factors.

Quick Links
Cheapest 4TB SSDs
4TB M.2 (PCIe/NVMe) SSDs
4TB 2.5″ SATA SSDs
4TB Portable SSDs
8TB SSDs

Most Affordable 4TB SSDs

Cost per GB is nearly always a deciding factor, and even more so when shopping for a high-capacity SSD. Although prices vary somewhat from day to day, it is mainly performance and the type of NAND Flash memory used that determines the price tag. Newer drives based on QLC (quad-level cell) memory tend to be cheaper, somewhat slower, and offer less endurance than high-end SSDs based on TLC (triple-level cell) chips.

However, the real-world difference is not necessarily large, and endurance (as measured in TBW – terabytes written) is less of an issue in higher capacities. These are the most affordable 4TB SSDs in the M.2, 2.5″ and portable form factors at the time of writing.

Product
Cheapest 2.5
Western Digital 4TB WD Blue 3D NAND Internal PC SSD - SATA III 6 Gb/s, 2.5"/7mm, Up to 560 MB/s - WDS400T2B0A
Cheapest M.2 (PCIe/NVMe)
Mushkin Alpha – 4TB PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3 – M.2 (2280) Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) – 3D QLC - (MKNSSDAL4TB-D8)
Cheapest Portable
Crucial X6 4TB Portable SSD – Up to 800MB/s – USB 3.2 – External Solid State Drive, USB-C - CT4000X6SSD9
Image
Western Digital 4TB WD Blue 3D NAND Internal PC SSD - SATA III 6 Gb/s, 2.5"/7mm, Up to 560 MB/s - WDS400T2B0A
Mushkin Alpha – 4TB PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3 – M.2 (2280) Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) – 3D QLC - (MKNSSDAL4TB-D8)
Crucial X6 4TB Portable SSD – Up to 800MB/s – USB 3.2 – External Solid State Drive, USB-C - CT4000X6SSD9
Sequential read (max., MB/s)
560 MB/s
3,200 MB/s
540 MB/s
Sequential write (max., MB/s)
530 MB/s
3,000 MB/s
N/A
Random read IOPS (max.)
95K
550K
N/A
Random write IOPS (max.)
84K
640K
N/A
Avg. rating
User reviews
23,552 Reviews
6 Reviews
4,493 Reviews
Warranty
5-year
3-year
3-year
Endurance rating
600 TBW
900 TBW
N/A
Price
$389.95
$559.99
$458.75
Cheapest 2.5
Product
Western Digital 4TB WD Blue 3D NAND Internal PC SSD - SATA III 6 Gb/s, 2.5"/7mm, Up to 560 MB/s - WDS400T2B0A
Image
Western Digital 4TB WD Blue 3D NAND Internal PC SSD - SATA III 6 Gb/s, 2.5"/7mm, Up to 560 MB/s - WDS400T2B0A
Sequential read (max., MB/s)
560 MB/s
Sequential write (max., MB/s)
530 MB/s
Random read IOPS (max.)
95K
Random write IOPS (max.)
84K
Avg. rating
User reviews
23,552 Reviews
Warranty
5-year
Endurance rating
600 TBW
Price
$389.95
Store link
Cheapest M.2 (PCIe/NVMe)
Product
Mushkin Alpha – 4TB PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3 – M.2 (2280) Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) – 3D QLC - (MKNSSDAL4TB-D8)
Image
Mushkin Alpha – 4TB PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3 – M.2 (2280) Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) – 3D QLC - (MKNSSDAL4TB-D8)
Sequential read (max., MB/s)
3,200 MB/s
Sequential write (max., MB/s)
3,000 MB/s
Random read IOPS (max.)
550K
Random write IOPS (max.)
640K
Avg. rating
User reviews
6 Reviews
Warranty
3-year
Endurance rating
900 TBW
Price
$559.99
Store link
Cheapest Portable
Product
Crucial X6 4TB Portable SSD – Up to 800MB/s – USB 3.2 – External Solid State Drive, USB-C - CT4000X6SSD9
Image
Crucial X6 4TB Portable SSD – Up to 800MB/s – USB 3.2 – External Solid State Drive, USB-C - CT4000X6SSD9
Sequential read (max., MB/s)
540 MB/s
Sequential write (max., MB/s)
N/A
Random read IOPS (max.)
N/A
Random write IOPS (max.)
N/A
Avg. rating
User reviews
4,493 Reviews
Warranty
3-year
Endurance rating
N/A
Price
$458.75
Store link

Last update on 2021-07-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The WD Blue is a comprehensively tried and tested 2.5″ SSD that offers decent performance (for a SATA drive) and durable TLC NAND. M.2 PCIe/NVMe SSDs tend to be much more expensive, but Mushkin’s Alpha (based on cheaper QLC NAND) is competitively priced. If you are looking for a 4TB portable SSD, the Crucial X6 is one of the most affordable alternatives. 4TB M.2 NVMe SSDs.

List of 4TB M.2 (PCIe/NVMe) SSDs

PCI Express-based solid state drives in the M.2 form factor are commonly used as system drives, as they offer significantly higher performance than their 2.5″ SATA counterparts. However, some of the most popular high-end drives such as the Samsung 980 PRO or WD Black SN850 do not come in 4 TB capacities. Most of the 4TB or larger options use more affordable solutions, including somewhat slower and less durable QLC NAND. Here is a hopefully exhaustive list of current 4TB M.2 PCIe SSDs at the time of writing, sorted by sequential performance.

# NameMax. sequential read/write (MB/s)4K random read/write performance (IOPS)NANDEndurance rating (terabytes written)Check Price
1Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus (4TB)7100/6600650K/700KTLC2,800 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
2PNY XLR8 CS3040 (4TB)5600/3900N/AQLC900 TBWAmazon
3Mushkin Delta (4TB)4975/3975700K/650KQLC800 TBWN/A
4Corsair MP600 Core (4TB)4950/3800630K/580KQLC900 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
5Sabrent Rocket Q4 (4TB)4950/3550350K/700KQLC800 TBWAmazon
Newegg
6Adata XPG SX8100 (4TB)3500/3000240K/290KTLC1,280 TBWAmazon
Newegg
7Adata XPG S40G (4TB)3500/3000290K/240KTLC2,560 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
8PNY CS2130 (4TB)3500/3000N/AQLCN/AAmazon
Newegg
9Corsair Force MP510 (4TB)3480/2000580K/680KTLC6,820 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
10Sabrent Rocket Gen3 (4TB)3450/3000580K/650KTLC6,000 TBWAmazon
Amazon UK
11WD Black SN750 (4TB)3400/3100550K/520KTLC2,400 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
12Corsair MP400 (4TB)3400/3000610K/710KQLC800 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
13OWC Aura P12 (4 TB)3400/3000600K/600KTLCN/AAmazon
Amazon UK
14Sabrent Rocket Q (4TB)3200/3000550K/680KQLC1,040 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
15Mushkin Alpha (4TB)3200/3000550K/640KQLC900 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
16Exascend EXPC3 (4TB)3100/2100320K/210KTLC2,400 TBWAmazon
Newegg

Note that the top five drives on the list require a PCI-Express 4.0 (PCIe Gen4) platform to reach their advertised maximum transfer rates. The PCIe Gen4 interface is only available in consumer platforms based on:

  • AMD X570, B550, or TRX40 motherboards paired with a 3000- och 5000-series Ryzen/Threadripper CPU, or
  • Intel Z590 (and some Z490) motherboards paired with an 11th-gen Core CPU.

Most Gen4 SSDs are significantly more expensive than their Gen3 counterparts at this point. The choice of NAND memory greatly affects the price as well. Generally speaking, QLC-based drives are cheaper, less durable, and somewhat slower compared to TLC-based varieties.

Some highlights from the list:

1. Fastest 4TB SSD: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus

Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus NVMe 4.0 Gen4 PCIe M.2 Internal SSD Extreme Performance Solid State DriveThe fastest 4TB M.2 SSD at the time of writing is Sabrent’s Rocket 4 Plus. This drive will mostly saturate the PCIe Gen4 interface if you have a compatible system. It is based on the recent Phison E18 controller and uses TLC NAND memory, meaning that it also comes with a considerably higher endurance rating compared to QLC-based SSDs.

In a Gen4-capable system, the Rocket 4 Plus offers sequential read speeds in excess of 7,000 MB/s and the write speed is not far behind. Unsurprisingly, it’s not the cheapest 4TB option but is nevertheless the drive to consider if you don’t want to compromise on either capacity or performance.

Check prices: Amazon, Newegg, Amazon UK

2. Exceptional Endurance: Corsair Force MP510

Corsair Force MP510 4TBCorsair’s Force MP510 has been on the market for a couple of years, but the 4TB capacity was added only recently. It’s still an excellent Gen3 drive, and although sequential performance is not on par with the Gen4 competition, the MP510 mostly saturates the older interface. Additionally, it uses higher-end 96-layer TLC NAND memory chips and offers an exceptional endurance rating of no less than 6,820 TBW (terabytes written).

The 4TB version’s controller is the ubiquitous Phison E12 and the larger drive’s performance specs are identical to the 2TB variety, with up to 3,480 MB/s sequential reads, and 3,000 MB/s writes. 4K random reads/writes are rated at up to 580,000 IOPS (read) and up to 680,000 IOPS (write).

Check prices: Amazon, Newegg, Amazon UK

3. Performance/Value Mix: Corsair MP600 Core

Corsair MP600 CoreInterestingly, the Corsair MP600 Core is newer, faster, and more affordable than the previous-gen Force Series MP510. The improved performance is enabled by the Gen4 interface, while the cost-cutting factor is primarily that the MP600 Core uses cheaper and less durable QLC NAND memory.

Endurance is less of a concern in high-capacity drives, as the 4TB drive’s 900 TBW rating should be sufficient for practically all consumer use cases. It is nevertheless something to keep in mind when shopping for an SSD.

The MP600’s controller is once again from Phison – in this case, the capable Phison E16, which enables sequential read/write speeds of up to 4,950 MB/s (read) and 3,800 MB/s (write) as well as high IOPS throughput. There is currently no option to get this drive without the rather bulky heatsink, but if it doesn’t fit in your build it is easy to remove.

Check prices: Amazon, Newegg, Amazon UK

List of 4TB 2.5″ SATA SSDs

If you are looking for lots of fast internal storage space at a more reasonable cost, SATA drives tend to offer lower prices per GB compared to their M.2 PCIe counterparts. For quite some time Samsung was the only manufacturer with 4TB or larger consumer SSDs in the market, but as of 2021, Western Digital/SanDisk and Seagate also offer high-capacity alternatives.

These are the 4TB 2.5″ SATA SSDs available at the time of writing. Discontinued models and enterprise drives are excluded from the list, but capacities close to 4TB (i.e. 3.84TB) have been added.

# NameMax. sequential read/write (MB/s)4K random read/write performance (IOPS)NANDEndurance rating (terabytes written)Check Price
1Seagate FireCuda 120 (4TB)560/540100K/90KTLC5,600 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
2Seagate IronWolf 125 (4TB)560/54095K/90KTLC5,600 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
3Samsung 860 PRO (4TB)560/530100K/90KMLC4,800 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
4Samsung 870 EVO (4TB)560/53098K/88KTLC2,400 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
5Samsung 870 QVO (4TB)560/53098K/88KQLC1,440 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
6Seagate IronWolf 110 (3.84TB)560/53585K/45KTLC7,000 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
7WD Red SA500 (4TB)560/53095K/82KTLC2,500 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
8WD Blue (4TB)560/53095K/82KTLC600 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
9SanDisk Ultra 3D (4TB)560/53095K/82KTLC600 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
10Samsung 860 EVO (4TB)550/52098K/90KTLC2,400 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
11Seagate IronWolf Pro 125 (3.84TB)545/52096K/30KTLC7,000 TBWAmazon
Newegg
Amazon UK
12Exascend EXSC3 (4TB)540/53085K/80KN/AN/AAmazon
Newegg
13Adata Ultimate SU630 (3.84TB)520/45040K/65KQLC800 TBWNewegg

Sequential performance is fairly similar across the board, which is not surprising considering that the SATA interface has been fully utilized by leading SSDs for many years. However, the 2.5″ form factor is still interesting as it offers higher capacities at (usually) much more attractive prices per GB. It is, of course, also the only alternative if you have no spare M.2 slots. Some of the highlights worth mentioning include:

Samsung 860 PRO1. Still a Market Leader: Samsung 860 PRO

The 860 PRO is quite possibly the last drive from Samsung to use high-quality MLC NAND. Like previous Samsung PRO-series SSDs, it has a rock-solid reputation for reliability, endurance, and not least performance. It has been around for several years now but is still one of – if not the – best SATA SSD you can get your hands on. Unfortunately, its MLC chips also make this drive significantly more expensive than most of the competition, which is particularly noticeable in the largest 4TB capacity.

Check prices: Amazon, Newegg, Amazon UK

Seagate Firecuda 1202. Great Performance & Value: Seagate Firecuda 120

For most users, a high-end, MLC-based SATA SSD like the Samsung 860 PRO does not represent value for money at this time – mainly because spending that much will get you a significantly faster PCIe/NVMe M.2 SSD. If you nevertheless want a high-end model, a better case can be made for the Seagate FireCuda 120. This relatively recent drive, launched in 2020, now tops the performance charts in key areas, while also offering an exceptional endurance rating at 5,600 TBW for the 4TB capacity.

Check prices: Amazon, Newegg, Amazon UK

WD Blue SATA3. Cheap & Reliable: WD Blue 3D NAND

You may have noticed that the WD Blue 3D and SanDisk Ultra 3D specifications are identical. This is because these two drives indeed are identical in all but name and branding (SanDisk is a subsidiary of Western Digital). However, the WD Blue 3D NAND tends to be slightly cheaper for some reason, thus making the choice between the two a no-brainer. Although its endurance rating is quite poor compared to other 4TB SSDs, the WD Blue has one of the best overall user ratings in the segment, while real-world performance is comparable to much more expensive alternatives.

Check prices: Amazon, Newegg, Amazon UK

8TB SSDs: Largest Capacity on the Market

Eight terabyte SSDs appeared in the consumer market only recently and they are still few and far between. Most use QLC NAND memory to keep prices at a reasonable level, so there are no high-end Gen4 8TB SSDs in the segment as of yet. It is nevertheless impressive that you can actually get a full 8TB of fast storage even in the tiny M.2 form factor. The cheapest (relatively speaking) 8TB drives at the time of writing are the following:

Product
Cheapest 8TB 2.5" SSD
SAMSUNG 870 QVO SATA III 2.5" SSD 8TB (MZ-77Q8T0B)
Cheapest 8TB M.2 SSD
Mushkin Alpha – 8TB PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3 – M.2 (2280) Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) – 3D QLC - (MKNSSDAL8TB-D8)
Image
SAMSUNG 870 QVO SATA III 2.5" SSD 8TB (MZ-77Q8T0B)
Mushkin Alpha – 8TB PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3 – M.2 (2280) Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) – 3D QLC - (MKNSSDAL8TB-D8)
Sequential read (max., MB/s)
560 MB/s
3,400 MB/s
Sequential write (max., MB/s)
530 MB/s
3,000 MB/s
Random read IOPS (4K/QD32)
98K IOPS
550K IOPS
Random write IOPS (4K/QD32)
88K IOPS
640K IOPS
Average rating
User reviews
8,525 Reviews
6 Reviews
Warranty
3 years
5 years
Endurance rating
2,880 TBW
1,800 TBW
Price
$699.99
$1,185.99
Cheapest 8TB 2.5" SSD
Product
SAMSUNG 870 QVO SATA III 2.5" SSD 8TB (MZ-77Q8T0B)
Image
SAMSUNG 870 QVO SATA III 2.5" SSD 8TB (MZ-77Q8T0B)
Sequential read (max., MB/s)
560 MB/s
Sequential write (max., MB/s)
530 MB/s
Random read IOPS (4K/QD32)
98K IOPS
Random write IOPS (4K/QD32)
88K IOPS
Average rating
User reviews
8,525 Reviews
Warranty
3 years
Endurance rating
2,880 TBW
Price
$699.99
Cheapest 8TB M.2 SSD
Product
Mushkin Alpha – 8TB PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3 – M.2 (2280) Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) – 3D QLC - (MKNSSDAL8TB-D8)
Image
Mushkin Alpha – 8TB PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3 – M.2 (2280) Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) – 3D QLC - (MKNSSDAL8TB-D8)
Sequential read (max., MB/s)
3,400 MB/s
Sequential write (max., MB/s)
3,000 MB/s
Random read IOPS (4K/QD32)
550K IOPS
Random write IOPS (4K/QD32)
640K IOPS
Average rating
User reviews
6 Reviews
Warranty
5 years
Endurance rating
1,800 TBW
Price
$1,185.99

Last update on 2021-07-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The most affordable 8TB SSD by a wide margin is the Samsung 870 QVO. Unsurprisingly, there is also a rather wide performance margin between this SATA drive and any PCIe NVMe SSD. For now, you will find that all of the 8TB M.2 alternatives offer about the same performance – not least because most of them use the same Phison controller.

As mentioned, the full list of 8TB consumer SSDs is not particularly long at this point in time. Your alternatives, other than the ones mentioned, are:

Sabrent Rocket Q 4TB NVMe SSD1. Sabrent Rocket Q 8TB

We have previously reviewed the 1TB model of the Rocket Q and found it to be an attractive M.2 drive from a price/performance perspective. As its name implies, the Sabrent Rocket Q uses QLC memory chips to keep costs down, but it still offers more than decent sequential performance at 3,300 MB/s (read) and 2,900 MB/s (write). The endurance rating for the 8TB capacity is 1,800 TBW.

Check prices: Amazon, Newegg, Amazon UK

Corsair MP4002. Corsair MP400 8TB

Corsair’s MP400 is another recent release based on high-density QLC NAND. Its specifications are quite similar to the Sabrent competitor at 3,480 MB/s sequential read and 3,000 MB/s sequential write transfer rates. The same goes for the endurance rating, which is 1,600 TBW for the 8TB model. Considering the large capacity, these ratings are actually fairly low. This is however compensated to an extent by the sheer amount of storage space. Unless you shuffle lots of data around on a regular basis, any 8TB SSD is highly unlikely to wear out before the warranty expires.

Check prices: Amazon, Newegg, Amazon UK

3. Titanium Micro TH3500 8TB

The Titanium Micro TH3500 is another new addition to the 8TB M.2 options. Unlike the competition, the TH3500 uses TLC NAND. However, it does use the Phison E12S controller, which is employed by both the Sabrent Rocket Q and Corsair MP400 drives. Consequently, performance is also similar at 3,400 MB/s and 3,000 MB/s sequential read and write speeds, respectively. The TH3500’s endurance rating is also in the same range at 1,800 TBW.

Check pricesNewegg

External/Portable 4TB SSDs

If you just want lots of really fast storage to go, you actually have quite a few options. Unlike hard drives, solid state drives are not limited by the size of spinning platters, only on how the manufacturers decide to arrange the memory chips and layout of the PCB. Therefore they may vary greatly in size and shape.

What to keep in mind when shopping for an external SSD include the drive’s rated performance and its interface. The best-performing drives use either the USB 3.2 Gen2 or Thunderbolt interfaces. Here are some of the most popular models right now.

Product
Price
Crucial X6 4TB Portable SSD – Up to 800MB/s – USB 3.2 – External Solid State Drive, USB-C - CT4000X6SSD9
Portability
SanDisk 4TB Extreme Portable SSD - Up to 1050MB/s - USB-C, USB 3.2 Gen 2 - External Solid State Drive - SDSSDE61-4T00-G25
Performance
WD_BLACK 4TB P50-Game Drive Portable External Solid State Drive SSD, Compatible with-Playstation-Xbox, PC, & Mac, Up to 2,000 MB/s - WDBA3S0040BBK-WESN
Crucial X6 4TB Portable SSD – Up to 800MB/s – USB 3.2 – External Solid State Drive, USB-C - CT4000X6SSD9
SanDisk 4TB Extreme Portable SSD - Up to 1050MB/s - USB-C, USB 3.2 Gen 2 - External Solid State Drive - SDSSDE61-4T00-G25
WD_BLACK 4TB P50-Game Drive Portable External Solid State Drive SSD, Compatible with-Playstation-Xbox, PC, & Mac, Up to 2,000 MB/s - WDBA3S0040BBK-WESN
Sequential performance (max., MB/s)
800 MB/s
1,050 MB/s
2,000 MB/s
Interface
USB 3.2 Gen2
USB 3.2 Gen2
USB 3.2 Gen2
Average rating
User reviews
4,493 Reviews
43,937 Reviews
20,339 Reviews
Warranty
3 years
5 years
5 years
Price
$458.75
$629.99
$674.99
Price
Product
Crucial X6 4TB Portable SSD – Up to 800MB/s – USB 3.2 – External Solid State Drive, USB-C - CT4000X6SSD9
Crucial X6 4TB Portable SSD – Up to 800MB/s – USB 3.2 – External Solid State Drive, USB-C - CT4000X6SSD9
Sequential performance (max., MB/s)
800 MB/s
Interface
USB 3.2 Gen2
Average rating
User reviews
4,493 Reviews
Warranty
3 years
Price
$458.75
Portability
Product
SanDisk 4TB Extreme Portable SSD - Up to 1050MB/s - USB-C, USB 3.2 Gen 2 - External Solid State Drive - SDSSDE61-4T00-G25
SanDisk 4TB Extreme Portable SSD - Up to 1050MB/s - USB-C, USB 3.2 Gen 2 - External Solid State Drive - SDSSDE61-4T00-G25
Sequential performance (max., MB/s)
1,050 MB/s
Interface
USB 3.2 Gen2
Average rating
User reviews
43,937 Reviews
Warranty
5 years
Price
$629.99
Performance
Product
WD_BLACK 4TB P50-Game Drive Portable External Solid State Drive SSD, Compatible with-Playstation-Xbox, PC, & Mac, Up to 2,000 MB/s - WDBA3S0040BBK-WESN
WD_BLACK 4TB P50-Game Drive Portable External Solid State Drive SSD, Compatible with-Playstation-Xbox, PC, & Mac, Up to 2,000 MB/s - WDBA3S0040BBK-WESN
Sequential performance (max., MB/s)
2,000 MB/s
Interface
USB 3.2 Gen2
Average rating
User reviews
20,339 Reviews
Warranty
5 years
Price
$674.99

Last update on 2021-07-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

There are also a few other high-capacity alternatives on the external SSD market:

Oyen Digital U32 Shadow Dura – This is, unsurprisingly, a close relative to the previously mentioned U32 Shadow from Oyen Digital. The difference is that it comes in a more durable rubber-enclosed case, making it shockproof and somewhat water-resistant. At least according to the manufacturer (we could find no IP-rating though). Check price >>

MiniproV3 ssdOyen Digital SSD MiniPro RAID V3 – The MiniPro RAID is an enclosure that can be purchased separately or equipped with up to two 4TB Samsung 860 EVO SSDs. A total of 8 GB of fast storage space should be enough for most use cases. For the same reason, it’s much larger than most portable drives and requires external power. As the name implies, you can set up your drives in RAID for striping (performance) or mirroring (backup). There’s also a Dura version of this drive/enclosure. Check price >>

istorageiStorage diskAshur PRO2 – If you value security higher than any other aspect, then – and only then – this might be the drive for you. It comes with a code lock and all the military-grade security certifications you can imagine. You also get AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption. Performance is not nearly as impressive at 148 MB/s (read) and 140 MB/s (write). Check price >>

BUSLink driveBUSlink Disk-On-The-Go External Slim Portable – BUSlink offers external SSDs in sizes all the way up to 7.68 GB. In other words, they likely use enterprise SSDs from Samsung or Micron inside. The drive uses the USB 3.1 Gen2 interface, offering up to 10 Gbps of bandwidth. Unfortunately, BUSlink doesn’t provide any more detailed performance data. Check price >>

owc express 4m2OWC Express 4M2 NVMe – OWC’s 4M2 is a configurable cabinet with the capacity to house up to 16TB of ultra-fast SSD storage space using four internal slots. Thanks to its Thunderbolt 3 interface, it reaches transfer rates of up to 2800MB/s. Interestingly, it’s also equipped with a DisplayPort output. Check price >>

Memory Types and Endurance Ratings

As you may have noticed from the specs, the main differentiator in the different 2.5″ SATA price brackets is not so much performance as it is endurance measured in terabytes written (TBW). For the vast majority of users, this is not a major concern, since none of the drives listed above are likely to wear out before all other parts of the computer are on the scrap heap.

Comparison of different NAND memory types

More recent NAND allows for storing additional bits per cell, with the drawbacks of reduced endurance and performance.

What mainly affects the endurance rating is the type of NAND memory chips use. These are exemplified in Samsung’s 2.5″ lineup by:

  • the 860 QVO, which uses quad-level cell (QLC) NAND chips
  • the 860 EVO uses triple-level cell (TLC) NAND, and finally
  • the 860 PRO, which is one of the increasingly rare SSDs that still use multi-level cell (MLC) NAND.

MLC memory is the oldest NAND generation, but still the superior technology in terms of performance and endurance. MLC has been mostly replaced by the newer and denser TLC type, which is somewhat slower and less durable. The most modern and least durable type today is QLC.

Additional bits in every cell increase the number of charge states in each transistor. This makes them more prone to voltage drift and other issues that need to be corrected, which is a reason why high-density NAND doesn’t perform as well.

Of course, the newer memory types are not without advantages. The main one is that the higher densities allow for lower production costs. And as for performance, the difference is quite small as long as you are on the bandwidth-limited SATA bus. Compared to other technologies, modern QLC SATA drives offer an attractive price/performance calculation, unless you plan on putting the drive through extremely heavy use.

Summary

If money is no object, or you happen to run a data center, it’s possible to buy SSDs in much greater capacities than 8TB, such as Samsung’s 30.72 TB PM1643. Enterprise drives are only limited by what businesses are willing to pay – which is normally a lot more than the average consumer. Prohibitive pricing is what holds back high-capacity drives in the consumer space today.

NAND memory

Evolution of NAND Flash memory.

The good news is that SSD prices have dropped at a steady pace, partly thanks to smaller production processes (in nanometers), but mostly thanks to additional bits per cell. However, the cost per GB is obviously still high compared to mechanical hard drives. For most PC builders today, the most cost-effective solution is still to combine a lower-capacity SSD with a slow conventional hard drive for backups and other files that are not frequently accessed.

On the other hand, some categories of users can definitely take advantage of large amounts of fast storage space, which is an advantage for everyone working with large files. Photo-, video- and audio editing come to mind.

The options are still somewhat limited, but it is 100% certain that we’ll see more high-capacity SSDs in the future. And hopefully at reasonable prices, thanks to the proliferation of QLC NAND and more efficient production processes.

As a PC gaming enthusiast since the 3dfx Voodoo era, Jesper has had time to experiment with a fair few FPS-improving PC parts over the years. His job at GPCB is to test and evaluate hardware, mainly focusing on GPUs and storage devices.

7 Comments
  1. VectoTech Rapid take apart disassemble would be great to see internal SSD. Is it Micron?

    On the other hand, your information is outdated:
    VectoTech Rapid 2TB External SSD USB-C Portable Solid State Drive (USB 3.1 Gen 2)
    https://www.amazon.com/VectoTech-Rapid-External-Portable-Solid/dp/B01JKMZ6L6

    Check out the pictures with USB C connector and cables. Albeit the speed is outdated. Amazing!

    • Thanks for the info, will uppdate asap. I have yet to see a full review of the vectotech. But Micron or Toshiba NAND would be the most likely.

  2. More with updated speed information:

    VectoTech Rapid 4TB External SSD USB-C Portable Solid State Drive (USB 3.1 Gen 2)
    Super fast Read/Write speeds up to 540Mb/s
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NC1RI61

  3. Thanks. Please, note that the article text still states:
    “The VectoTech Rapid is bound by the limits of the USB 3.0 (or USB 3.1 Gen1) interface and it’s, therefore, slower than its competitors”.

    On the other hand:
    Brand new higher-capacity internal SSD (4 TB & 8 TB) from Micron will allow higher-capacity external portable SSD
    https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/brand-new-higher-capacity-internal-ssd-4-tb-8-tb-from-micron-will-allow-higher-capacity-external-portable-ssd.2208536

  4. You forgot the OWC Express 4M2 NVMe, which offers true Thunderbolt 3 performance. You can bolt in four Sabrent 1TB Rocket NVMe PCIe M.2 SSDs and get a 4TB external drive with 2,883 MB/s read speeds for about $900. ?

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