Silicon Power Armor A15 review: Superfast portable storage for rough environments

Like the Armor A80, the new Armor A15 is designed to meet the US MIL-STD-810F ruggedness standard. This means it has enough protection to survive drops from up to 4 feet during transit on a hard surface. Note that US MIL-STD-810F is a rather low grade of ruggedness; the Armor A15 is not supposed to survive heavy abuse, like the Rugged Portable from ioSafe is.

As far as setting up the Armor A15, there's nothing to it. Out of the box, it's reformatted in FAT32, meaning it will work immediately when plugged into a Windows or Mac computer. FAT32, however, doesn't allow storage of files that are larger than 4GB each. If you want to carry large files, such as HD movies, you will need to reformat the drive into either NTFS or HFS+, but then the drive will work with only Windows or Mac, respectively. The formatting is a very simple task and took just a few second in my trial.

Despite the fancy look, the SP Widget software is useless.
Despite the fancy look, the SP Widget software is useless. Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET
Performance
As with the Armor A80, I tested the Armor A15 both with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, and it did very well in both.

With USB 3.0 the drive registered 113MBps and 112MBps for writing and reading, respectively, topping the charts. When used with USB 2.0, the drive's speed was about average for USB 2.0-based portable drives, scoring 26MBps and 33MBps for writing and reading, respectively, slightly below the average.

The drive worked well during my testing and remained cool and quiet the whole time.

CNET Labs external hard drive USB 3.0 performance scores (in MB per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read  
Write  
Silicon Power Armor A15
112.09 
113 
IoSafe Solo G3
110.98 
109.1 
Seagate Backup Plus
110.1 
90.9 
Lexar JumpDrive Triton
112.19 
90.8 
Toshiba Canvio Desk
103.74 
88.9 
Silicon Power Armor A80
102.7 
87.8 
LaCie Minimus USB 3.0
104.9 
87.7 
Clickfree C6
103.4 
87.7 
LaCie FastKey
115.5 
87.1 
G-Drive Slim
100.3 
86.7 
Hitachi Touro Mobile Pro
103.5 
86.2 
WD My Passport Edge
97.68 
82.6 
Seagate GoFlex Slim
101.9 
82.4 
HP Portable Hard Drive
83.65 
69.4 
LaCie RuggedKey
116.82 
41.7 

CNET Labs external hard drive USB 2.0 performance scores (in MB per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read  
Write  
G-Technology G-Connect
31.3 
30.9 
LaCie FastKey
36.6 
28.8 
Lexar JumpDrive Triton
33.13 
28.8 
Seagate Backup Plus
33 
28.74 
LaCie Minimus USB 3.0
36.5 
28.7 
Clickfree C6
33.1 
28.7 
Seagate GoFlex Slim
37.3 
27.7 
LaCie Rugged Key
35.22 
26.6 
Silicon Power Armor A15
32.64 
26.4 
Toshiba Canvio Desk
32.71 
25.8 
G-Drive Slim
32.74 
25.6 
WD My Passport Edge
32.69 
25.1 

Conclusion
Though it doesn't quite live up to Silicon Power's goal of being a rugged portable backup solution, the Armor A15's superfast speed and affordable pricing are enough to make it an excellent buy.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Silicon Power Armor A15 (1TB)

Part Number: SP010TBPHDA15S3K
Low Price: $76.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Form Factor 2.5"
  • Hard Drive Type external hard drive
  • Capacity 1 TB