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Brinell Drive SSD review: Impressive performance from a drive as expensive as it feels

Looking for a fast portable drive to wow onlookers? The Brinell Drive SSD is what you've been saving for.

Dong Ngo SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews
CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.
Dong Ngo
3 min read

Don't laugh, but looks alone are enough reason to buy the Brinell Drive SSD.


Brinell Drive SSD

The Good

The sleek Brinell Drive SSD is made of premium materials and delivers very fast performance. The drive is thin, light, easy to use, and bundled with helpful software.

The Bad

The drive's write performance, though fast, is slower than other SSD-based portable drives. It's very expensive and comes with a short two-year warranty.

The Bottom Line

If style is as important as performance to you, the Drive SSD is the portable drive you've been saving for.

Hailing from Germany, the drive brings style and, dare I say, sex appeal to a product line that normally doesn't rely on its looks for success. It is expensive, but its build is as premium as its price. It also packs a punch by housing a Samsung 840 Evo solid-state drive, one of the best SSDs on the market.

Performance is impressive, as well, even it it falls a little short in write performance, where it's slower than some other SSD-based portable drives I've reviewed. But all things considered, at some €500 (about $682, £406, or AU$730) for 500GB (you can also find 120GB, 250GB, and 1TB capacities) the drive is still a good choice for those wanting a fast and reliable portable drive that can also wow onlookers. It would also make a great gift.

For a more down-to-earth and budget-friendlier external drive, check out this list of top portable drives on the market.

The Brinell Drive SSD comes with a leather carrying case, a wiping cloth and a package of jewelry polising tissue. Dong Ngo/CNET

Made to impress

The Drive SSD comes in a special box that include a leather carrying case, a wiping piece of cloth, and a small package of jewelry polishing tissue. The chassis of the drive is made of expensive materials. The reviewed unit has a stainless steel frame running around the sides, and black carbon on top and bottom. You can find different versions of varying but equally exquisite materials, such as premium-quality leather or brushed stainless steel. The drive feels very nice on the hand and is very sturdy.

Brinell Drive SSD specs

Drive type 2.5-inch SSD-based portable drive
Connector options USB 3.0, USB 2.0
Available capacities 120GB, 250GB, 500GB, 1TB
Product dimensions 4.5 x 3.4 x 0.4 inches (114.3 x 86.36 x 10.16 mm)
Weight 4.2 ounces (119g)
Capacity of test unit 500GB
Software included PureSync (backup) and TrueCrypt (encryption)
OSes supported Windows (XP or later), Mac OS X (10.6 or later)
Warranty 2 years

The included cleaning accessories are a little unnecessary because the drive's surface doesn't attract fingerprints, even though it's shiny. It can also be cleaned very easily. If there's dust on it, you can just blow it away.

Simple to use, helpful software bundle

The Drive SSD has one Micro-USB 3.0 port on its side, it also comes included with one standard USB cable which is the only thing you need to make it work. The drive is bus-powered and preformatted in NTFS (for Windows) and works immediately when plugged in. You can also reformat it in HFS+ if you want to use it with a Mac.

The included PureSync backup software is very effective and easy to use. Dong Ngo/CNET

The Drive SSD is preloaded with PureSync Personal Edition backup software (Windows only) and TrueCrypt (for Windows and Mac) for drive encryption. PureSync worked very well in my trial and allows for general file/folder backup as well as automatic syncing of a folder. The software automatically detects when the Drive SSD is connected and begins the sync/backup.

The included version of TrueCrypt, however, is in German and so I couldn't try it out. Supposedly you can change the interface to other languages but the installer itself, as well as the included PDF manual, are in German.

Fast, though not the fastest

The Drive SSD is one of the fastest portable drives on the market. However, for a drive that houses an SSD on the inside, it wasn't as fast as I expected. In my testing with USB 3.0, it scored sustained real-world copy speeds of 220MBps for reading, which was the second-fastest SSD.

In writing, it registered only 156MBps, but was still in the top three. It's worth noting that it was decidedly slower than the other SSD-based drive, the Elgato Thunderbolt Drive +. Over USB 3.0, the Elgato scored 243MBps and 290MBps for writing and reading, respectively.

CNET Labs' USB 3.0 external drive performance

Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+ 242.9 289.53Seagate Backup Plus Fast 222.5 232.74Brinell Drive SSD 156.4 220.2Toshiba Canvio Slim II 118.8 118.49WD My Passport Ultra 118.5 117.87Silicon Power Armor A15 113.0 112.09Seagate Slim 110.4 111.49WD My Password Slim 107.7 107.89LaCie Christofle Sphere 105.5 111.43Canvio Connect 97.4 97.1LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt 92.29 112.23Seagate Backup Plus 90.94 110.1
  • Write
  • Read
Note: Measured in megabytes per second

Nonetheless, the Drive SSD is still very fast for a portable drive and you have multiple reasons to be happy with its performance. The drive also works with USB 2.0 at around 30MBps.

The drive worked well in my testing and remained cool even during heavy operation, and made no noise at all.


The Brinell Drive SSD costs almost twice the price of the Samsung 840 Evo SSD it houses inside. This means, as far as a portable drive is concerned, you're be better off financially getting a Samsung SSD and a USB 3.0 enclosure. However, you won't have the exquisite look and feel the Brinell has to offer.

If you value style as much as you do performance, the Brinell will make it worth your while. That said, the most disappointing thing about the drive is actually the short two-year warranty. For a drive of this premium, I'd expect a full five-year, if not more.


Brinell Drive SSD

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8Support 5