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Glyph Atom SSD review: The best portable drive for your new Mac notebook

You can use Glyph's Atom SSD with any type of computer -- and it's the perfect companion for a new MacBook Pro.

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Dong Ngo
Dong_Ngo.jpg
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.

2 min read

Editors' note: The Glyph Atom RAID SSD and the Atom SSD are very similar, so their reviews are similar.

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The Good

The Atom SSD is superfast and supports USB-C. The drive is compact, light and rugged and includes cables for both new and old computers.

The Bad

Unlike other drives from Glyph, it doesn't include data recovery in the warranty.

The Bottom Line

For power users, this is the best portable drive to date.
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The Atom SSD (right) next to the Atom RAID SSD.

Josh Miller/CNET

If you own a 12-inch MacBook or one of the new MacBook Pros, the Atom solid-state drive from Glyph has everything you'd want in a portable drive.

First, it's superfast. It uses USB 3.1 Gen 2 and its real-world read speeds averaged about 420MBps and 270MBps for writing and reading, respectively, making it one of the fastest non-RAID portable drives. (The Atom RAID SSD, which uses RAID-0, scored 675MBps and 460MBps, respectively.) Its hard aluminum casing and removable rubber protective case mean it'll survive a 6-foot drop onto a carpet floor (something I actually tested) and still work fine. And it's a USB-C drive that includes both a USB-C cable and a USB-C-to-USB-A cable. This means it will work with any computer with any USB port permutation.

CNET Labs USB 3.0/3.1 performance

Glyph Atom RAID SSD 674.8 459.89Glyph Atom SSD 421.4 269.45SanDisk Extreme 9000 Portable SSDD 312.6 259.53Samsung Portable SSD T3 311.1 240.91LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt All-Terrain 155.7 227.43G-Drive Mobile USB-C (USB 3.1) 109.9 125.75WD My Passport (Fall 2016) 103.4 108.56
  • Write
  • Read
Note: Measured in megabytes per second. Longer bars mean better performance.

The Atom SSD is available in 275GB, 525GB and 1TB capacities for $150, $250 and $440, respectively. That's not cheap, but it's actually a better deal than the $400 1TB Samsung T3, which is about 25 percent slower and not as durable. Also, the Atom can be found in gold, silver, gray and black to match the color of your MacBook. The T3 comes in only one color. Note that SSD prices always fall soon after release, so it's likely the Atom will be an even better deal in a few months.

On the inside, the Atom SSD houses an M.2 version of the Crucial MX300 SSD, the first drive from Crucial that uses 3D flash memory to strike a balance between costs, capacity and performance. Out of the box, the drive is formatted in HFS+ so it works right away with a Mac. For Windows, you will need to first reformat it into NTFS. Or you can reformat it into exFAT if you want to use it with both platforms. The drive doesn't include any software, but you fortunately won't need any. Time Machine (Mac) and File History (Windows 10) both work fine as backup tools. The Atom includes a standard three-year warranty against hardware defects, but nothing for data recovery.

Should I get it?

If you need a great-looking, compact, superfast and versatile portable drive, the Atom SSD is the best you can find for now. For Mac users, it's also one of a few that's ready to work right away with your new MacBook Pro without a dongle. For Windows users, however, there are generally more options. So if you can live with significantly slower performances and bulkier designs, a regular drive like the WD My Passport or the Seagate Backup Plus will give you a lot more storage for your money.

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8.3

Glyph Atom SSD

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 8Performance 9Support 7
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