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SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD review: Top performance backed by longest warranty

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The SanDisk Extreme Pro offers the top performance among standard solid-state drives (SSDs) on the market. And if that's not enticing enough, it's also the first that includes a 10-year warranty.

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SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD

The Good

The SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD has top performance and the longest warranty to date. It's priced competitively too.

The Bad

The drive doesn't support self-encryption.

The Bottom Line

Power users and gamers should look no further than the SanDisk Extreme Pro to get the best performance out of their home computer.

If you've been holding off on getting an SSD for your computer, this is the drive you've been waiting for. Even if you've already been using another SSD for a few years, the new Extreme Pro will be a considerable upgrade. It's totally worth the suggested friendly pricing of $189 (£140, AU$279) for 240GB, $369 (£254, AU$499) for 480GB, and $599 (£450, AU$799) for 960GB. As with all SSDs, the street price is expected to get even lower later this year.

If your computer doesn't support SATA 3 (6Gbps), or if you just want something more affordable, check out this list of top SSDs on the market for alternatives.

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The new Extreme Pro SSD from SanDisk is available in 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB capacities. Dong Ngo/CNET

Familiar standard design

The new Extreme Pro looks very similar to previous generations, namely the Extreme II and the Extreme . It's a standard 2.5-inch internal drive that's 7mm thick and supports SATA 3 (6Gbps) interface. The drive works in any application where a standard SATA hard drive is being used. Note that most new computers support SATA 3.

Out of the box, the drive comes with a piece of spacer that adds another 2.5mm to its thickness. This allows it to fit in snugly in a drive bay designed for a standard laptop hard drive, which is 9.5mm thick. It's not exactly in the box, but Windows users can also download SanDisk's Dashboard software, which offers real-time diagnostics, firmware updates and other support information.

Overall, just by looking, the Extreme Pro is very similar to most SSDs on the market. On the inside, however, it's quite new.

SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD specs

Capacities 240GB 480GB 960GB
Design 2.5-inch (7mm)2.5-inch (7mm)2.5-inch (7mm)
Interface SATA3, SATA2, SATASATA3, SATA2, SATASATA3, SATA2, SATA
Sequential read 550 MB/s 550 MB/s 550 MB/s
Sequential write 520 MB/s 515 MB/s 515 MB/s
Random read 100K IOPS 100K IOPS100K IOPS
Random write 90K IOPS 90K IOPS 90K IOPS
Power usage (idle) 5.5mW19mW19mW
Power usage (read | write) 2.7W | 2.6W2.7W | 3.5W2.9W | 3.6W
Endurance (terabyte written) >80TB>80TB>80TB
Suggested retail price $189, £140, AU$279$369, £270, AU$499$599, £450, AU$799
Warranty 10-year10-year10-year

New nCache Pro Technology

Sharing the same Marvell 88SS9187 controller with the Extreme II, the Extreme Pro, however, uses SanDisk's homegrown second-generation 64-gigabit 19nm MLC NAND flash memory as its storage. On top of that, the drive is the first that features nCache Pro Technology, which is designed to optimize read and write speeds and drive endurance. The technology also offers better protection for the data stored on the drive.

SanDisk says the technology also promises to deliver consistent performance even when multitasking, with low latency, over a long period of time, and with low energy consumption. In my testing, the performance proved this to be the case.

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On the outside, the new drive looks very similar to previous models. Dong Ngo/CNET

High endurance, consistent performance

Like all SSDs, the Extreme Pro has limited program/erase cycles (known as endurance), meaning you can only write so much data to it before the drive becomes unreliable. (Read more about SSD endurance here.) However, the Extreme Pro has an extremely high endurance of more than 80TB. In other words, if you write 20GB to the drive per day every day, it'd take more than 11 years for the drive to run out of P/E cycles. Most of us write much less than 20GB per day to our computer's internal drive per day and definitely not everyday.

While the high-endurance claim is generally hard to verify, SanDisk backs the Extreme Pro with a 10-year warranty. For the first time, you can have the peace of mind that your SSD will last longer than any other parts of the computer.

SanDisk says the new drive is designed for gamers and professionals who need to do a lot of data- and graphics-intensive tasks, such as movie editing, 3D gaming, or Auto CAD 3D designing. Also, the drive offers consistent performance after being used for a long time. It's hard to verify right now how consistent the drive works after a few years of usage, but I can say that its performance is indeed very impressive.

Note that the drive doesn't support self-encryption, which makes it unsuitable for business users. This is quite normal for SSDs designed for home users, however.

Competitive pricing

With the suggested pricing, the Extreme Pro is not the most affordable SSD on the market. However, with the average US cost per gigabyte ranging from 62 cents to 76 cents, depending on the capacity, it's not the most expensive either. Also note that the costs mentioned here are the suggested price, and the street price tends to be lower the longer the product is on the market. That said, even with the suggested price, the Extreme Pro is still an SSD of tremendous value, considering its great performance and top-notch warranty time.

SSD US street price

WD Black 2 Dual Drive $0.18Samsung 840 Evo (500GB) $0.53SanDisk Extreme II (480GB) $0.54Vector 150 (480GB) $0.54Plextor M6S (256GB) $0.57SanDisk Extreme II (240GB) $0.60SanDisk Extreme Pro (960GB) $0.62Seagate 600 (480GB) $0.69Plextor M6S (512GB) $0.73Samsung 840 Pro (512GB) $0.75SanDisk Extreme Pro (480GB) $0.77Samsung 840 Pro (256GB) $0.78SanDisk Extreme Pro (240GB) $0.79Intel SSD 730 (240GB) $0.92
Notes: Measured in cost per gigabyte based on current price on Amazon.com. MSRP used for reviewed product. The lower number indicates better value.

Top performance

In my testing, the Extreme Pro blew me away with its performance. I tested the drive both as a secondary drive in a computer as well as the main drive that hosted the operating system. In both cases it was the fastest I've seen.

As a secondary drive, it registered the sustained real-world data transferring speed of 450MBps for writing and 457MBps for reading. When used as a main drive and performing both writing and reading at the same time, it still scored 251MBps. By a large margin, it's the fastest among all high-end standard SSDs I've reviewed.

CNET Labs' SSD data transfer scores

SanDisk Extreme Pro 250.98 450.59 457.46Seagate 600 SSD 192.26 259.01 275.21Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme 236.18 269.78 270.8Transcend SSD720 145.26 230.58 269.55Intel SSD 730 Series 189.52 265.53 266.84WD Black 2 Dual Drive 174.65 114.66 228.2Plextor M6S 155.34 144.78 227.89SanDisk Extreme II 224.27 255.86 203.42OCZ Vector 150 231.42 265.32 200.46
  • As OS drive (read and write)
  • As secondary drive (write only)
  • As secondary drive (read only)
Notes: Measured in megabytes per second.

In tests using the PC Mark benchmark suite, the drive also scored the highest compared with other SSDs.

PC Mark 8 SSD Storage Score

SanDisk Extreme Pro 4,957Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme 4,948OCZ Vector 150 4,948SanDisk Extreme II 4,938Seagate 600 SSD 4,896WD Black 2 Dual Drive 4,869Intel SSD 730 Series 4,868Plextor M6S 4,810Transcend SSD720 4,779
Notes: Higher number means better performance.

While it's hard to put this in numbers, the overall performance of the testing machine improved a great deal when the Extreme Pro was used as the main storage device. For the first time, I was able to notice the difference even when compared with other SSDs. If you switch to the Extreme Pro from a regular hard drive, you'll shocked by how much faster your computer boots up alone.

Note that you need to use the Extreme Pro in a computer that supports SATA 3 (6Gbps) to be able to fully appreciate its performance. With computers that support SATA 2 (3Gbps), the Extreme Pro will likely not show any difference compared with other SSDs on the market.

Conclusion

The SanDisk Extreme Pro is a big evolution in standard internal drives, and proves that SATA-based SSDs will still be on the market for a while longer before being replaced by the PCIe standard, which is currently used in recent systems such as the MacBook Pro or Mac Pro .

If you're looking to improve the performance of your home computer, be it a laptop or a desktop, the Extreme Pro is an easy recommendation thanks to its top-notch speed, friendly pricing, and unprecedented length of warranty.

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SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 8Performance 9.5Support 10