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SanDisk Extreme solid-state drive review: SanDisk Extreme solid-state drive

SanDisk Extreme solid-state drive

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
5 min read

There isn't anything extreme about the SanDisk Extreme SSD. It is, rather, a standard 2.5-inch, 9.5mm-thick solid-state drive that supports SATA 3 (6Gbps). And this is a good thing since the drive can be used in any computer that currently uses a SATA hard drive.


SanDisk Extreme solid-state drive

The Good

The 2.5-inch SATA 3-based <b>SanDisk Extreme</b> solid-state drive offers great performance and is affordable.

The Bad

The SanDisk Extreme SSD doesn't come with accessories to help it fit in a desktop computer's 3.5-inch hard-drive bay, though it can be used in one.

The Bottom Line

With very good performance and even better pricing, the SanDisk Extreme makes a great replacement drive for a standard laptop or desktop computer.

Like most SSDs I've reviewed, the SanDisk offers a great speed boost over a regular hard drive, especially in terms of boot, wakeup, and shutdown times and application performance. Where the SanDisk Extreme holds more appeal than its peers is the pricing: at just around $1.30 per gigabyte, it's one of the most, if not the most, affordable SATA 3-based SSDs on the market.

In short, if you have a computer that's currently using a hard drive as the boot drive, the SanDisk Extreme will make an excellent replacement. If your computer is already using an SSD, though, there's no need to switch to this one.

Design and features

Drive type Internal drive
Connector options SATA 3 (6Gbps), SATA 2, SATA
Available capacities 120GB, 240GB, 480GB
Product dimensions 9.5-mm thick, 2.5-inch standard
Capacity of test unit 240GB
OSes supported Windows, Mac, Linux

Like the SanDisk Ultra, which was released in August 2011, the new SanDisk Extreme has an aluminum chassis, making it look very good and feel sturdy.

As a 9.5mm, 2.5-inch drive, the SanDisk Extreme can be used in any standard laptop or desktop computer. Unlike the recently reviewed Intel 520 Series, the SanDisk is too large to fit in ultrabooks designed to use 7mm 2.5-inch drives. This is not a big deal, however, since most ultrabooks already come with an SSD inside.

What is slightly a big deal is the fact that the SanDisk doesn't come with an adapter bracket to make it fit inside a desktop computer. However, since SSDs have no moving parts and a desktop is generally stationary, in most cases, you can get away with having the drive hanging inside the computer's chassis.

In my trials, the SanDisk Extreme worked with SATA 3 (6Gbps), SATA 2 (3Gbps), and SATA (1.5Gbps). To see its top performance, you want to use it with a computer that supports SATA 3, but regardless of what version it was used with, the drive helped improve the computer's performance a great deal when used as the main boot drive.

The SanDisk Extreme is powered by the popular SandForce SF-2281 controller, which has integrated DuraClass technology. According to SanDisk, the technology offers high performance, security, power efficiency, and endurance with a mean time between failures (MTBF) of 2 million hours. Basically, the SanDisk Extreme promises a good combination of performance and reliability.

Cost per gigabyte
The SanDisk comes in 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB capacities, with street prices of $180, $318, and $799. These translate into about $1.33 per gigabyte for the first two and $1.66 per gigabyte for the 480GB version. These are currently the best prices on the market for SATA 3-based SSDs. Compared with regular hard drives, however, like any SSD, the SanDisk Extreme is still very expensive. Note that SSD prices have been fluctuating a great deal since the beginning of the year, so if you wait a bit, chances are prices will drop below the ones listed here.

Cost per GB
Cost per GB  

The SanDisk Extreme cut the test bed's boot time down to just 11 seconds, which is the among the fastest on our comparison charts. The machine's overall performance was also greatly improved, so that one can easily feel it. All applications opened almost instantly and resource-intensive games, such as StarCraft 2 and World of Warcraft, loaded in a matter of seconds.

The drive also did well, though not the best in our comparison, at file transferring, which shows the sequential write and read performance of the drive. When used as a secondary drive, where the SanDisk could show its top performance since it only performed the writing, it scored 234.15MBps, slightly faster than the Intel 520 Series, but noticeably slower than other top drives that offer around 260MBps.

When used as the boot drive hosting the operating system and performing both writing and reading at the same time, the SanDisk's data transfer rate dropped to 117.66MBps, again a little above average on the chart.

Note that while the SanDisk was faster than some and slower than others, for most people SSDs of the same SATA standard generally offer essentially the same performance. That's because they are all so much faster than regular hard drives that the differences between them are almost undetectable to normal users. In fact, I'd recommend against testing your own SSD since that would use up program cycles unnecessarily, reducing its life span.

Internal drive boot and shutdown speeds (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Boot time  
SanDisk Extreme
OCZ Octane
Patriot Pyro
SanDisk Ultra
Crucial M4
OCZ Vertex 3
OCZ Agility 3
WD VelociRaptor 300GB

Data transfer speeds (in MBps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
As secondary drive  
As OS drive  
Samsung 830 Series
Plextor PX-256M2S
OCZ Vertex 3
Crucial M4
Sandisk Extreme
Intel 520 Series
OCZ Agility 3
Patriot Pyro
RunCore Pro V Max
OCZ Octane
WD VelociRaptor 600GB
Seagate Barracuda XT
WD VelociRaptor 300GB
SanDisk Ultra

Service and support
SanDisk backs the Extreme SSD with a three-year warranty, which is both decent and standard for most SSDs, though not as generous as the five-year warranty of the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G. On SanDisk's Web site, there's a support page dedicated to the drive where you can find more information about how to use it as well as more information on the warranty.

Competitively priced, the SanDisk Extreme would make a great replacement for any laptop or desktop hard drive.


SanDisk Extreme solid-state drive

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 7Support 8