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Silicon Power Armor A60 review: A tough and fast portable drive for a friendly price

If your computer has USB 3.0 and you work in a harsh environment, the Silicon Power Armor A60 is an excellent portable storage device to carry with you.

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Dong Ngo
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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.

4 min read

With a sustained speed of more than 110MBps, the USB 3.0 Silicon Power Armor A60 is faster than most portable hard drives on the market. That, plus the fact it's also rugged and water-resistant, makes the drive an excellent buy.

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8.0

Silicon Power Armor A60

The Good

The Silicon Power Armor A60 portable drive is fast and affordable. The drive can also withstand drops and dust and is water-resistant.

The Bad

The drive doesn't use a traditional Micro-USB 3.0 cable, it includes no backup software and is slightly bulkier than its peers.

The Bottom Line

The Silicon Power Armor A60 is a great deal for those needing a portable drive that can withstand rough handling and tough environments.

Yet, the drive isn't perfect, due to its comparatively bulky design and especially the use of an A-to-A USB cable (instead of the popular A-to-B standard cable.) But if you work in a harsh environment, the drive's friendly price of $70 (£63) for 1TB or $105 (£104) for 2TB more than makes up for these minor shortcomings.

For even more options for portable drives, check out this list of top desktop external hard drives on the market.

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The Armor A60 has a cable management design that helps keep the included USB cable with the drive. Josh Miller/CNET

Design

Measuring 5.5 inches by 0.9 inch by 3.4 inches (14 x 2.3 x 8.6 cm) the Armor A60 is slightly larger than a typical portable bus-powered drive, but for a good reason. It has a layer of protection.

Similar to the LaCie Rugged drive, the A60's edges are covered with a soft rubber shell to protect it from drops and there's a lid that keep its USB port safe from moisture and dust. Silicon Power says the drive meets the US military MIL-STD-810G standard in terms of ruggedness and is compliant with the IPX4 splash-resistant specification. Basically it's designed to survived harsh conditions and can keep the data safe from water splashes from all angles for at least five minutes. Note that the drive is not waterproof. You can't submerge it in water for a long period of time, but it should survive if you leave it out in the rain.

The A60 has a nifty way to store its included USB cable. Around the edges, there's a groove that holds the cable when not in use. Unfortunately, the cable is a bit longer than the groove, so its ends stick out a bit.

Drive type Bus-powered portable hard drive
Connector options USB 3.0, USB 2.0
Available capacities 1TB, 2TB
Capacity of test unit 1TB
Dimensions (LWH) 5.5 x 0.9 x 3.4 inches (14 x 2.3 x 8.6 cm)
Weight 9 ounces (255 grams)
OSes supported Windows XP or later, Mac OS 10.4 or later
Warranty 3 years

Like the case of the Armor A80, the Armor A60 uses a male-A-to-male-A USB 3.0 cable. The majority of USB devices on the market use a standard male-A-to-male-B USB cable. ( Read more about USB standards and cables here.) The good thing about using this type of cable is you won't need to figure which end goes to the host computer and which end goes to the drive, since they are both the same. However, if you misplace this cable, it's going to be hard to find another one readily available. So far, Silicon Power is the only storage vendor I've seen that uses this type of cable for its portable drives.

To work with the cable, the A60 has one USB 3.0 A-female port -- similar to a USB 3.0 port found on a computer. (Most other portable drives have a B-female port to work with a standard USB cable.)

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The drive uses an A-to-A USB 3.0 cable (bottom - included) instead of the traditional A-to-B cable (top - not included.) Josh Miller/CNET

Setup

You don't need to set up the A60 at all. The drive is preformatted using the FAT32 file system. This means it will work right away with both Windows and Mac computers. Note, however, FAT32 can't store large files. For files 4TB or larger, you'll need to reformat the drive into NTFS (Windows), NFS+ (Mac) or exFAT (both).

The A60 comes with no software. It's preloaded with just a registration shortcut that activates the three-year warranty.

The A60 is bus-powered, so all you need is the included USB cable for it to work. There's no need for separate power adapter. The drives works best with USB 3.0 but will also work with USB 2.0 ports.

Performance

The A60 did well as a portable drive. In my testing, it registered a sustained real-world copy speed of 104MBps for writing and 114MBps for reading, slightly faster than the average speed of portable drives of its type.

CNET Labs' USB 3.0 external drive performance

Seagate Backup Plus FAST (RAID 0) 222.5 232.74Brinell Drive SSD 156.4 220.2WD My Book Duo (RAID 0) 116.7 210.96Seagate Backup Plus Desktop 150.9 180.45WD My Book Duo (RAID 1) 110.3 149.89Toshiba Canvio Slim II 118.8 118.49WD My Passport Ultra 118.5 117.87Silicon Power Armor A60 104.3 114.48Seagate Slim 110.4 111.49LaCie Christofle Sphere 105.5 111.43ioSafe SoloPro G3 109.1 110.8Seagate Backup Plus 90.94 110.1WD My Password Slim 107.7 107.89
  • Write
  • Read
Note: Measured in megabytes per second

I also tried with USB 2.0 and got 29MBps for writing and 35MBps for reading, which were about as fast as most USB 2.0 drives.

As for its durability, I tried dropping the drive from waist-level a few times and it survived intact. When the USB port's lid was closed, the drive also survived a few drops in a kitchen sink full of water. As long as I pulled it out right away, everything was fine.

Conclusion

The A60 is basically the more affordable version of the LaCie Rugged drive, minus the support for Thunderbolt. That said, it's a great deal for those needing a tough storage device that can deal with rough handling and harsh environments. My main concern is the use of the nontraditional USB cable, which can be problematic if the included cable gets lost. But that's a small price to pay considering how well the drive performs. By the same token, if you don't care about the ruggedness or the water-resistance feature, there are many other drives, such as the Seagate Backup Plus Slim, or the WD My Passport Ultra, that include backup software and will work better for your needs.

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8.0

Silicon Power Armor A60

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 8Performance 8Support 8
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