Plugable Thunderbolt 3 NVMe External SSD Review: Extreme Speed, Lower Price

If you're after Thunderbolt 3 speed without paying top dollar, this drive delivers.

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Many content creators need the fastest and most spacious media available to improve their workflow. Those in the know opt for Thunderbolt 3 storage as it enables blazing-fast portable performance. For those who are still waiting on their data to transfer on a regular basis, it’s time for an upgrade.

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Plugable’s TB3 NVMe external SSD has been out for quite some time and with the release of the new 1TB and 2TB models, it's an excellent choice for speedy Thunderbolt 3 performance on a budget. It a decent warranty and endurance rating buts, there are some compromises.

While convenient at times, I often found myself wanting a longer cable while using the device. This is a big con for me, for a couple reasons. Down the road when the connector and / or cable wears out, there is no easy way to replace it. It’s also very short compared to other TB3 drives, which have easily replaceable 18-inch detachable cables.

During testing, we were able to extract peak performance numbers of 2.8/2.3 GBps read/write out of the Plugable TB3 NVMe external SSD. But the write performance is short-lived. Performance also isn't quite as consistent on this TB3 SSD as it is on some competing drives. Still, 975 MBps direct-to-TLC speed is much faster than we saw out of many other cheaper SSDs. Plus, the Plugable drive stays fairly cool during normal transfers, even under multiple reads and writes at once.

Price helps to compensate for these annoyances.  At $299.99 at 1TB and $499.99 at 2TB, Plugable’s TB3 NVMe external SSD is one of the best-priced Thunderbolt 3 externals on the market. It is priced comparable to noticeably slower USB-C type products, but offers a heck of a lot more performance. If you're looking for a drive of the Thunderbolt 3 flavor for your next upgrade, but have been put off by the pricing of drives from more familiar brands like Samsung and G-Technology, this drive from Plugable's should be on your very short list.


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Sean Webster
Storage Reviewer

Sean is a Contributing Editor at Tom’s Hardware US, covering storage hardware.

  • velocityg4
    Interesting but it's still cheaper to get an NVMe Thunderbolt 3 enclosure. Then install your own NVMe SSD. Especially so in the 1TB and 2TB brackets. It would be interesting to see how well those compare. Plus if they can keep an SSD within safe temps.