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SanDisk Extreme PRO 480GB SSD Review

Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Price: $369.99
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SanDisk Extreme PRO 480GB SSD Introduction:

Who doesn't want a fast SSD? I asked and answered this last time with the SanDisk Extreme II 240GB review, but this time we get to talk about having a bit of space too. No we're not talking the big 960GB or 1TB SSDs coming to market, but we are still climbing the ladder. Today we take a look at the SanDisk Extreme PRO 480GB drive, and if you were impressed with the numbers from the Extreme II, be prepared to be excited! Across the board, the Extreme Pro is rated better than the Extreme II in every measurable way: random reads, random writes, sequential reads, and sequential writes are all given a decent bump over its already fast ancestor.

The Extreme PRO debuts with an improved version of the nCache technology, which uses MLC flash running in "SLC mode" as a fast cache between the volatile DRAM and the slower bulk MLC flash. This technique improves latency and bandwidth without driving cost up anywhere near SLC flash prices. So for those of you worried about having space to store your game installs on a 240GB, or simply haven't gotten off the fence to actually upgrade to an SSD, here's yet another chance to boost your system performance without the tight constraints usually associated with SSDs!



SanDisk Extreme PRO 480GB SSD Closer Look:

We are once again presented with the unusual packaging from SanDisk, and as I have mentioned in past reviews, this is likely only ever sent to reviewers. In any case, it is a neat all-black box with a massive label laid out to look just like an SSD. It appears to be an overgrown SanDisk Extreme PRO. Ironically, the drive itself, which you will see ahead, looks just like this minus but with capitalization on the "PRO" part of the name. This box is overly large considering it's housing a small 2.5" drive (the box is easily 12" across), but it does make quite an impression.


Now inside this comical box we are presented with the actual consumer packaging for the drive. This is more than we got with the Extreme II, so it gives both you and I a better idea of what you'll be finding on the shelf or in your box from an online retailer. This looks a little more like what I was expecting from a consumer product. The front covers all the usual bases with read and write speeds, the capacity, and a big shout-out to the 10-year limited warranty. While the drive is rated for ">80 TB" of writes before exhausting the flash, even a pessimistic rating of 1000 program/erase cycles has this drive tolerating nearly half a petabyte of writes before physically running out of write cycles. I imagine with the nCache technology sitting in front of the bulk MLC flash, that number is easily reachable without many limitations. The backside of the box is pretty standard, with the drive serial number poking through and various specs and features in very tiny text.



Behold the Extreme PRO itself! The text on the drive, unlike the white text on the Extreme II, is shiny gold and nearly impossible to photograph well. It really is gold colored and it comes out looking like it belongs around the neck of an 80s gangster. The top cover is plastic while the bottom is stamped aluminum for heat dissipation. The rear side of the drive contains the model number, world wide name, serial number, and a few other things nobody really cares about. The drive itself is quite lightweight and does ship with a 7mm to 9mm adapter for those notebooks that were designed to handle the thicker 2.5" standard. While not contained in the retail packaging, I thought the "chocolate SSDs" included in the press kit were cute...although the chocolate itself is nowhere near as good as this SSD is! Yes, I ate them all.




What kind of review would this be if we didn't void the warranty on the first page? After removing four tiny screws, the whole SSD spills its guts. Sadly the thermal pads stripped nearly all of the markings on the chips, although I could make out that the controller is built by Marvell, the DDR3 DRAM cache is Micron-sourced, and the flash itself is from SanDisk. Other than those little bits of information, the only real interesting thing here is that the PCB only has components on the top side; the bottom is almost entirely blank. I'm not sure if the 960GB version of this drive utilizes the rear side of the PCB, but based on the construction I would bet it doesn't. Regardless, the layout is clean and the PCB feels like good quality. How does this all stack up in terms of performance? Keep reading to find out!



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