Plugable offers a wide range of adapters, hubs, and storage solutions for the Mac. The Thunderbolt 3 2TB NVMe Solid State Drive is among the company’s more popular performance-focused products, offering a relatively high storage capacity in a small form factor, with ultra fast transfer speeds.
The SSD is perfectly suited to recent Mac models with Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4 ports, offering incredibly fast transfer speeds of up to 2,400MB/s read and 1,800MB/s write, according to Plugable. On Macs, the drive works as soon as it is plugged into a Thunderbolt port and comes formated as exFAT by default.
The design of the Plugable Thunderbolt 3 SSD is quite understated, featuring a sleek black annodized aluminum casing with ridges along the sides for heat dissipation. It feels weighty, solid, and well-built, but still small and light enough to be highly portable. It comes with a soft carrying bag to protect it from scuffs during travel, but it does not offer protection against anything other than cosmetic damage. Of course, the drive should be more durable than a standard HDD since it has no moving parts.
The top of the drive has prominent white Plugable and Thunderbolt logos, and I would have much preferred a more minimalist look without these markings. A single LED on the top of the SSD confirms that it is powered up.
The SSD features an integrated Thunderbolt 3 cable that transfers data and provides bus power. While this is handy in so far as you never need to worry about finding or bringing along a cable when travelling, I found the drive somewhat more difficult to transport as a result. I am also slightly concerned that with constant flexing, the cable may wear out before the SSD, in which case it would not be easy to replace. The drive is covered by a 36 month limited warranty as well as Seattle-based email support for added peace of mind.
Thunderbolt 3 and NVMe technology allows Plugable’s drive to reach extremely high transfer speeds. Real-world results vary compared to Plugable’s advertised 2,400MB/s read and 1,800MB/s write speeds depending on a range of factors like other peripherals connected to your Mac, the speed of the storage you’re transfering data from or to, how much data is on the drive, and your Mac’s workload.
Nevertheless, the drive was extremely quick, with near-instant transfer speeds for small files. Using Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test app, I got 1,700MB/s write and 1,800MB/s read speeds with a stress of 1GB, and 1,300MB/s write and 800MB/s read speeds with stress of 5GB. The drive continued to perform very well even when almost full and provides a level of performance that should meet the requirements of demanding professional workflows.
In use, the SSD can get extremely hot to the point of being very uncomfortable to touch for more than a couple of seconds. It is normal for high-performance SSD storage to get hot in use and this does not seem to impact performance, but it is still something to be aware of.
At a standard price of $629 for 2TB of storage, the Plugable Thunderbolt 3 2TB NVMe SSD is pricey compared to HDDs and even many USB SSDs, but there is little on the market that can offer such fast transfer speeds at low prices. The drive is currently available for a discounted price of $449, which is quite competitive for a professional drive in this class.
Large file transfers, booting an OS or virtual machine, running games and demanding applications, and photo and video editing from an external source are all possible on Plugable’s drive in a way that would simply not be feasible on slower drives. Most average users do not need the kind of transfer speeds offered by Plugable’s Thunderbolt SSD, but for professionals who need the fastest possible speeds, it is definitely worth considering thanks to its simple, plug-and-play, Mac-friendly experience in a compact design.
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