WD My Passport (2020 edition) portable SSD review

WD has refreshed its mainstream mobile solid-state drive, the My Passport SSD, giving it a new layout, better internal elements, and a competitive price tag. On the other hand, the market has considerably evolved as well since My Passport was originally launched in 2017.

Cost

Confusingly, there are 3 types of My Passport SSD, the 2017 variant, one known as My Passport Proceed, and the 2020 variant, the WDBAGF. Three capacities are available (500GB, 1TB, 2TB) in four distinct shades (blue, red, champagne gold, and grey silver). The smallest version sells for $107.99, the moderate capacity version – which is being tested now – prices $149.99 while the 2TB one has an SRP of $359.99.

Design

The first thing that you notice when choosing up the drive is how light it is.

The gadget is shock resistant and also its enclosure is constructed from metal using a ridged design that WD explains as bold and slick. We’re partial to it because it does the job and improves grip, plus it reduces the probability of causing damage to anything else thanks to its curvy, pebblesque form.

It has a Type-C connector using a short Type-C to Type-C cable (plus a Type-A to Type-C converter) thrown in the box. No status light to indicate if the unit is operating, and it is an odd omission.

The hardware

Internally this is the SN550E, a PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe drive that matches an ASMedia ASM2362 bridge using a SanDisk 20-82-10023 controller and SanDisk BiCS 4 96L 3D TLC flash memory. It’s well worth noting the SN550 shirts at 1TB whereas the My Passport SSD belongs to 2TB. Additionally, it may go all the way to 2.4GBps which will allow it to be a candidate for a theoretical USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 version of the drive that would embrace a 20Gbps port (and potentially USB4/Thunderbolt 3).

In use

The WD My Passport external SSD runs warm, far hotter than we had been expecting. The heat dissipated from the NVMe controller and the NAND chips inside are quickly evacuated from the metallic casing.

Given the fact that it is a 10Gbps/USB 3.2 Gen two storage device, WD asserts that the drive reaches 1.05GBps and 1GB in reading and write speeds and we did manage to hit those numbers in CrystalDiskMark, one of the very popular artificial storage benchmarks out there.

Other benchmarks delivered the exact same assortment of outcomes however shifting a single 10GB file was shown to be slower than anticipated, much slower at about 280MBps. Perplexing to say the least even when we account for the OS and the file system overheads.

Also part of the lot is WD Discovery, the default storage applications suite which includes the driveway and is currently available for Windows and Mac.

The latter is probably the most interesting of the three as in concept, it allows you to save your information to the drive plus also a backup to an independent cloud storage service for disaster recovery. Also as expected, the drive could be procured using password protection and 256-bit AES hardware encryption with WD Security.

The contest

Rivals into the My Passport outside SSD will be quickly (1GBps speeds or more), comparatively reasonably priced, and rather compact. Be aware that costs can and will vary wildly depending on a range of factors; suggested retail prices are just that, proposed.

WD’s sister brand, Sandisk, has what seems like repackaged versions of the My Passport mobile SSD complete with encryption software and a five-year warranty but for a more active crowd. The SanDisk Extreme Guru is more expensive – at $190, $40 longer – compared to its brethren but is far rockier with an IP55 rating to back it, which makes it an interesting alternative (assuming the cost difference stays constant).

The only other significant candidate is that the Adata SE800 which we reviewed almost a year ago. It is a full waterproof SSD with a striking metallic blue/black color scheme and also a price tag, at least to the 1TB version that significantly undercuts the My Passport SSD.

So here we’ve got it, a quick, compact portable SSD using a huge capacity and a lengthy guarantee. The only real thing that lets it down is the price which is far too high when compared with the competition on the market (or perhaps competition within WDC). Other minor niggles include the cable length and also how it dissipates a whole lot of heat that might impact the durability of the apparatus. We would probably still choose it before the two aforementioned rivals as the overall balance makes it a compelling choice. There are a few issues to be solved before it reaches storage nirvana.

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