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Plugable Thunderbolt 3 NVMe SSD Review

Plugable Thunderbolt 3 NVMe SSD Review

Plugable puts its name in the hat for the best portable SSD of 2018!

@TylerBernath
Tyler Bernath
Published Thu, Feb 8 2018 8:00 AM CST   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: Plugable

I first heard of Plugable when I did the article on Thunderbolt 3 cable quality, we then followed that up with a look at their SATA drive dock with USB-C. Today they switch gears as a vendor that has always provided solutions to add or adapt connectivity to a vendor that provides storage solutions.

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At CES, Plugable introduced its Portable NVMe SSD. Using the Thunderbolt 3 interface this solution capable of reaching 2400 MB/s read and 1200 MB/s write all while being bus powered, so no need for extra power. Plugable has designed the enclosure out of aluminum using a unique heat sink design while internally they have selected some proven components, the base being a Phison E7 powered NVME SSD.

Compatibility extends to Microsoft Windows 7 through to 10 along with macOS Sierra. The system will also need a Thunderbolt 3 host port, USB-C is not supported. MSRP of the 480GB Plugable NVMe SSD comes in at $399.99 with a standard 18-month warranty, you can double the warranty to 36 months by registering the device.

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Packaging is going to follow the same design we have seen from previous Plugable solutions. On the front, we have features listed along the bottom with a drive image to the right.

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Upon opening the box, we have the drive secured in foam and carrying bag.

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Included in the box, we have reading materials, the drive and carrying bag.

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The front houses subtle branding, the cable integrated at the top. At the bottom center, there is a very small activity LED.

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The sides of the drive offer a heat sink fin design to aid in heat dissipation.

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The integrated cable comes in at 7 inches, Type-C Thunderbolt 3 connection.

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Peeking inside, we see the Phison powered SSD.

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Controlling the connection of this drive we have the Intel DSL6340, single port PCIe Gen 3 controller.

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Usable capacity of the 480GB Plugable NVMe SSD is 447GB. It is formatted with the exFAT filesystem from the factory for increased compatibility.

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Taking a look through CDI we see the drive is a four-link solution operating at full throughput and the NVM Express 1.2 standard.

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Our first benchmark for the Plugable was CDM. Here we were able to reach 1453 read and 1321 write QD1. QD32 showed a solid increase in performance to 2714 read and 1470 write.

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Running the drive through Anvils, we reach 4817 on the read score and 5285 for write, bringing the total to 10102.8

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Last, we toss some real data from our DC P3700 1.6TB AIC to the Plugable NVMe SSD over Thunderbolt 3. For comparison, we have the ThunderBlade V4 from OWC and a USB 3.1 OTG v2 from MyDigitalSSD.

With our 15GB stack of photos, the Plugable drive came in at 29.88 seconds while our 15GB stack of videos from our DJI Phantom transferred in 11.48 seconds. Moving our 15GB music library, that was completed in 13.63 seconds.

As of today, I have had a little over a week with the Plugable NVMe and I'm quite impressed with this solution. In initial testing, the drive took a beating with hours upon hours of moving data to and from the drive, after that we swapped to canned benchmarks and put up some solid numbers quite a bit over marketing specifications.

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With that durability seems to be quite good and for most vendors, the Phison E7 hovers around that 640 TBW rating so it would be interesting to know what Plugable is rating this drive at. Otherwise, we have solid workmanship with the aluminum enclosure, integrated cooling with the heat sink design and integrated cable, so you have less to worry about.

Performance in my testing reached a peak of 2714 MB/s read and 1470 MB/s write, both in CDM. Anvils reached a score of 10,102 and moving raw data to the drive was complete in no time, with video and music coming in at 11 and 13 seconds and photos 29 seconds.

Overall, Plugable has quite an attractive package in this NVMe SSD in both form factor and performance and Plugable seems to found a middle ground for pricing as the $399.99 MSRP tucks in between the Patriot EVLVR due out in March at $289.99 for the 512GB and the TekQ Rapide on Indiegogo that going for $479.99 for the 512GB.

Tyler's Test System Specifications

TweakTown award
Performance92%
Quality90%
Features91%
Value90%
Overall91%

The Bottom Line: Plugable has put together all the right pieces with its first entry in to the portable SSD market offering a small form factor solution with both capacity and class leading performance.

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Growing up in a small farm town, tech wasn't around, unless it was in a tractor. At an early age, Tyler's parents brought home their first PC. Tyler was hooked and learned what it meant to format a HDD, spending many nights reinstalling Windows 95. Tyler's love and enthusiast nature always kept his PC nearby. Eager to get deeper into tech, he started reviewing.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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