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CalDigit Tuff nano Portable SSD Review

CalDigit outs the Tuff nano, an extremely durable portable SSD. Here's our full review of it.

Published Wed, Nov 13 2019 5:18 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:57 PM CST
Rating: 86%Manufacturer: CalDigit (TuffNano500GB-BLU-US)
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CalDigit often refreshes its storage lineup with the introduction of new technologies. For portable drives, it has been two years since we had the initial Tuff SSD in house and three years since the Tuff lineup was introduced. Moving forward, the introduction of USB-C and the m.2 form factor is allowing vendors to be more creative in their designs. For CalDigit, this means going smaller and introducing the Tuff nano.

The Tuff nano is in the ballpark of being one of the smallest portable drives to come through. Adding to that, it's a bus-powered NVMe solution that has also gained IP67 certification. Performance is being rated up to 1055 MB/s with a single 512GB capacity available at this time. In the future, CalDigit says they will launch a 1TB model.

Connectivity is offered over USB-C, giving it compatibility with Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Gen 1 and Gen 2, and backward compatibility with Type-A USB 3.0 connections. MSRP of the CalDigit Tuff nano 512GB SSD comes in at $149.99 with a two-year warranty.

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Packaging offers an image of the drive with performance and compatibility below.

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The back offers more detail with a specification list and warranty information.

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Unboxing the drive, we have the quick start guide and USB-C cable.

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The aluminum exterior of the drive is covered by a silicone sleeve, and branding sits just above.

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With the drive being IP67 certified, you must remove the silicon sleeve to see the USB-C port. This also shows the build quality of the drive, single-piece aluminum with plastic, likely O-ring sealed end caps.

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To start testing, we have CDM. The Tuff nano was able to reach 939 MB/s read and 864 MB/s write.

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We move to Anvils next with a result of 2526 for read and 2129 for write. Peak throughput reached 868 MB/s read and 712 MB/s write.

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Adding in AJA, we see 880 MB/s read and 702 MB/s write with ProRes UltraHD workload.

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Last, I have pulled out the price/performance chart and have kept the T5 from Samsung along with the Extreme 500 and 900 from SanDisk. I have updated pricing on these drives to what they currently sell for and will be adding drives as they arrive for testing. The Tuff nano in the 512GB capacity comes in at 71%

The CalDigit Tuff has always enjoyed solid build quality, and none of that has been lost with the shrink in form factor for the Tuff nano. For starters, we have a single piece aluminum enclosure with sealed end caps and the silicone sleeve that offers increased drop protection, and the same time slows dust and water intrusion.

For performance, the Tuff nano came up 100 MB/s short of full marketing spec but did do quite well at 939 MB/s read and 864 MB/s write. That being said, lower performance should be expected for users that use this drive with standard USB 3.0 ports.

Pricing of the Nano is quite tough as this drive, and the LaCie Rugged has seemingly carved out their own market. At $149.99, this drive is playing around in the 1TB portable drive space, and as you could see in our last chart, puts it towards the bottom for anyone wanting the best bang for your buck. Still, if we step back and compare it directly to its intentions, this drive comes up $40 lower than the solution mentioned above.

Tyler's Test System Specifications

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The Bottom Line

The Tuff nano is a solid portable drive for anyone wanting the utmost in durability and flexibility without sacrificing performance.

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* Prices last scanned on 11/25/2020 at 1:38 pm CST - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

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.

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