Like the Samsung 850 drives, the SanDisk Extreme Pro bas been around for a couple of years, and there isn’t even a new higher-capacity model to spice up the series. Instead you just get 240GB, 480GB and 960GB versions. That may seem like it puts the Extreme Pro at a disadvantage, but a quick glance at prices redresses that balance. While the 1TB Samsung 850 Pro costs £380 or more, the 960GB Extreme Pro is £312. That’s a big saving.
In most areas relevant to enthusiasts, the Extreme Pro can compete with the Samsung drives for features too. You get impressive performance figures, a long ten-year warranty and low power draw. SanDisk claims sequential speeds of 550MB/sec read and either 520MB/sec or 515MB/sec write depending on capacity. Meanwhile, 4KB random read and write figures are 100K IOPS and 90K IOPS for all capacities.
There are a few potential key areas where it can’t keep up though. There’s no hardware encryption, so anyone concerned about security will have to look elsewhere.
Also, endurance is rated at 80TB, which is by no means low but trails the Samsung 850 Pro drives.
The drives are built using SanDisk’s second-generation 64Gb 19nm MLC NAND, so there’s no fancy 3D or TLC here. However, there’s still a small amount of SLC caching going on, which SanDisk calls nCache Pro. It isn’t traditional SLC caching, as there’s only 1GB of it. Instead, it acts in conjunction with the DRAM to better manage data transition between long-term MLC NAND and your system.
As such, there should be no performance drop-off. Meanwhile, the controller is a Marvell 88SS9187, which is coupled with
“There’s still a small amount of SLC caching, which SanDisk calls nCache Pro”
either 512MB or 1GB of DRAM, depending on the drive’s capacity.
The drive’s appearance is fairly mundane. It has a plastic top, with an ugly cutaway for the SATA connection, plus a fairly dull sticker, making it arguably the least attractive drive on test. You do at least get a plastic riser for fitting the 7mm drive into 9mm bays, though, plus SanDisk has its own software called SanDisk SSD Dashboard, which makes firmware updates easy and allows you to monitor other attributes of the drive.
The Extreme Pro doesn’t disappoint in performance tests though. It battles back and forth with the Samsung 850 Pro drives for the top spot throughout our tests, including an overall win for boot speed. Samsung’s models just claim the top spot for the PCMark tests and indeed come out on top overall, but only by a small margin.
As such, once cost is taken into account, the SanDisk Extreme Pro is arguably the best value high-end SATA drive on the market, but only just. For around $70 more than the 500GB Samsung 850 Evo, you can get the markedly more consistently fast 480GB Extreme Pro, while the 850 Pro is another $10 more.
The relevance of those differences will come down to how you use your SSD and how much money you have to spend – if you’re spending $150-$600 on an SSD, what’s another $100 or so? Either way, the SanDisk Extreme Pro offers excellent performance and good value for money, two years on from its launch.
Not everyone needs the performance the SanDisk Extreme Pro provides. What’s more, if you want the very best speed, the 850 Pro just pips it to the post. However, thanks to aggressive pricing, the Extreme Pro comes out on top when it comes to value at the high end of SATA SSD performance. Assuming you don’t mind about not getting encryption, it’s an impressively fast SSD for the money.
Not quite the fastest SSD on the market, but aggressive pricing means it’s still very quick for the money.
Not quite the fastest SSD on the market, but aggressive pricing means it's still very quick for the money.