Plugable Thunderbolt 3 NVMe External SSD Review (2TB) – Price, Performance and Capacity

Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C portable SSDs have become mainstream as of late, the typical value product having a JMicron controller that provides data transfer speeds up to 1GB/s read and write.  This is sufficient for the typical consumer but media professionals demand faster data transfer speeds….and higher capacity.  The sweet spot for Thunderbolt 3 is 2.8GB/s and that is as high as she gets.  Today we are testing a product that is somewhat an anomaly to the SSD space and that is the Plugable Thunderbolt 3 NVMe external SSD.

We mention this as an anomaly as Plugable has never been known in the SSD space, but rather, can be easily identified for their cable and storage solutions, Thunderbolt 3 being their strong point as of late.  I guess this might lead to the reasoning for venturing into the SSD arena.  A strong point though is the traditional Plugable marketing approach where they have mass availability at a great price; this could shake things up just a bit.

The Plugable External SSD is available in capacities of 480GB, 1 and 2TB and is a Thunderbolt 3 NVMe 40 Gbps device with advertised speeds up to 2.4GB/s read and 1.8GB/s write (wait for it).  It is PCIe Gen 3X4 (4 lane), and is compatible with Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C MacOS, Windows or Linux systems.  The drive is pre-configured as ex-FAT for mass compatibility and one may need to turn on or allow Thunderbolt 3 permissions in their BIOS and software for the device to be recognized. This SSD  carries a 3-year limited warranty.

Disassembling your Plugable TbT3 SSD will void your warranty, however, it gives us a great vantage point with respect to product quality.  First and foremost, we noticed that our exterior packaging listed this device as being a 1TB sample, yet this is clearly marked on the SSD as being a 2TB SSD.  The case is a well cut solid black anodized aluminum with a base plate and a fixed external cable.  On the green PCB we have the Intel DSL6340 Thunderbolt 3 controller and this PCB houses a generic M.2 SSD with a Phison PS5012-E12 controller and 4 pieces of Kioxia (formerly Toshiba) 64-layer BiCS3 TLC NAND flash memory, each having a RAW value of 512GB.

Pricing for the Plugable Tb3 external SSD is $199 (480GB), $299 (1TB) and $499 (2TB) and updated pricing can be checked on Amazon at this link.

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I’m starting to wonder how hard it would be to drop in a Titan Ridge vs. an Alpine Ridge controller. It seems any additional cost would easily be passed to the consumer, as the new device is TB3 with USB3 fallback.