An honest review of the SanDisk Professional Pro-Blade external SSD for video editing and content creation on the go.
As a full-time location-independent travel photographer and content creator, I’m always struggling to find the best external solution for storing and working with my photo and video files on the go.
That’s why, when SanDisk announced their revolutionary Pro-Blade system that allows for convenient SSD workflows and the ability to carry several terabytes of storage without excess bulk– I couldn’t wait to try it out.
But, for video editors and traveling content creators, is this the best solid-state drive system?
In this review, I offer an unbiased, independent review of what it’s been like working with the Pro-Blade Transport and SSD Mags to help you make that decision for yourself.
About the Sandisk Pro-Blade System
The SanDisk Professional Pro-Blade system is an NVMe-based solid-state drive system utilizing modular "Mags"– the actual SSDs, and a portable, single-mag reader called the TRANSPORT.
This allows for what SanDisk calls "Hot-Swap" capabilities, allowing video editors and content creators to easily swap between projects in their workflow or to transfer files easily to other people for collaboration or delivery.
Buy The Sandisk Pro-Blade System
The SanDisk Pro-Blade TRANSPORT is now available for sale on Amazon with storage configurations of up to 4TB per Mag.
Let's take a look at the Mags. This is essentially a Western Digital M.2 NVMe SSD inside a durable & very portable enclosure.
- A durable aluminum enclosure weighing just 1.5 oz (45 g)
- A thick internal thermal pad
- An external proprietary connector intended for repeated insertion cycles (unlike the regular M.2 interface)
- Storage options of 1 TB, 2 TB, and 4 TB
- Size: 4.32 x 0.3 x 1.1 inches (110 x 0.6 x 27.9 mm)
The Mag looks and feels similar to an old-school pen drive, which, to me is a good thing! These SSD enclosures are among the smallest I've seen, which is an excellent SSD option for video editors and content creators needing separate external drives for several different projects.
Now, the TRANSPORT reader:
- Proprietary SSD Mag reader (will only work with SanDisk Pro-Blade Mags - weighing 7.36 oz (208 g)
- USB Type-C Port utilizing USB-C 3.2 Gen 2×2 for USB 20Gb/s
- Size: 5.13 x 2.81 x 0.63 inches (130.4 x 71.5 x 16 mm)
The reader is a lot larger than the Mag itself and is also slightly larger than some of the other SSD drives I've compared. The reported USB-C speeds will also require suitable compatibility on your device connected to the drive (more on this later).
External SSD for Video Editing - What to Look For
Choosing the best SSD for video editing will require a different set of criteria than for SSDs for photography.
First and foremost, professional video editors will want to squeeze the fastest read speeds out of their solid state drives as possible in order to edit 4K or 8K footage on programs like Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut, or DaVinci Resolve. That's why in this SanDisk Pro-Blade review, I've tested and compared specifically sequential speeds (s speed) of these drives against other popular options.
Portability and durability are also two things I've looked at which will be extremely important factors when choosing a pro SSD for video.
Of course, capacity options are also a crucial element when choosing the best external SSD, and I'll specifically compare how good the Pro-Blade Hot-Swap feature is at increasing your ability to store and work with several terabytes of video content.
Travel Video Editing With the Sandisk Pro-Blade SSD - A Review
I've been using the Pro-Blade TRANSPORT system with two 2 TB version Mags to finish a recent project for a client in the travel and tourism space.
I'm working with DCI 4K, 10-bit C-Log video clips of up to 100 fps from my Canon R5, and DCI 4k 10-bit D-Log files of up to 60 fps from my DJI Mavic 3 drone. For this SSD video editing review, I'm editing right off the SSD, using Final Cut Pro on a Macbook Pro 2021 M1 Pro with high specs to ensure high optimization to test the true workflow speeds of these external hard disk drives– not bottlenecked by the device or software.
Below, I'll also run some benchmarking tests of these solid-state drives as well using the Blackmagic Disk Speed tool.
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Straight out of the packaging, I ran some preliminary speed tests to compare data transfer rates, read speed, and write speed against other professional external SSDs.
Unfortunately, while the Pro-Blade advertises 20Gb/s speeds, this is only possible if your device offers native USB-C 3.2 Gen 2×2 support. As a result, even the Thunderbolt 4 port (capable of up to 40Gb/s bidirectional bandwidth) on my high-end Macbook Pro does not support this version of USB 3.2, offering only one lane of data flow through these cables and devices.
In fact, currently, no Apple laptops or most PC computers offer this compatibility.
The result is that the true read and write speeds you will experience with the Pro-Blade SSD is USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds of 10GB/s.
However, when compared to other top-performing external SSDs, the Pro-Blade tops the list, coming in on par with the SanDisk Extreme Pro in my tests and having faster transfer speeds than that reported of the Samsung T series or Samsung 970 Evo Plus.
|External SSD||Average Write Speed||Average Read Speed|
|SanDisk Pro-Blade Mag||983 MB/s||915 MB/s|
|Sandisk Extreme Pro V2||981 MB/s||917 MB/s|
|OWC Envoy Pro EX||920 MB/s||880 MB/s|
|LaCie Rugged SSD||791 MB/s||785 MB/s|
|Kingston XS2000||855 MB/s||901 MB/s|
Blackmagic's tool indicates that these speeds are good enough to edit 12K DCI 24 Apple ProRes 422 HQ footage.
As far as external drives go, the Pro-Blade system is a very fast drive. To kick off my workflow tests, I copied 184.92 GBs worth of large files (raw footage) from my Mac's internal SSD (capable of much faster speeds).
The result was that it took just over 3 minutes and 18 seconds, very impressive real-world numbers.
Video Editing Tests Off the SSD
With such a fast read and write speed, editing videos on the Pro-Blade SSD was a breeze. Admittedly, I'm not editing with 8K RAW or 12K video files, but I wouldn't recommend doing this with any external drive yet either.
Performance-wise, the workflow handled just as it would if I was editing files straight from my Mac's internal drive. I didn't use proxies and was editing the timeline with several transitions and color grades added.
In all, if you are looking for a fast SSD for video editing, the Pro-Blade will be a great choice for most people working with up to at least 4K 10-bit files.
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Testing the Hot-Swap Feature
While this is one of the fastest SSD drives for video editing, perhaps what makes this storage device system so attractive for content creators is its modular, Hot-Swap feature.
There are a number of instances that I found this useful:
- Collaboration - easily collaborate and share projects with other creators
- Working across projects - having the ability to travel with several TB of storage and swap between projects without carrying separate drives and cables
- Traveling with a lot of storage - investing in the Pro-Blade system is great if you are a video creator traveling with tonnes of storage and want to reduce bulk
The system works just as intended, and the small finger handle on the Mags really makes it easy to pull them out. At first I thought this would be a little gimmicky but the system is very intuitive and a pleasure to use.
As video editors and content creators, we need a lot of storage- especially those of us who carry all of our equipment and footage with us on the road. I've been testing two drives with 2 TB of storage space each, which is enough for smaller projects.
SanDisk offers a maximum storage capacity of 4 TB. While this isn't groundbreaking, with some competitors like OWC offering up to 8 TB external SSD storage, it's the small form factor and easy hot-swap system that makes this attractive.
For example, some professionals shooting with more complex professional systems may be recording up to 1 TB of footage per day! After a 10-day project, that's over 10 TB of content, and you certainly don't want to carry several expensive and bulky SSD drives if you're on the road.
Therefore this SSD system really revolutionizes how we look at carrying capacity.
What About Secure Cloud Storage?
Portable external drives are great for moving large files quickly. But, what about fast and secure cloud storage?
I've taken advantage of pCloud's lifetime deal to secure 5 terabytes of cloud storage for life and it's been my go-to cloud solution for over 3 years!
Portability & Durability
Of course, being an SSD system with no moving parts makes any SSD a much better storage solution than traditional hard drives (HDD drives).
As we've discovered, the SanDisk Pro-Blade offers maximum performance as an external SSD for video editing. We also know that the unique form factor is very portable, especially if you're carrying several Mags (there would be little reason to buy into this system if you don't plan to use many drives).
But, how durable are the Mags and TRANSPORT readers?
While I didn't crush it or submerge it in water, both certainly feel very rugged and durable.
But don't take my word for it.
SanDisk promises that the tiny SSD Mags can withstand a 3-meter drop and 4,000 pounds of crush force. The TRANSPORT doesn't come with a lot more information regarding its durability, but feels solid and looks to be constructed with a very high degree of quality.
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Conclusion: Is the Sandisk Pro-Blade The Best SSD for Video Editing?
So, after reading this SanDisk Pro-Blade SSD review, is it the best SSD for video editing and on-the-go content creators?
The answer is that it depends.
For professionals working on several large-scale projects either independently or as part of a team, the Pro-Blade system is extremely beneficial as it allows for more storage capacity and more flexible collaboration opportunities. The speeds of the SanDisk Pro-Blade also place it among the best external hard drives - especially if you have a device with USB-C 3.2 Gen 2×2 support.
However, for beginner content creators who don't need tonnes of storage and are only looking to perhaps purchase one drive, it doesn't make much sense. In saying that, if you plan on scaling your projects, buying into this system can be a good option to save money in the long term.