The world's fastest external SSD? Here's everything we know about the GigaDrive (2023)

Who doesn't like quick access to their data? This is especially important when it comes to external drives, which until recently have lagged far behind internal and network-attached storage. Faster controllers, connectors and NVMe SSDs have a new generation ofHyper-fast external drivesand the latest contender for the performance crown is theGigaDrive, which has arrived at IndieGogoMiddle of March.

It promises sustained read and write speeds of well over 2000Mbps, rivals some of the fastest drives ever, and leverages the latest USB 4 and Thunderbolt 4 connection standards, so there are no bottlenecks to maximize your bandwidth. It also claims anti-dust and waterproof performance, drop resistance, and a powerful heatsink to prevent heat build-up from affecting performance during long transfers.


(Video) GigaDrive Review | The fastest external SSD in the world

However, it's important to maintain a degree of skepticism with any crowdfunding campaign, especially when it comes to lofty claims (e.g., fastest ever). With crowdfunding, there is a very real risk of not getting what you paid for, and those risks are heightened with a company like GigaSSD that has never run a campaign or released a product before. IsThe official website is incredibly limited, and although it is registered in the US, it is actually based in Shenzhen, China.

There are no details on who is involved with GigaSSD, with the company merely telling Forbes that the team "has a background in consumer electronics. They used to work in OEM factories and gained experience [sic] developing products from scratch.”

IsGigaDriveIt's also very affordable compared to similarly equipped external SSDs, only half the price at higher capacities. With that in mind, here's what we know about the GigaDrive.


(Video) GigaDrive - The World’s Fastest External SSD? | Tech I Want Reviews

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What is the GigaDrive?

The GigaDrive is an external NVMe SSD available (to preorder) in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB capacities.TechRadarjAppleInsiderBoth report that the internal NVMe drive is a WD Black SN750 paired with a DRAM cache chip and an Intel JHL8440 Thunderbolt 4 controller. It's reportedly compatible with Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4, and backwards compatible with Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3 devices. X

It measures 4.5 x 1.5 x 0.5 inches, weighs 2.6 ounces, and features an aluminum case that serves as a heat sink and protective cover. It is said to be compatible with Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and Linux and has an IP67 rating, making it dustproof and resistant to submersion in water up to one meter for up to half an hour.

GigaSSD claims the drive can achieve sustained speeds of 2800Mbps read and 2500Mbps write, which would make it one of those if notIsThe fastest external drive out there. You'd have stiff competition from people like thatSamsung X5, which is designed for read/write speeds of 2800/2300 Mbit/s respectively, as well as theG-Tech Mobile ProjSSD Thunderbolt 3 NVMe connectable.

(Video) GigaDrive- World's Fastest External SSD Drive (USB 4.0 & Thunderbolt 4)

How fast is it actually?

As a pre-production, crowd-funded product, the GigaDrive probably doesn't stand in the way of mostly verified test results. GigaSSD has its own video of some testing showing an NVMe drive (believed to be the GigaDrive, although shown without a case and initially separate from its board) being given a quick benchmark of drive speeds by BlackMagicDesign.

However, a single synthetic benchmark doesn't say much about real-world performance. AppleInsider and TechRadar had some hands-on time with the drive and reported some synthetic numbers (BlackMagicDesign Disk Speed​​and CrystalDiskMark) around the claimed numbers, although other tests fell between 95% and 65% (AS SSD and AJA).

PCJuegosNI also tested an early sample of the drive, although I didn't have access to a Thunderbolt 3 or 4 port, so it may have limited its maximum performance. However, it still fell significantly behindSamsung X5, which likely faced similar port bandwidth limitations.

Similar performance issues were also encountered in real-world data transfers, with TechRadar claiming that the drive's speeds dropped to just 300Mbps when transferring a 10GB file. GigaSSD claims this is because "the person who did the test didn't use USB4/TB4 devices to test it," but that wouldn't account for speeds below USB 3.0. PCGamesN performance was better, claiming between 850Mbps and 1200Mbps when transferring a 30GB file.

PCGamesN also claimed that GigaDrive might launch some games a little faster than thatSSD interno WD SN550, which is solid performance for an external drive, although these results are still limited enough to draw firm conclusions about performance.

Despite claims of a powerful heatsink to prevent performance degradation, AppleInsider reported a drop in write performance of almost a third after half an hour (although read speeds are said to have remained stable). More real-world third-party testing needs to be done before a solid conclusion can be drawn about the GigaDrive's performance and cooling effectiveness, but there are some concerns that the numbers quoted could be best-case scenarios.

Adding to the concern and confusion, GigaSSD told Forbes that the final drive will not use the WD Black SN750 like the prototype, but the "Intel AGI M.2 2280". This is a relatively unknown brand and entity and the only reference I could find is aShopee Product Linkfor a 2TB model.

Reviews are good and the claimed speeds would make the GigaDrive possible, but it's concerning that GigaSSD is sending out sample drives that have a completely different NVMe drive than the one it sells to its customers. There is no way to test the actual performance of the eventual GigaDrive when the GigaSSD plans to change the internal NVMe drive mid-production.

(Video) Introducing: Gigadrive: The fastest external SSD in the world😎

A price too good to be true?

The real selling point of the GigaDrive isn't its performance, but its performance relative to its price. As with many crowdfunding campaigns, GigaSSD is selling the GigaDrive at a greatly reduced price. But not only is it cheap compared to its final retail price; It's also a lot cheaper than its competition.

The 2TB GigaDrive Pro is selling at a reported 50% discount off its retail price of $219 instead of $438. If you want to buy oneSamsung X5 2 TBYou'd have to shell out close to $600 for a comparable external SSD without a water or dust seal, or an expensive heatsink. The 4TB GigaDrive Pro is only $359 at its discounted price, with a suggested retail price of just $700.

To do this even moreunbelievablegood deal thatWD Black SN750 NVMe-Solid-State-Laufwerkthe one with which the GigaDrive is supposedly built is more expensive on its own. when you bought it4 TB-Modelldirect from Western Digital would cost you $800.

When asked by a potential financier why it was able to sell its drives at such low prices, GigaSSD replied: "The reason for the low selling price is that we sell directly to our customers, without intermediaries. Also, we've just launched our product At Indiegogo we prefer to offer around 50% off our retail price and have a large customer base for the latter. Prices will be much higher after the Indiegogo campaign, for example the price for 4TB will be around $699, which is still considered a low price compared to what is on the market."

While big discounts aren't uncommon for crowdfunding campaigns to generate interest, they're rarely that good. There have also been multiple reports of "limited" discount model numbers only ever having one or two available despite the ongoing success of the campaign, suggesting that inventory of these discounted units is somehow improving, and at very propitious times.

In addition, GigaSSD uses affiliate programs and commissions for influencers and publications that help increase sales in the crowdfunding campaign. That means GigaSSDs will make even less profit from sales of these drives, making their incredibly low price even harder to explain. When contacted for comment, GigaSSD did not provide Forbes with any further explanation.

When will the GigaDrive be available?

Current shipping estimates for GigaDrive are July 2021, although as with any crowdfunding campaign, that's far from set in stone. It also seems incredibly ambitious considering it's only a few months away and presumably production on the final discs hasn't started in earnest while the campaign is in progress. More review units are reportedly being submitted to reputable publications, so more information may become available in the near future.

Should you buy the GigaDrive?

At the moment? We would not recommend it. There are too many inconsistencies withGigaDrive Crowdfunding Campaign, the limited number of tests leaves a lot to be desired and the price is too good to be true. Compared to products already on the market, and depending on the exact hardware you're working with, it might be better to buy something proven than risk something unknown that might slightly improve your real-world computing experience.


We suggest waiting for more third-party benchmark tests, possibly the version consumers should get if and when it materializes. Forbes looks set to test a sample in the near future, so check back with those results if you're looking to buy.


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