MacBook Airs and Retina MacBook Pros offer practically zero upgradability, but one area that there is some flexibility with is storage. Many third party memory manufactures are taking advantage of the SD card slot present in MacBook Airs and Retina Pros to add semi-permant storage to these Macs. We first saw these products begin popping up last year, but the release of Transcend’s JetDrive Lite line this morning made us think it was worth taking a look at three of the options currently available.
These expansion drives are nearly as convenient as on-board storage but can be used for Time Machine backups and transferring large files between devices.
The problem with shoving any SD card into your MacBook is that is protrudes out from the laptop casing, which leaves the card and your Mac vulnerable to damage or getting knocked out. It’s also an eyesore to constantly have a card peaking out from your Mac’s otherwise seamless and uniform design. The memory expansion modules we’re going to take a look at are customized to fit nearly flush.
The most well-known version is the PNY StorEDGE. It comes in two different capacities (64GB/128GB), is colored black, and protrudes just enough to make it easy to remove. The 64GB/128GB models retail for $100/$200, but these are available for $38.95 and $75.04.
The SanDisk minidrive is only available in 64GB, and it includes a pull tab to make it even easier to remove. Some people may dislike the fact that the pull tab has ‘SanDisk’ branded on it, but that doesn’t seem like a deal-breaker to me. It retails for $59.99, but is currently on sale for $49.99.
Just this morning Transcend announced its JetDrive Lite expansion cards in 64GB and 128GB capacities. Transcend says that users can expect read and write speeds of up to 95MB/s and 60MB/s respectively, which is the fastest of the bunch. Obviously, there isn’t any real world data to backup these claims yet and overall performance will also vary by Mac, it is still nice to see Transcend attempting to push the product category forward. The JetDrive Lites are priced aggressively with current rates starting at just $39.99 for 64GB and going up to $79.99 for 128GB.
If you already own a micro SD card you could opt to increase your MacBook storage by popping it into a custom adapter which mimics the modules mentioned above. The Nifty Minidrive is capped with hand-polished aluminum so it will match your Apple hardware. It’s available in silver and red at a retail price of $39.99 (on sale at Amazon for $34.99). There is also the less-elegent, but more budget-conscious solution called “The MiniDrive“, which looks to be a Nifty clone but at only $20.
Also, if you are really determined to expand your Mac’s memory, you can upgrade its internal SSD with one of Transcend’s new JetDrive kits.
Before making your final purchase, be sure that the model you choose is compatible with your specific Mac model as some manufactures have slightly different SKUs for different Macs. SD slot depth also varies between models so some of the aforementioned solutions may protrude more or less depending on your Mac.