Back in October we reviewed the spinning hard disk version of the CalDigit Tuff Drive. While it was nice from a build quality perspective, the HDD speeds left us anticipating the soon-to-come SSD model.

Last week we received the 1TB SSD version of CalDigit’s Tuff Drive (coming later this month), and as expected, it’s much faster. Watch our brief hands-on video walkthrough as we unbox the CalDigit Tuff 1TB SSD, and test its speeds.

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CalDigit Tuff Drive 1TB SSD Specs

  • USB 3.1 Gen 2
  • Bus-powered
  • Max SSD speed (rated @ 540 MB/s)
  • IP57 certified (Dust and water resistant)
  • Includes two USB-C cables, one USB-C to USB-C and one USB-C to USB-A
  • Comes with archival box and impact-resistant silicone sleeve

On the outside, the CalDigit Tuff Drive 1TB SSD seems exactly the same as the HDD unit I reviewed back in October. Only when you plug the unit in and test the transfer speeds do you notice the stark difference between the two — well, that and the higher price that you pay for the SSD model.

But that higher price lends you significantly faster speeds that flirt closely with CalDigit’s published maximum throughput of 540 MB/s. This is a very fast portable drive that comes in a weather-sealed, dust-blocking, impact-resistant package.

Video walkthrough

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I tested the drive using both Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test and QuickBench, and both tests reported favorable results when connected to the USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports on my 2016 MacBook Pro.

If you happen to connect to a slower USB 3.0/3.1 Gen 1 interface, then you will experience slower speeds, though still nowhere near as pedestrian as the HDD version.

This goes right along with CalDigit’s chart on its website, although my speeds hovered around the upper 300’s when taking into account read rates on USB 3.1 Gen 1 interfaces.

The point is that this drive is designed with the new MacBook Pro in mind. It will work with other models, but it performs best with USB 3.1 Gen 2. If you own a MacBook Pro, and you often need access to additional external storage space, then CalDigit’s SSD Tuff Drive is a solid choice that should be considered.

Not only is it fast enough to handle almost any task you throw its way, but it’s bus-powered, so it only needs the included USB-C cable to interface with your Mac. The fact that the unit is IP57 certified just sweetens the deal, and makes it a viable drive to use while traveling and on location.

CalDigit’s SSD Tuff Drive will be available later this month for $449, and the HDD version is already available for order on Amazon. Considering its price and speed, I think it compares really well to a similar offering from LaCie.

If you need a longer cable, CalDigit offers a 1-meter version

Of course, if you’re looking for even higher capacity, and you don’t require the IP57 certification, you might want to look at Atom’s line of USB 3.1 Gen 2-enabled external SSDs.

What do you think about the idea of using an external SSD? Do you currently use one, or have you considered doing so? Please sound off in the comments with your thoughts.

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