The first external Thunderbolt 4 SSD is almost here and aims to please

A promising new product at a great price.

The first external USB 4/Thunderbolt 4 drive probably won’t arrive on the market until July. Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to check out the stylish GigaSSD GigaDrive for the last few months, attaching it to my M1 MacBook Pro for backup purposes. In a word, the device is magical, although that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to buy one.

Available through an Indiegogo project that raised over $1 million, the GigaDrive comes from a company you’ve probably never heard about until now, and that’s fine. All you need to know is the company has one-upped the Seagates of the world by getting the first USB 4/Thunderbolt 4 drive (nearly) to market. When it does arrive, the GigaDrive will be priced at much less than you might expect.

GigaSSD GigaDrive

Bottom line: Wonderfully priced and offering up to 4TB of storage, there’s little not to love about the first Thunderbolt 4 supported external SSD.

The Good

  • Terrific design
  • Great price points
  • IP67 rated
  • Fast while writing
  • Up to 4TB available

The Bad

  • Not available yet
  • Transfer rates are suspect

from $153 at Indiegogo

GigaSSD GigaDrive: Price and availability

Currently, the GigaSSD GigaDrive is only available on Indiegogo, with the first shipments going out in July. There are four models: 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, and 8TB, available for $153, $219, $359, and $729, respectively. A pair of 4TB SSDs are available for a bundle price of $693, while you can purchase a three-pack for $1,039. The bundles bring the per TB price down to just $88.

The prices listed could change at any time, and it’s important to note that the regular prices are much higher, although there’s no way of knowing when, or if, those will ever be the actual prices.

GigaSSD GigaDrive: What you’ll like

When you’re talking about tiny external drives, two things must immediately stand out to make a positive impression, size, and speed. The GigaSSD, which is made from black plastic and anodized metal, is palm-sized and weighs just 2.6 ounces. It also comes in a futuristic design that gives off a space-like vibe.

Overall, I was happy with the GigaDrive’s speeds

We didn’t do benchmark tests on our 1TB GigaSSD GigaDrive review unit since our friends and fellows over at TechRadar already took care of those. Its tests confirmed the drive is blazing fast:

  • CrystalDiskMark: 2804MBps (read); 2538MBps (write)
  • Atto: 2640MBps (read, 256MB); 2400MBps (write, 256MB)
  • AS SSD: 1869MBps (seq read); 1711MBps (seq write)
  • AJA: 1830MBps (read); 1643Mbps (write)

Like TechRadar, however, we found that speeds weren’t nearly as great under real-world conditions but still good. We recorded two separate 10GB transfers at around 305MBps and 300MBps, respectively. Performance numbers are probably better on GigaDrives with more storage, which you should keep in mind.

Overall, I was happy with the GigaDrive’s speeds but will leave it to the storage experts to look into this further.

Durability is another area where the SSD shines. IP67-rated means an occasional coffee or water drop isn’t going to hurt this beast. Additionally, its anodized metal makes it durable enough to continue to work even after an accidental fall of up to 10 feet, according to GigaSSD. We didn’t test this, however.

Finally, kudos to GigaSSD for shipping the drive with a cable long enough that there’s breathing room between it and a computer. The included cable measures just under 18 inches.

GigaSSD GigaDrive: What you won’t like

GigaSSD GigaDrive

GigaSSD’s Indiegogo website mentions that the GigaDrive was designed to be “anti-overheat protected” since transferring large amounts of data can cause overheating. This might be the case, and yet, the GigaDrive is still very hot to the touch when it’s working. This only becomes a negative if you decide to hold the SSD in your hand (you shouldn’t) or place it on a heat-adverse surface.

Indiegogo projects make many nervous, and with good reason, since some never get off the ground

My only other concern about the GigaSSD GigaDrive should go away in July once the first units arrive. Indiegogo projects make many nervous, and with good reason since some never get off the ground leaving crowdsourcers out to dry. Still, others do eventually get released, but not in the timeframe the creators originally promised.

There’s no reason to believe the first GigaDrive models won’t ship as scheduled in just a few weeks. And yet, as someone who has been burned a few times with crowdsourcing, understand there’s always a risk.

GigaSSD GigaDrive: Competition

At the time of this writing, there are no Thunderbolt 4 external drives on the market. However, some of the best external hard drives support Thunderbolt 3, including our favorite, the LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt (4TB).

When looking for a drive, it’s important to look at the price per TB to comparison shop. Prices often fluctuate, depending on market conditions.

GigaSSD GigaDrive: Should you buy it?

You should buy this if …

  • You have an Apple M1 device that supports Thunderbolt 4.
  • You want a large capacity external drive
  • You want a big discount on storage

You shouldn’t buy this if…

  • You worry about Indiegogo projects
  • You own an older computer

If you own one of the growing number of Apple M1 computers, consider the GigaDrive for your backup needs. Heck, if you want to save money, you should also consider it. If you’re concerned about crowdsourcing projects, it might be better to wait and see if the GigaSSD team delivers.

out of 5

The GigaSSD GigaDrive looks great and is fun to use. It’s also available at a great price point, is durable, and supports Thunderbolt 4.

GigaSSD GigaDrive

Bottom line: For anyone looking for a lightweight, robust external SSD, you’ve come to the right place!

from $153 at Indiegogo

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