Dell’s stick-sized external Thunderbolt 3 SSDs are extremely fast, but expensive

Dell
During the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Dell introduced what it deems as the world’s most compact storage device supporting Thunderbolt 3 connectivity: the Dell Portable Thunderbolt SSD. The device measures just 3.89 inches long, making it a great pocket-slipping solution for business trips and unloading camera photos during a family vacation. It will be made available on February 28 in two capacities.

But don’t blow it off as another measly storage stick just yet. According to Dell, the NAND technology crammed into its Portable Thunderbolt 3 SSD is exactly what the company uses in its PCs. That indicates the device has similar read and write speeds, promising up to 2,650MB per second data storage rates. It’s backed by Thunderbolt 3 technology supporting data transfers to and from the parent PC at up to 40 gigabits per second (1Gb = 125MB).

Of course, data transfers will depend on the parent PC despite the drive’s support for Thunderbolt. USB-C ports offer a variety of connection speeds based on the technology behind the interface: USB 2.0 at 480Mbps, USB 3.1 Gen1 at 5Gbps, and USB 3.1 Gen2 at 10Gbps. Even more, Thunderbolt 3 connectivity depends on how it’s wired to the parent PC’s motherboard, hence the “up to” description regarding its speed.

“Unlike HDDs, SSDs have no mechanical storage components, making them more resistant to data loss caused by knocks, drops, and other ‘on-the-go’ abuse,” Dell states. “[It] uses the same internal SSDs as Dell PC systems, specified to high endurance and reliability standards and covered by Dell’s three-year limited hardware warranty, so you can be assured of the quality of the drives.”

SSDs are better than external hard drives because there are no moving parts. Hard drives are similar to old-school record players, packing multiple, stacked magnetic records, aka platters. Each spinning platter is read by its own arm sporting one read head, and one write head. Eventually all these moving parts will fail, resulting in data loss. That’s not the case with SSDs.

Typically, SSDs rely on cells that store data even when the device isn’t receiving power. These cells are spread out like a city block, resembling office buildings with up to three floors. A built-in controller sends and retrieves data from these office buildings as data moves to and from the parent PC. SSDs are normally faster than mechanical hard drives by a large amount, making them more ideal as both internal and external storage solutions.

Although USB sticks rely on flash memory technology, they’re not always as fast as external SSDs. Part of the bottleneck stems from the connection: There’s no sense in using high-performance flash if the port connection only supports 480Mbps. For instance, Kingston’s DataTraveler HyperX Predator USB stick provides 1TB of storage, but only has a 240MB/s read speed and a 160MB/s write speed due to its USB 3.1 Gen1 connection.

But Dell’s compact Thunderbolt-based SSD packing high read/write speeds doesn’t come without a cost. The 500GB model will set you back $439 while the 1TB version will cost a hefty $799 when they hit the market next month.

Product Review

HP’s gem-cut Spectre x360 15 is the most powerful 2-in-1 you can buy

HP’s 2019 Spectre x360 15 brings this massive 2-in-1 up to speed, literally. It now equips the same six-core Intel CPU as the rest of the 15-inch field, along with a real GPU for some 1080p gaming.
Computing

DisplayPort and HDMI both connect to screens, but here's how they're different

HDMI and DisplayPort are two of the most popular connectors for hooking up consoles, gaming PCs, TVs, and monitors, but which is best? To find out, we pitted HDMI vs. DisplayPort and compared their best and worst features.
Mobile

Got gadgets galore? Keep them charged up with the 10 best USB-C cables

We're glad to see that USB-C is quickly becoming the norm. That's why we've rounded up some of the better USB-C cables on the market, whether you're looking to charge or sync your smartphone. We've got USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A.
Product Review

The Lenovo Legion Y740 brings RTX 2080 graphics power for under $2,500

Coming with the Intel Core i7-8750H processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD, the Legion Y740 one big beast. But priced at under $2,500 how does Lenovo’s Legion stand up against the crowd?
Computing

From hot rods to budget sleepers, our favorite desktops can handle anything

Are laptops overrated? Experience the power offered by the best desktop computers on the market today, whether you're in need of a budget solution or a fire-breathing, $4,000 premium gaming rig.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Computing

Man pleads guilty to scamming Facebook and Google out of more than $100M

One of the men behind an elaborate fraud that saw Facebook and Google each hand over tens of millions of dollars has admitted to his part in the scheme. Lithuanian Evaldas Rimasauskas faces up to 30 years in a U.S. jail.
Computing

Ditch the background from your photos with these handy editing tools

Need to know how to remove the background from an image? Whether you prefer to use a premium program like Photoshop or one of the many web-based alternatives currently in existence, we'll show you how.
Computing

Yes, you can use Android apps on your Chromebook. Here's how

You can now get Android apps on your Chromebook! Google has enabled the Google Play Store app support on its Chrome OS and Chromebook hardware, so to get you started, here's our guide on how to get Android apps on a Chromebook.
Computing

Zipping files on a Chromebook? Follow these four easy steps

Chromebooks support file compression, though they work a little differently than on Windows or Mac. Here's the step-by-step process to zipping files on a Chromebook, and then unzipping them again for extraction.
Computing

Tired of all that white? Here's how to change the Google background image

Did you know that you can change how your Google search home page looks? It's a simple process to pick a new theme: We'll show you how to change your Google background, what to look for in themes, and how to download your own pictures for a…
Deals

These big, beautiful BenQ gaming monitors are on sale on Amazon right now

All gamers know that a good monitor is just as important as PC hardware to fully enjoy what today's games have to offer. BenQ makes some of the best (including some of our favorites), and three top-rated BenQ gaming monitors are on sale on…
Deals

The best Raspberry Pi 3 kits for coders, gamers, and DIY projects

The Raspberry Pi 3 is a low-budget computing platform capable of doing just about anything. We rounded up a handful of the best Raspberry Pi 3 bundles to get you started on a variety of DIY projects.
Computing

Need a portable workstation? One of these two 15-inch laptop might do the trick

HP's Spectre x360 15 is the most powerful 2-in-1 around, but it faces stiff large-laptop competition. Can it beat out powerful clamshells like well-built Apple MacBook Pro 15?