To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

SanDisk Pro-Blade Transport review: The removable drive, rebooted

SanDisk Pro-Blade Transport review
Our Rating :
£215.07 from
Price when reviewed : £227
(Transport + 1TB Mag)

The SanDisk Pro-Blade Transport is a slick SSD-based removable storage system, though its convenience comes at a cost


  • Very convenient
  • Excellent performance
  • Easy to use


  • More expensive than conventional external SSDs
  • Requires USB 3.2 Gen 2x2

Between cloud storage services, cheap USB memory sticks and low-cost external SSDs and HDDs, it’s been a long time since there’s been a massive need for modular, removable storage. Those of us of a certain vintage might remember when no IT expert or designer would be without an Iomega JAZ or ZIP drive, but these days only IT departments still use removable media, and there you’re talking about expensive, cartridge-based devices aimed at archiving business data.

However, SanDisk has decided that more affordable removable storage is ripe for a return. Hence the SanDisk Pro-Blade. It’s a new system that combines a desktop Station or compact Transport enclosure with one or more slim blade-like ‘Mags’. These are effectively SSDs, but with a proprietary interface for a quick connection and hot-swapping. There’s no need to disconnect the drive in Windows when you want to remove it; just pull it out.

It’s a neat idea aimed at creative types and anyone working with large files or quantities of data. But is it worth the extra over buying regular SSDs? I put the Pro-Blade Transport to the test to find out.

SanDisk Pro-Blade Transport review: What do you get for the money?

The Transport is a solid, rugged-looking enclosure which connects to your laptop or PC via a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C connection. You can buy the Transport unit on its own, which will set you back £60, or bundled with a choice of 1TB (£227), 2TB (£354) or 4TB (£513) Mags. The Mags can also be purchased separately if required.

The Transport is nice and compact, measuring roughly 13cm long, 7cm wide and 1.6cm thick. At 163g, it’s heavier than your average portable SSD but not an extra burden if you’re carrying a laptop in your bag. The plastic and aluminium build feels tough, and the aluminium helps shift away any excess heat from the Mag inside while it’s working.

The Mags are slim rectangular modules in an aluminium casing, 11cm long, 2.8cm wide and 7.5mm thick. Each weighs around 45g, and while they’re not waterproof or dustproof, they are designed to handle over 1,800kg in crushing pressure and a 3m drop onto a carpeted concrete floor. They feel rock-solid, and you’d have to be going some to subject one to much damage. 

Mags come in 1TB, 2TB and 4TB capacities and easily slide in and out of the Transport. As soon as it’s detected, the Mag is mounted by Windows, though as Apple’s APFS is used as the native file system, you’ll need to reformat it first.

If you’re a heavy user, SanDisk also sells a four-slot Pro-Blade Station for around £500, though this uses 40Gbits/sec Thunderbolt 3 as its interface rather than 20Gbits/sec USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C. Well-heeled creatives might want that attached to a desktop system with the Transport for mobile use, though that’s a significant investment.  


SanDisk Pro-Blade Transport review: How does it perform?

The big selling point of the Pro-Blade is its sheer convenience. You can have multiple Mags on the go to cover different needs, like different video projects or backups, then swap them in and out at will. There’s no messing around with the old Safely Remove Hardware button in the Windows taskbar, and inserting and hot-swapping Mags just works. It’s a more elegant solution than having a bunch of external drives, and there’s even a space to mark project names or add a label on the bottom of each Mag. 

SanDisk Pro-Blade Transport review

SanDisk Pro-Blade Transport review

SanDisk Pro-Blade Transport reviewWhat’s more, raw performance is impressive. Sequential read/write speeds over a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 connection are up there with the fastest portable SSDs I’ve tested, with write speeds particularly strong. Random read/write speeds aren’t quite as stellar, but they’re still more than usable and it’s unlikely that anyone would use a Pro-Blade system to run apps anyway. 

For video and image editing, managing big graphics files or backing up and transferring huge amounts of data, the Pro-Blade Mags will cover everything you need. There also appears to be no significant difference between drives of different sizes. I tested both the 2TB and 4TB capacities, and the test results were virtually the same.

SanDisk Pro-Blade Transport review

SanDisk Pro-Blade Transport reviewNote that you will need a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 port to make the most of the Pro-Blade Transport. Use a vanilla USB 3.2 Gen 2 connection and sequential read/write performance drops by roughly half. I found that the same applies if you don’t use SanDisk’s bundled USB Type-C to Type-C cable. Look after it, as generic Type-C cables that work perfectly well with other USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 drives don’t appear to work effectively here.

READ NEXT: Best monitors

SanDisk Pro-Blade Transport review: Are there any useful extras?

SanDisk doesn’t supply any software with the Pro-Blade Transport, assuming that you’ll use Windows and MacOS’s built-in storage management and backup tools or some kind of third-party app. If you want to encrypt files to protect them while Mags are in the wild, you’ll need to use Windows BitLocker, Apple’s FileVault or something else.

SanDisk Pro-Blade Transport review: Should you buy it?

There’s no avoiding the fact that the Pro-Blade system comes at a price. The packages that include the Transport and a Mag offer the best value but are by no means cheap: you could pick up a couple of 2TB SSDs for not much more than the 2TB Mag package. 

Yet there will be people out there who will find the convenience of the Transport and hot-swappable Mag drives worth paying for, especially professionals who might be working across a range of projects and want to keep their storage better organised. 

If you’re just looking for speedy portable storage, this system will be overkill, but if you want a different kind of storage that fits the way you work, the SanDisk Pro-Blade Transport could be just what you need.

Read more