Transcend ESD400 Portable SSD Conclusion
IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions.
Laptop computers started outselling desktop computers over a decade ago, and this swiftly led to the creation and eventual commoditization of the ubiquitous USB-powered external drive for backup and data transfer. However, these drives were virtually always based on slow, 5,400-RPM 2.5″ mechanisms, which limited performance, especially as laptop capacities grew. Now we have the dawn of the “external SSD”. The Transcend ESD400 is the third external drive I’ve tested recently– the other two being the Samsung T3 and the La Cie Porsche Design drive.
Like the Samsung T3, the Transcend ESD400 uses UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) to maximize its performance. It’s much faster than any mechanical hard drive, and that translates into less time for your backups and file transfers. While the Transcend and Samsung traded places in a few of the benchmarks, overall the performance of the MLC Transcend and TLC Samsung are very similar. The biggest difference in overall performance shows up in the PCMark Vantage test, where the Samsung drive posts a score about 25% better.
While the performance of the Transcend is similar to that of the Samsung, it enjoys a significant price advantage, especially in the 500GB-and-up capacities, as of the time of this writing. There are other considerations– Samsung offers a 2TB version, while Transcend does not; and Samsung’s security software, which allows you to encrypt and password-protect the drive, is arguably more useful than Transcend’s rather uninspiring backup software. Also, the sleek aluminum enclosure of the T3 makes the ESD400’s diamond-patterned black plastic look a little déclassé.
And keep in mind that with either external SSD, you’ll be paying a substantial premium for that solid-state performance: for the price of either drive’s 1TB version, you could buy the 8TB version of the La Cie Porsche Design Desktop drive. And it charges your USB-C laptop, too.
So who’s the intended market? People who need fast backups, or people who don’t want to wait for gigabytes of files to copy? Perhaps both, or perhaps people who just hate spinning hard drives on principle and want something better. OK, that last one’s a stretch, but still: external SSDs are kinda cool.
My only complaint about this drive is the backup software: while functional, its user interface quirks and non-standard Windows installation leave me cold.
Transcend has the ESD400 external SSD 128GB at $59.99, 256GB at $94.99, 512TB at $184.99, and 1TB at $364.95 capacities. These prices all undercut Samsung’s as of the time of this writing, so unless the latter’s security software is a real advantage for you, the Transcend looks like a better buy.
+ Outstanding performance for an external USB-powered drive
+ Very small and light, high impact resistance
+ Less expensive than the competition…for now
– Very expensive compared to traditional external drives
– Lackluster backup utility
- Performance: 9.00
- Appearance: 8.00
- Construction: 9.25
- Functionality: 8.75
- Value: 9.00
Final Score: 8.80 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
COMMENT QUESTION: Which brand of SSD do you trust most?