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Adata's SD700 portable SSD reviewed

3D TLC in a rugged shell

The portable external SSD market has expanded prodigiously over the last few years. These days, a plethora of brands are gobbling up NAND to slap into diminutive enclosures and charge exorbitant prices for them. In a bittersweet turn, however, that premium has shrunk in recent months. The global NAND shortage has driven SSD prices up across the board, but such fluctuations affect already-marked-up product segments like external storage less than the average SATA daily driver.

Given the way the NAND winds are blowing, it's a better time than usual to shell out for an external SSD. Today we've got a relatively new contender for your consideration:  Adata's SD700.

The SD700's shtick is all about blending SSD speeds with rugged portability. The SD700 meets IP68 specs, meaning it's claimed to be dust-proof and can survive 1.5-meter submersion in water for at least an hour. Furthermore, it meets the MIL-STD-810G 516.6 standard, which translates to "military-grade" shock resistance. The rubber rim must be left intact and the USB flap closed for those promises to apply, so make sure to go for the black option if highlighter yellow isn't your style.

So what does one do with such a weather-resistant, indestructable drive? Adata seems to think the SD700 will be the storage choice of surfers, beach volleyball players, and dune buggiers, if this marketing video is to believed:

Our apologies—we didn't put any of those use cases to the test. We did, however, immediately void all guarantees of proofing and fastness by taking the thing apart.

Inside, it becomes clear that the SD700 is an SU800 in disguise. Micron's TLC 3D NAND and Silicon Motion's SM2258 are back in action, but this time with a JMicron JMS578 SATA-to-USB bridge controller playing frontman. The performance characteristics of the SU800 are well-understood from our previous in-depth testing, so we expect few surprises from the SD700.

The JMicron bridge means the SU800 communicates with the outside world using USB 3.0 (or USB 3.1 Gen 1, if you prefer). That means the drive should be plenty fast in real-world use, but USB 3.1 Gen 2's 10 Gbps speeds are becoming a more and more common pairing for external SSDs. We'd be surprised if the SD700 eclipses the recently-released Samsung Portable SSD T5 and its Gen 2 connection in real-world usage.

The SD700 comes in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB varieties, each of which is available in either black or yellow trim and backed by a three-year warranty. Amazon is currently selling the yellow 512GB unit we're testing for $195, but you can save five dollars by opting for black.