In this post, you'll learn about the best external SSDs for music production. These fast and reliable SSDs are well-suited for streaming large sample libraries, real-time recording, project archival, and more.
Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSD
If pure speed is what you crave, look no further than the Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSD. Unlike the SATA-powered Samsung 860 series, the 970 EVO Plus uses an NVME connection, which provides much higher bandwidth. Compared to the 860 EVO's maximum read speed of 550 MB/s, the 970 EVO is capable of 3,500 MB/s – that's almost 7x faster. The 970 EVO Plus is available in various capacities from 250 GB to 2 TB.
With that said, you are unlikely to see 3,500 MB/s when using the Samsung 970 EVO Plus in an external enclosure. The popular Fledging USB 3.1 enclosure is capable of speeds in the 600 MB/s range, while the Orico USB 3.1 enclosure has been clocked at 700 MB/s by PC World. I prefer the Fledging enclosure due to its superior build quality and anodized aluminum casing.
So, why should you get the Samsung 970 EVO Plus over the 860 EVO when they offer similar performance when mounted inside an external enclosure? The answer is “future-proofing”. The 250 GB model of the 970 Evo Plus is only $15 more expensive than the 860 EVO – that's 5 cups of coffee at Starbucks for 7x more speed. With a theoretical top speed of 3,500 MB/s, the 970 EVO Plus will allow you to take advantage of faster connections in the future. For example, a demonstration of the upcoming USB 3.2 2x2 connection showed an average transfer rate of 1.6 GB/s. That's 1,600 MB/s, which is 3x the maximums speed of the EVO 860, but only 50% of the 970 EVO Plus’ max speed of 3,500 MB/s.
MSRP: $69.99 (250 GB) - $499.99 (2 TB)
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Samsung 860 EVO SSD
If you are on a tight budget, the Samsung 860 EVO SSD is a solid option, especially if you plan on only using the drive via a USB 3.1 connector. The 860 EVO is available in various capacities from 250 GB to 4 TB.
To connect the 860 EVO SSD to your computer, I'd recommend the Startech USB 3.1 adapter (USB-A, USB-C). Since SATA SSDs already have a layer of protective casing, using an adapter is more convenient than putting the drive in an enclosure. However, if your use case requires maximum protection, getting a proper enclosure like the ADATA ED600 is a good idea. With a high-quality USB 3.1 enclosure, you can expect to see speeds in the 550 MB/s range with the 860 EVO SSD. Lastly, if your use case requires storage capacity in excess of 2 TB, the Samsung 860 EVO series has a 4 TB model.
MSRP: $54.99 (250 GB) - $579.99 (4 TB)
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Glyph Atom SSD
If you prefer a solution that doesn't require dealing with enclosures and adapters, the Glyph Atom SSD is a solid choice. Glyph has been in the storage business for over a decade, and it's primary focus is building “rock-solid” storage products for “professional content creators around the world”.
The Glyph Atom SSD is available in various capacities from 250 GB to 2 TB, and features a maximum transfer rate of 560 MB/s. It comes with a rugged enclosure to protect the SSD in day to day use, and comes preformatted with HFS+. While the 860 EVO SSD is much cheaper per gigabyte, the Glyph Atom SSD is the one to get if you want a truly plug and play external SSD.
For enthusiasts who require maximum performance, Glyph also makes the Atom RAID SSD. This RAID-enabled external SSD is available in capacities from 500 GB to 4 TB, and features a maximum speed of 950 MB/s – approximately 2x faster than the non-RAID Atom SSD.
MSRP: $149.95 (500 GB) - $449.95 (2 TB)
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The Samsung 970 EVO Plus, Samsung 860 EVO SSD, and Glyph Atom are three excellent external SSDs for music production. Whether you're a live performer looking for a fast drive to store sample libraries or a recording engineer looking for a reliable drive to capture performances, these three SSDs will help you get your job done. If you have any questions about the SSDs mentioned in this post, feel free to send me an email or get in touch with me on Twitter.