Apple charges a premium for upgrading the built-in SSD on Macs. Now that the external SSDs prices have fallen, it doesn’t make sense to pay that premium. Instead, we recommend you get the minimum internal storage you are comfortable working with and invest in external SSDs for storing other files. An external SSD is also good for creating Time Machine backups and moving files between multiple devices. To help you choose the best external SSD for your Mac, we have created this buying guide. Here are the best external SSD for Mac you should buy in 2023.
Best External SSD for Mac to buy in 2023
While SSDs have become cheaper, external hard drives are still the king if you want storage for archiving and handling your large media library. We have already published a guide on the best external hard drives for MacBook Pro, which can help you find the best hard drive for storing long-term data.
That said, if you want to work off your external storage, SSDs are still the best option. Here are some benefits of choosing an external SSD:
- SSDs are smaller and more portable.
- Since SSDs don’t have any moving parts, they are sturdy and long-lasting.
- SSDs offer faster transfer speeds, allowing you to work off your external drives.
- Some SSDs also offer additional features such as drop protection, water resistance, and more.
- SSDs offer better encryption tools to safeguard your data.
- SSDs come with a USB-C port, meaning you don’t need any dongle to use them with your Mac.
If you want all these features, here are the top 7 SSDs for Mac you can buy in 2023. To make choosing an SSD easier for our readers, we have divided this guide into three sections. You can use the table of content below to move to any section you want.
- Best affordable external SSD for Mac
- Best rugged external SSD for Mac
- Best secure SSD for Mac with hardware encryption
Best affordable external SSD for Mac
In this section, we will list the best affordable SSDs you can buy for your MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, and iMac. The section will help you find affordable regular SSDs, durable SSDs, and high-performance SSDs.
1. Crucial X8 portable SSD for Mac
The Crucial X8 portable SSD for Mac is the most affordable SSD on this list. While there are hundreds of cheaper SSDs you can find on Amazon, this trumps them all thanks to its faster read and write speeds. Despite its affordable pricing, the Crucial X8 portable SSD offers up to 1,050 MB/s of read speeds and 1,000 MB/s of write speeds.
It works with the macOS system out of the box, so you don’t need to format it to make it compatible. The Crucial X8 portable SSD features a durable design with an anodized aluminum core and offers drop protection of up to 7.5 feet. It also gets shock protection and extreme temperature protection. You can get this drive in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB storage options.
2. SanDisk Extreme portable SSD
The SanDisk Extreme portable SSD is our choice of recommendation for most Mac users, as it offers the best value for money. This NVMe solid-state drive offers up to 1050MB/s read and up to 1000MB/s write speeds. Thanks to its sturdy construction, the drive can survive falls up to 2 meters (>6.5 feet) and offers IP55 dust and water resistance.
The drive also has a handy carabiner loop that allows you to securely attach it to your belt loop or backpack. It also includes a password protection feature that encrypts your data with 256‐bit AES hardware encryption, so your data remains private even if you lose the drive. With so many features on offer, the SanDisk Extreme portable SSD is the best value for many external SSD for Mac you can buy.
3. Kingston XS2000 high-performance portable SSD
If you are looking for a high-performance portable SSD at an affordable price, the Kingston XS2000 is for you. The Kingston XS2000 offers industry-leading read and write speeds of up to 2,000 MB/s, allowing you to transfer an 8GB file in under 10 seconds. You can even edit 8K videos off this external SSD without issues. That makes it the best affordable high-performance SSD for video editors, 3D artists, and other professionals who work with large files.
Despite such high transfer speeds, the Kingston XS2000 can easily fit in your pocket. The drive comes with a rubber sleeve that you can use to make it drop, impact, and water-resistant. That said, Kingston has not provided an IP rating, so don’t dunk this in water. While other high-performance SSDs can cost upwards of $300 (for a 2TB model), you can get the Kingston XS2000 below $200, making it one of the most affordable yet high-performance SSD for Mac.
Best rugged external SSD for Mac
In this section, we will list the best rugged SSDs for Mac you can buy. You can find SSDs that offer up to IP68 dust and water resistance and extreme resistance to drops and impacts.
4. Samsung T7 Shield
The Samsung T7 Shield is our favorite rugged external SSD for Mac. It strikes the best balance between price and protection. As the name suggests, the Samsung T7 Shield is the rugged version of the popular Samsung T7 external SSD. It features a PCIe NVMe drive that reaches sequential read and write speeds of up to 1,050 MB/s and 1,000 MB/s. You can use the SSD to transfer files, create a Time Machine backup, and even edit 4K videos right off the drive.
What separates it from the normal Samsung T7 SSD is its high-tech rubber exterior. Its rugged design and rubber exterior ensure that it can handle drops up to 9.8 feet 3 (meters), so you don’t have to worry even if you have butter fingers. The drive also gets IP65 dust and water resistance, meaning it is totally dust tight and can survive against low-pressure water jets.
The Samsung T7 Shield is available in black, white, and blue colors and you can get it in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB configurations.
5. LaCie rugged SSD and SSD Pro
When it comes to durable SSD, LaCie is a brand you can trust. The LaCie rugged SSD is covered in a rubberized material that makes it highly durable. The SSD has an IP67 water-resistant rating, meaning it is dust tight and can survive 30 minutes underwater up to a depth of 1 meter (3.3 feet). It also offers 3 meters (9.9 feet) of drop protection and can handle two tons of pressure. The SSD is also super-fast, clocking 1,050 MB/s of read and write speeds. Other features of the LaCie rugged SSD include Seagate Secure AES-256 self-encryption, rescue data recovery services, and 1 month of free Adobe Creative Cloud.
LaCie also offers a rugged SSD Pro version, which is meant for video editing and 3D modeling professionals. While costing almost double the regular versions, the LaCie SSD Pro offers playback and recording speeds of up to 2,800 MB/s, making it one of the fastest SSDs on the market. You get all the protection features including 3-meter drop protection, IP67 dust and water resistance, and a two-ton car crush resistance.
6. SanDisk Professional PRO-G40 SSD
SanDisk Professional PRO-G40 SSD is meant for video professionals. This external SSD drive offers up to 2700 MB/s read and 1900 MB/s write speeds with Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps) connection. To give you context, you can transfer a 50GB file in under 1 minute using this SSD. The SanDisk Professional PRO-G40 SSD also offers extreme durability. It is rated IP68 for water and dust resistance, 4000 pounds crush resistance, and 3m drop resistance.
The SSD has a cool aluminum core that pulls heat from the internals to maintain high transfer speeds for prolonged use. It has a highly industrial design, which we love. Despite offering similar features to LaCie SSD Pro, the SanDisk PRO-G40 SSD is almost $150 cheaper than the former, making it an excellent rugged SSD for professionals.
Best secure SSD for Mac with hardware encryption
If you carry sensitive data on your external SSD and want a drive that no thief can break into, these secure SSDs for Mac are for you.
7. Samsung T7 Touch
For most users who are looking to store files in an encrypted SSD, the Samsung T7 Touch is the best option. The drive is based on the popular Samsung T7 drive and offers up to 1,050 MB/s of read and 1,000 MB/s of write speeds. It has a metal aluminum enclosure and offers up to 6 feet of drop protection.
What makes the T7 Touch unique is the built-in fingerprint sensor. When you use the drive for the first time, it will ask you to create a password and set up your fingerprint (you can set up to 4 fingerprints). Once you complete the setup process, your drive will store all your files behind hardware encryption.
You can access your files on any device by unlocking your drive using your fingerprint. You don’t need to install any software on other devices, which makes it convenient to use. The Samsung T7 Touch is also relatively affordable, making it the best secure and encrypted drive for Mac users.
8. Kingston IronKey Vault Privacy 80
The Kingston IronKey Vault Privacy 80 is OS-independent hardware encrypted drive meant for users who deal with highly sensitive data. The drive is made to withstand brute force and BadUSB with digitally-signed firmware attacks. The drive is FIPS 197 certified, which is a publicly available advanced cryptographic encryption standard used by NSA. Needless to say, your data will be sure inside this drive.
The best part is that the drive is user-friendly despite its high level of hardware encryption. The Kingston drive features a touch-screen that allows you to enter your password to unlock the data in seconds. We love that the drive features a multi-password structure, allowing for admin and regular accounts, which adds an extra layer of security.
The only drawback of this drive is that you get far slower transfer speeds, with the drive clocking a read and write speeds of up to 250 MB/s. However, if you deal with sensitive data, most of it will be in document form, which lessens the impact of slower transfer speeds, if only a little.
Top external SSD for Mac: final thoughts
That ends our list of the best external SSD for Mac. We have included affordable SSDs, rugged SSDs, and secure and encrypted SSDs on this list. We hope that the list was able to help you find the best SSD for your Mac. If you have questions regarding any of the products on this list, ask in the comments and we will answer as soon as possible.