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Buffalo SSD-PG Portable SSD Review

Buffalo’s SSD-PG Portable SSD (starts at $69.99 for the 500GB version we tested) is a good choice for people wanting to replace a slow and heavy spinning hard drive with a portable external solid-state drive (SSD). The thin, all-black SSD-PG provides some additional zip—being about twice as fast as a typical hard disk drive—at an affordable price if you’re a careful shopper. It can also survive being dropped or mishandled. Although the SSD-PG is fine for everyday use, it is relatively slow as modern external SSDs go; much faster options are available that needn’t break the bank.


A Little Workaday Monolith for the Road

The SSD-PG is a matte-black slab measuring 0.4 by 3 by 4.6 inches (HWD). On top, the Buffalo name is inlaid in glossy type, and a status light is at the top right corner. (The LED glows white when the drive is plugged in, and pulses when a transfer is in progress.)

On one side is a USB Micro-B port, which fits one end of an included cable. The other end can be connected to a computer’s USB Type-A port, or to an included USB-A-to-C adapter for use with a computer-side USB-C port.

(Photo: Molly Flores)

On the bottom of the drive are two stickers, one with model- and serial-number info, the other promoting Buffalo’s data-recovery service, a joint venture with DriveSavers. (If your drive fails, you can get a free DriveSavers evaluation with no shipping fee, and there’s no charge if Buffalo can’t recover your data.) A scannable QR code takes you to the company’s data-recovery page.

Buffalo SSD-PG Portable SSD underside

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The SSD-PG sports some ruggedness cred, meeting the U.S. military’s MIL-STD-810G 516.6 Procedure IV qualifications for drop resistance. This drop test (often called a shock test) entails dropping the product 26 times from about four feet, to test the shock resistance of all faces, edges, and corners. The drive has no Ingress Protection (IP) rating, indicating that it has not been tested for dust or water resistance. The Micro-B port is not sealed.

Buffalo SSD-PG Portable SSD interface

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Buffalo lists the SSD-PG at $69.99 for the 500GB version (the one we tested) and $114.99 for the 1TB capacity. Reseller prices will vary, though. Based on current Amazon pricing, the drives will set you back about 13 cents and 10 cents per gigabyte respectively, making the 1TB drive easily the better bargain. Some retailers, meanwhile, price the 1TB SSD-PG in the $130 range, others considerably lower. Your mileage may vary when you look.

The SSD-PG is covered by a two-year warranty, although Buffalo will tack an extra year onto the warranty if you register the drive with the company within 90 days of purchase. That, really, should not be a stipulation for the extra coverage, though it is by no means unique.

One point of concern: A note packaged with the SSD-PG informs users that the drive may not play well with computers equipped with certain AMD Ryzen CPUs, specifically Ryzen 4000 series desktop and mobile processors with AMD Radeon Graphics, and Ryzen 5000 series desktop processors. The drive transfers files in either UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) mode or BOT (Bulk Only Transport) mode, but a computer equipped with one of the above CPUs may not support USB drives in UASP mode.

Buffalo provides a free, downloadable fix in the form of a utility called USB Mode Manager. By running this program to change the drive’s transfer protocol to BOT mode, the drive will be compatible with computers running one of the CPUs in question. Still, that strikes us as something that needs to be installed from the factory, especially given the fast-accelerating popularity of Ryzen CPUs over the last three years.


Testing the SSD-PG: This Buffalo Won’t Stampede

We test all of our external SSDs on PC Labs’ main storage testbed, which is built on an Asus Prime X299 Deluxe motherboard with an Intel Core i9-10980XE Extreme Edition CPU. The system carries 16GB of Corsair Dominator DDR4 RAM clocked to 3,600MHz and a GeForce graphics card handling display output.

We ran our usual suite of external-SSD tests on the SSD-PG, comprising Crystal DiskMark 6.0, UL’s PCMark 10 Storage, BlackMagic’s Disk Speed Test, and our own folder transfer test. The first two are run on a PC with the drive formatted in NTFS, and the latter two on a 2016 MacBook Pro using exFAT. (See more about how we test solid-state drives.)

In running the Crystal DiskMark 6.0 benchmark—which measures the transfer speeds for large, contiguous blocks of data—from our standard Windows 10 testbed, the SSD-PG turned in sequential read/write scores of 251MBps read and 227MBps write. This is well under its rated peak read/write speeds of 340MBps and 320MBps, respectively, and slow for an external SSD based on a SATA core, particularly in reads. In contrast, the Crucial X6 had a healthy 557MBps read score but a ho-hum 212MBps write speed. Even the middling HP Portable SSD P500 scored 420MBps for read and just 265MBps for write speeds. The Buffalo SSD-PUT portable stick drive did better, turning in a read score of 439MBps and a write score of 404MBps.

That said, in Crystal DiskMark the SSD-PG outpaced portable external drives based on spinning mechanisms (not charted here). These platters tend to score in a narrow range, between 115MBps and 135MBps for both sequential read and write. The 5TB WD My Passport, for example, scored 131MBps for read and 126MBps for write.

In the PCMark 10 Storage Test, which measures an SSD’s readiness to perform a wide variety of everyday tasks, the Buffalo SSD-PG did better. Its score of 647 puts it in the middle of our comparison set.

On the Mac side of the test bench, in BlackMagic testing, which measures a drive’s sequential read and write speeds, the SSD-PG turned in a read speed of 328MBps and a write speed of 384MBps, faster than the HP P500 but slower than the SSD-PUT (384MBps read, 400MBps write) and well behind the Crucial X6 (458MBps read, 521MBps write) and the TeamGroup T-Force Treasure Touch (473MBps read, 484MBps write).

In sum, it’s adequate to everyday tasks, but far from a speedster in modern SSD terms.


Shock-Resistant and Steady Enough

The Buffalo SSD-PG won’t win any awards for speed. The newest external SSDs with PCI Express-based internals and USB 3.2 Gen 2 system-side interfaces are finally bringing a welcome, palpable speed boost to the direct-attached-storage market. That trend leaves drives like this one in their dust.

Buffalo SSD-PG

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The SSD-PG should serve just fine for everyday, unfussy data storage and transfer, and it is about twice as fast as a typical spinning portable hard drive. (The speed would give us pause were we writing gigabytes to it day in and out.) It’s a decent grab-and-go pick—all the more so because it can take a beating. Based on current retail pricing, the 1TB model is much more cost-effective per gigabyte than the 500GB model; its price varies considerably between vendors, but you shouldn’t have to pay much more than $100 for it. For that money, you get a solid, sturdy, and highly portable SSD, but its value proposition rises and falls with the actual street price.

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