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Faster AND cheaper: Sandisk Extreme 500 Portable SSD review

Seldom do you encounter a product that has higher performance yet is also more economical.  But that is what you’ll get with the Sandisk Extreme 500 Portable SSD, compared with a conventional SD card.

The Insta360 Pro (reviewed here) can use either an SD card and/or a USB 3.0 external drive (it can use either one by itself or both at the same time).   Due to the Insta360 Pro’s very high 8K or 6K3D resolution, you need to use very fast storage, and it needs to be high capacity as well.  I used the Sandisk Extreme Pro 128GB  SD Card which costs around $67, or around 50 cents per GB.  Its speed is claimed to be 95mbps read, and 90mbps write.  In terms of performance with the Insta360 Pro, it hasn’t failed me except with the 4K 120fps mode, where it will stop recording after around 2 minutes and indicate that the card speed is insufficient.

Meanwhile, the Sandisk Extreme 500 is an external SSD drive.  Because it has no moving parts, it is quite rugged and fast, with a claimed speed of 430mbps read and 400 mbps write for the 480GB version.  The kicker is that it costs around $190 for the 480GB version, or around 40 cents per GB, which makes it cost less per GB than the Sandisk Extreme Pro.

The Sandisk Extreme 500 includes the drive and a short USB 3.0 to Micro B cable.  There’s a separate carrying case available.

There are several benefits to using the Sandisk Extreme 500 compared to the Sandisk Extreme Pro SD card:
+ larger capacity
+ due to its much higher speed, you can record at 4K 120mbps for a longer duration
+ it is much faster to download your videos to your PC for stitching
+ you can use both the Extreme 500 and an SD card, using the SD card as a backup.

The Extreme 500 drive does have some disadvantages over an SD card:
– it will dangle from the Insta360 Pro.
– to use the drive, you need to wait until the Insta360 Pro startup has completed before plugging in the hard drive.  Otherwise, if you plug it in before starting the Insta360 Pro, it won’t recognize that you’re using the external drive.

One concern I had was whether the drive would show up on the photo.  If you allow the Sandisk Extreme to dangle and you’re moving around then yes it can show up in the nadir.  If you use a velcro strap to strap the cable to your monopod then no, it won’t show up.

To me, the advantages easily outweigh the disadvantages.  If you’d like to buy the Sandisk Extreme 500, it is available from Amazon or B&H Photo.

Another alternative is this Sandisk Extreme Pro USB 3.1, an SSD-like thumbdrive that will not need to be strapped:

Sandisk Extreme Pro USB 3.1
Sandisk Extreme Pro USB 3.1

Sandisk claims to have read speeds of up to 420MB/s; write speeds of up to 380MB/s, i.e. similar to the Extreme 500’s speed.  Although it won’t need to be strapped, there are a couple of disadvantages: first, it’s more expensive per GB.  Second, if it gets accidentally nudged, I’m afraid of either the Insta360 Pro or the thumdrive being damaged.  But if you prefer this drive, you can buy it here (128GB or 256GB, which has a lower cost per GB).

In summary, one of the Insta360 Pro’s key features is that it can record to SSD, which is much faster than any Micro SD or SD card.  Moreover, the Sandisk Extreme 500 costs less per GB and I would recommend it for anyone with an Insta360 Pro.  If you don’t want to have to strap the short USB cable, then you can get the Extreme Pro USB 3.1 instead.  Thank you very much for using these links to support 360 Rumors at no additional cost to you so I can do more tests and reviews!

About the author

Mic Ty

13 Comments

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  • What is your feedback compared to the Samsung T3 SSD 500 G? Is it the Samsung better as its recommended by Insta360

    • Hi Hugh. I haven’t tried the Samsung T3 so I don’t know for sure. I do notice that the T3 uses USB Type C, while the Sandisk uses Micro B.
      Best regards,
      Mic

      • What is different between USC Type C and Micro B? I actually purchasing the Mid 2017 macbook pro so I can edit 360 in mobile instead of in my studio. And it is all USB Type C ports. Is that mean I should just get T3?

        • Hi Hugh. Micro B is a type of USB sometimes used in external drives. It looks like a micro usb but have an extra ‘head’. I think you can use either one. If you use the Sandisk, you’ll need a USB C to Micro B (yes there is such a cable). If you use Samsung, you’ll need USB C to USB C (yes there is such a cable too). I don’t know how the two types of ports differ in performance.
          Best regards,
          Mic

          • Thanks for the clarification. I am looking for a SSD drive I can directly use as editing base for media caches and Insta360 footage storage to speed up workflow – so no more dumping footage into the hard drive and stitch – but directly stitching on the SSD and dump the original footage to save space. A fast and reliable SSD is crucial in this workflow.

  • Hi Mic,

    I am using a 240GB SanDisk Extreme 500 with the Insta360 Pro. On my first attempt, the Insta360 Pro failed to recognize my USB drive. It only recognized the drive once I powered cycled the camera while *keeping the SSD connected*. After recording video in a few different modes, the SSD became unrecognized (not physically) mid-recording and the recording stopped. I could not get the drive to connect again.

    Have you experienced anything like this when using your SanDisk Extreme 500 drive with the Insta360 Pro? I am thinking about returning it and getting a Samsung T3.

    Thank you,
    Eric

    • Hi Eric. Sorry for the delayed reply. You need to power up the Insta360 pro completely (wait until you see the main screen with icons) before connecting the Extreme 500. It hasn’t failed me mid-recording yet…
      Best regards,
      Mic

      • Thank you for the reply. I ended up returning the SanDisk and purchasing a 500 GB Samsung T5. I have not had any issues with the Samsung T5.

        Best,
        Eric

    • Hi Eric,

      I am having trouble as well. The Insta360 Pro will not recognize the external drive(SanDisk Extreme 500) I am trying all sorts of power cycling with it attached or not and nothing seems to work, I have also tried a number of different file formats. Nothing seems to work forme.

      Did you find a solution?

      Loudon

      • Hi Loudon,

        As stated in my comment to Mic, I ended up purchasing a 500GB Samsung T5 instead and have not had a problem since.

        Eric

        • Thanks Eric, can you confirm something for me? With the drive connected and working, If i connect to a Wi-Fi network it in mounts and mounts again. Is this normal behavior?

          loudon

          • Thanks Eric, Glad to know it isn’t me. Seems to work fine even though it un mounts and mounts! Just a little unnerving to see.

            Best,
            Loudon