Freecom Tough Drive Mini SSD 256GB full review
Freecom has had a tough drive in its range for a while now, literally dubbed the Tough Drive – a portable hard drive with chunky rubber armour to protect it against shocks and drops.
More recently the drive went solid-state, an option added of a 2.5in SATA SSD with 256 GB capacity. Now we have the Tough Drive Mini SSD, taking an mSATA SSD inside to allow it to shrink to just 87 mm long.
The Tough Drive Mini SSD looks exactly like its larger namesake, just scaled down to more diminutive proportions with the help of the baby mSATA device inside, itself only around 50 x 30 mm and under 4 mm thick.
Putting an SSD inside the Tough Drive’s rubber jacket is a real belt-and-braces protection plan, since the SSD itself is almost impervious to shock and vibration – the bouncy coating was devised in earlier times with delicate hard disks in mind, which do need plenty of care in handling; especially when actually powered up. See our group test: What's the best SSD?
The Tough Drive Mini SSD inherits its predecessor’s built-in cable with USB plug, which neatly folds inside and is secured by a magnet when not in use. It certainly helps prevent the loss of the cable at a critical moment. And where we found the old full-size Tough Drive cable to be short for comfort much of the time, the Tough Drive Mini is simply annoyingly undersized.
The cable is quite stiff, with a 90 degree bend engineered into the plastic shank which you must tug to straighten to get the plug away from the drive body. If you have a laptop perfectly flat on the desk it’s just about long enough to reach into most USB ports. But raise your computer on a stand or platform and the drive will be left dangling in the air. Fortunately at 70 g it won’t immediately strain the supporting USB port enough to break it.
Freecom advertises this Tough Drive as compliant with IP55 standard for dust and water resistance. The specification of resistant to bumps and drops up to 4 metres looks almost conservative – given the SSD with no moving parts inside, the thick rubber and plastic jacket outside and the overall low weight, we’d anticipate being able to drop this from the top of our seven-storey office and still have a working drive at the bottom.
Two capacities are available, 128 or 256 GB, and the colour finish is the same as all other Tough Drive models from Freecom – grey silicone rubber jacket, black hard plastic end cap and a light blue stripe that encircles the drive. See also: best portable hard drives 2015 UK.
Freecom Tough Drive Mini SSD 256GB review: Performance
When used with a recent Windows PC or Mac, you can expect to see read speeds around 400 MB/s, and write speeds some way behind at around 280 MB/s.
Tested in Windows with CrystalDiskMark, we saw top sequential transfer speeds of 415 MB/s read and 287 MB/s write. Small files were handled swiftly, at 159 and 74 MB/s respectively for 4 kB random read and writes at queue depth 32.
In OS X, QuickBench showed best sequential speeds of 435 MB/s reads and 270 MB/s writes. Small files (4 kB to 1024 kB) averaged 169 MB/s for reads, and 147 MB/s for writes.
Freecom Tough Drive Mini SSD 256GB: Specs
- 256 GB portable flash drive
- mSATA SSD
- USB 3.0 with built-in cable
- protected to IP55 for water and dust resistance
- 87 x 53 x 17.2 mm
- 70 g