The lightest (and best) Solid State Drives.

I’ve spent invested an ungodly amount of time researching the lightest, fastest, smallest external hard drives for filmmakers, photographers and digital nomads. As I’ve mentioned on previous articles, I’m prepping for a long-term multimedia project around the world where I’ll need as much storage space as I can get while carrying everything on my back. Idea? No. Real life? Yep.

While there are a lot of hard drive manufacturers out there, I’m only comparing the brands I’ve used for many years and know I can trust. To compare apples and apples, the criteria was to look for a 4TB solution, and to simplify the math, I’m assuming eight 480GB drives = 4TB.
The most important feature I’m looking for is weight, but speed is also a very critical factor as I’ll be shooting and editing 4K video. As a weight reference an Apple 13.3” MacBook Pro 2015 weights 3.46 lbs.
I added direct links to Amazon and B&H for each solution and I’d greatly appreciate if you use the links when you are ready to purchase something. It cost you nothing and it helps a bit.
If I’m missing something or you know of a better solution please shoot me an email or let’s chat on Twitter so everyone can benefit. Here are my findings:

The Samsung Option

Samsung 2TB T3 Portable Solid State Drive $750 = 0.4 lbs
Total Weight = 0.8 lbs
Total Price for 4TB = $1,500
Amazon and B&H


The Sandisk Option #1

SanDisk Extreme 960GB $450 Portable SSD
Total Weight = 0.8 lbs
Total Price for 4TB = $1,500
Amazon and B&H


The Sandisk Option #2

For this solution each drive has a caddy but we’d only get two Docking Stations so we’d only use two drives (2TB) at the same time.
4x SanDisk Extreme PRO 960GB SATA 6.0Gb/s 2.5-Inch $350 = 0.11lbs (Amazon and B&H)
1x Atomos shogun Caddy (x5) $30 = 0.4lbs (Amazon and B&H)
Atomos USB 3.0 Powered Docking Station $50 = 0.25lbs (Amazon and B&H)
Total Weight = 1.34 lbs
Total Price for 4TB = $1,530


The OWC Option

Note: I’m not 100% sure this configuration works, so I reached out to a good friend at OWC but I’m still waiting for his reply.
For this solution we’d only get two enclosures so we’d only use two drives (2TB) at the same time.
OWC 1TB Mercury Extreme Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD 2.5″ Serial-ATA $377 = 0.25lb (Amazon and B&H)
OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro USB 3.0 Portable Enclosure $25 = 0.4 lbs (Amazon and B&H)
Total Weight = 1.8 lbs
Total Price for 4TB = $1,558

We all know that as hard drives get bigger and faster over time, prices are expected to get lower. Here’s an interesting price chart for the past 2 years for the Sandisk Extreme Solid State Drives. It went from $700 to $350 in less than two years.


And here’s the same chart for a Transcend SD memory card. In two years it went from $66.95 to the current price of around $25.


If you don’t need (or don’t want to pay for) a Solid State Drive, but also need a small high-capacity drive, here are some (heavier) options:

Hitachi Tuoro Desk DX3

Hitachi often performs as the most reliable hard drive brand. It’s a shame they currently don’t offer a lighter, high-capacity solution.
Total Weight = 3.3 LBS
Total Price for 4TB = $180
Amazon and B&H


G-Tech 4TB G-Drive

I’ve used many G-Tech drives over the years with great success, but their current solutions are too heavy and bulky for my needs.
Total Weight = 2.4 lbs
Total Price for 4TB = $190
Amazon and B&H


CalDigit 2TB Tuff

CalDigit is a very reputable brand, but their largest portable drive is only 2TB.
At NAB I spoke with one of their product managers and he mentioned an upcoming 4TB and 6TB solution. Let’s wait and see.
Total Weight = 2.9 lbs
Total Price for 4TB = $350
Amazon and B&H


LACIE 4TB rugged

I have avoided LaCie like the plague for at 2 or 3 years, after way too many personal and client nightmares. But I’m hearing good comments regarding their rugged drives. I hope they got their act together and might get one of their hard drives to test it.
Total Weight = 1.23 lbs
Total Price for 4TB = $400
Amazon and B&H


OWC 4TB Mercury Elite Pro

Total Weight = 5.5 lbs
Total Price for 4TB = $439
Amazon and B&H