SanDisk Professional Blade Station Review: A Harmonic Workflow for Media Professionals

Recently Mark Pickavance from TechRadarPro reviewed the SanDisk Professional PRO BLADE Station. An intuitive concept that simplifies the process of transferring collected data to a system. The Pro-Blade Station is intended for a specific circumstance, although it may have broader uses.

What SanDisk constructed was an architecture around a unique casing for NVMe drives which they've named a 'Pro-Blade SSD Mag'. These are refined metal-covered sticks with 1TB, 2TB, or 4TB capacity that completely encase the NVMe module.

These then use two access methods, the first of which is Pro-Blade Transport, a single blade that connects to USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 ports and can transport data at a rate of 20Gbit/s.

The Pro-Blade Transport with a Pro-Blade Station SSD Mag inserted is said to be connected to a data capturing device, maybe a digital camera. Once data has been written to the Mag, it may be disconnected and connected to a computer through the Pro-Blade Station.

It can take up to four Mags at once and then transport the data to the computer at up to 40Gbit/s via Thunderbolt 3.

SanDisk Professional PRO-BLADE Design

The SanDisk Professional Blade Station is built to the same high standards as the rest of the SanDisk Professional gear we've seen.

The Pro-Blade Station is arguably over-engineered in this situation because it is unlikely to be handled hard or have big weights placed on it.

However, it is designed to complement the Transport and the Mags, and they may be subjected to hard treatment or abuse in normal use. The Mags are rated for a 3m drop and 4000lb crush force by SanDisk, however they don't appear to be waterproof.

Because of the shape of the Mags, they can only be used in one position, and once inserted into Pro=Blade Station, a little LED above the slot indicates that they've been recognized, and this flashes when they're in use.

Multiple transfers can be launched when four Mags are connected at the same time, but they will not be any quicker than if the data were copied separately due to the speed restriction imposed by Thunderbolt bandwidth.

On a PC, you should be able to reformat all four Mags into a single storage volume of up to 16TB, but you wouldn't be able to utilize them away from the Pro=Blade Station, so that would be somewhat academic.

The Pro=Blade Station's power connection is USB-C, and the station features two Thunderbolt connectors that allow it to daisy chain additional Thunderbolt electronics.

SanDisk Professional PRO-BLADE Performance

What's tough to refute is that the Pro-Blade Station and SSD Mag combo is extremely fast over Thunderbolt 3 or 4, using the 40Gbit/s channel.

We achieved 3,072 MB/s reads and 2600MB/s writes using CrystalDiskMark 8.0.4, making this the fastest external Thunderbolt SSD we've ever tested.

However, the OWC Envoy FX external SSD isn't far behind these figures, as the limiting factor to performance is Thunderbolt bandwidth rather than the drives themselves.

The corresponding Transport component does not support Thunderbolt and instead employs USB 3.2 Gen 2x2. While this will work with cameras that support USB 3.2, very few support Gen 2x2, as this is a USB specification that was never widely adopted. Most cameras with USB support 5Gbps Gen 1 mode, which has a transmission speed of 500MB/s.

It's acceptable that they utilized USB because so few cameras offer Thunderbolt, but it does show that the performance in this system is weighted towards the transport and editing end of the process rather than the recording point.

Read the full review from TechRadarPro HERE

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