SanDisk ArmorATD Review: Is the protective hard drive’s lower price worth skipping faster SSDs?

SanDisk Professional 2TB G-DRIVE ArmorATD protective hard drive

The latest model SanDisk Professional 2TB G-DRIVE ArmorATD protective hard drive is in the spotlight today. Solid-state portable solutions have become far more affordable than year’s past, but they still, for the most part, can’t quite compete with the per TB pricing on traditional hard drives. The G-DRIVE ArmorATD lineup offers up a rugged solution for content creators and more at a relatively affordable cost of entry, but are the far slower transfers speeds compared to that of its SSD brethren worth the savings? Are hard drives even still a worth while investment? Let’s see if the ArmorATD brings enough to the table in other aspects for it to be worth your time. Head below for our hands-on review of the latest-generation SanDisk Professional 2TB G-DRIVE ArmorATD protective hard drive

SanDisk G-DRIVE ArmorATD protective hard drive review

As I have mentioned in previous storage reviews, I have been a G-DRIVE user for many years – since well before the series of sales and acquisitions that landed it in the Western Digital fold. It’s external raid and other hard drive solutions were, and still are to some degree, a staple in music studios and even video editing rigs for many users due to reliability, crush resistance, and attractive enclosures. I use a SanDisk 2TB G-DRIVE SSD as my main sample and music creation drive to this day, although that might change after being so impressed with the Extreme lineup recently.  

But today, we are turning our attention to the latest-generation SanDisk Professional 2TB G-DRIVE ArmorATD. The protective hard drive might not be the speedy SSD solution most folks have moved on to when it comes to their portable EDC and home backups, but it also comes in at a much more affordable price tag and it’s time to see what the latest edition has to offer for the much more digestible MSRP.  

Quick look specs:

  • USB-C (5Gbps) drive for quick file backup and storage 
  • USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 3 compatible 
  • Transfer rates of up to 140MB/s Read and 130MB/s write (1TB and 2TB capacities) 
  • Premium, anodized aluminum enclosure for strength you can feel 
  • Built tough with an easy-grip bumper for pro-grade durability you can trust 
  • Triple-layer shock resistance for added protection 
  • Rain-and dust-resistant (IP54) enclosure with a 1000-lb. crush resistance 
  • Up to 5TB of reliable storage and backup of critical photos, videos and files 
  • 3-Year limited warranty


The SanDisk Professional 2TB G-DRIVE ArmorATD protective hard drive ships in your standard issue Western Digital packaging – a nice white box with a flimsy plastic insert carrying the drive itself, some paperwork, and the included USB cables. There’s nothing to write home about and it is essentially the same as what we’ve come to expect from the WD storage solution lineup. 

Build quality

The G-DRIVE solutions, SSD or otherwise, are usually slightly chunkier in terms of the actual footprint than say the SanDisk Extreme lineup as well as some of the other options out there, which has always left me quite happy and confident they will be a more robust solution. The ArmorATD HD comes in at 5.12- by 3.43-inches in length and width with about 0.83-inches in depth (the 4TB and 5TB models are slightly larger). With the hard rubber-like exterior shell, that is all to be expected and likely not an issue for folks looking for an ultra-protective storage solution. 

The whole thing is sat inside a “premium” anodized aluminum enclosure, including internal shock mounts, with the aforementioned rubber bumper surrounding the entire thing. The outer edges feature a sort of textured embossed pattern that actually do add a bit of extra grip to the whole package – you’re almost certainly less likely to accidentally drop this thing by comparison to some of the much smaller and sleek SSD solutions out there – further adding to the adventure-ready nature of the drive. 

Protection, element resistance, and more

Western Digital states this rubber bumper and internal enclosure design is able to withstand nearly 4-foot drops and has a 1,000-pound crush resistance. It’s pretty tough to actually recreate 1,000-pounds of force on a hard drive via the review process, but G-DRIVE solutions have long-since been known for being able to withstand impacts like this and the rubber bumper surrounding the drive is far more robust than some of the more exposed models of yesteryear. While this kind of protection is likely more than enough for all but the most inclement weather conditions, clumsy user mistakes, and accidental drops, it does feel as though a solution with a giant rubber casing should offer even better drop protection, especially considering this is the same ratings we saw on previous-generation models and even less than the far more compact SanDisk Extreme solutions.  

The same goes for the water and dust protection as far as I’m concerned. While the IP54 rating does add some peace of mind here, this is the same thing we saw on previous iterations and something I would have liked to see enhanced this time around. One very bright spot here, however, is this sort of weather-proof rubber cover that protects the USB-C port on the bottom end of the drive – something you don’t find regularly on more expensive SSD solutions and the like. It is a sort of thick, attached hatch with a chunky rubber piece that sinks right into the recessed port – protecting it from dust and dirt in your bag, out in the field, and elsewhere. It’s hard to imagine all but the most dastardly conditions allowing bits to find a way inside there. 

It is a chunky, rugged package that actually looks and feels like it will be able to handle some pretty serious bumps and bruises despite still seeming slightly under-baked in the protection department, especially for something with the ArmorATD moniker that is specifically marketed as such. Having said that, it is a relatively more affordable solution that most serious hardcore users wont be considering anyway leaving most prospective purchasers with a more than robust and protective hard drive that wont break the bank. 

Data transfer speed test

This is a hard drive after all, so if you’re looking for the fastest possible transfer speeds, look elsewhere. Hard disks just aren’t going to be able to keep up with solid-state solutions in the portable category and neither can the SanDisk 2TB G-DRIVE ArmorATD. But as we noted in our SanDisk Extreme review, most users and commonplace current-generation machines don’t even offer the speeds some of these SSDs are capable of anyway. You can use an app to test the speed of the hard drives you’re buying, and that can be ummm, fun, but let’s face it, they never quite reach the speeds the brand’s claim they can unless you have absolutely ideal conditions. 

So let’s once again use some everyday gear and connectivity to see what this thing can actually do with your current-generation Mac’s Thunderbolt port and the included USB-C cable. This will give purchasers a good idea of what kind of transfer times they will be seeing if they actually put their hard-earned cash down to buy one, instead of some technical benchmarks that are “fun” to complain about in the comment section. 

Much like our test with the speedy SanDisk Extreme model, copying a 34.84GB folder – filled with Logic Pro sessions, video content, documents, photographs, and artwork (5,746 items) – from my Mac mini over to the 2TB G-DRIVE ArmorATD took just over 5 minutes and 30 seconds to complete. 

While that’s more than double the up to 2000MB/s SanDisk Extreme SSD – just over two minutes to complete a nearly identical job – and certainly not the fastest hard drive speed out there, it was actually a little more timely than I expected. For the massive price difference and considering just about anyone purchasing one of these will know the hard drive internals are inherently slower, that’s not bad at all if you ask me. 

Conclusion – G-DRIVE ArmorATD protective hard drive

The SanDisk G-DRIVE ArmorATD protective hard drive has a number of things going for it – thick rubber protection, peace of mind-inducing port cover, attractive design (if you’re into that kind of thing), and thus far entirely reliable connection with my Mac (I don’t use Windows machines and some users have mentioned issues here). 

While the protection ratings haven’t, as far as I can tell, been upgraded from previous-generation iterations, the thick rubber case will certainly add an extra layer of protection against all bumps and mishaps – sometimes it’s the not-so steep drops and accidents that are more likely to occur and the extra bumper definitely makes me more confident my data is safe. As for the USB-C port cover – there’s nothing worse than worrying about a drive you have taken great care of marred by tiny specs of dust and debris finding their way into the irreplaceable connection port – it is easily one of the best aspects of the design here for me. 

Hard drives might be obsolete for some folks with portable SSD prices starting to come down, but starting at $83 and roughly $100 for a 2TB model, this SanDisk G-DRIVE ArmorATD protective hard drive is still a far more economic solution for many – the 2TB best-in-class SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD starts at $250 (or $325 for the PRO model we recently went hands-on with) and the comparable G-DRIVE variant goes for $290 on Amazon at the time of writing. 

Buy the SanDisk Professional 2TB G-DRIVE ArmorATD

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