Review: CalDigit's Tuff 1 TB SSD Brings Fast, Rugged, Portable Storage to the Latest Macs

by

CalDigit's Tuff line of rugged USB-C external drives have been a great option for those looking to take extra storage or backups on the go for a while now, but in addition to the existing 2 TB model using a 5400 rpm spinning hard drive, the company recently expanded the line to include a 1 TB solid-state drive option.

caldigit tuff ssd overview
At a list price of $499, the solid-state drive version is not cheap, but if you want fast storage on the go, combining an SSD with the Tuff's 10 Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 support gives some of Apple's latest Macs the ability to move data quickly. The MacBook Pro and brand-new iMac with their Thunderbolt 3 ports supporting full 10 Gbps USB are the best partners for the Tuff, and it's easy to see how useful it would be for moving data back and forth between notebook and desktop machines.

Overview

As a portable drive, the Tuff is bus-powered, which means it draws all of the power it needs from the host computer over USB and doesn't need to be plugged into power separately. The Tuff arrives pre-formatted in Journaled HFS+ to work with macOS, and CalDigit provides easy step-by-step instructions for re-formatting the drive for Windows if necessary.

The Tuff itself comes in a sturdy aluminum enclosure with ribbing on the top and bottom for additional strength and heat dissipation. The whole thing is then wrapped in a silicone bumper that protects the edges. The SSD version of the Tuff comes with a bright green bumper, while the spinning hard drive models are available with a choice of green, orange, black, blue, or gray bumper.

caldigit tuff ssd bumper
Bumpers can be purchased separately for $15 each if you like to switch up your colors or if you have multiple Tuff drives and want to make it easy to tell at a glance which is which. With the bumper on, the Tuff measures 5.31 inches by 3.52 inches by 0.83 inches and weighs 0.60 pounds, so it's quite portable and easy to toss into a bag for transport.

Ruggedness

Beyond providing solid shock protection for the Tuff, the bumper also includes a plug for the drive's USB-C port to prevent dust and water from getting into the port. The design gives the Tuff an IP57 rating, meaning it has sufficient dust protection to ensure continued operation of the device, as well as water protection that ensures the drive can remain functional after being immersed in water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of up to one meter, provided the silicone port plug is in place.

caldigit tuff ssd water
We tested the water and shock resistance of the Tuff, submerging it in water for 30 minutes and dropping it from a height of approximately five feet onto several different surfaces, and the drive continued to function normally. The ribbed design does, however, make it a little difficult to wipe the Tuff dry after exposure to water.

caldigit tuff ssd port
A small hole in the the silicone bumper next to the USB port lets you see the white status light that shines solid when passively connected to a host computer and blinks when data is being written to or read from the drive.

Connectivity

By opting for a Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 2 port on the Tuff, CalDigit is aiming to provide maximum flexibility for connecting via not only the latest 10 Gbps standard but with backwards compatibility all the way back to USB 1.0. CalDigit includes a Type-C to Type-C cable and a Type-C to Type-A cable, both in 0.5-meter lengths.

caldigit tuff ssd cables
The Tuff also comes with an Archive Box for additional protection, to keep the Tuff's USB cables close by, and to aid in keeping multiple drives organized and labeled for easy access.

Performance

CalDigit promises speeds of up to 540 MB/s on the SSD version of the Tuff when connecting over Thunderbolt 3/USB-C 3.1 Gen 2, and in our testing it came reasonably close to hitting those numbers, with Blackmagic Disk Speed Test registering write speeds in excess of 480 MB/s and read speeds of over 505 MB/s when connected to a 2016 MacBook Pro.

caldigit tuff ssd speed
Performance unsurprisingly falls back a bit when using slower USB interfaces, but still remains impressive. Routing to the MacBook Pro through a Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) port on Belkin's Thunderbolt 3 dock dropped write speeds to around 320 MB/s, while read speeds came in around 350 MB/s. Connecting directly to a 2016 MacBook via Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 1 yielded write and read speeds of around 410 MB/s and 420 MB/s respectively.

Wrap-up and How to Buy

Solid-state drives still carry a significant premium compared to traditional hard drives, so it's no surprise the Tuff SSD is fairly expensive. But if you need the speed and ruggedness you can get with an SSD, the Tuff is a great option.

It combines the fastest USB and drive speeds with a sturdy enclosure that can handle the bumps and spills that come with being out on the road, and the extra touches such as both Type-C and Type-A cables and the plastic Archive Box give you everything you need to stay organized and connected.

The 1 TB SSD Tuff carries a list price of $499.99 and CalDigit is currently offering a $50 discount through its online store, although supplies are currently sold out. CalDigit has a few units available through its Amazon storefront at the same $449.99 pricing, and the company tells us more stock is on the way.

The 2 TB traditional hard drive Tuff is priced at $179.99 in all colors, while extra bumpers in all colors are priced at $14.95.

Note: CalDigit provided the Tuff SSD to MacRumors free of charge for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received.

Top Rated Comments

Carmenia83 Avatar
45 months ago
That box it comes in reminds me of renting a VHS tape or an NES cartridge.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jdillings Avatar
45 months ago
Be kind, please rewind
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
adamjackson Avatar
45 months ago
Is LaCie selling Air Filters now?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kajje Avatar
45 months ago
They say, engineers care about quality, not design. Therefore this one must be the absolute bullocks of premium SSD drives.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dannys1 Avatar
45 months ago
I can't believe we're having to wait this long for someone to do an external SSD that makes use of the USB 3.1 Gen 2 bandwidth properly - stop sticking SATA drives in these things, we've had 550MB/s read and write for nearly a decade now!

Looks like OWC will be the first to do it later this year.
[doublepost=1497361778][/doublepost]

I have the T3 and it is a good drive. Very small, and fast enough for me, even though the San Disk Extreme 900 is 2X faster.

Hmm, IDK why anyone would buy this when you can buy the Sandisk Extreme 900 1 TB for $450 and it gets speeds of 850 MB/s.

btrach144, see my message above in red.

Yes, but it's still very unlikely to fail, you're talking of an increase from 0.01% to 0.02%. I've using using SSD's in Raid 0 arrays in all my systems were possible for over a decade now. If you only have your data in one place it's your fault if you lose it.

The problem with the Sandisk Extreme 900 is that it's Raid controller is poor and those speeds drop considerably when copying small files or not doing sequential read/writes which is why I haven't bothered to buy it - it works out slowed than the Samsung T3 in real world read and write tests unfortunately.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sudo1996 Avatar
45 months ago
$500 for an external 1TiB SSD is very cheap, considering that an internal 1TiB SSD is that much.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

0 Deals Hero

Black Friday 2020: Best Apple Deals to Plan For

Saturday November 21, 2020 10:00 am PST by
In the lead-up to Black Friday next week, we've been putting a spotlight on the best deals coming from various retailers like Best Buy and Walmart. In an effort to further prepare our readers for the best Black Friday deals, we're breaking down what we think should be on your radar for Black Friday in 2020. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a...
2020 apple shopping event

Apple Offering Up to $150 Gift Card With Select Products on Black Friday Through Cyber Monday

Monday November 23, 2020 2:53 am PST by
Apple has announced its annual four-day shopping event, offering customers up to a $150 Apple Store gift card with the purchase of select products between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States. The gift card values in the United States are as follows: $150 for 16-inch MacBook Pro $150 for 21.5-inch iMac $50 for 13-inch MacBook Pro $50 for MacBook Air $50 for iPhone SE,...
m1 mac mini vignette

Apple Lists M1-Based Mac Mini Logic Boards With 10 Gigabit Ethernet in Internal Parts Ordering System

Friday November 20, 2020 9:32 am PST by
While the new Mac mini with the M1 chip is only available with Gigabit Ethernet, Apple has listed multiple M1-based Mac mini logic boards with 10 Gigabit Ethernet in an internal parts list for Apple Authorized Service Providers. For every Mac mini logic board with Gigabit Ethernet in the parts list, obtained by MacRumors, there is a corresponding logic board with 10 Gigabit Ethernet:...
ipad pro 2020 display

Black Friday Week Kicks Off With Up to $150 Savings on 2020 iPad Pro

Sunday November 22, 2020 2:37 pm PST by
As we head into Black Friday week, we're seeing some of the best deals of the season so far, with Amazon and Best Buy today discounting the latest iPad Pro models by up to $150 at the lowest prices we've ever tracked on these models. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep ...
macos big sur m1 macs restore issue

Apple Provides Instructions to Fix macOS Reinstallation Errors on M1 Macs

Sunday November 22, 2020 3:30 pm PST by
Shortly after the launch of Apple's new M1 Macs, we saw reports that attempts to restore and reinstall macOS on those machines right away could result in an installation error that would leave your Mac non-functional. Specifically, the error message would read: "An error occurred preparing the update. Failed to personalize the software update. Please try again." Over the weekend, Apple p...
iPhone 6s main

Rumor Claims iOS 15 to Drop Support for iPhone 6s and Original iPhone SE

Sunday November 22, 2020 9:25 am PST by
Apple will drop support for the iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 6s Plus in next year's release of iOS 15, according to a rumor shared today by Israeli site The Verifier. If the rumor is accurate, that would mean iOS 15 will be compatible with the following Apple devices: 2021 iPhone series iPhone 12 Pro Max iPhone 12 Pro iPhone 12 mini iPhone 12 iPhone 11 iPhone 11 Pro iPhone 11 Pro ...
new m1 chip

Craig Federighi: Native Windows on M1 Macs is 'Really up to Microsoft'

Friday November 20, 2020 11:57 am PST by
Following the release of the M1 Macs Apple executives have been doing interviews with a range of publications, and today, Ars Technica published another interview with software engineering chief Craig Federighi, hardware technologies lead Johny Srouji, and marketing VP Greg Joswiak. Much of the interview focuses on topics that the three have already covered in prior discussions, but there is ...
Walmart November Deals Hero

Black Friday Spotlight: Walmart Will Have AirPods Pro Down to Lowest Price of $169, and More Apple Deals

Thursday November 19, 2020 8:05 am PST by
We've been tracking early Black Friday deals in our dedicated Black Friday Roundup, and in an effort to prepare our readers for the big shopping event we're highlighting sales store-by-store in the lead-up to November 27. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Walmart. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. Next ...
xlK6MS4MLqVFaskl

iFixit Shares iPhone 12 Pro Max Teardown Revealing L-Shaped Battery and Bigger Camera Module

Sunday November 22, 2020 2:53 am PST by
In the last of its iPhone 12 series teardowns, iFixit has published its iPhone 12 Pro Max disassembly, which reveals some unique differences in the design of the internals, including the full extent of the larger camera system responsible for the improved low-light performance on Apple's largest iPhone to date. On opening the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the first obvious difference compared to the...
apple leather sleeve

Leather Sleeve for iPhone 12 Models Now Available From Apple

Friday November 20, 2020 12:16 pm PST by
Apple today began selling the Leather Sleeve for the new iPhone 12 models, with the accessory having first been announced alongside the updated iPhones in October. Priced at $129, the Leather Sleeve is not a case and is designed to be removed when the iPhone is in use. It features a cutout at the front that displays the time, and it comes with a matching leather strap. According to Apple, it ...