The Lexar SL200 (starts at $74.99 for 512GB; $219.99 for 2TB as tested), an attractive, highly portable external solid-state drive, a good choice as a grab-and-go drive for those with tight budgets Is. This SSD won’t win any speed contests with its SATA-based internal and moderately rated speeds, but it does offer 256-bit AES encryption to keep your sensitive documents secure. However, that counts against a host of significantly faster drives for just a little more money.
speed dialing back on external ssd
The SL200 is the follow-up to 2020’s Lexar SL100 Pro, the company’s first foray into the consumer external-SSD space. That drive has USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps) connectivity and is rated for maximum read and write speeds of 950MBps and 900MBps, respectively. With the SL200, Lexar went with the slower USB 3.2 Gen 1 (maximum 5Gbps) technology, and this drive sells for a lower price.
Measuring 0.4 by 2.4 by 3.4 inches (HWD) and weighing just 1.4 ounces, the SL200 is highly compact and wafer-light. It’s copper-brown in color, with an aluminum plate bearing the Lexar logo on top, and a plastic base with an interesting textured pattern of small dots arranged in curved curves. A small section at the bottom contains product identification and certification information.
In the middle of one of the smaller edges is a USB Type-C port. The drive comes with two short cables, one of them USB-C-to-USB-C, the other USB-C-to-USB-A. To the right of the port is an activity light, a feature often omitted in budget- and even some midprice-external SSDs.
The SL200 comes formatted in exFAT, so it can be used out of the box with a Windows machine or Mac. The drive comes pre-loaded with Lexar DataSafe software for both platforms, and this software allows you to enable 256-bit AES data encryption. This sets up a password-protected “safe” on the drive, in which you drop the files you want to encrypt.
At each of its three capacities, the SL200 is rated at up to 550MBps and 400MBps in read and write speeds, respectively, a typical rating for an external SSD with SATA-based internal components running over a USB 3.2 Gen 1 connection .
Lexar backs the SL200 with a modest three-year warranty; Many drive manufacturers are covering their SSDs for five years now.
Testing the Lexar SL200: SATA-Style Speeds
We test external SSDs using PC Labs’ Key Storage Tested, which is built on an Asus Prime X299 Deluxe motherboard with an Intel Core i9-10980XE Extreme Edition CPU. The system has 16GB of DDR4 Corsair Dominator RAM clocked at 3,600MHz and employs an Nvidia GeForce discrete graphics card.
We followed the SL200 for our usual suite of benchmarks, including Crystal DiskMark 6.0, PCMark 10 Storage, Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test, and our own Folder Transfer test. The first two are run on the test PCs mentioned above, with drives formatted in NTFS; The latter two are done on a 2016 MacBook Pro with drives formatted for exFAT. Crystal DiskMark’s sequential speed tests provide a traditional measure of drive throughput, simulating best-case, straight-line transfers of large files, while PCMark 10 storage tests the readiness of SSDs for a wide variety of everyday tasks. Measures.
The SL200’s Crystal DiskMark delivered sequential reads and, notably, its write score was well below its rated speed. Its Mac-based Blackmagic test score was better, with the SL200 exceeding its rated write speed. Its PCMark 10 Storage Overall score is in line with other USB 3.2 Gen 1 drives we’ve tested, as are the results of our drag-and-drop folder transfer test. This refers to an external drive built on a Serial ATA (SATA) internal with a SATA-to-USB internal controller, while higher-end external SSDs use PCI Express guts for faster speeds over compatible USB ports.
Gen 1 Drive in Gen 2 World
Almost all of the USB 3.2 Gen 1 drives we’ve seen over the past year or two are hyper-secure “lockbox” models like the iStorage DiskAshur M2 or specialty models like the RGB-lit Teamgroup T-Force Treasure Touch. They bring something extra into the picture, and the maximum speed is largely an afterthought. Mainstream SSDs with speed ratings of 600 Mbps or less are becoming increasingly rare. The Buffalo SSD-PG Portable SSD is shockproof and drop-proof and sells for a low price, but its Crystal DiskMark read and write speeds were both in the 200 Mbps range. The Crucial X6 also costs less than the SL200, and has slightly higher read and write speeds in our testing.
That leaves out the fast, USB 3.2 Gen 2 drives, many of which cost no more than the SL200. The ADATA SE800, whose 1TB model is often on sale for around $120, is sturdy and has read and write speeds of around 900MBps. Like the SL200, the Samsung SSD T7 has 256-bit AES encryption, but its speeds are in the 900MBps range. The WD My Passport SSD (2020) costs a bit more than these models; It also offers AES encryption and reads and writes at an average speed of around 1,000 Mbps.
Those comparisons leave the SL200 a bit out in the cold. The SL200 is a beautiful and affordable drive, and it holds its own against other USB 3.2 Gen 1 drives, but it holds up against many of the feature-rich Gen 2 drives we’ve tested for almost twice its speed. It’s a tough sell, unless you can find it on sale or you’re really up for the cash.