The latest MacBook Pros fully embraced USB-C. Charging, displays, and other I/O are all connected through this universal port. In a profession that is quite storage-intensive, I’ve spent my fair share of time researching and testing hard drives. The Glyph Atom has become my latest favorite, and has so far been my drive of choice with my new MacBook Pro.

Choosing a drive

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When searching for a drive, there are so many routes to go down. First, you need to decide if you’d like a portable drive, to tote around with you, or if you want a stationary desktop drive.

Desktop drives are usually relegated to be the larger storage options. They can be larger and more power-intensive after all.

Portable rigs are often a bit more expensive and have lower capacities. After all, they have to cram the tech into a smaller body, while retaining speed and adding some ruggedness.

Glyph fits into the portable drive camp. Though surprisingly, being an SSD it has quite a fair bit of storage.

Drives speeds

Aside from sizes and capacities, drives also come in a variety of speeds, and I/O. You may have a blazing fast drive, but if you are limited to USB 2.0, it won’t go faster than a maximum 480Mbps.

Traditional hard drives are slowest. Usually coming in at 5400Rpm or 7200Rpm, with the faster rotation being the faster drive. Hard drives are usually limited to around 180MBps.

Solid State Drives, or SSDs are faster, because there are no moving parts, and can have read speeds up to 450MBps. This is quite respectful! The very popular Samsung T5 falls into this category.

Turns out though, you can make that speed go faster. Enter RAID drives.

What makes Glyph different

Glyph utilizes RAID-0. This is known as striping RAID. What happens is that instead of writing to just one drive at 480MBps, it writes to two drives simultaneously. Ostensibly doubling the read and write speed of the drive.

The exterior of the drive is also really nice. It has a smooth anodized aluminum finish that while not just matching the MacBooks, is a great heatsink. It also comes in a silicone sleeve. The sleeve is removable if your Glyph would prefer not to adorn it. I really love when companies pay attention to the details, and Glyph does that because if you do take of the silicone cover, underneath are two silicone feet on the bottom to still prevent it from sliding on your desk. I really like that aspect. Though when you are on the go, the cover is best left in place as to not scratch the drive, or any of your other metal gadgets.

Performance

While other SSDs like the Samsung T5 can write at 450MBps, the Glyph is capable of writing all the way up to 860MBps, in theory. That is nearly double the performance! Real world usage is going to be a lot slower, right? Well, after several run throughs of the Black Magic Disk Speedtest, I was regularly getting between 700 to nearly 900 MBps. Those are some fantastic numbers to be seeing on a portable drive.

I/O

The Glyph works great with the new MacBook Pro because it is fully capable of using USB-C and Thunderbolt 3. In the box, it comes with a USB-C cable, as well as a USB-C to USB-A for older machines that don’t fully support the USB-C standard.

That single USB-C port is the only port on the drive, so you don’t have to worry about any additional power, or other cords to look for.

The bottom line

When I say I’ve tried dozens on dozens of drives, I mean it. I have network drives, desktop drives, build-your-own RAID solutions, etc. I always look for redundancies and ways to protect my data.

Glyph has outperformed nearly all my other drives. It is fast, functional, and looks great. I’m not saying that the Glyph is the only drive out there that supports two, RAID-0 SSDs in a super tiny USB-C enclosure, but I’m saying that its competition is limited.

If you are looking for one of the best portable SSDs around, you can find the 1TB model over on Amazon for just above $400. If you are looking to go a bit cheaper, they of course have non-RAID options like the 256GB SSD for $249.

What do you think of the speed of the Glyph Atom RAID SSD? Do you think these premium features warrant the price? Let us know your thoughts down below.

  • Renato

    Can you use that ssd with ios 11 new files app? From what I’ve found it wasn’t possible in the betas. Now that it’s official can you give it a try?
    I’m currently using an android device and a samsung t5 and was hoping to do the same with an ios device!!

  • Siri Tim Cook Holness

    False advertising an external drive won’t be ‘one of the fastest’ any comparable internal drive will always be faster

    • Ezekiel Jones

      You have no idea what you are talking about. USB-C supports up to 10Gbps so it definitely has the ability to provide full speed throughput for any SSD that can read or write that fast. You could get a USB-C M.2 (NVMe) enclosure and drop a drive in there, like a Samsung Evo 960, that supports 3200 mbps read and 1800 mbps write.

      • Siri Tim Cook Holness

        Yeah the fastest M.2 is 2500MB/s read and 1500MB/s write or 20gbps and 12gbps so not fully supported by usb-c

      • Siri Tim Cook Holness

        b and B r completely different animals 1 B is 8 b

      • Senith Deelaka Ranchagoda

        Finally someone noticed the difference..
        Kudos my friend 🙂

      • Siri Tim Cook Holness

        And fastest PCIe is even faster 3200MB/s (25.6gbps) read and 1900MB/s(15.2gbps) write

      • Siri Tim Cook Holness

        So yeah you’re the one that doesn’t know what he’s talking about

      • Senith Deelaka Ranchagoda

        Noo you won’t be able to if you use type C as you mentioned.. But you will be able to have faster drives if you use Thuderbolt 3 which has a theoretical bandwidth of 40Gbps…

  • micaiah

    So here are some issues. It wouldn’t really qualify as “The fastest SSD”… It should be stated that it would be the “fastest external RAID SSD enclosure”. I think the whole “Fastest SSD” is entire bull**** marketing. Second, It’s not even the fastest dual SSD enclosure? I get well over 1GB transfer to my RAID 0 SSD server via network. Also, if you are going off a Macbook that is using the newer SSD’s it may be able to keep up with the data transferring to this external, however if you using anything less of that, say a normal Sata SSD. The Macbook won’t even keep up with this drive. Making it bottleneck.

    • Andrew O’Hara

      Hey there!
      I actually never said this is “the fastest SSD”. I did say it is ONE of the fastest, which I still maintain as true. When the bulk of the market are non-RAID, and therefor quite a bit slower. I agree, there is a lot of marketing talk there. I try to never speak in absolutes when doing reviews, because I know there are countless companies claiming to be the fastest, thinnest, smallest, etc of everything!

      And yes, your Mac may be the bottleneck if you have an older one, but that doesn’t mean that the Glyph is any slower. It is still capable of faster speeds, even if the machine isn’t able to support them.

      This also isn’t an enclosure. It wouldn’t be really correct to say this is the fastest enclosure, when it is in fact a fully equipped drive by itself. Not just an enclosure you can put your own drives in. There may be faster ones out there, but as far as portable SSDs, this is a pretty solid option.

  • Senith Deelaka Ranchagoda

    The whole article got the difference between b and B messed up..

    USB 2.0 is 480 Mbps that is 60 MBps theoretically
    While a traditional spinning HDD is 180MBps (1440 Mbps)
    T5 is 450 MBps (3600 Mbps)

    FYI 1B = 8b

    • Andrew O’Hara

      Sorry about that! just a typo! Fixed!