Review: CalDigit Tuff 2TB USB C Durable Drive

We’ve seen some great products from CalDigit in the past – they’ve always got an eye for design and offer some of the best-performing accessories available. The company is now doing a great job of supporting the latest technologies including USB C and Thunderbolt 3. They are continuing this trend in their rugged portable drive – the USB C Tuff.

The CalDigit Tuff has been designed to be a robust, versatile and universal portable drive that works for both Mac and PC users. Right now you can buy the Tuff with a 2 TB HDD for £189/$179 but a 1 TB SSD version is also in the works. The Tuff maximises the benefit from the USB C standard by supporting a throughput of 10Gb/s – unfortunately even the SSD version won’t come close to saturating that bandwidth.

The Tuff was designed to be, well, tough. It’s protected against dust ingress, can be immersed in water for 30 min and has even been certified to U.S. Military standards – successfully enduring repeated drops in the MIL-STD-810G testing protocol. It can certainly live up to most trips to the office and back – even if you work outdoors, the Tuff’s IP57 protection offers reassurance against accidents.

When you unpack the Tuff you’ll see that the box is made from a reuseable plastic case, surrounded by a cardboard outer displaying the features of the drive. The case is sturdy and includes separate compartments for the USB C cables and the Tuff itself.

The Tuff itself is a sturdy aluminium device that comes with a colourful silicone bumper, for added protection. You can choose from a range of  bumpers, or even buy extra ones if you want to change your colour – this could be especially useful if you have a few of these drives and want to easily identify which one you need.

With the bumper in place you have access to the LED indicator on one end and the USB C port next to it, under a watertight flap. Remove the bumper and the Tuff feels a lot smaller but you lose the immersion and shock protection.

CalDigit has included two cables for maximum compatibility. There is one with a USB C connector on each end, for use with modern laptops such as the latest MacBook Pro. The other cable is a USB C to USB 3.1 Type A connector (the ones that used to be standard on your laptops).

The drive comes pre-formatted for use with OS X but you are prompted to reformat when you connect to a PC. The Tuff is also bus powered so you don’t need to connect a power adapter to use it. While this is great on the go, it does limit use to devices that can supply enough power over USB C – every laptop I tested worked fine but my Google Pixel phone didn’t.

I tested the 2 TB HDD version of the Tuff and this managed read speeds of 124 MB/s and write speeds of 119.8 MB/s – not bad for a portable little drive. I even decided to dunk it and it lived up to the claims, working perfectly after half an hour underwater.

The CalDigit Tuff is a great option if you require a sturdy portable drive that benefits from the USB C specification. It offers speedy performance, great looks and a reasuringly rugged design.



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