Hands on: Plugable USB-C NVMe drive enclosure brings cost-effective speed to external stor...

Posted:
in macOS edited February 13
Announced on Wednesday, Plugable's new NVMe SSD enclosure is tool-free, and utilizes the full speed of USB 3.1 type C generation 2.

Plugable's new USB-C NVMe drive enclosure
Plugable's new USB-C NVMe drive enclosure


Resembling the handle of a Phaser from the original "Star Trek" series, Plugable's new enclosure fits a standard M.2 NVMe drive, allowing for compact, and fast data transfer. The single connectivity port is a USB 3.1 type C generation 2 connector, allowing for up to 10 gigabits per second of data transfer at maximum.

The Plugable USB-C NVMe Enclosure opens with an end-mounted slide-lock. The user inserts a NVMe M.2 drive into the socket and a tensioned rubber peg holds it in place. The enclosure itself is a heat sink for the drive.

AppleInsider was provided a unit for testing prior to release. Speeds approached that 10 gigabit per second maximum for USB 3.1 type C with both a 256GB Samsung 970 EVO, as well as a higher-end 512GB Samsung 970 Pro, and the case does support UASP to facilitate the speedy transfers.

USB-C port on the Plugable enclosure
USB-C port on the Plugable enclosure


Both drives are capable of higher speeds in native slots in a PC, or Thunderbolt 3 enclosures, though. Fast storage demands a fast enclosure, but that can get expensive. Plugable's new USB-C NVMe enclosure isn't as fast as Thunderbolt 3 can be, but it is cost effective.

There are less expensive enclosures available, and we've tested a few along the way for one reason or another. However, most of them suffered speed degradation due to heat very rapidly, eliminating the value of the NVMe media versus less expensive SATA drives. We didn't see the same with the Plugable in our testing, even over multiple-hour workflows moving data on and off the drive continuously.



The Plugable USB-C NVMe USB 3.1 Gen 2 NVMe Enclosure retails for $49.95 on Amazon. It ships without a drive, but includes short USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A cables.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,371member
    That’s actually a good price for this. Considering that top speeds of USB 3.1 gen 2 tops at 10Gb/s, and not the 3.5Gb/s the fastest NVMe 2 drives do in sequential, you can get a less expensive drive for this, as long as the other specs are ok too. Just remember that those speeds are only available for sequential reads and writes. Everything else is a lot slower.
    edited February 13 cgWerks
  • Reply 2 of 29
    Nifty. Haven't used a NVM drive yet, but the speeds are compelling. Tho as Mel points out it sounds like the NVM max (3.5 GB/s!) won't be achieved via this. Has anyone used NVM onboard somewhere yet?
  • Reply 3 of 29
    Thanks for this article. I have been shopping around for a NVMe SSD enclosure and most I have found are in the $200-250 range. I thought, there's got to be a more affordable enclosure out there. And here you go. Hopefully this is the harbinger of more affordable NVMe SSD enclosures.
  • Reply 4 of 29
    melgross said:
    That’s actually a good price for this. Considering that top speeds of USB 3.1 gen 2 tops at 10Gb/s, and not the 3.5Gb/s the fastest NVMe 2 drives do in sequential, you can get a less expensive drive for this, as long as the other specs are ok too. Just remember that those speeds are only available for sequential reads and writes. Everything else is a lot slower.
    Fast NVMe drives are closer to 3.5GB/s sequential from what I remember.
    edited February 13
  • Reply 5 of 29
    I  bought this with a Crucial M.2 Amazon had on sale:

    https://www.amazon.com/ADWITS-High-Performance-Adapater-External-Enclosure/dp/B07F2S836J

    I had one that was more similar to the one in the article, but it cooked itself to death the second time I used it. The one I have now is slightly larger but so far has stayed cool to the touch.

    Blackmagic test speeds with a 2016 MacBook Pro Touch Bar are around 950 to 1K-ish each way. Not awesome, but double what I get with a SanDisk Extreme portable.

  • Reply 6 of 29
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,196administrator
    I  bought this with a Crucial M.2 Amazon had on sale:

    https://www.amazon.com/ADWITS-High-Performance-Adapater-External-Enclosure/dp/B07F2S836J

    I had one that was more similar to the one in the article, but it cooked itself to death the second time I used it. The one I have now is slightly larger but so far has stayed cool to the touch.

    Blackmagic test speeds with a 2016 MacBook Pro Touch Bar are around 950 to 1K-ish each way. Not awesome, but double what I get with a SanDisk Extreme portable.

    The Adwits one I've tried -- it was one of the ones that had major problems with thermals. Is yours any better than mine was with sustained transfers?
  • Reply 7 of 29
    I  bought this with a Crucial M.2 Amazon had on sale:

    https://www.amazon.com/ADWITS-High-Performance-Adapater-External-Enclosure/dp/B07F2S836J

    I had one that was more similar to the one in the article, but it cooked itself to death the second time I used it. The one I have now is slightly larger but so far has stayed cool to the touch.

    Blackmagic test speeds with a 2016 MacBook Pro Touch Bar are around 950 to 1K-ish each way. Not awesome, but double what I get with a SanDisk Extreme portable.

    The Adwits one I've tried -- it was one of the ones that had major problems with thermals. Is yours any better than mine was with sustained transfers?
    I dunno. I never seem to transfer more than 20-30GB to this particular unit. All the bigger transfers are between the Mac and the RAID. I'm willing to try cooking it in the interest of science though! I'll try running a session on it next time I'm doing something non-critical and see what happens.
  • Reply 8 of 29
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,424member
    Now we’re talking.  Make the exact same enclosure but with a TB3 interface and I’m sold.
    jeffharriswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 29
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,196administrator
    I  bought this with a Crucial M.2 Amazon had on sale:

    https://www.amazon.com/ADWITS-High-Performance-Adapater-External-Enclosure/dp/B07F2S836J

    I had one that was more similar to the one in the article, but it cooked itself to death the second time I used it. The one I have now is slightly larger but so far has stayed cool to the touch.

    Blackmagic test speeds with a 2016 MacBook Pro Touch Bar are around 950 to 1K-ish each way. Not awesome, but double what I get with a SanDisk Extreme portable.

    The Adwits one I've tried -- it was one of the ones that had major problems with thermals. Is yours any better than mine was with sustained transfers?
    I dunno. I never seem to transfer more than 20-30GB to this particular unit. All the bigger transfers are between the Mac and the RAID. I'm willing to try cooking it in the interest of science though! I'll try running a session on it next time I'm doing something non-critical and see what happens.
    Don't bake your hardware on our behalf. I'll talk to the vendor.
  • Reply 10 of 29
    I  bought this with a Crucial M.2 Amazon had on sale:

    https://www.amazon.com/ADWITS-High-Performance-Adapater-External-Enclosure/dp/B07F2S836J

    I had one that was more similar to the one in the article, but it cooked itself to death the second time I used it. The one I have now is slightly larger but so far has stayed cool to the touch.

    Blackmagic test speeds with a 2016 MacBook Pro Touch Bar are around 950 to 1K-ish each way. Not awesome, but double what I get with a SanDisk Extreme portable.

    The Adwits one I've tried -- it was one of the ones that had major problems with thermals. Is yours any better than mine was with sustained transfers?
    I dunno. I never seem to transfer more than 20-30GB to this particular unit. All the bigger transfers are between the Mac and the RAID. I'm willing to try cooking it in the interest of science though! I'll try running a session on it next time I'm doing something non-critical and see what happens.
    Don't bake your hardware on our behalf. I'll talk to the vendor.
    Okay.

    The Adwits is definitely cooler than the one I had before, which was this: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B07FDQNNLR

    The first one got hot even with my very light demands (for me it's essentially a glorified thumb drive) and was dead by the second day. So far the Adwits has not become even noticeably warm to the touch. I have no idea how it would compare to the one in the article though.
  • Reply 11 of 29
    sflocal said:
    Now we’re talking.  Make the exact same enclosure but with a TB3 interface and I’m sold.
    Yes, but then they will bump up the price several hundred dollars for the privilege, even-though the material costs are fairly small.
  • Reply 12 of 29
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,424member
    sflocal said:
    Now we’re talking.  Make the exact same enclosure but with a TB3 interface and I’m sold.
    Yes, but then they will bump up the price several hundred dollars for the privilege, even-though the material costs are fairly small.
    Yes, the cost would certainly be higher with TB3, but considering the major speed increase, many I think would justify the extra cost. 
  • Reply 13 of 29
    sflocal said:
    sflocal said:
    Now we’re talking.  Make the exact same enclosure but with a TB3 interface and I’m sold.
    Yes, but then they will bump up the price several hundred dollars for the privilege, even-though the material costs are fairly small.
    Yes, the cost would certainly be higher with TB3, but considering the major speed increase, many I think would justify the extra cost. 
    You're missing my point, if I recall, a Thunderbolt controller costs less than $20. That's more than what USB-C GEN II costs, but it doesn't justify the costs difference we see between Thunderbolt enclosures vs. equivalent USB-C enclosures with the same internal interface, such as NVMe.

    Thunderbolt is just an ALT MODE of USB-C. The Thunderbolt controller by default a USB-C (3.1 GEN II) device with Thunderbolt added on, which requires a higher quality cable to achieve its maximum speed.
    edited February 13
  • Reply 14 of 29
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,371member
    tomahawk said:
    melgross said:
    That’s actually a good price for this. Considering that top speeds of USB 3.1 gen 2 tops at 10Gb/s, and not the 3.5Gb/s the fastest NVMe 2 drives do in sequential, you can get a less expensive drive for this, as long as the other specs are ok too. Just remember that those speeds are only available for sequential reads and writes. Everything else is a lot slower.
    Fast NVMe drives are closer to 3.5GB/s sequential from what I remember.
    It was a typo. Should have been 3.5GB/s, as you said.
  • Reply 15 of 29
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,371member
    TB requires an extra power hungry chip. It would also about $100 to the price, so no go for that.
    sflocal said:
    Now we’re talking.  Make the exact same enclosure but with a TB3 interface and I’m sold.

  • Reply 16 of 29
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,371member
    I  bought this with a Crucial M.2 Amazon had on sale:

    https://www.amazon.com/ADWITS-High-Performance-Adapater-External-Enclosure/dp/B07F2S836J

    I had one that was more similar to the one in the article, but it cooked itself to death the second time I used it. The one I have now is slightly larger but so far has stayed cool to the touch.

    Blackmagic test speeds with a 2016 MacBook Pro Touch Bar are around 950 to 1K-ish each way. Not awesome, but double what I get with a SanDisk Extreme portable.

    The Adwits one I've tried -- it was one of the ones that had major problems with thermals. Is yours any better than mine was with sustained transfers?
    I dunno. I never seem to transfer more than 20-30GB to this particular unit. All the bigger transfers are between the Mac and the RAID. I'm willing to try cooking it in the interest of science though! I'll try running a session on it next time I'm doing something non-critical and see what happens.
    Don't bake your hardware on our behalf. I'll talk to the vendor.
    It’s ok, he’ll charge you for it.
  • Reply 17 of 29
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,371member

    sflocal said:
    sflocal said:
    Now we’re talking.  Make the exact same enclosure but with a TB3 interface and I’m sold.
    Yes, but then they will bump up the price several hundred dollars for the privilege, even-though the material costs are fairly small.
    Yes, the cost would certainly be higher with TB3, but considering the major speed increase, many I think would justify the extra cost. 
    You're missing my point, if I recall, a Thunderbolt controller costs less than $20. That's more than what USB-C GEN II costs, but it doesn't justify the costs difference we see between Thunderbolt enclosures vs. equivalent USB-C enclosures with the same internal interface, such as NVMe.

    Thunderbolt is just an ALT MODE of USB-C. The Thunderbolt controller by default a USB-C (3.1 GEN II) device with Thunderbolt added on, which requires a higher quality cable to achieve its maximum speed.
    It’s not an alt mode of USB C. I think you said this once before. 
  • Reply 18 of 29
    melgross said:

    sflocal said:
    sflocal said:
    Now we’re talking.  Make the exact same enclosure but with a TB3 interface and I’m sold.
    Yes, but then they will bump up the price several hundred dollars for the privilege, even-though the material costs are fairly small.
    Yes, the cost would certainly be higher with TB3, but considering the major speed increase, many I think would justify the extra cost. 
    You're missing my point, if I recall, a Thunderbolt controller costs less than $20. That's more than what USB-C GEN II costs, but it doesn't justify the costs difference we see between Thunderbolt enclosures vs. equivalent USB-C enclosures with the same internal interface, such as NVMe.

    Thunderbolt is just an ALT MODE of USB-C. The Thunderbolt controller by default a USB-C (3.1 GEN II) device with Thunderbolt added on, which requires a higher quality cable to achieve its maximum speed.
    It’s not an alt mode of USB C. I think you said this once before.


    Yes it is! Thunderbolt is an ALT mode of USB-C and all Thunderbolt-3 ports by default carry USB 3.1 GEN II and are backward compatible with USB 3, USB 2. Also by default, Thunderbolt enabled ports also carry DisplayPort, HDMI, PCIe, Ethernet, Audio and are PD enabled.

    Read for yourself...

    ---

    Tech Talk: Using USB-C and DisplayPort over Alt Mode

     https://blog.startech.com/post/tech-talk-using-usb-c-and-displayport-over-alt-mode/

    What is Alt Mode?

    Alt Mode is a term you will come across frequently when investigating USB-C.

    Alt Mode is a functional extension of USB-C which enables the USB connection to carry non-USB signals. Alt Mode(s) are optional capabilities that are unique to the USB-C connector or port that allow technologies, like DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 3, to be transmitted. Knowing what devices and ports support the various Alt Modes may be confusing and, at times, frustrating.


    edited February 14
  • Reply 19 of 29
    melgross said:
    TB requires an extra power hungry chip. It would also about $100 to the price, so no go for that.
    sflocal said:
    Now we’re talking.  Make the exact same enclosure but with a TB3 interface and I’m sold.

    What extra power hungry chip are you talking about? Thunderbolt functions in ALT Mode over a USB-C port and carries USB 3 GEN II, USB 3 and USB 2 by default on the same silicon. From what I've read, the controller cost less than $20 ( before INTEL stopped charging a licensing fee) and obviously uses the same USB-C port hardware. A thunderbolt cable is more expensive than a USB-C cable but it's hard to see how the two combined add $100 to the price.

    The reality is that no one but bleeding edge creators and developers really need that speed and the people who produce Thunderbolt equipment know they'll pay a BIG premium to get it, so they do, so goes capitalism. In reality, I'd be surprised if a similarly equipped Thunderbolt enclosure with a 40/gbps cable cost $50 more. The prices are finally starting to come down but they are not as low as where they'll eventually end up.

    This USB-C 3.1 GEN II NMV Enclosure is an awesome piece of hardware. Probably way more than most anyone needs.
    edited February 14
  • Reply 20 of 29

    melgross said:

    sflocal said:
    sflocal said:
    Now we’re talking.  Make the exact same enclosure but with a TB3 interface and I’m sold.
    Yes, but then they will bump up the price several hundred dollars for the privilege, even-though the material costs are fairly small.
    Yes, the cost would certainly be higher with TB3, but considering the major speed increase, many I think would justify the extra cost. 
    You're missing my point, if I recall, a Thunderbolt controller costs less than $20. That's more than what USB-C GEN II costs, but it doesn't justify the costs difference we see between Thunderbolt enclosures vs. equivalent USB-C enclosures with the same internal interface, such as NVMe.

    Thunderbolt is just an ALT MODE of USB-C. The Thunderbolt controller by default a USB-C (3.1 GEN II) device with Thunderbolt added on, which requires a higher quality cable to achieve its maximum speed.
    It’s not an alt mode of USB C. I think you said this once before. 

    Thunderbolt™ 3 – The USB-C That Does It All

    https://thunderbolttechnology.net/blog/thunderbolt-3-usb-c-does-it-all

    https://thunderbolttechnology.net/sites/default/files/Thunderbolt3USBC-IDFf.pdf

    "USB-C Cables and Connectors
    • Symmetric and Flip-able/Reversible
    • Power delivery up to 100W of power - 20V at 5A
    • Supports Alternate Modes – DisplayPort*, ThunderboltTM, Audio etc.
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