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In the lab: A whole mess of flash

Colton Westrate
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As some that venture into our amazing forums may be aware, I kicked off an experiment last month where I asked gerbils to nominate and then vote for something that I could review. I was open to nearly any suggestion, but I put a $100 cap on the expense involved to keep things reasonable.

I got some great suggestions and narrowed them down to seven options that I put in a poll. After a week of voting, we had our winner. It turned out that I’d signed myself up for a portable NAND grudge match. After stewing on exactly when that meant for a few weeks, I finally pulled the trigger on our contestants. Behold!

Here’s a list of what you’re looking at:

The total for all the contenders ran past my $100 limit, but I just couldn’t shake the idea of portable Optane out of my mind. So, I cashed in my precious Amazon bucks and added the Optane drive and NVMe enclosure to my cart as well. I’ve wanted to try one of the ORICO transparent enclosures for a while anyway (yes, it’s silly, but I think they look cool).

Joining the newly bought hardware are some drives I had laying around that I thought would make interesting competition (or at least a good frame of reference). I figure turning a retired SSD into an external drive by way of an enclosure or adapter that costs about the same as a 64 GB flash drive is worth a closer look. Check it out the scraps below.

Now that I have all the pieces of the puzzle, I can finalize my plan for testing. I’m not going to predict how long this project will take but look for the results of what I come up with down the road. Oh, and don’t be shy with your suggestions.

Question & Answers (34)

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  1. I would do default tests, then use that 16 GB Opatane drive with [url=https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Bcache<]bcache[/url<] under Linux (or some other Windows-equivalent) to see what a high-speed cache can do for somewhat lower-end flash devices. Given what it can do for a hard drive, I think the results would be very interesting.

  2. The CZ48 is a decent cheaper 100 meg read and write (the CZ80 and CZ800 and CZ880 are markedly better 2-4x faster) for day to day basic file transport.

    But something I’d like to see in the review is how long it takes to fill each unit.

    And WHY on earth do we need to go to usb ssd enclosures like the Orico case above to get properly decent type c drive speeds ?

  3. I have an Orico enclosure. Simple, nice enough, marked with the mysterious phrase “Easy Your PC”…

    My main beef is that it doesn’t identify using the id of the drive inside. It’s just “TO External USB 3.0”, which makes it difficult to know what’s actually connected, especially when used with multiple drives. Luckily it inherits the drive’s S/N so, though cumbersome, it’s workable.

    Would be nice to know in the review how the enclosures and adapter identify.

    • Orico is a quality brand from my experience (and their prices aren’t bad, either). I have had one of their six USB port AC chargers for a few years now, it works very well. I also have two 2.5 inch to 3.5 inch HDD/SSD adapters, they are of excellent build quality (probably the best built in the business) and work quite well. I would not hesitate to pull the trigger on an Orico device that came up at a decent price if that were what I was looking for at the time. Their instructions are in rough English, though — they are obviously computer translated from Mandarin or Cantonese. Fortunately, most of their products are easy to figure out how to use them without the instructions.

  4. What, no Intel X25-M 160GB for comparison? I suppose I could lend you mine, it’s already in a startech case.

    Also, you’re now officially a Flash Bastard.

  5. My daily take home backup drive is a 256GB Samsung Pro…
    [quote<]I figure turning a retired SSD into an external drive by way of an enclosure or adapter that costs about the same as a 64 GB flash drive is worth a closer look. [/quote<]

    • I did the same with a couple of 500 GB, 2.5 inch hard drives that were replaced with SSDs from my laptops. One enclosure is some cheap thing off of AliExpress, the other is a Sabrent. The Sabrent is of better quality but both work fine for their intended use. They draw about a half amp in use, I haven’t had a USB port shut down from overloading using them and I copied 400GB of data to one of the drives in one go.

  6. I just bought that ORICO enclosure to swap out the 960 EVO in my main system for the SX8200 I’ve had sitting in a box for six months. No clue about actual performance, but it was certainly “good enough,” and the heatsink is actually quite functional. I’ll be using the 960 EVO in the enclosure as a portable Linux install until I upgrade to a motherboard with more than one m.2 slot…

  7. You probably know that already, but:

    Please check in Device Manager layout of ports of your 10-port hub:
    “by connection”: YourComputer-ACPI…-ACPI…-PCIe-USBXHC-RootHub-SuperSpeedHub…

    Benchmark on the direct ports (with least layers), likely first 2 or 3, others are a hop or 2 further.

    If the hub’s box says USB 3.0, then it’s probably 3.1gen1: please benchmark genuine USB3.1gen2 devices (esp. Optane in enclosure) connecting directly to USB3.1gen2 port (and then compare it to 3.0 connection through hub?).

    Idea for an experiment: select one of the fastest drives (likely Optane) and benchmark it additionally in the furthest layer port. You may artificially add a SuperSpeed hub and/or active extension in between.

    Check for throttling/temperature – maybe add or turn on a fan after set amount of time?

    • Verifying the performance consistency of all the ports on the hub is right at the top of my list.

      I will produce performance numbers from the Optane setup using both the hub and directly connected to a USB 3.1 Type-C Gen2 port. However, for endurance testing and everything else I have in mind, it will be connected to the hub since a dedicated rig will be running the tests and I only have USB 3.1 Type-C Gen2 on my main rig.

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Colton Westrate

Colton Westrate

I host BBQs, I tell stories, and I strive to keep folks happy.