As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases from

Akasa AK-ENU3M2-07 USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 SSD Enclosure Assessment: 20Gbps with Wonderful Thermals

Storage bridges have turn into an ubiquitous a part of at the moment’s computing ecosystems. The bridges could also be exterior or inside, with the previous ones enabling a spread of direct-attached storage (DAS) items. These might vary from thumb drives utilizing an UFD controller to full-blown RAID towers carrying Infiniband and Thunderbolt hyperlinks. From a bus-powered DAS viewpoint, Thunderbolt has been restricted to premium gadgets, however the variants of USB 3.2 have emerged as mass-market high-performance alternate options. USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 allows the best efficiency class (as much as 20 Gbps) in USB gadgets with out resorting to PCIe tunneling.

The final couple of years have seen many distributors introduce new merchandise on this 20 Gbps-performance class – together with moveable SSDs and M.2 NVMe SSD enclosures. Host help has additionally began to lookup. The important thing challenges for enclosures and moveable SSDs supporting USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 embody dealing with energy consumption and managing thermals. We have now been analyzing these points (along with common efficiency numbers) in our opinions of the 20Gbps-performance class PSSDs and enclosures. The evaluation under presents our analysis report of Akasa’s AK-ENU3M2-07 – a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 enclosure for M.2 NVMe SSDs.

Introduction and Product Impressions

SSD speeds and storage capability have improved considerably within the final decade, because of speedy developments in flash know-how in addition to high-speed interfaces / protocols. Ranging from 2.5-inch disk drives barely capable of saturate the SATA III (6 Gbps) interface within the early 2010s, we now have gumstick- and palm-sized drives with PCIe 4.0 help able to sustaining greater than 7000 MBps (56 Gbps).

These SSDs have additionally fashioned the bottom platform for moveable SSDs. Historically, such drives have fallen into one of many six classes under, relying on the efficiency profile and inside elements. Lately, we’ve got seen direct flash-to-USB controllers throughout all however the highest efficiency tier listed right here.

  • 2.5GBps+ class: Thunderbolt SSDs with PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe drives
  • 2GBps+ class: USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 SSDs with PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe drives
  • 1GBps+ class: USB 3.2 Gen 2 SSDs with PCIe 3.0 (x4 or x2) NVMe drives
  • 500MBps+ class: USB 3.2 Gen 2 SSDs with SATA drives
  • 400MBps+ class: USB 3.2 Gen 1 SSDs with SATA drives
  • Sub-400MBps+ class: USB 3.2 Gen 1 flash drives with direct flash-to-USB controllers

Along with moveable SSDs, this sort of segmentation can also be relevant to storage enclosures. Because the mid-2010s, we’ve got seen an everyday stream of SSD enclosures hit the market, catering to 2.5″, mSATA, and M.2 form-factors.

Akasa is a well known producer of thermal options for computing techniques focusing on industrial functions in addition to residence customers. They’ve been sustaining a lineup of storage bridge merchandise catering to completely different market segments since 2013. We reviewed a bunch of their M.2 SATA and NVMe enclosures final yr, and got here away impressed with their complete lineup addressing completely different necessities. This evaluation seems on the AK-ENU3M2-07, an aluminum enclosure sporting a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 20Gbps Kind-C upstream interface and a M.2 2230/42/60/80 NVMe downstream port internally.

There are presently two delivery machine options for USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 – the Silicon Movement SM2320 utilized in moveable SSDs just like the Kingston XS2000 is a local UFD controller, whereas the ASMedia ASM2364 is a bridge answer extra appropriate to be used in enclosures. The AK-ENU3M2-07 makes use of the latter. The enclosure itself is product of strong aluminum with ridges to assist in warmth dissipation. It comes with a single Kind-C to Kind-C cable rated for 20Gbps operation. A single thermal hole filler is equipped within the bundle together with a carrying pouch and a consumer guide.

One of many engaging points of the AK-ENU3M2-07 is its tool-free nature. Accessing the inner board for SSD set up is a straightforward matter of loosening up the 2 screws on both facet of the Kind-C port. They’re large enough to unscrew with out the usage of any instruments. This permits the underside panel to be slid out. The board itself is affixed to this panel, and would not should be taken out for any objective. A plastic tab to carry the M.2 SSD in place is affixed to the 2280 gap by default. Rotating this tab alongside the notch permits the SSD to be positioned in and locked in place. With out the SSD within the image, additional rotation to make the longer arm of the tab parallel to the rear panel permits it to be fully taken out (and affixed to one of many different holes equivalent to 30mm, 40mm, or 60mm SSD lengths). After the set up of the SSD, the thermal hole filler will be positioned on high. The gallery under offers footage of the enclosure in addition to the SSD set up steps.

We consider M.2 NVMe storage enclosures utilizing the SK hynix Gold P31 1TB NVMe SSD. Since this SSD is utilized in all of the related opinions, it makes for an apples-to-apples comparability throughout completely different merchandise.

The desk under presents a comparative view of the specs of the completely different storage bridges and PSSDs offered on this evaluation.

Comparative Storage Bridges Configuration
Downstream Port 1x PCIe 3.0 x4 (M.2 NVMe) 1x PCIe 3.0 x4 (M.2 NVMe)
Upstream Port USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Kind-C USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Kind-C
Bridge Chip ASMedia ASM2364 ASMedia ASM2364
Energy Bus Powered Bus Powered
Use Case Device-free M.2 2230 / 2242 / 2260 / 2280 NVMe SSD enclosure

DIY 2GBps-class, compact, and durable moveable SSD with a gumstick form-factor
M.2 2230 / 2242 / 2260 / 2280 NVMe SSD enclosure

DIY 2GBps-class, compact, and durable moveable SSD with a USB flash drive-like form-factor
Bodily Dimensions 122 mm x 46 mm x 15 mm 105 mm x 40 mm x 12 mm
Weight 112 grams (with out cable / SSD / thermal pad) 60 grams (with out cable / SSD ; with thermal pads)
Cable 29 cm USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Kind-C to Kind-C 16 cm USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Kind-C to Kind-C

16 cmd USB 3.2 Gen 2 Kind-C to Kind-A
S.M.A.R.T Passthrough Sure Sure
UASP Assist Sure Sure
TRIM Passthrough Sure Sure
{Hardware} Encryption SSD-dependent SSD-dependent
Evaluated Storage SK hynix P31 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD

SK hynix 128L 3D TLC
SK hynix P31 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD

SK hynix 128L 3D TLC
Worth GBP 69 USD 139
Assessment Hyperlink Akasa AK-ENU3M2-07 Review Yottamaster HC2-C3 Review

The important thing facet that stands out is how heavy the AK-ENU3M2-07 is, in comparison with different enclosures utilizing the identical bridge chip. Whereas the Akasa enclosure is 112g, the Silverstone MS12 is simply 53g, and the Yottamaster HC2 is 60g. This offers the enclosure a better thermal mass to chill down the SSD inside, and will doubtlessly end in higher thermal efficiency. Previous to wanting on the benchmark numbers, energy consumption, and thermal answer effectiveness, an outline of the testbed setup and analysis methodology is offered.


Testbed Setup and Analysis Methodology

Direct-attached storage gadgets are evaluated utilizing the Quartz Canyon NUC (basically, the Xeon / ECC model of the Ghost Canyon NUC) configured with 2x 16GB DDR4-2667 ECC SODIMMs and a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD – the IM2P33E8 1TB from ADATA.

Essentially the most engaging facet of the Quartz Canyon NUC is the presence of two PCIe slots (electrically, x16 and x4) for add-in playing cards. Within the absence of a discrete GPU – for which there isn’t a want in a DAS testbed – each slots can be found. Actually, we additionally added a spare SanDisk Excessive PRO M.2 NVMe SSD to the CPU direct-attached M.2 22110 slot within the baseboard with a purpose to keep away from DMI bottlenecks when evaluating Thunderbolt 3 gadgets. This nonetheless permits for 2 add-in playing cards working at x8 (x16 electrical) and x4 (x4 electrical). Because the Quartz Canyon NUC would not have a local USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 port, Silverstone’s SST-ECU06 add-in card was put in within the x4 slot. All non-Thunderbolt gadgets are examined utilizing the Kind-C port enabled by the SST-ECU06.

The specs of the testbed are summarized within the desk under:

The 2021 AnandTech DAS Testbed Configuration
System Intel Quartz Canyon NUC9vXQNX
CPU Intel Xeon E-2286M
Reminiscence ADATA Industrial AD4B3200716G22

32 GB (2x 16GB)

DDR4-3200 ECC @ 22-22-22-52
OS Drive ADATA Industrial IM2P33E8 NVMe 1TB
Secondary Drive SanDisk Excessive PRO M.2 NVMe 3D SSD 1TB
Add-on Card SilverStone Tek SST-ECU06 USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Kind-C Host
OS Home windows 10 Enterprise x64 (21H1)
Due to ADATA, Intel, and SilverStone Tek for the construct elements

The testbed {hardware} is just one phase of the analysis. Over the previous few years, the everyday direct-attached storage workloads for reminiscence playing cards have additionally developed. Excessive bit-rate 4K movies at 60fps have turn into fairly widespread, and 8K movies are beginning to make an look. Recreation set up sizes have additionally grown steadily even in moveable sport consoles, because of excessive decision textures and art work. Retaining these in thoughts, our analysis scheme for direct-attached storage gadgets entails a number of workloads that are described intimately within the corresponding sections.

  • Artificial workloads utilizing CrystalDiskMark and ATTO
  • Actual-world entry traces utilizing PCMark 10’s storage benchmark
  • Customized robocopy workloads reflective of typical DAS utilization
  • Sequential write stress check

Within the subsequent part, we’ve got an summary of the efficiency of the Akasa AK-ENU3M2-07 enclosure in these benchmarks. Previous to offering concluding remarks, we’ve got some observations on the machine’s energy consumption numbers and thermal answer additionally.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply
Enable registration in settings - general
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart