Today, I have the Mele E Go USM enclosure. This could possibly be the cheapest USM enclosure out there for use with Thunderbolt.
This thing goes for $16-20 on Ebay, depending on the seller. That is CHEAP!
So what is it? It is a USM (Universal Storage Module) enclosure. It is an standard case designed and promoted by Seagate. It is basically a raw shell with a SATA interface at the bottom that allows it to interchange with different connectors - Firewire, USB 2, USB 3, eSATA, and Thunderbolt. This is the standard used by Seagate's own Go-Flex and Backup Plus line of external hard drives.
If you have the portable 2.5 Seagate Thunderbolt adapter, this slides right into it. Thus making, it one of the cheapest portable Thunderbolt enclosure solutions. $50 for the Thunderbolt sled from Seagate (when it is on sale), $16 for this enclosure and you are done minus the drive.
There are others who sell USM enclosures like Startech but they're asking $47-50 on Amazon. USM enclosures shouldn't be expensive because it is only a shell with a SATA interface.
Here are the promo shots.
So here is my review.
You buy this for one reason and one reason alone, USM!
If you are invested in USM or want to get into USM, this is the cheapest enclosure you can buy to hookup to Thunderbolt. Hence, this review is all about that purpose and that purpose alone. I bought this to solely use with the portable Seagate Thunderbolt drive adapter.
USB 3.0 performance, I really didn't even bother. But if want to know, it works fine. But if you want to know, the USB 3.0 end piece is a JMcron SATA bridge and post respectable numbers. Using a Crucial M500, 240GB SSD, I was getting 242-250 MB/sec writes and reads.
Now, back to the reason why you get this enclosure.
First and foremost, this thing is really only good for using with SSDs. There is no cushion or padding and I would not use this with a mechanical drive. You really don't need thunderbolt for 2.5" 5400 or 7200 rpm drives. Since SSDs do not having moving parts, I have no problem using this. If you have a 7.5mm drive, you will need a some spacers or tape it down as it will move. I used a spacer w/ a Crucial M500 and it fits just fine with no wiggle room. This is a tool-less design so you can pop-up drives in and out. However, I doubt the enclosure can handle multiple drive removals because it is pretty thin. You are gonna ignore the easy removable tool-less aspect of this and just have the expectation that you will use this in a permanent enclosed fashion.
I only wanted to test this with Thunderbolt and obviously, this thing is well suited for use with Seagate's portable Thunderbolt adapter.
Here it is with the Seagate Thunderbolt dock. Nice fit. This has to be the cheapest 2.5" Thunderbolt, interchangeable set-up you can buy.
For comparison, here it is next to a standard Seagate USM 2.5 drive. Much smaller but the included USB 3.0 end-piece is much bigger. You can interchange the end pieces with one another because it is just standard SATA.
Firewire 800? Yeah, if you have one of those USM connectors, this works fine as a Firewire 800 drive too.
Pretty cool, huh? Firewire, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt flexibility by just changing the end-piece.
Overall, I like it. It does feel a bit flimsy with cheap plastic but it does the job admirably when used with a SSD drive. The enclosure is very thin if you want something thin and lightweight. Again, I do not want to recommend this for use with a mechanical drive. If you want a cheap and fast way to use SSDs with Thunderbolt, this enclosure along with the Seagate portable Thunderbolt dock is the way to go. It is so cheap ($16 shipped via Ebay), I bought a few. I really don't even care if they break because I can easily just replace them. The enclosure has no moving parts or electronic pieces (besides the throw-away USB 3.0 end dock).
I forgot, the Seagate Thunderbolt dock does SSDs with no problems using this dock. For those curious about benchmarks with the Seagate Thunderbolt + Crucial M500 + Mele, here it is: