Thursday, April 3, 2014

ZTC mSATA enclosure and Crucial M500 240GB mSATA powerhouse combo review

This blog covers a lot of storage reviews. I buy lots of drives of all types. There hasn't been anything lately that has gotten me excited until today.

I carry a lot of portable drives with me everyday. I carry about 5-6 USB 3.0 sticks, a few USB 3 and portable Thunderbolt drives. USB 3.0 sticks are pretty cheap and ubiquitous but they are still pretty slow. Even some of the fast ones rate around 150 MB/sec reads and 90 MB/sec writes sequentially. Random read are a mess and they'll crawl to a snail's pace when you copy thousands of small files. SSDs solve the USB 3.0 pen drive problem but they are pretty big. Well, today, I put an mSATA SSD into a micro enclosure and it was an epiphany.

(size comparison mSATA, USB, 2.5" Thunderbolt drive)

Today, I have a $20 micro mSATA enclosure made by ZTC and a Crucial M500 240GB mSATA drive. I originally bought the M500 for a NUC project I was planning but decided I didn't need another small form factor PC. Since I got the M500 at an extremely good price ($105 street), I figured if I didn't use it in a computer, why not put it in an enclosure. I checked out the reviews of the popular MyDigital Bullet mSATA enclosure but was turned off on the over-heating issues and random issues with Crucial mSATA drives. Also, I didn't want to spend to much on experimentation so I went with the ZTC which was less than $17.

Looking at the pictures, you can see it is amazingly small. There is a small circuit board and a regular micro USB 3.0 connector. It comes with a small cable which is handy. However, I have a gazillion of those cables everywhere at every job site and in all my bags that all I need is just the little drive.

Oh boy, it is a fast little, powerhouse combination.

The competing MyDigital case comes with a UASP chipset. I couldn't find any documentation on this ZTC but in the system profiler, it comes up as a JMicron controller. Regardless of who makes it, it is smoking fast. Using Black Magic Disk Speed Test, I got over 400 MB/sec reads and 260 MB/sec writes over numerous benchmarking.

Is it as portable as a USB 3.0 stick? No. However, I no longer have to carry 4-5 sticks anymore and the performance is on a whole different level. I might just spring some more money and get myself a few 480GB mSATA SSDs for my new workflow.

Need I say any more? This is a pretty powerful, portable micro combination in storage gadgetry. I can run my 100GB Virtual Machines off this combo. I'm giddy with my little toy.


  1. Great article and topic. I had just been looking at doing this. Do you know if the MyDigital with its USAP controller is any faster?

    1. I'll probably try the MyDigital later when I get a 480/500 GB msata. Just waiting for sales/deals to pop up.

  2. i'm interested in buying a msata enclosure as well. from what i'm reading here the ZTC enclosure should be using UASP as well. standard usb3.0 normally tops out at ~315 mb/s. so when you are getting 400mb/s readspeed that should already be UASP. the 260mb/s writespeed is due to the m500, which isn't that fast at writing.a samsung 840 EVO would probably get both 400mb/s read/write.
    greetings from germany

  3. I've just this second fitted a 840EVO to this enclosure and BlackMagic showing 413 write - 423 read MB/s. Just wow!

  4. Nice... "only" half my internal rMBP speed but beats external AND portable storage devices in both speed and size. I'll order one when I return from my summer vacation...