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SilverStone MS12 USB to NVMe M.2 SSD Enclosure Review
The SilverStone MS12 is an external enclosure made for NVMe M.2 Solid State Drives.
Offering the latest generation in USB connectivity, with a total throughput of 20Gbps, this drive enclosure features USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C allowing systems to take advantage of the higher throughput USB SuperSpeed+ standard.
At the time of publication the SilverStone MS12 NVMe M.2 SSD enclosure is available at online retailers for $69.99 USD — a slightly higher priced point in comparison to other enclosures made with identical materials & technical specifications.
Included with the enclosure is a USB Type-C (male to male) cable, two additional thermal pads of varying thickness, a hex screwdriver, an extra set of enclosure screws and a warranty information card.
The enclosure is flat black in colour and constructed entirely from aluminum alloy with small vents running down each side for heat dissipation.
Weighing only 53g, dimensions of the unit are 4.18" (W) x 0.6" (H) x 1.31" (D).
Overall the enclosure seems extremely durable so no need to worry about tossing in a bag or dropping it from a reasonable height (this is an assumption based on observation and was not tested).
Opening up the enclosure we get a better look at the internal Printed Circuit Board (PCB) and connector supporting various lengths of M.2 SSD (22x42mm, 22x60mm, 22x80mm).
Examining the PCB, on-board is an ASMedia ASM2364 controller. ASM2364 is an ASMedia second generation PCI Express to USB3.2 device controller, featuring PCI Express Gen3 x4 and one USB3.2 Gen2x2 device port.
This particular controller provides high bandwidth up to 20Gbps between PCI Express Gen3 x4 bus and USB 3.2 SuperSpeed+ bus without requiring any drivers.
Installation of an SSD is relatively easy. Remove four screws from either side of the housing, insert SSD into the connector, size-up then place a thermal pad directly under the SSD, secure the SSD with provided mounting screw and reassemble the unit.
One thing I dislike is the use of hex screws externally and Phillips screw for internal mounting. SilverStone should have used Phillips screws all-around to make things universal.
Once you've reassembled the enclosure it's ready to be connected to a PC. For maximized performance you'll want to plug the enclosure into a USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C port which is capable of delivering transfer rates of up to 20Gbps (2500MB/s).
If your motherboard doesn't support USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 on-board, you may purchase a SilverStone ECU06 SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps / USB-C 3.2 expansion card to gain an external rear I/O port or the SilverStone ECU07 SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps / internal USB-C expansion card for an internal header — priced at $72.32 and $89.99 respectively. I should also mention both cards have Linux support natively.
Though USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 offers optimal performance, it isn't required for operation. So if speed isn't a concern you may still connect to any USB port but at significantly reduced transfer rates.
While in use, an LED indicator left of the USB Type-C port lights up solid blue when powered and blinks blue during data access/transfer.
Length of the USB cable included with the enclosure measures approximately 9 inches. If you require a longer cable, any other USB-C specification cable should be compatible.
Performance testing was done under Ubuntu Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS (Focal Fossa) with a Crucial P5 Series SSD. As outlined in our Crucial P5 2TB Review, the performance rating on this particular SSD is quoted to deliver a Sequential Read of 3400MB/s and Sequential Write of 3000MB/s. I'd suggest populating the enclosure with a drive which has specifications on par with the USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 standard of 2500MB/s, as anything greater will be underutilized and costly.
If you're looking to build a new PC with interest in taking advantage of USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 you'll need to choose either a TRX40 or Z490 motherboard which supports SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps on-board. Otherwise utilizing a current system with the SilverStone ECU06 SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps expansion card may be a more practical solution for most individuals. For that reason I ran our Linux benchmark performance testing with the SilverStone ECU06 on a X570 motherboard.
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 1700X Eight-Core @ 3.40GHz (8 Cores / 16 Threads)
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG STRIX X570-F GAMING
- Memory: 64GB DDR4
- OS: Ubuntu 20.04
- Kernel: 5.8.0-48-generic (x86_64)
- Interface: SilverStone ECU06 SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps / USB-C 3.2
- SSD: Crucial P5 2TB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD
Sequential Reads compared to Random Reads with Identical Block Sizes
Sequential Writes compared to Random Writes with Identical Block Sizes
4K Random Read Performance with Varying Queue Depths
4K Random Write Performance with Varying Queue Depth
Timings of device Reads
This measurement is an indication of how fast the drive can sustain sequential data reads under Linux, without any filesystem overhead. Timing buffered disk reads: 4040 MB in 3.00 seconds = 1346.21 MB/sec.
ConclusionThe Good - Pros
- USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C interface offers transfer rates up to 20Gbps
- Supports several lengths of M.2 SSD (22x42mm, 22x60mm, 22x80mm)
- Light weight, durable aluminum alloy construction
- Linux compatible with no driver required
The Bad - Cons
The Ugly - Issues
The Verdict - Opinion
Several usage scenarios come to mind for the SilverStone MS12. Based on it's fast data transfers and storage options, this tiny enclosure is perfect for quick portable backups or creating a multi-boot toolkit containing a variety of Linux ISO files.
The SilverStone MS12 NVMe M.2 SSD enclosure paired with a SilverStone ECU06 expansion card is the best way to achieve USB SuperSpeed+ performance without enduring a new PC build.