Instead of purchasing an external SSD device directly, why not "make" your own? With a good USB 3.1 M.2 SSD enclosure, we will be able to achieve the advantage of performance, portability and affordability. In this review, we will pair up the Transcend MTS400 SSD and TS-CM42S enclosure to see how much more value we can get from such a setup, as opposed to a single complete external SSD solution.
The MTS400 SSD is a 42mm M.2 SSD. Physically, this form factor is one of the smallest out of all other kinds. There also exists 60mm, 80mm and 110mm versions. With the Transcend MTS400 M.2 SSD, we can expect our final external SSD to be much more portable than other SSDs of longer lengths.
Paired with the MTS400 SSD is the TS-CM42S M.2 enclosure. This enclosure is specifically made for M.2 SSDs that are 42mm long.
While perfectly fitting and interfacing the MTS400, the TS-CM42S is also very well designed and built. The enclosure is made entirely with aluminium, which adds a sense of sturdiness and also classiness. Because of the hard aluminium, the SSD can also be well protected from any physical damages. Its USB 3.1 interface is also perfect for a high performance SSD, ensuring that there will be no bottlenecks between interfaces.
Intel Core i3 6100
ASUS ROG STRIX Z270I Motherboard
2 x 8GB Corsair Dominator DDR4 RAM 3000MHz
Toshiba OCZ TL100 240GB
Windows 10 Enterprise 64bit
To determine the performance of both the SSD and the enclosure, here are the scenarios that are created.
- Benchmark with MTS400 SSD on motherboard
- Benchmark with MTS400 SSD in TS-CM42S connected to a USB 3.0 port
- Benchmark with MTS400 SSD in TS-CM42S connected to a USB 3.1 port
We tested the drives on CrystalDiskMark and ATTO Disk Benchmark.
On a surprising note, it seems that the write speed of the MTS400 is maxed out at 203MB/s, rather than its advertised 460MB/s. Supposedly, the 460MB/s speed can only be achieved with SSDs on a higher capacity. We thought that Transcend could possibly make it clearer to consumers on the limitation of the write speed on for each individual capacity, rather than just advertising the maximum speed for the highest end SKU.
Analysis of Performance and notes on Costs
The advantage of USB 3.1 over USB 3.0 was apparent in the benchmarks. Due to the throughput limitation of USB 3.0, the drive was only able to perform at a maximum read speed of about 420MB/s. The USB 3.0 interface was the bottleneck of the setup, preventing the SSD to operate at its optimal speeds. Upon moving the test set-up to a USB 3.1 port, the maximum recorded speeds were similar to that of the native M.2 SATA interface. This time, the Transcend MTS400 was not limited by the interface, and was able to perform as expected.
In terms of costs, the Transcend MTS400 128GB costs 64SGD on Lazada, and the TS-CM42S is about 30SGD. This makes the solution to be under 100SGD. On the other hand, a 128GB Verbatim Store N Go which has a similar performance to the MTS400 costs about 165SGD on http://sg.wellindal.com/
It is conclusive that USB 3.1 is more suitable for high performing SSDs, as its higher bandwidth specifications will not bottleneck the SSD's speed. It will also be cheaper to "make" your own SSD with an external M.2 enclosure than to get an "out-of-the-box" solution. The MTS400 and TS-CM42S M.2 SSD and enclosure is determined to be suitable quick file transfers. This setup also performs much better than any other USB flash drive in the market. However, we thought that Transcend could have done better by specifying the speed of the SSD for its different SKU, so that consumers will not be accidentally misled.
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