I’m one of those guys that has more files/media on his PC than he knows what to do with at times. And I’m always looking for fast and efficient storage media. So far I’ve accepted that internal NVMe will be the best I can get. And NVMe is a very fast interface, don’t get me wrong. But I wanted a storage solution that was separate from my PC. I’ve had a lot of options in the past. You name it, I’ve used it; from the commonplace BD-R discs to the cumbersome yet ultra-reliable LTO tapes.
I’ve been seeing a lot of thunderbolt portable storage devices popping up; and I’ll admit, they are pretty fast. But for AMD PCs, there’s just not a lot of options, since only a handful of MOBOs support thunderbolt. I could upgrade, but I don’t know if I need that much speed for now. There’s also the issue of the power source needed for thunderbolt enclosures. If I want full thunderbolt speed for the storage enclosure, I would need to have it connected to an AC adapter!
Ideally, I’m looking for something plug n play which is also fast; So I bought the next best option. Which happened to be a storage enclosure for NVMe drives with the new USB 3.2 Gen2 interface. I also wanted a nice device that stood out among all the other USB storage enclosures.
Then I saw the elegantly designed Sabrent Rugged NVMe USB 3.2 Gen2 enclosure. It wasn’t a Gen2 x2 device, which would’ve been awesome, but I can deal with 10Gbps (1.2 GB/s)! My PC supports Gen2 x2 that allows 20Gbps, which translates to a mind-blowing 2.4 GB/s transfer speed! But I decided 1.2 GB/s is still acceptable. I mean a gigabyte per second, seriously!? In the past, transferring my PC game collection was mind-numbingly painful. Some AAA game backups had me wishing for someone to shoot me in the head.
It’s called the “Rugged” model for a reason. The EC-WPNE rugged model weighs in at a little over 1/2 a pound (9.2 oz), which fits comfortably in your hand and about the size of a small candy bar. It comes with a durable silicone protector which acts as a bumper cover or shock absorber. The heavy enclosure is a shiny metallic silver. It looks great and feels premium.
My plan for this enclosure was to keep a few terabyte size NVMe drives in a handy little case and switch out drives from the Sabrent enclosure whenever I need to back up files. NVMe SSDs have a decent life span too. About 10 years before drives degrade. Which is the same as a SATA SSD since they’re both technically SSDs; just with different form factors and two different interfaces (SATA and NVMe).
Keep in mind that advertised spec speeds need some research on your part to make sure that you’re getting full speeds. And this is because of the dreaded bottlenecks. I’ve seen countless questions on Reddit, YouTube, forums, etc. about people not getting the right speeds. To ensure that you’re getting full speeds, the first thing you need to check is that your USB controller/card is connected to the right PCIe slot on the motherboard. If you have a x4 card, it needs to be connected to a x4 PCIe slot. If that does not match up, your speeds may be halved. Of course, you need to make sure you’re using a USB 3.2 Gen2 enclosure. You don’t really have to worry much about which NVMe drive you use with a USB 3.2 Gen2 enclosure, because most NVMe drives are Gen3, and unfortunately you won’t be able to reach this speed with the USB 3.2 Gen2 limitation. Lastly, you may also run into another bottleneck if you’re copying from C drive to your external USB enclosure. If your internal NVMe is connected to a x2 slot and you have your USB 3.2 Gen2 drive running at x4 it’s going to run at half the speed because C drive is running at x2 and your USB drive is running at x4. There’s a lot of factors involved in getting the true potential out of this technology. There’s also some confusion about noticing half the speed when copying files “within” the USB 3.2 drive. You have to remember that any copying and pasting within the “same drive” will halve the transfer speed, because you’re reading and writing at the same time. These are common misconceptions and pitfalls that most people switching over to this faster technology will be confused about, but once everything is properly set up you really do get the full potential of USB 3.2 Gen2. I tested the speed differences using CrystalDiskMark between internal SATA, Internal NVMe, and the external Sabrent drive. And, as I expected, internal NVMe was the fastest, followed by the Sabrent drive. And the benchmarks confirmed the advertised speeds that I was hoping for.
I will add that I was disappointed when I saw that Sabrent released their tool-free version (Model EC-TFNE) which is very convenient, but they sold it without the silicone protector. And while it may seem trivial, I like it and decided not to upgrade, as strange as it sounds. And I don’t think I’ll upgrade to the tool-free model ever. If stripped screws are a problem in the future, I solved the problem by getting a 100-pack of M2 screws. But I’m just picky and weird, I guess. So if silicone isn’t a thing for you, you might as well just buy the tool-free version.
So far, it’s great. File transfers are a smooth and effortless process now. And I love reaching for the rugged enclosure whenever I need to prepare file backups. There are a lot of drives out there with all kinds of extra features like LED lighting and built-in fans, etc. But the Sabrent rugged model is sleek, and the premium build quality is perfect for me. I definitely recommend it over most other models.