SATA SSDs are a bit of a snooze these days. They’re great, they’re affordable, and they’re capped by SATA speed limits, so all the exciting action is happening with M.2 and PCIe solid state drives. But something interesting in SATA land caught my eye on the floor of Computex: a standard 2.5-inch SSD with the usual SATA power and data ports...and, around the front, a USB Type-C port. Huh!?
I found two SSDs at the show with this same setup, likely using the same memory and controllers packed into a slightly different enclosure. The first I saw was at Avexir’s booth, a company I mostly know for its . They sell SSDs as well, and product director Johnny Preston told me he had a specific vision for this one, the M100: an SSD a businessman might want to carry around in his pocket. That explains the silver case and textured faux leather black stripe down the middle. It looks businessy.
Preston explained that the SSD uses two controllers, one for data over USB 3.1 Type-C and one for the standard SATA connector. Avexir claims the SSD can deliver 540 MB/s reads and 450 MB/s writes, without sacrificing performance on the USB end. Considering USB 3.1 is meant to support up to 10 gigabit per second speeds, it has approximately double the throughput the SSD can provide.
The other SSD I saw with the Type-C connector was from a brand called Zadak 511, which is apparently new—I tracked down and found that it claims the same specs as Avexir. The only difference is the branding: the Shield SSD instead of the M100.
Now that most Z170 and X99 motherboards are coming equipped with at least one USB Type-C port, seeing hardware like this pop up is exciting. Sure, there are already cheap and compact portable drives, like thumbdrives and and T3, but those often come at a price premium or lower performance than a SATA SSD. A drive like this could be perfect for a portable Steam library: keep it in your desktop PC most of the time, but detach it and take it to a friend’s for a night to avoid re-downloading 200 gigs of games, or use it on-the-go with a laptop.
Maybe SATA SSDs still have some surprises left in ‘em.