Asus ROG Strix Arion M.2 SSD Enclosure Review
Experience tells us that anything with a Strix owl logo on the box is likely to have RGB on it – even if that something is as seemingly mundane as an M.2 SSD enclosure. The vast majority of these products are gray or black slabs, so the Asus ROG Strix Arion is almost certain to appeal to anyone looking for a bit more color, perhaps to complement their RGB-lit gaming PC.
In this review, we will take a closer look at Asus’ design choices and also intend to find out whether it performs as advertised.
Note: This product is a retail sample and was not provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of this review. Why you can trust us.
|M.2 SSD Enclosure
|Asus ROG Strix
Arion M.2 NVMe
|Ugreen M.2 NVMe/SATA
|ORICO 20 Gbps
M.2 NVMe Enclosure
|USB 3.2 Gen 2
|USB 3.2 Gen 2
|USB 3.2 Gen 2x2
|4.9 x 1.9 x 0.04 in
(125 x 48 x 11 mm)
|4.96 x 1.61 x 0.55 in
(126 x 41 x 14 mm)
|4.53 x 1.57 x 0.59 in
(115 x 40 x 15 mm)
While their designs can and do vary a great deal, the technical specifications of M.2 enclosures only boil down to those of the USB bridge chip. The Asus Arion uses the ASMedia ASM2362, which is built for hosting a PCI-Express 3.0 x2 interface with NVMe. Unlike enclosures like the Ugreen M.2 NVMe/SATA, the Arion does not support SATA SSDs in the M.2 form factor. According to Asus, it is also not compatible with the Micron P5 or SSDs using Realtek’s RTS5765DL or RTS5766DL controllers (Adata Swordfish and XPG Spectrix S20G).
Performance is capped at 10 Gbps via a USB 3.2 Gen 2 cable, resulting in maximum transfer rates of just over 1000 MB/s. This is the most common standard for today’s M.2 SSD enclosures and also the maximum bandwidth for Type-A USB connectors. The standard version of the Strix Arion enclosure comes with both a Type-A and a Type-C cable in the box.
Design and Build Quality
Asus did not opt for a tool-free design for the ROG Strix Arion enclosure, which is a reasonable choice. Tool-free enclosures often use fragile plastic latches that may cause more issues than they solve. In this case, however, the alternative is not necessarily much better.
Instead of unscrewing the lid, you have to use a SIM-tray-like pin to access the M.2 slot inside. The mechanism works well enough but everyone with a smartphone knows how easily these pins get lost.
As long as you have the pin, it is nevertheless very easy to install your SSD. Thermal pads are already affixed to the back of the lid, and the M.2 drive is secured using a conveniently large screw that can be twisted using the other end of the pin, a flathead screwdriver, or your thumbs (if they are small enough).
The internal PCB is wider than usual, but the enclosure is still rather thin and compact. And thanks to a liberal amount of aluminum, the Strix Arion is completely rigid with no flex in any area.
Enclosures running a PCIe SSD via USB 3.2 Gen 2 will typically be capped only by the 10 Gbps interface speed limit. As a result, performance should be nearly identical unless there’s throttling or other issues. We have used the same 2TB Samsung 990 PRO to test all enclosures and then added some mainstream internal SSDs to the charts for perspective.
Sequential & Random Performance
You can expect a 10 Gbps enclosure to max out at just over 1000 MB/s and the Asus variant is no exception.
Random performance at 4K Q1T1 is of course much lower, but the enclosures are quite even. What might be somewhat surprising here is the small difference between the 10 Gbps and 20 Gbps tiers.
Response times are much better with any internal PCIe SSD, but the same cannot be said for SATA.
Gaming (FF XIV)
This gaming-themed RGB enclosure will not only store backups of your games but can load them right off the SSD as well. The above chart shows combined loading times for five different levels in the FF XIV standalone benchmark.
The Asus ROG Strix Arion M.2 enclosure performs as well as expected and offers a convenient, robust, and great-looking new home for your spare M.2 SSD. What is perhaps less than perfect is the pin-design installation system. Although it works well, it is not overly practical if you frequently swap SSDs.
A more obvious issue compared to similar enclosures is that the Stix Arion is pricier than most. Then again, they may not be as well-rounded and none will look like this:
You can often find 20 Gbps alternatives at around the same price as the Asus enclosure, so if you can benefit from higher sequential transfer rates, this could be worth keeping in mind.
A well-rounded enclosure with a nice RGB touch
- Rigid aluminum casing
- USB Type-A and Type-C cables included
- No performance/throttling issues
- More expensive than similar enclosures