Ugreen M.2 NVMe/SATA SSD Enclosure Review
An M.2 enclosure is a cost-effective and practical way to reuse a spare SSD – or to build your own, high-end external drive. Finding the right one is however a bit challenging, as there are now hundreds of these enclosures in the market. Many of them do exactly the same thing (with varying success), but they may also differ in terms of specs, compatibility, build quality, and usability.
Today we will take a closer look at the Ugreen M.2 NVMe SATA SSD enclosure, which utilizes the full 10 Gbps bandwidth of its Realtek RTL9210B USB bridge chip.
Note: This SSD enclosure is a retail sample and was not provided by a manufacturer for the purpose of this review. Why you can trust us.
The fact that ‘SATA’ is included in the product name can be somewhat confusing, since the SATA interface is usually associated with the 2.5″ form factor. Additionally, there are no “SATA NVMe” SSDs. The NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory express) protocol is exclusive to the PCI Express (PCIe) interface.
However, SATA SSDs can use the M.2 form factor as well and the RTL9210B chip is compatible with both SATA and PCIe SSDs. PCIe/NVMe M.2 SSDs are of course far more common, and also a requirement if you want to use the full bandwidth of the enclosure.
|M.2 SSD Enclosure
|Ugreen M.2 NVMe/SATA
|Asus ROG Strix
Arion M.2 NVMe
|Orico 20 Gbps
M.2 NVMe Enclosure
|USB 3.2 Gen 2
|USB 3.2 Gen 2
|USB 3.2 Gen 2x2
|4.96 x 1.61 x 0.55 in
(126 x 41 x 14 mm)
|4.9 x 1.9 x 0.04 in
(125 x 48 x 11 mm)
|4.53 x 1.57 x 0.59 in
(115 x 40 x 15 mm)
Apart from their physical design, key differences between M.2 enclosures are device compatibility and the USB bridge chip used. Most enclosures support all variations of M-key SSDs, which in turn include practically all M.2 SSDs used in modern PCs. The USB bridge, on the other hand, is what determines the interface and bandwidth.
Like the Asus ROG Strix Arion enclosure, the Ugreen M.2 NVMe SATA SSD enclosure connects via USB 3.2 Gen 2 at 10 Gbps using a C-to-C or C-to-A cable – both of which are included in the box.
Build Quality and Design
This particular Ugreen enclosure is at the more affordable end of the price range but not among the cheapest. As previously mentioned, it comes with two USB cables, which will be useful for computers that lack a Type-C port.
Also included is a screwdriver for the single screw that you will come in contact with, as the drive itself is secured using a flexible rubber latch. You also get a thick thermal pad as well as a shock-dampening rubber frame, which is not really necessary but will at least prevent the drive from scratching other gadgets when carried together.
Tool-free designs have become popular for SSD enclosures, but are not necessarily easier to use and can be rather flimsy and weak. The Ugreen M.2 enclosure is the exact opposite – it feels like a solid bar of aluminum in your hand, and having to deal with a single screw is a small price to pay for what looks like a very robust design. With the screw and lid removed, it’s easy to install and secure any M.2 SSD using the small but effective latch.
The abundance of metal here isn’t all positive, of course. It also means that the Ugreen enclosure is on the heavy side but still convenient compared to any 2.5″ SATA enclosure.
There shouldn’t be any major differences between USB 3.2 Gen 2 enclosures, as they are normally limited by the interface and not the SSD. Testing is done mainly to identify potential weaknesses. Our enclosure tests are performed using the high-end 2TB Samsung 990 PRO to ensure that the drive itself will not be an issue.
For the sake of perspective, we have included a few mainstream internal SSDs from each generation: SATA, PCIe 3.0, and PCIe 4.0.
Sequential & Random Performance
As you would expect, performance is as advertised for all the 10 Gbps enclosures at the theoretical maximum bandwidth of 1250 MB/s minus overhead.
Random performance is also within the margin of error for the different enclosures.
No unexpected deviations can be seen in the latency department either. No enclosure will perform on par with an internal NVMe SSD but still do well compared to SATA.
Gaming (FF XIV)
But is it a good idea to play games from an external M.2 SSD? If the Final Fantasy XIV standalone benchmark is any indication, it is definitely doable.
With no unexpected performance or throttling issues observed, the only thing left to comment on would be build quality and ease of use. The Ugreen M.2 NVMe SATA SSD enclosure does very well in both regards.
Its single, easily accessible screw on the front panel is preferable to flimsy tool-free designs. It might have been better to have another screw securing the SSD to the PCB, but that will only ever be an issue if you swap drives a lot. When the thermal pad and cover are in place, the internals will have no room to move around.
What we didn’t test was the SATA functionality. M.2 SATA drives are rare these days, but if you have one and pop it into the Ugreen enclosure, it will of course be limited to the 6 Gbps internal interface bandwidth.
On the whole, it is quite difficult to find major flaws with this enclosure. Once your SSD is installed, which is a simple two-minute process, it just works.
A well-designed and reasonably priced enclosure that's easy to use and works as intended
- Robust aluminum build
- USB Type-A and Type-C cables included
- No performance/throttling issues
- A bit heavy