Tiny adapter adds 480GB SSD and HDMI to your MacBook [Review]

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Minix Neo Storage Pro with MacBook
Minix Neo Storage Pro combines an SSD, USB-A and HDMI in a clip-on package.
Photo: Minix

Apple doesn’t make it easy to upgrade your MacBook. But the Minix Neo Storage Pro does. Clip this to your laptop to add 480GB of storage capacity. Even better, the multiport adapter also includes an HDMI port and a USB-A port for connecting legacy accessories. And there’s a Thunderbolt 3 port, too.

I’ve been testing the Neo Storage Pro for weeks. Here’s how well it works in regular use.

Minix Neo Storage Pro review

If you outgrow the storage capacity of your MacBook, there’s often not much you can do about it. In recent models, Apple solders the flash memory to the logic board, so upgrades are nigh impossible. That makes external storage the best option.

In the same vein, Apple’s insistence on only putting USB-C ports in its laptops requires an adapter to hook up HDMI monitors and USB-A accessories.

Fortunately, the Neo Storage Pro handles both these jobs well.

Minix Neo Storage Pro hardware

There are two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports on the left edge of MacBook Pro models released since 2016, and the same is true for MacBook Air models introduced since 2018. The Neo Storage Pro supports all these computers and requires both ports.

The ports are so close together it’s only logical this accessory takes up both — there’s not really another option. And this helps hold Minix’s accessory to the side of the laptop more securely. That said, I don’t recommend carrying the MacBook around with this adapter attached. The connection isn’t that secure.

The dual-port design has advantages, but it means this accessory can’t easily be used with other computers. Just as a test, I rigged something up with adapters and cables, but it wasn’t a graceful solution.

Neo Storage Pro is easily portable. Even pocketable. It measures 5.4 inches by 1.3 inches by 0.4 inches and weighs a mere 2.0 ounces (0.1 pounds). The edges are rounded to match the look of the MacBook. And Minix offers the product in Space Grey or Silver. It comes with a form-fitting case to protect from scratches.

Minix Neo Storage Pro review
The two connectors on the Neo Storage Pro make it for recent MacBooks only.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Ports

As mentioned this MacBook adapter connects to both the USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports on the laptop, and makes use of both.

One port is connected to the 480GB SATA 3.0 SSD. This offers read speeds at up to 415MBps and write speeds of 400MBps. That’s significantly slower than the SSDs built into recent MacBooks, but still quite speedy.

The same port on the MacBook is also connected to a USB Type-A port. This uses the USB 3.0 standard, so it has a maximum data transfer speed of 5Gbps. It’s very convenient for connecting to legacy accessories like scanners, printers, etc. This same MacBook port also handles the Neo Storage Pro’s HDMI port. This supports a 4K monitor at 60Hz, or a lower-resolution one.

The MacBook’s second USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port connects to one on Minix’s accessory that’s essentially a “passthrough” port. It’ll transfer data at up to 40GBps, or pass through up to 100 watts of power.

To test it, I hooked up a 15.6-inch Espresso display. And I tried it with other USB-C accessories, including an external drive. There were no problems.

Both the HDMI port and the USB-C port can simultaneously be connected to external displays, giving your MacBook three screens.

Minix’s accessory gets warm, especially when multiple ports are being used. In my testing, it never got anything I’d call hot. The aluminum exterior helps shed heat.

Minix Neo Storage Pro is very portable.
Neo Storage Pro has HDMI, USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 and USB-A ports.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Minix Neo Storage Pro final thoughts

You can hook a flash drive to your MacBook, and there are quite a few multiport adapters on the market. The Minix Neo Storage Pro combines these two functions into one convenient package.

And it’s a well-designed package at that.

Pricing

Minix Neo Storage Pro debuted on Indiegogo on Wednesday. That surely sets off warning flags for some people, who don’t trust crowd-funded projects. And it’s true: Minix Technologies is asking you to pay now for something that won‘t be delivered until June.

But this company isn’t a startup. It already makes a range of products, including an earlier USB-C hub with built-in storage. It’s just turning to Indiegogo as an alternative method of financing the production of this device.

Plus, Neo Storage Pro isn’t just a concept. There’s already a working design. I’ve been using this device for weeks — it arrived in the final packaging.

The advantage for you if you preorder is that you get a significant discount. Place an order today on Indigogo to get Neo Storage Pro for $99 — 41% off the regular cost of $169.

Comparable products

Minix didn’t have a unique idea. The HybridDrive is a rival Indiegogo project that combines an SSD with additional ports. It actually has even more ports, and is comparably priced, but won’t ship until July.

Anyone just looking for portable storage for a MacBook can get a USB-C thumb drive. A SanDisk 512GB flash drive goes for $79.99, for example. However, it will be slower, and doesn’t have the additional ports of Minix’s offering. Or there are plenty of good USB-C hubs with multiple ports. Most of them don’t have built-in storage, though.

Minix provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.