Satechi USB-C Aluminum Tool-Free Enclosure review: For M.2 NVMe or SATA SSD

Rugged enclosure easily converts SSDs into external Mac drives [Review]

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Satechi USB-C Aluminum Tool-Free Enclosure review: For M.2 NVMe or SATA SSD★★★★★
Easily turn an M.2 NVMe or SATA SSD into a drive for your Mac or iPad with this enclosure from Satechi.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Satechi USB-C Aluminum Tool-Free Enclosure allows M.2 PCIe NVMe and SATA solid state drives to be easily added to a Mac or iPad. The rugged enclosure includes a USB-C port for wide compatibility.

I installed an SSD into Satechi’s enclosure and tested it in my home office. It was as simple as one could hope.

Satechi USB-C Aluminum Tool-Free Enclosure review

M.2 PCIe NVMe and SATA solid state drives are widely available. These are physically somewhat small and add terabytes of storage capacity.

It’s possible you have one just lying around because you stopped using the computer it was plugged into. These SSDs are designed for internal use and can’t be plugged into a MacBook. But they can be quickly converted into an external drive with an enclosure such as the one Satechi just introduced.

It’s really easy.

Internal SSD to external Mac drive in under a minute

Satechi USB-C Aluminum Tool-Free Enclosure
Just slide out the tray to insert an M.2 SSD into Satechi’s enclosure.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The M.2 SSDs the Satechi USB-C Aluminum Tool-Free Enclosure is designed around are small so the accessory is too. It’s 4.1 inches by 1.30 in. by 0.5 in. The device fits very easily into a backpack, and it’s even pocketable.

The body of the enclosure is aluminum and is quite rugged. I could almost hammer a nail with it. The thick casing is also designed to dissipate heat from the drive.

Inserting an SSD is so easy. Satechi put “Tool-Free” right in the name, and even that doesn’t fully demonstrate how very simple the process is. It’s slightly more complicated than inserting an SD card into a reader. Or putting a stick of gum in your mouth.

Push a button to slide the tray out of the exterior of the enclosure. Plug the M.2 SSD into the socket and clip it down with a rubber button. Slide the tray back in. That’s it.

Just so there’s no confusion, what I’m reviewing is a drive enclosure – no SSD is included. The product is compatible with SATA and NVMe in sizes 2242/2260/2280, such as M.2 NVMe/SATA PCIe M key and PCIe B&M key SSDs.

If you buy a blank SSD, you’ll need to format it. That’s outside the scope of this review so I’ll just point you toward Apple’s guide to using Disk Utility for Mac.

Satechi includes an 9.75-inch USB-C cable to connect the drive to your computer. I tested it with an iPad Pro and a Windows PC and the drive showed up for both. The drive also worked over USB-A cables.

Speedy data transfers

Keep in mind, Satechi’s product is an M.2 SSD enclosure. Data transfer speeds mostly depend on the type of SSD you put in it.

With an M.2 NVME, speeds go up to 10 Gbps via USB 3.1 Gen 2. With an M.2 SATA in the enclosure, it offers up to 6 Gbps via USB 3.1 Gen 1. I used an M.2 SATA III SSD for my tests.

I’m a bit cynical about how accurate benchmark apps are – I prefer real-world results. I started by moving a 1 GB test file from the SSD to my computer, which took about 4 seconds. Moving it back required the same time.

That test went so quickly I next moved a 10.74 GB file from the SSD to my computer, which took 62 seconds. Moving it back took 34 seconds.

So I’m seeing about 2.5 Gbps. That’s not as fast as the maximum possible speed, but neither is it bad for real-world conditions.

Satechi USB-C Aluminum Tool-Free Enclosure final thoughts

Satechi USB-C Aluminum Tool-Free Enclosure review
Turn a left-over M.2 SSD into a useful drive with the Satechi USB-C Aluminum Tool-Free Enclosure.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

If you have an M.2 NVMe or SATA SSD sitting a drawer that you’d like to make use of, plug it into this enclosure to make a useful external drive for your computer. The resulting drive is well suited for Time Machine backups, an image or video collection, an archive of work documents… whatever you need.

Satechi’s enclosure is easy to use and extremely rugged.

★★★★★

Pricing

The Satechi USB-C Aluminum Tool-Free Enclosure is available now for $49.99.

Buy from: Satechi

That’s not the lowest price I’ve seen for an M.2 NVMe or SATA SSD enclosure, but this is definitely the most rugged one I’m aware of. And it comes from a company with a reputation for reliable products.

Satechi 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.