The DIY Portable SSD That Is Faster, Smaller, and Cheaper Than the Competition

Portable drives are getting better and faster all the time, while the cost of high-capacity drives has finally started to come down. Yet, new technologies always develop faster than the leading brands can get products to market. That's where DIY solutions shine. 

Portable drives have become more and more important to both photographers and videographers, especially if your work takes you away from your studio for any length of time. Backing up with redundancy will always be one of the biggest concerns we all face. Hard drives and SSD solutions have been on a steady incline in both read/write speeds and capacity for some time. However, there are a few new technologies that are really going to push what is possible in portable systems to the next level. With Thunderbolt 3, PCIe 4, and USB 4, we are seeing unrivaled new speeds of data transfer. 

With these new technologies starting to hit the market, the team over at Max Tech thought they could make something faster than what is currently available. What they discovered was that it was also cheaper to make, a smaller form factor, and offered some future-proofing as better drives become available. 

Using new Thunderbolt 3 equipped NVMe portable enclosures and the insanely fast PCIe 4 SSD drives, they were able to beat just about every benchmark they tested against several of the leading brands on the market. While testing, they were able to transfer a 172 GB video file in just one minute, almost half the time of the next fastest drive. 

Not everyone needs blazing insane speeds, and the cost, although cheaper than in the past, is still high for some. A DIY solution like this does offer other less obvious benefits, though: easier recovery of your files when damaged. A lot of these smaller form factor SSD drives are a lot harder to recover from if the interface fails. Some even have the USB port integrated into the PCB, making it very expensive if not impossible to recover from. A DIY setup like this, while also upgradeable, is easily disassembled, so you can throw the drive in a PC or another enclosure. 

I can't wait to see what other new tech and gadgets we will see as more companies begin to take advantage of these insane transfer speeds. 

Michael DeStefano's picture

Michael DeStefano is a commercial/editorial photographer focusing on Outdoor Lifestyle and Adventure. Based in Boston, MA he combines his passion for outdoor sports like climbing and surfing into his work. When not traveling or outdoors he is often found geeking out over new tech gadgets.

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Godd idea. However, there is no need for the more expensive Sabrent NVMe4, get the regular NVMe Sabrent and you save around $90 USD on the M.2 drive. Thunderbolt or USB 3.2 V2 will not be able to take advantage of the top speed that can only be had when inside the PC x570 motherboard.

These enclosures are starting to appear under other names such as Sabrent, Which means they're likely all clones of a generic build and PCIe controller. Shop around or wait a few months and you'll see the price drop and/or major names if you prefer those to start shipping them.

If you want something cheaper then you can get a Transcend CM80 that can read/write to SATA based m.2 SSDs in a smaller/cooler form factor. It's slower, but it'll handle the full speed of the drive if you have a USB 3;1 port as it supports UASP.