What happens when you have a few 2.5″ SSDs lying around after an upgrade? One option is to convert them into external SSDs for fast work usage. Not having any enclosures to use, I decided to consult online for some cheap enclosures to satisfy my desires.
The one thing you might know from having previously purchased unbranded enclosures is their very poor construction quality, generic looks and often weak and failure-prone connectors. Wanting to avoid this, I decided to look for a cheap case that wasn’t completely unbranded.
That was how I arrived at the Seatay SBOX02503 enclosure, in a bright blue colour, for under AU$10 shipped. That’s a pretty good price … so lets see if it’s any good.
First thing’s first … this thing doesn’t come in a box. So maybe this section should be called unbagging. The enclosure comes wrapped in a milky white plastic bag, and a USB 3.0 A to microB cable is also supplied in its own bag.
The bag itself is sealed with a transparent label with their logo on it.
The enclosure itself is a nice bright blue, and is made of plastic. Most of the body is matte with a glossy strip near the indicator LED. The logo is printed on the front, with the slogan “Simplify your life” printed on the rear.
The enclosure is a little thicker than some other enclosures. The top houses the connector and a nice little tool-less party trick. This particular enclosure comes with a tool-less design I haven’t seen elsewhere, and definitely a first for a <AU$10 enclosure. By sliding the switch to the unlocked position (as above), you can slide the body of the case down which …
… allows the “flap” on the bottom to swing open, revealing a foam-padded interior on one side, and easy access to slide in/out your storage medium of choice. This makes it very attractive for those who are doing data migrations as it’s tool-less and very simple to use. The plastic fit does vary depending on the precise dimensions of your drive, but is generally quite good.
Unfortunately, as the body is not aluminium and there is a layer of foam on one side, heat conduction is one of the negative sides to this case, and drives can be expected to run hotter in this particular enclosure.
The included cable is nothing particularly special, but the connector is quite tight making for a solid connection.
Being plastic, it was rather easy to open, and just involved sliding the box even further down past its normal end-stop. This revealed a PCB of their own design and branding.
Unscrewing the PCB and turning it over gives us the opportunity to look at the chipset.
Damn. Looks like I just unknowingly bought another Jmicron product. This is based on the JMS567, a more modern Jmicron SATA III to USB 3.0 bridge with UASP support. Lets hope it works better than the other Jmicron products I’ve owned in the past.
The soldering looks acceptable, although the USB 3.0 connector does look slightly slanted, which is concerning but the unit works as intended.
When connected, the drive ID is overwritten with the device ID depending on how the drive is queried. The USB ID is as shown on the left. ATA/SCSI pass-through appears to be working, allowing for SMART data from the enclosed drive to be read using CrystalDiskInfo (one of my specific drives below).
I tested this enclosure mostly with my Sandisk Ultra SSD which is a Sandforce SF2281 based drive which performs similarly to the Kingston SSDNow V300, amongst other Sandforce based drives. This is likely going to pose a limitation in some cases, so I did swap to a Transcend SSD340 for comparison.
HD Tune Pro
Attached to an NEC Renesas controller with no UASP, we achieved an average of 223.7MB/s read, which is on par with other controllers.
Write speeds were slower at 151.2Mb/s average but this is likely because of limitations with the Sandforce based SSD. It’s still a relatively good showing.
Connected via AMD chipset USB 2.0, it manages to fully saturate the bus with a transfer rate averaging 33.2Mb/s. The indicator light is also very useful, shining white for USB 2.0 and blue for USB 3.0 so the connection mode is known at a glance.
Tested with the NEC Renesas, it achieves similar figures as HD Tune claims.
When connected to an Intel 3rd generation i7 machine using the Intel USB 3.0 ports, and running Windows 10 with UASP support, the throughput improves quite noticeably, especially when queued requests are made.
Using the same machine and the Transcend SSD340 shows just how far you can push the chipset. Its performance figures make it quite similar to the Asmedia controller in terms of throughput.
Used mainly to check for corruption but also, in this case, as a stress test for compatibility, I’m pleased to report that it also passed on an Intel 4th-generation i7 machine, making it perfectly compatible with all my USB 3.0 ports at this present time. This is in stark contrast to the other SATA II generation Jmicron controllers.
Seatay is not a brand I have heard of before, but in my quest to find a cheap USB 3.0 enclosure for some excess SSDs, they turned up quite a useful product at a very low price. The design itself is quite convenient, and the colour coded indicator is also handy. The plastic case may be a bit thicker than others, and it isn’t as tight as others with seams all over the place, and it also isn’t great for heat dissipation, but it was under AU$10 delivered. Even in my testing, it was found that the drives generally stayed at 51 degrees Celsius or below, the cable achieved a good solid connection and no reliability issues with the Jmicron chipset were seen. I’d have to call this one a pleasant surprise.