The industrial standard for connectors and protocols, known has the Universal Serial Bus (USB) was designed to standardize the connection of peripherals to personal computers, both to communicate with and to supply electric power. Since the demand for faster and faster ways to communicate, the nomenclature has gotten out of hand lately. For example we have USB 3.1 Gen 2 which has the same bandwidth (10Gbps) as USB 3.2 Gen2 and 3.2 Gen1x2 (?!). Alas, here is a simplification:
However, USB 4.0 is in the works to proceed to the next step and simplify the naming scheme but until then the USB 3.2 Gen2x2 is the fastest we have currently which has a max theoretical bandwidth of 20Gbps (or up to 2500 MB/s) since it uses 2x lanes of 10Gbps to achieve this double throughput.
Then not long ago, for an external enclose/storage device to even approach 10Gbps was unheard-of but finally we have a full solution thanks to companies like SilverStone. More specifically a fast USB-based external storage solution was much needed especially with the advancements in the NVMe M.2 SSD sector.
Today we are going to have a look at at the MS12 which is a USB 3.2 Gen2x2 20Gbps Type C enclosure for most Gen3 x4 NVMe SSDs where you can install your desired drive, either a single sided or a double sided one. The cherry on top is the extra cooling it offers and thus it should prevent any thermal throttling. Then you might ask what happens if I don’t have a USB 3.2 Gen2x2 capable port on an older system? This is where the ECU06 PCIe adapter card comes into play because it will solve just that.
SilverStone Technology Co., Ltd is a company based in Taiwan, founded in 2003 that makes computer cases, power supplies, and other peripheral for personal computers. Their goal was to provide products that create inspirations and customers a wide selection of choices.
With distribution centres in different areas of the globe, SilverStone products can be seen all over the world, not just for computer users but also for home entertainment use. Thus providing leisure with integration of advanced technologies that is functional and making them enjoyable to use.
Prices and Availability
The ability itself to have a NVMe drive as an external cabled device, is epic in itself, thus the pricing shouldn’t surprise anybody considering that this will actually cool and prevent any thermal throttling because we all know how hot NVMe M.2s usually get.
As for the adapter card, it also adheres to the same principle, to get access this high speed protocols, you must pay to play, especially that motherboards with native USB 3.2 Gen2x2 are a thing only with the Intel Z490 chipsets and above.
*10.07.2021 Update – Check the video review as well!*
Highlights and Specification
MS12 – 20Gbps SuperSpeed+ USB 3.2 Type-C to NVMe M.2 SSD enclosure
￭ Latest USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C interface up to 20Gbps SuperSpeed+ transfer rate
￭ Support various lengths of M.2 SSD (22x42mm, 22x60mm, 22x80mm)
￭ Support BOT and UAS Protocol
￭ Support TRIM command set
￭ Support NVMe: SCSI Translation Reference Rev. 1.5
￭ Support NVMe Error Reporting & Recovery
￭ S.M.A.R.T drive monitoring
￭ Compliant with PCI Express Base Specification Rev. 3.1a
￭ Compliant with NVM Express Base Specification Rev. 1.3c
￭ Aluminum alloy case and built-in thermal pad
ECU06 SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps / USB-C 3.2 Gen 2×2 PCIe expansion card
￭ SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps
￭ PCI Express Gen3 x4 lanes, transfer rate up to 32GT/s
￭ Compliant with PCI Express Base 3.1a specification.
￭ Compliant with eXtensible Host Controller Interface (xHCI) specification Revision 1.1
￭ Compliant with USB Attached SCSI Protocol (UASP) Revision 1.0
￭ Includes optional low profile slot cover for supporting low profile cases
Both products follow the same overall theme of blue and white with a visual depiction of the actual items. The 20Gbps SuperSpeed+ protocol is highly visible since its the name of the game here.
On the backs we have the specs lists with the added bonus for the MS12 which has a thermal imaging example of how cool it keeps a popular and hot NVMe drive (the Samsung 960 PRO).
The MS12 has a magnetic front cover which when opened will reveal a Crystal Disk Mark benchmark and the main highlights of the external enclosure. Regarding the ECU06 when opened it reveals the warranty information.
Besides the enclosure you get with the MS12 the following:
* 30cm Type-C to Type-C USB cable
* warranty card
* Allen screwdriver
* 4x spare Allen bolts
* 1x grey thermal pad (2mm thick) for a single sided M.2
* 1x blue thermal pad (1mm thick) for a double sided M.2
Regarding the ECU06 card you only get a low profile metal adapter which is highly welcomed.
Zooming in, the ECU06 uses an ASMedia ASM3242 controller which is a Universal Series Bus xHCI host controller. Thus it bridges the PCIe to USB3.2 Gen2x2 to offer the high bandwidth of 20 Gbps (also marked on the PCB, under the board’s revision).
Now let’s focus on the MS12 NVMe external enclosure. It has this simple and industrial look which comes mostly from the full aluminium body and its cooling fins. Overall, the enclosure is designed to work as a heat conductor.
On the front we get some quick branding and the name of the product.
Each side has 4 screws that hold into place the top plates. This is such a cool example where form follows function.
Even the sides have a cooling pattern to them. The fit and finish is perfect as you can probably tell from the pictures.
Here is where you will connect the included (or any) Type-C USB cable. That little whole next to the USB port is the activity LED.
It’s very easy to access to internal PCB where you will install your desire M.2 by removing the 4 screws on each side with the help of the included screwdriver.
Here is a quick size perspective and that is the M.2 drive that we will use today for testing the MS12.
Both cover plates have their own thermal pads pre-applied.
So on this side we see the second generation USB 3.2 ASMedia ASM2364 controller which is compliant with PCI Express Base Specification Rev. 3.1 and NVM Express Base Specification Rev. 1.3c.
On the other side is where you will install your NVMe M.2 SSD which can be a 2242, 2260 or 2280 format.
Since our testing Silicon Power A60 NVMe drive is a single sided one, we need to install the thicker grey thermal pad between the SSD and the green PCB.
Bolt everything back and it’s game time. Also the Type-C cable has a very strong and ‘healthy’ click when connecting it.
When connected, the MS12 will have the blue LED on and when you use the drive, it will start to blink.
As for the ECU06 card, when installed it will also have a blue LED on but when you connect a device to it, it will turn its colour to red.
* The external MS12 enclosure was connected first to the native USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port of the ASUS X370-F STRIX motherboard which is capped at 10Gbps, the same as the current updated USB 3.2 Gen2 ports (up to 1250 MB/s). Then the external enclosure was attached to the ECU06 PCIe card adapter which (should) double the bandwidth to 20Gbps (up to 2500 MB/s)
* Synthetic and real life big file transfer tests – a single 7GB .iso installation file to test the burst speed and the SLC cache if present.
* All SSDs were secure-erased before our tests started
* Between tests, drives are left idle for 1 minute to allow them to flush and reorganise their internal data.
* Steps have been taken to ensure that the CPU’s power-saving features don’t interfere with any of our results. All of the CPU’s low-power states have been disabled.
* In order to minimise random variation, each of the real-life performance tests are run a few times with reboots in-between tests to reduce the impact of disk cache.
* (SATA SSDs only) Make sure you use a SATA 6Gbps capable motherboard and a matching cable to avoid bottle-necking. Then double check in the BIOS that you have the AHCI mode activated for another maximum performance tip.
* For AMD users, make sure you update your motherboard chipset drivers from here.
– CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1700 AM4 – 8c/16t @ 65W TDP
– CPU Cooler: be quiet! Pure Loop 2 AIO 360mm
– RAM 16GB DDR4 T-Force Night Hawk RGB 3000 MHz CL16
– Motherboard: ASUS ROG STRIX X370-F Gaming ATX @ BIOS 5220
– Boot SSD: ADATA XPG SX6000 128GB M.2 NVMe TLC
– Video card(s): KF2 GTX 480 Anarchy Accelero Xtreme Plus
– PSU: be quiet! 550W Pure Power 11 FM Gold
– Case: be quiet! Silent Base 802 Black
– Case fans: 3x be quiet! Pure Wings 2 140 mm
Storage used in the graphs:
– Windows 10 Pro x64 Version 21H1
– HD Tune Pro v5.70
– ATTO v4.01
– Crystal Disk Mark v7.0.0
Testing, Results and Analysis
HD Tune Pro – which is a hard disk / SSD utility with many functions. It can be used to measure the drive’s performance, scan for errors, check the health status (S.M.A.R.T.), securely erase all data and much more.
On the left we have the results for the MS12 enclosure connected to the testing system while on the right we have it plugged to the ECU06 PCIe card. Also the NVMe drive used for these tests was also tested separately in the motherboard’s dedicated Gen3 x4 port for the complete perspective.
So, the USB 3.1 Gen2 tops at 10Gbps and since the testing Silicon Power A60 NVMe drive is rated up to 2200 MB/s read and 1600 MB/s write, we see that the MS12 is offering almost the bandwidth that the motherboard supports. However, when we connect the MS12 with the A60 inside to the ECU06 card, we see almost a 100% increase thus doubling the performance. This alone proves that the MS12 and the ECU06 work as advertised.
Moving to the next utility – Crystal Disk Mark – this one is designed to quickly test the performance of the drives.
What we saw in HD Tune Pro is basically replicated here as well for both the ‘Read/Write’ tests and for the remaining synthetic benchmarks.
To conclude the synthetic tests, here is ATTO which is another performance measurement tool to test any manufacturers RAID controllers, storage controllers, host bus adaptors (HBAs), hard drives and SSD drives.
The burst test speed revolves around a quick copy test of a 7GB .iso installation file from the A60 onto itself. There is a bump in performance with the ECU06 card but here it will mostly come down to the NVMe drive itself since in the synthetics we saw there is no bottleneck with neither the enclosure nor the card.
Now let’s inspect the operating temps. This is a tricky one since you can’t read the S.M.A.R.T info fully when the drive is in the MS12 (or most M.2 external enclosures for that matter). The only way is with a thermal gun (which we don’t own) or a (laser) thermometer (which we do).
So, the Silicon Power A60 M.2 when installed in the testing PC, with an ambient of 21°C and minimal airflow inside the case, it reached 72°C when benchmarking via Crystal Disk Mark. When the same A60 was inside the MS12 external enclosure, in the same test, we recorded on the surface of the heatsink around 59°C. So the, SST-MS12 really works when it comes to effective heat dissipation by lowering the temperature by 13°C ! Mind you this is the surface of the heatsink and take a few degrees for margin of error for the actual inside temp but nonetheless, it’s cooler overall.
Conclusion – MS12
Silverstone has done a great job here with the MS12 since it delivers on what it promises – to keep your NVMe drive cool while offering as close as it can to the 20Gbps bandwidth. The build quality is excellent and the enclosure comes with everything you need to install your desired single or double-sided M.2. Even if you don’t have a free USB 3.2 Gen2x2 port to access the maximum theoretical throughput, it’s still backwords compatible and the overall performance will boil down to what drive you install. When combined with the ECU06 card, as you saw, you are virtually guaranteed to enjoy the total available speed.
+ Supports up to 20Gbps
+ Very practical as a fast external storage solution
+ It keeps the NVMe drive cool and will prevent any thermal throttling
+ Single and double sided ready
+ Excellent fit and finish
+ Great value for money
– The supplied USB cable is a bit shorter
Glob3trotters “Must have!” Award – 5 out of 5
Conclusion – ECU06 card
The SST-ECU06 is plain and simple the only way to access the fastest USB protocol of 3.2 Gen2x2 20Gbps at the moment without owning an expensive motherboard. It’s a plug and play upgrade that works as advertised and only requires at least a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot on your motherboard.
+ Lets you upgrade almost any system to the USB 3.2 Gen2x2 protocol
+ Dual colour activity LED
+ Low-profile-case friendly
+ Black PCB