For this review, I will discuss my experience with a different type of external SSD drive. The Mushkin Enhanced Atlas FLUX USB 3.0 mSATA III SSD Enclosure Kit (AT-ENCKIT) is about the size of Zippo lighter and weighs 2.4 ounces (not including the mSATA drive that you need to purchase separately). Most people would probably prefer a regular USB Flash type drive than this type of solution. The Atlas costs about $20 and then the needed mSATA drive that fits inside can vary from $35 and up. The primary reason I purchased the Atlas, is due to the fact that I had an mSATA drive that I could not utilize for my latest laptop project. The Intel 310 Series 80GB mSATA Solid State Drive SSDMAEMC080G2C1 is an older drive that I purchased on Amazon and which I installed in the Atlas Flux enclosure.
Mushkin Enhanced Atlas FLUX USB 3.0 mSATA III SSD Enclosure Kit (AT-ENCKIT)
- Controller: AS Media 1053E USB 3.0 Controller
- Attachment: USB Attached SCSI Protocol support
- Casing: Durable aluminum casing
- Supported Drives: Supports 50mm and 25mm mSATA drives
- USB Compatible: USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 Compatible
- Transfer Speeds: Supports SATA 1.5 Gb/s
- Plug and Play (PnP) with 3Gb/s and 6Gb/s SSDs
Intel 310 Series 80GB mSATA Solid State Drive (SSDMAEMC080G2C1)
- Capacity 80GB
- Sequential Read – Up to 200 MB/s
- Sequential Write – Up to 70 MB/s
- SATA 3.0 3Gb/S
- Intel Product Page
The installation is quite simple. Mushkin includes a tiny screwdriver, however I recommend using a higher quality Philips #00 screwdriver. I have big hands and it is easier to use a regular full size screwdriver when removing tiny screws as this. Once you remove the panel, the board inside should slide out, and you should now be able to carefully install your mSATA drive. You slide the mSATA drive at a slight angle and then push it down. A snap on clip then holds the drive in place, similar to memory DIMM slots in a laptop. Finally screw back on the panel and you are done.
On Windows 7
I tested the Atlas Flux with my Dell Latitude e5430 laptop. This laptop has three kinds of ports that this drive can connect to. There is a USB 2 port, a USB 3 port, and an eSATAp port (also referred to as an eSATA/USB combo port). The operating system is Windows 7 64-bit. The main issue I had with the drive is that it is not really hot-swappable. Plugging it in the first time, the drive will appear and you are able to format it. But if you unplug the drive and then plug it back in, it will not appear in Windows again. You can restart Windows and then the drive will appear again. The problem was worse on the eSATAp port. The drive would remount over and over on this port. To fix this issue, with the drive visible in Windows, Go to the Start Menu and type DEVICE MANAGER and click on Device Manager in the results. Under Device Manager, under Disk Drives, find the drive and double-click on it. Now click on Policies and select Better Performance and click OK. The Atlas Flux cannot utilize the Quick Removal feature. This means that you must Eject the drive via the systray USB icon or by right-clicking on it and choosing Eject. The drive will now be stable and you may use it without restarting Windows.
The included USB Cable is quite short, so I would recommend a longer cable. Specifically if you are using this with a desktop.
Heat might be a problem as well, depending on your use. This enclosure gets hot and since there are no openings, I worry that the drive might get too hot if left connected for a long time.
Using USBDeview I performed a series of tests to see what kind of performance the Atlas Flux with the Intel 310 was capable of. Our first test is with the USB 2 port. This resulted in pretty slow write and read results. However this performance is better then your typical USB flash drive.
With the drive connected to the USB 3 port, the results are much better, but do not at all approach the native speeds of the Intel 310 itself. Write speed is about 30 percent of the Intel 310’s native write capacity.
Finally with the drive connected to the eSATAp port, we see a remarkable difference in both Write and Read performance. The results are closer to the Intel 310’s stated specs. This makes the drive easier to use for more disk intensive purposes.
Overall this solution is most likely not for everyone. The performance of the mSATA drive is hampered by the USB connection limits and if you do have a laptop with an eSATAp port, you might find this solution more useful.