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OCZ Enyo USB 3.0 128GB SSD

Review USB 3.0 still in its infancy
Thu Jul 29 2010, 16:50
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Product OCZ Technology Enyo USB 3.0 128GB SSD
Website www.ocztechnology.com/enyousb3
System Specifications Anodized Aluminum Housing, 128GB SSD, MLC Flash, USB 3.0, USB 2.0
Price £272 online


OCZ TECHNOLOGY GROUP is a California based company that is best known for its RAM sticks, which appear on many motherboards from high-end gaming rigs to commonplace systems. It's tried its hand at a solid state drive (SSD), so we turn our attention to the Enyo.

The Enyo is an external SSD that is connected via USB 3.0 and it's dressed up in a stylish casing that sets it apart from the uninspiring designs by bigger names.

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The Enyo looks impressive, with its silver anodised aluminium enclosure and aerodynamic design. It looks like a version of the hard drive that accompanies the Xbox 360 Elite with its angular design, only this has a smaller and sleeker form factor.

The Enyo's dimensions are 120mm X 58mm X 9.10mm, which means it's smaller than any 2.5-inch external hard drive. It ships in a variety of storage capacities from 64GB through 128GB to 256GB. OCZ might produce larger capacity Enyo models in the future at correspondingly higher prices.

In the past, external SSDs have been held back like other external drives by the ports used and their limited transfer speeds. USB 2.0 was the most commonly used port for connecting to a computer. There are of course eSata SSD drives, but USB is more widely adopted and common.

SSDs are known for their blazing speeds and are much faster than mechanical hard drives for obvious reasons. But data transfer speeds are lower for external SSDs as natively the SSD runs faster than the external port technology used for connecting it. However USB 3.0 can bridge some of the gap and bring the SSD closer to native speed, and it's a lot faster than USB 2.0

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The Enyo we reviewed was of the 128GB variety, where the USB 3.0 based device should be capable of sustainable speeds of 150MB/s while reaching peaks of 260MB/s reads and 200MB/s writes in the most ideal circumstances. Due to the nature of what makes up an SSD as compared to an HDD there's also the added benefit of lower CPU utilisation. This can be seen when high volumes of data are being transferred back and forth, leaving the user to get on with other tasks without the system slowing down.

The drive arrives in an antistatic bag, with no accompanying security or encryption software or any other such niceties other than a USB 3.0 cable terminating in a microUSB 3.0 male connector. We haven't seen this type of connector before and we've only encountered the USB 3.0 type B socket once in the past.

We would have liked to have seen a stylish hard case to protect the OCZ external drive, as although it's fairly robust it is still very expensive and therefore needs to be looked after.

In testing the Enyo 128GB SSD we encountered some problems along the way, which we thought we'd share with you just in case someone else comes across the same troubles.

Initially, the first Enyo unit we tried had some problems with benchmarking that we were assured were anomalous and we had a replacement unit dispatched. The issues showed up in connectivity, prolonged use and troubles with USB 3.0 PCI cards, Expresscard and possibly a motherboard.

The original SSD kept on disconnecting and reconnecting, time and time again and all while trying to benchmark the drive. All efforts were made to resolve the issues before calling OCZ, by reinstalling the drivers, the benchmarking software, down to even reinstalling the whole OS from scratch and rebuilding the PC.

We were originally using a Buffalo PCI Express Interface Card that shipped with its USB 3.0 DriveStation, on an MSI P55-GD65 motherboard and they all worked well together. When we had problems with that first Enyo SSD and that card, we put in Buffalo's laptop Expresscard for use with the MSI GX740 we recently reviewed, but the same problem was seen.

Only this time around we actually managed to obtain a set of results with the laptop, in among the random disconnecting of the external SSD. These results proved disastrous, as the benchmarking figures were half of what we expected to see, at around a 70MB/s transfer rate according to HD Tune. The replacement drive proved no better either, as the same set of results were obtained although the testing didn't take half a day through random disconnecting.

The Enyo 128GB SSD replacement drive also had problems with the Buffalo computer based PCI Express Interface Card. First the SSD couldn't be seen and then poor results were produced in testing. At this point we went back to MSI, where they furnished The INQUIRER with the updated motherboard to the one we were using - the P55A-GD65, with two built-in USB 3.0 ports. This we thought would resolve all the issues, as perhaps the Buffalo Expresscard and PCI Express Interface Card may have had incompatibility issues with the motherboard and the laptop used.

We weren't so lucky. Although everything initially worked fine, the NEC Host drivers accompanying the motherboard on the CD had problems recognising the host adapter after Microsoft Windows updates were applied. The latest USB 3.0 drivers installed on a fresh system worked well, without any updates from Microsoft, where the benchmarking started and some troubling results were initially produced.

The HD Tune benchmarking results seemed to be all over the place, with peaks and troughs seen where they were not expected on USB 3.0. After several rebuilds, different processors, memory and PSUs used we tried once more and finally managed to obtain a steady set of benchmarking results.

The benchmarking results below were only accomplished through trickery. Once the benchmarking started, we removed all other USB connected devices, which happened to be a wireless mouse and keyboard. This and only this proved to work, and there appeared to be no more hiccups in the testing.

All of which proves to us that USB 3.0 is still very much in its infancy, where problems and issues will be encountered along the way and it's to be expected by early adopters.

USB 2.0 - TEST RESULTS

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USB 3.0 - TEST RESULTS

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In Short
The Enyo 128GB SSD is a fast enough, decent looking external drive with a USB 3.0 port that goes some way to achieve the speeds an SSD should be able to achieve. With all this comes a premium cost that could be a little high for most to swallow, although if head turning looks are what's desired then this external drive will most certainly meet that need. µ

The Good
USB 3.0, fast SSD.

The Bad
Not many systems have USB 3.0 at present and that means an upgrade will be needed to use it by most, no extra software or case.

The Ugly
Teething troubles with USB 3.0 just shows the technology is still too much in its infancy to be whole-heartedly recommended.

Bartender's Report
7/10

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