USB 3.0 and solid state storage; two great tastes that go great together!
We’ve seen a few USB 3.0 external drives here at Maximum PC, and we do appreciate the long-overdue speed boost. It’s nice to have file transfers limited by drive speed again, rather than the interface—the 33MB/s maximum was killing us. And while we appreciated the boost we got from USB 3.0 in WD’s My Book 3.0 and the Vantec NexStar 3 SuperSpeed enclosure, the former was only as fast as the mechanical drive within it and the latter couldn’t even match the speeds of the drives it enclosed.
It’s great to have a USB 3.0 interface on a mechanical drive, but wouldn’t it be nice to combine USB 3.0 with SSD? With a theoretical bandwidth limit exceeding 5Gb/s, why wouldn’t you? Thankfully, OCZ did. The Enyo is a compact anodized aluminum brick stuffed with MLC NAND and a USB 3.0 SuperSpeed port.
The OCZ Enyo is beautiful, fast, and very expensive. And fast.
At 5.6x12x1cm, the Enyo is longer and slimmer than a 2.5-inch drive in an enclosure—it’s more the size of a slim phone. Its 128GB of MLC flash and 64MB of DRAM cache are controlled by a Barefoot Indilinx controller. So it’s essentially a last-gen OCZ Vertex or Agility (or any other Barefoot drive) and a SATA-to-USB 3.0 controller in a slightly different chassis. But the last USB 3.0 device we tested with an SSD couldn’t come close to a drive’s bare SATA numbers. How does the Enyo stack up?
Like a boss. We tested the Enyo on our hard drive test bed’s USB 3.0 ports (based on the NEC chipset) using both the latest NEC drivers and OCZ’s custom Enyo drivers. Performance was about the same using both drivers, topping out near 180MB/s sequential reads and 166MB/s sequential writes. The OCZ drivers actually seemed slightly more sluggish, with random-access times bumping up to .2ms from .1ms on the native NEC drivers. We were able to write a 2.79GB test file from our rig to the Enyo in 23 seconds (or about 121MB/s), while a 660MB folder of smaller files wrote in 11 seconds (60MB/s). Not shabby at all. The Enyo is USB 2.0 compatible, of course, but you won’t get more out of it than the USB 2.0 maximum of 33MB/s read and 30MB/s writes.
At $410 for 128GB—it’s also available in 64GB ($230) and 256GB ($820) flavors—the Enyo is slightly more expensive than a SATA solid state drive of the same capacity, which is to say it’s very expensive for external storage. It doesn’t support TRIM (because the signals can’t pass over USB 3.0) but it does have its own garbage-collection routines. It’s also stupid fast.
If you have a computer with USB 3.0 and you need fast, portable, external storage (and you have a spare $400 to spend), the OCZ Enyo is the best thing going. Given the obvious benefits of combining solid state drives with USB 3.0 interface, the coming months and years will surely bring a spate of USB 3.0 SSDs, including many that will surpass the OCZ Enyo in capacity and performance. But the Enyo is hella speedy, good looking, and available today. To quote Woody Allen, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”
128GB OCZ Enyo USB 3.0 SSD
Blistering-fast reads and writes; good-looking chassis; Barefoot controller.
Custom drivers are of questionable utility; not cheap.
OCZ Enyo (USB 3.0 Drivers)
OCZ Enyo (USB 3.0 NEC Drivers)
OCZ Enyo (USB 2.0 Drivers)
Average Read (MB/s)
Random-Access Read (ms)
Burst Read (MB/s)
Average Write (MB/s)
Random-Access Write (ms)
Burst Write (MB/s)
4KB Read (IOPS)
4KB Write (IOPS)
Best scores are bolded. All drives tested on our hard drive test bench: a stock-clocked Intel i7-930 CPU on an Asus P6X58D Premium motherboard with 6GB DDR3, running Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, with NEC USB 3.0 controllers and drivers.