Plugable USBC-NVME review: A thin, easy-to-use, toolless USB-C NVMe enclosure

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There may be a time when you have recently upgraded your NVMe PCIe SSD drive in your computer and have a spare one lying around. Instead of getting rid of it, you can use a USB enclosure to turn it into a portable external USB drive with faster speeds.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Our Plugable USBC-NVME review looks at a slim, easy, toolless USB 3.1 Gen 2 NVMe PCIe aluminum enclosure with transfer speeds of over 800MB/s. Read on for our full review!

The Quick Take

The Plugable USBC-NVME USB 3.1 Gen 2 Tool-Free NVMe Enclosure has been around for a few years now but that doesn’t make it any less relevant today. Not only is it thin, but it’s easy to use and requires no tools to open and close it. When connected to proper USB ports, it offers up decent speeds as far as USB enclosures are concerned. The best part of all is that not only is it backed by a solid name in the industry, but it’s also impulse buy priced.

Specifications

The Plugable USBC-NVME USB 3.1 Gen 2 Tool-Free NVMe Enclosure we reviewed has the following features and specifications:

  • HIGH SPEED: Connect your NVMe SSD to a USB-C (Gen 2) or Thunderbolt 3 port at USB 3.1 Gen 2 10Gbps speeds. Capable of performing over 800MB/s read/write when using high-performance NVMe media. Includes both USB Type-C and USB 3.0 (Type-A) cables.
  • Tool-Free Design: The world’s first toolless NVMe enclosure allows quick and easy installation of your M.2 NVMe SSDs. Compact and portable, this M.2 enclosure has a sleek black anodized aluminum with extruded fins to aid heat dissipation.
  • COMPATIBILITY: M.2 NVMe SSDs (SSD not included). USB-C Gen 2 or Thunderbolt 3 hosts up to 10Gbps, USB-C Gen 1 and USB 3.0 systems capable of up to 5Gbps. Not compatible with M.2 SATA SSDs, M.2 PCIe AHCI SSDs, or other M.2 PCIe devices.
  • OS Support: SSD to USB adapter offers plug-and-play compatibility with Windows, Mac, and Linux. SSD file system must be supported on host operating system to be accessible.
  • 2 YEAR WARRANTY: We love our Plugable products, and hope you will too. All of our products are backed with a 2-year limited parts and labor warranty as well as Seattle-based email support.

What’s in the box

  • USB-C to NVMe Enclosure
  • USB-C to USB-C cable (25cm/0.83′)
  • USB-C to USB-A cable (25cm/0.83′)
  • 3 replacement SSD Retention Pegs
  • Adhesive Thermal Pads (application optional)
  • Quick Start Guide
What's included with the Plugable USBC-NVME USB 3.1 Gen 2 Tool-Free NVMe Enclosure
What’s included with the Plugable USBC-NVME USB 3.1 Gen 2 Tool-Free NVMe Enclosure.

Design

NVMe SSD USB enclosures come in all shapes and sizes. For the most part, they’re rectangular in shape with some being thin and others being thicker. The design of the Plugable USBC-NVME USB 3.1 Gen 2 Tool-Free NVMe Enclosure sits in the former, thinner, camp. About 4 3/8″ in length, it is about 1 1/4″ wide and sits about 1/2″ in height. The long edges are rounded, making it nice to handle.

The enclosure is comprised of two pieces, an outer shell, and the actual drive holder. The outer shell is aluminum and has fins on the top and bottom. The curved sides each have 10 small cutouts as well. The fins and cutouts are for heat dissipation to keep the NVMe SSD inside cooler while in use. On one end of the main enclosure is a USB-C port. The Plugable logo is printed on the top of the enclosure towards this end. The other end has a slide button and an unlock icon beside it. Pulling this towards the icon unlocks the outer shell, allowing easy, toolless access for the drive.

When the outer shell is removed, the inside of the enclosure is exposed, showing the NVMe connection slot towards the USB-C port end. There are four holes inside the bottom plate. The furthest hole from the connection slot has a rubber peg already inserted into it. These holes, with the included additional rubber pegs, allow you to use different lengths of M.2 NVMe SSDs.

The Plugable USBC-NVME USB 3.1 Gen 2 Tool-Free NVMe Enclosure is two easy to separate pieces
The Plugable USBC-NVME USB 3.1 Gen 2 Tool-Free NVMe Enclosure is two easy-to-separate pieces.

Plugable also includes some adhesive thermal pads if you’re planning on using an NVMe SSD inside it on a more permanent basis. Based on the design of the enclosure, you’ll want to place these on the bottom of whatever drive you are using to fill in the gap that’s there. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they’ll fit on the top of the drive as the outer shell is pretty close to the top of the drive (at least with our test drive).

Finally, a pair of short USB-C cords are included, one USB-C to USB-C and the other USB-A to USB-C. Both are just over 3/4″ in length. While short, they’re long enough when used with a laptop although they can be a bit short when using the enclosure with a desktop depending on where your ports are.

Ease of Use

To insert an NVMe SSD drive into the USBC-NVME USB 3.1 Gen 2 Tool-Free NVMe Enclosure, simply slide the button on the one end toward the unlock symbol. It doesn’t take much and the outer shell will slide back a bit. Pull the shell all the way off. You’ll see a rubber peg near one end. Depending on the length of SSD you are using, you may have to pull this out and push it into one of the other holes. This is my only (minor) complaint with the design as the rubber pegs can be temperamental and a bit tricky to try and get into the hole. However, once it’s in, it’s in. On that note, if you aren’t using the hole for the longest length which comes with the peg pre-inserted, I’d leave that one in and use one of the extras Plugable has included for the shorter length holes. Once in the correct hole for your drive, pull back slightly on the peg to hold it out of the way.

Next, hold your NVMe PCIe M Key M.2 SSD at a 30-degree angle and push it into the connector slot, making sure to line up the pins correctly. Once inserted, release the rubber retention peg. The peg will make contact with the shell and hold your drive in place. While it does work, it can be a bit tricky, but not end-of-the-world tricky, to hold back depending on the size of your thumbs/fingers.

The Plugable USBC-NVME USB 3.1 Gen 2 Tool-Free NVMe Enclosure with an M.2 NVMe SSD (not included) inserted
The Plugable USBC-NVME USB 3.1 Gen 2 Tool-Free NVMe Enclosure with an M.2 NVMe SSD (not included) inserted.

Finally, angle the outer shell slightly towards the button side to push the release component in a bit, then slide the outer shell forward until you hear a click and you’re good to go! If you have a drive with a heatsink on it and are using the enclosure to clone a drive, the enclosure does work just fine without the outer shell.

Performance

Plugable claims you should get over 800MB/s read/write speeds with the USBC-NVME USB 3.1 Gen 2 Tool-Free NVMe Enclosure. Of course, depending on your NVMe SSD drive, system, and set up, your speeds will vary.

To test performance, we connected the drive to a desktop via USB Type-C on a USB 3.2 port. The NVMe SSD we used is the Sabrent Rocket Q 1TB, which has read speeds of up to 3200MB/s and write speeds of up to 2000MB/s.

Benchmark ProgramSpeed
AS SSD Seq Read941.97 MB/s
AS SSD Seq Write926.86 MB/s
ATTO Disk Benchmark Seq Read (max)997.69 MB/s
ATTO Disk Benchmark Seq Write (max)969.23 MB/s
CrystalDiskMark Seq Read (Q8T1)1047.87 MB/s
CrystalDiskMark Seq Write (Q8T1)1019.84 MB/s

As you can see from our tests above, not only did the Plugable NVMe SSD enclosure exceed the stated 800MB/s values, it did so quite handily and consistently across different benchmark apps. On that note, file transfers were nice and zippy, from transferring larger 2GB files or multiple files under 50MB at once. While in use, the enclosure didn’t really warm up at all. I did transfer a lot of files back and forth between it and a computer for about 30 minutes and was pleasantly surprised at how cool it still was to the touch after extended use.

Price/Value

With an MSRP of $29, the Plugable USBC-NVME USB 3.1 Gen 2 Tool-Free NVMe Enclosure is a no-brainer. It’s easy to use, has great build quality, and has solid heat dissipation. At the time of writing, you can save an extra $2 on Amazon as well. If you already have a spare NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD lying around, this is a pretty affordable way to turn it into an external USB drive. 

Wrap-up

If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, affordable, high-quality enclosure for your spare NVMe M.2 SSD, the Plugable USBC-NVME USB 3.1 Gen 2 Tool-Free NVMe Enclosure enclosure will do the trick.

Last Updated on April 15, 2023.

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