If you want a fast portable storage drive, it’s often better to pair one of the best SSD enclosures with your SSD of choice than just get one of the best external SSDs. However, just like the drives themselves, not all enclosures are created equal, especially if you want the highest possible speed.
All of the fastest enclosures today use 40 Gbps USB-C connections, are labeled either Thunderbolt 3, Thunderbolt 4 or USB 4 and are cross-compatible. Thunderbolt devices typically don’t work when connected to the 5, 10, or 20 Gbps USB-C ports found on most computers. However, true USB 4 devices are backward compatible with older standards such as USB 3.2/3.1.
zaik drive, Upcoming USB 4 Enclosure from Zike (opens in new tab) (maker of accessories such as USB hubs and chargers) promises wide compatibility and new speed records, with read speeds in the 3,700 MBps range and write speeds near 3,100 MBps. The company sent me a pre-production sample for testing, and I can assure you that this is the fastest enclosure they’ve tested so far and it hits the mark.
I tested the Orico M2V01-C4 USB 4 enclosure with the WD Black SN850X PCIe 4.0 SSD inside and got 3,154 MBps sequential read speed and 2,835 MBps write speed in CrystalDiskMark. However, a ZikeDrive with the same SSD inside ran at 3,791 and 3,158 MBps. These are improvements of 20.2 percent and 11.4 percent thanks to ZikeDrive’s ASMedia ASM2464PD-powered controller.
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When using DiskBench to copy 25GB worth of files, ZikeDrive read at 1,270 MBps and Orico delivered 1,219 MBps. However, the roles were strangely reversed when it came to writing, as the Orico drive ran at 712 MBps while the ZikeDrive ran at 687 MBps. However, given the large difference in read speed, ZikeDrive clearly outperforms.
Zike is IndieGoGo Campaign (opens in new tab), hopes to raise $10,000 for ZikeDrive production in the next 30 days. As of this writing, the company has raised $3,000 in just a few hours, and it looks like it could be a success. Early backers can get ZikeDrive for just $99. That’s $15-$50 less than a regular 40 Gbps enclosure. The company estimates that the product will ship in May.
At 4.75 x 2.75 x 0.75 inches, the ZikeDrive is a bit bulky compared to other enclosures we tested, such as the Orico M2V01-C4 (4.8 x 2 x 0.7 inches). Part of the weight, however, is that it has a 0.75 inch side chamber that can store the included 1.5 inch USB-C to USB-C cable. It would be nice to have a 40 Gbps cable that you can store and carry, but it’s very short in length and you’ll probably have to buy your own cable.
The rectangular chassis is made of gunmetal gray aluminum with attractive ridges and some black plastic in the sides and cable chambers. Our review unit came with an ugly, non-removable clear plastic case that covers the aluminum you can’t see in the product photo on the IndieGoGo campaign page.Zike says don’t try to remove the clear plastic. , it said it would be part of the final product, so that’s a shame.
Installing an SSD into the ZikeDrive is fairly easy, but you’ll need a small Phillips screwdriver to tighten the screws that hold the SSD in place. No tools are required to open and close the enclosure itself. Simply flip up the top panel to reveal his M.2 slot underneath. Conveniently, the heating pad is built into the panel, so there’s no need to attach permanent adhesive pads to the drive (as many other enclosures do).
How to test ZikeDrive
To test the ZikeDrive, I plugged it into the Thunderbolt 4 port of my ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 10) testbed laptop and ran DiskBench to copy a 25GB folder between the drive and the CrystalDiskMark. I ran the same test with the Orico M2V01-C4 in our list of best SSD enclosures.
I tested with both the WD Black SN850X (1TB) sent by ZikeDrive and my own Kingston Fury Renegade (2TB) SSD. The delta between the two enclosures was similar for both SSDs, but the SN850X had much faster write speeds (3,158 / 2835 MBps vs. Fury Renegade’s 1,606 / 1,422 MBps). This is probably because it’s a faster drive.
Both enclosures were found to be backward compatible with desktop 10 Gbps USB-C ports and meet USB’s standards for backward compatibility.
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Zike claims the ZikeDrive is the first USB 4 enclosure on the market and is faster than Thunderbolt 3 or 4 competitors. However, other enclosures such as the Orico M2V01-C4 are already marketed as USB 4 and offer backward compatibility with older USB standards.
What we can say is that the ZikeDrive is significantly faster than other enclosures we’ve tested in most scenarios, especially when it comes to read speeds. Write speed is a bit more complicated as it’s only slightly faster in synthetic tests. And considering it’s cheaper than most of its competitors, ZikeDrive seems like a really good buy if you don’t mind betting on IndieGoGo campaigns and working a little extra.