Power Consumption and Concluding Remarks

Bus-powered devices can configure themselves to operate within the power delivery constraints of the host port. While Thunderbolt ports are guaranteed to supply up to 15W for client devices, USB 2.0 ports are guaranteed to deliver only 4.5W (900mA @ 5V). In this context, it is interesting to have a fine-grained look at the power consumption profile of the various external drives. Using the Plugable USBC-TKEY, the bus power consumption of the drives was tracked while processing the CrystalDiskMark workloads (separated by 5s intervals). The graphs below plot the instantaneous bus power consumption against time, while singling out the maximum and minimum power consumption numbers.

CrystalDiskMark Workloads - Power Consumption

Given that the two configurations use the same ASMedia ASM3264 bridge chip and the same internal SK hynix Gold P31 internal SSD, it is no surprise that the peak power consumption numbers are similar. Across the full workload, the MS12 emerges slightly more power-efficient compared to the HC2-C3. It must also be noted that the MS12 allows the SSD to go to a low-power state after idling for a while. Deep into the idling period, the HC2-C3 continued to draw 2.42W from the host, while the MS12 was drawing only 0.49W.

Final Words

The SilverStone MS12 and Yottamaster HC2-C3 utilize the same bridge chip, and, as you probably expect, end up delivering similar performance numbers. However, there are some pros and cons to both units.

Between the two enclosures, the SilverStone unit is sturdier and has a better thermal solution for real-world workloads. The finned heat-sink structure of the casing ensures more surface area for heat dissipation compared to the HC2-C3's flat casing. The thermal pads are also pre-installed in the MS12, making for a smooth SSD placement process. The downside is that the performance numbers are slightly behind that of the Yottamaster unit. The Yottamaster unit has an issue with idle power management for the internal SSD, making it difficult to recommend for use with battery-operated devices despite the leading performance numbers.

With all of that said, however, current pricing is adding an extra wrinkle to making any recommendations. Put simply, the pricing of storage bridges – particularly from Shenzhen-based vendors such as Yottamaster – tend to follow no rhyme or reason. While the SilverStone MS12 (with a time-tested distribution strategy across different markets) has been steady at USD 70 since its introduction in the North American market, the pricing for the HC2-C3 has fluctuated wildly, ranging from USD 57 in April 2021, to USD 139 in August 2021. At the very least, Yottamaster does have a bundle currently retailing for USD 150, which includes the C5 expansion card we used in last year's USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 review.

Ultimately, in light of the currently inflated stand-alone pricing for the HC2-C3, our nod goes to the SilverStone MS12. If the HC2-C3 were available for a sub-USD 70 price, then there would be more of a fight. But with the lower price, lower power consumption, and some better design decisions made with the chassis itself, the MS12 is the better enclosure in almost every way.

Worst-Case Performance Consistency
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  • meacupla - Thursday, August 12, 2021 - link

    Oh, look at that! a newish NVMe to USB bridge chip from ASMedia

    Even though I know this chip blows the competition out of the water, I would have liked to see how this chip compares to its predecessors, ASM2362, RTL9210 and JMS583.

    Was there any stability or drop out issues with these units? I didn't see any mention in the article, so I assume it was smooth sailing, which is nice to see.
  • Drkrieger01 - Thursday, August 12, 2021 - link

    I'd also be curious to know if they experienced any drop outs during testing. I saw this a fair bit with some JMicron controller based units, but I found flashing to another firmware helped tremendously.
    Nice to see some new hardware available for those still using Sneaker-Mail.
  • ganeshts - Friday, August 13, 2021 - link

    No issues with these two storage bridges attached to the ECU06. I did experience dropouts last year with the Yottamaster C5 [ as documented here : https://www.anandtech.com/show/16133/usb-32-gen-2x... ].
  • name99 - Thursday, August 12, 2021 - link

    "USB 2.0 ports are guaranteed to deliver only 4.5W (900mA @ 5V). "

    No. USB2 ports guarantee 2.5W. It's USB3 ports (blue connector) that guarantee 4.5W.
    And lots of USB3 stuff will just fail (possibly randomly) when connected to USB2 because
    - 2.5W is enough to get the drive awake and to read, maybe even an occasional write, but not enough for a run of sustained writes.
    - I don't think power negotiation is part of baseline USB3 spec. (Or if it is, most of that hardware doesn't seem to implement it properly.)
  • repoman27 - Sunday, August 15, 2021 - link

    Yep. USB 2.0 is up to 2.5 W (500 mA @ 5 V), while USB 3.2 specifies up to 4.5 W (900 mA @ 5 V) for single lane operation and up to 7.5 W (1500 mA @ 5 V) for dual-lane operation.
  • DigitalFreak - Thursday, August 12, 2021 - link

    USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, a standard that had little reason to exist.
  • DigitalFreak - Thursday, August 12, 2021 - link

    I guess at least it wasn't called USB 3.3 Gen 3.
  • back2future - Monday, August 16, 2021 - link

    within time, seen from now, yes, but what to recommend?
    Waiting for Thunderbolt 4 or building on USB 4.x?
  • dwillmore - Thursday, August 12, 2021 - link

    I read the testbed page--which I usually skip--because I wanted to know where the heck you found a USB3.2 gen 2x2 port. AiC of course.... On the way I learned about the new Type-E connector for internal connection to case USB-C ports. So, that was nice. I even found a USB 3.2 Gen1x2 host adapter--which is a cursed item if ever there was one.
  • watersb - Friday, August 13, 2021 - link

    One of my favorite segments to review right now. My laptop purchased in 2021 is by far the most capable device I own. USB4 or whatever they are calling it this week for fast mobile backup storage is a key part of the workflow.

    Utterly stupefying how clumsy the market messaging has been. The only way to know what I'm are buying is to test it myself. Or get a review from a source that I can trust to go beyond "it looks pretty and we have a relationship with this brand". YouTube reviews have become more sophisticated, but the professionals here help a lot. Thanks!

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