Silicon Power's flash storage product line caters extensively to the entry-level market. In October 2023, the company introduced two new portable SSDs in a thumb drive form-factor. The MS70, with a single USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A interface, is now available in capacities ranging from 250GB to 2TB. The DS72 (also available in the same capacities) has a dual-interface design with both Type-C and Type-A interfaces. Performance claims of 1050 MBps reads and 850 MBps writes land the MS70 and DS72 in the high-capacity high-performance UFD segment.

The company has traditionally relied on introducing products into well-established market segments, with specifications that do not typically make them stand out. However, the two new products caught our attention, as they happen to be one of the first reasonably-priced 2TB thumb drives in the retail market.

The high-performance USB flash drive (UFD / thumb drive) segment has been steadily gaining more entrants since the introduction of Kingston's DataTraveler Max in late 2021. Transcend's ESD300 and ESD310, along with Silicon Power's MS70 and DS72 are making an attempt to differential themselves from the rest of the pack by offering 2TB SKUs. This review takes a detailed look at the performance and value proposition of the 2TB version of the Silicon Power MS70.

Introduction and Product Impressions

USB flash drives have grown both in storage capacity and speeds over the last few years. Thanks to the advent of 3D NAND and rapid iterations with performance improvements in the USB specifications, we are now seeing SSD-in-a-stick products capable of delivering 1GBps+ speeds.

The thumb drive form factor is attractive for multiple reasons - there is no separate cable to carry around, and the units are usually light and compact. High-performance thumb drives based on SSD platforms were introduced in the mid-2010s, but the thermal solution and size made them unwieldy. The category was made viable only after the introduction of high-performance native UFD controllers from Phison and Silicon Motion. We have already reviewed multiple PSSDs based on these two controllers, including the Transcend ESD310C and the OWC Envoy Pro Mini in the thumb drive category.

The new Silicon Power MS70 aims to differentiate itself from other high-performance thumb drives based on two aspects - available capacity points, and compact case design. Despite its thumb drive form-factor, the MS70 takes full advantage of its USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A connector by promising speeds of up to 1050 MBps. The company sampled us the 2TB version to put through our direct-attached storage test suite.

The thumb drive is the only component in the package, and all of the usage and warranty information is printed on the back. Our sample came from an early batch, as the same SKU currently being sold also includes a Type-A to Type-C adapter.

There are no value-additions like lanyards or bundled software, but that is reflected in the aggressive pricing strategy adopted by Silicon Power - around 5¢ per GB for the highest capacity SKU. In any case, the target market for these thumb drives is unlikely to be enticed by backup software or hardware encryption-supporting password applications.

The casing is made of rubber and aluminum, with the former in place around the edges and the connector's protective cap. The product has a sturdy feel to it, unlike the relatively flimsy construction of the Transcend ESD310C. The MS70 is slightly larger, but the dimensions are still small enough to avoid problems with port blocking.

There was no obvious way to tear down the sample for the purpose of determining the controller and the flash being used. However, CrystalDiskInfo provides a quick overview of the capabilities of the storage device. A look at the firmware version (UHFM00.6) and a cursory online search revealed that the Silicon Power MS70 is powered by the Phison U17 controller. Silicon Power confirmed the use of SK hynix 3D TLC NAND in our sample, but did mention that they reserved the right to use any NAND with similar performance in future production runs.

S.M.A.R.T Passthrough - CrystalDiskInfo

The table below presents a comparative view of the specifications of the different thumb drives presented in this review.

Comparative Direct-Attached Storage Devices Configuration
Aspect
Downstream Port Native Flash Native Flash
Upstream Port USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C
Bridge Chip Phison U17 Phison U17
Power Bus Powered Bus Powered
     
Use Case Sturdy pocket-sized SSD in a thumb drive form-factor with a Type-A interface Pocket-sized SSD in a thumb drive form-factor with both Type-A and Type-C interfaces
     
Physical Dimensions 21.3 mm x 71.3 mm x 10.4 mm 17 mm x 80 mm x 11 mm
Weight 13.8 grams 26 grams
Cable N/A N/A
     
S.M.A.R.T Passthrough Yes Yes
UASP Support Yes Yes
TRIM Passthrough Yes Yes
Hardware Encryption Not Available Not Available
     
Evaluated Storage SK hynix 3D TLC ??? 3D TLC
     
Price USD 101 USD 481
Review Link Silicon Power Portable SSD MS70 2TB Review OWC Envoy Pro Mini 1TB Review

Prior to looking at the benchmark numbers, power consumption, and thermal solution effectiveness, a description of the testbed setup and evaluation methodology is provided.

Testbed Setup and Evaluation Methodology

Direct-attached storage devices (including thumb drives) are evaluated using the Quartz Canyon NUC (essentially, the Xeon / ECC version of the Ghost Canyon NUC) configured with 2x 16GB DDR4-2667 ECC SODIMMs and a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD - the IM2P33E8 1TB from ADATA.

The most attractive aspect of the Quartz Canyon NUC is the presence of two PCIe slots (electrically, x16 and x4) for add-in cards. In the absence of a discrete GPU - for which there is no need in a DAS testbed - both slots are available. In fact, we also added a spare SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe SSD to the CPU direct-attached M.2 22110 slot in the baseboard in order to avoid DMI bottlenecks when evaluating Thunderbolt 3 devices. This still allows for two add-in cards operating at x8 (x16 electrical) and x4 (x4 electrical). Since the Quartz Canyon NUC doesn't have a native USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 port, Silverstone's SST-ECU06 add-in card was installed in the x4 slot. All non-Thunderbolt devices are tested using the Type-C port enabled by the SST-ECU06.

The specifications of the testbed are summarized in the table below:

The 2021 AnandTech DAS Testbed Configuration
System Intel Quartz Canyon NUC9vXQNX
CPU Intel Xeon E-2286M
Memory ADATA Industrial AD4B3200716G22
32 GB (2x 16GB)
DDR4-3200 ECC @ 22-22-22-52
OS Drive ADATA Industrial IM2P33E8 NVMe 1TB
Secondary Drive SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe 3D SSD 1TB
Add-on Card SilverStone Tek SST-ECU06 USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C Host
OS Windows 10 Enterprise x64 (21H1)
Thanks to ADATA, Intel, and SilverStone Tek for the build components

The testbed hardware is only one segment of the evaluation. Over the last few years, the typical direct-attached storage workloads for memory cards have also evolved. High bit-rate 4K videos at 60fps have become quite common, and 8K videos are starting to make an appearance. Game install sizes have also grown steadily even in portable game consoles, thanks to high resolution textures and artwork. Keeping these in mind, our evaluation scheme for portable SSDs and UFDs involves multiple workloads which are described in detail in the corresponding sections.

  • Synthetic workloads using CrystalDiskMark and ATTO
  • Real-world access traces using PCMark 10's storage benchmark
  • Custom robocopy workloads reflective of typical DAS usage
  • Sequential write stress test

In the next section, we have an overview of the performance of the Silicon Power MS70 in these benchmarks. Prior to providing concluding remarks, we have some observations on the UFD's power consumption numbers and thermal solution also.

Performance Benchmarks
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  • artifex - Thursday, December 21, 2023 - link

    5 year warranty seems pretty aggressive, too. Reply
  • kaidenshi - Thursday, December 21, 2023 - link

    Given my past experience with Silicon Power SSDs, you're going to need it. Maybe this uses a better controller or more reliable flash chips, but every single SP SATA SSD I've owned has died within a year. I had one DOA that Amazon thankfully replaced, but the others died long after the return window and SP would not stand behind them.

    As compelling as a $100 2TB thumb drive with good performance is, I'll pass on this brand.
    Reply
  • deil - Friday, December 22, 2023 - link

    I had 3, 2 of them live to this day, with about 5 years each and one died under 3 months, and was replaced easily.
    I have 60TB on A55, 512, and I have no way to check the other one, right now. They were fairly slow, and I did not use them for anything important.
    I am not sure if you are to harsh on them or not, but I don't think they are as bad as you say.
    They are fair for their price. Usually something like 10-15% cheaper if I remember.
    Reply
  • artifex - Saturday, December 23, 2023 - link

    I'd never bought SP before but had been thinking about it. Thanks for the warning. Reply
  • ciparis - Thursday, December 21, 2023 - link

    Please call me when someone finally ships a device that is not USB-A native. Reply
  • Techie4Us - Thursday, December 21, 2023 - link

    2nd that ! I'm so tired of seeing these so-called "new" devices, only to see the pics & learn that they are built with the old style connectors...

    Gimme USB-C everywhere, or gimme death !
    Reply
  • mark625 - Tuesday, January 2, 2024 - link

    This will happen when PCs start coming with 8-10 USB-C ports and only 2 or 4 USB-A ports. In other words, another 10 years or so. Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Wednesday, January 3, 2024 - link

    Just buy dongles. Reply
  • kylothow - Friday, December 22, 2023 - link

    People that don't exclusively use toy computers still mostly rely on the more affirmed and retro compatible standard. Reply
  • aebiv - Sunday, December 24, 2023 - link

    I’m sorry you’re trapped in the past. Reply

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