Today we are going to check out the Yottamaster USB4.0 M.2 NVMe Enclosure SO3-C4. According to its product page, it is compatible with Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 interface as well as USB. It has an advertised speed of up to 2,700MB/s sequential read and up to 1,400MB/s of sequential write. The SO3-C4 is also backward compatible with USB3.2, USB3.1, and USB3.0; and it can support up to 2TB of M.2 NVMe SSD. In this review, let’s find out if it can deliver the advertised speed and if it’s worth spending for a faster M.2 NVMe enclosure.
Yottamaster USB4.0 M.2 NVMe SSD Enclosure (SO3-C4) Review
Yottamaster doesn’t seem to have a proper product page or marketing page for their USB4.0 M.2 NVMe Enclosure, but most of the details can be read from Amazon’s product page. Based on the sales page, the USB4.0 NVMe Enclosure, or SO3-C4, can reach up to 2,700MB/s sequential read speed and up to 1,400MB/s sequential write speed. It’s also based on USB4.0 protocol, but it’s backward compatible with USB3 and it’s also compatible with Thunderbolt 3/4.
When I was testing this USB4.0 enclosure, I had to research more about the technology used on this enclosure and its true or native speed. Thunderbolt 4 is not similar to USB4.0, although they use the same USB Type-C interface. Also, don’t let the “40Gbps” label throw you off because that’s only the theoretical transmission rate and not the actual speed. But during my tests, it does offer promising speeds with a few caveats. More on that later.
The Yottamaster USB4.0 M.2 NVMe enclosure uses Intel JHL440 Thunderbolt 3 controller paired with JMicron’s JMS583 chip. The JMS583 is a USB 3.1 Gen2 to PCIe/NVMe bridge controller. It has the ability to create an external device to achieve more than 1000MB/s in performance. It is the industry’s first chip to fully saturate the USB 3.1 Gen2 10Gbps bandwidth.
Thanks to the two controllers, the SO3-C4 is not only compatible with the USB4/3 interface, but also Thunderbolt 3/4 as well. On top of that, the device is also plug and play; meaning no need to install additional drivers. By the way, despite its “wide compatibility”, the SO3-C4 is not compatible with USB 2.0. You’ll have to plug it to, at least, a USB3.0 port for it to work.
Latest pricing and availability:
Yottamaster USB4.0 NVMe Enclosure is available on Amazon.com here.
Packaging and Closer Look
The Yottamaster USB4.0 NVMe SSD enclosure came in a small box; similar to the M.2 NVMe SSD enclosure we reviewed before. Some of the highlighted features are printed on the front portion of the box. And you can read its specifications at the back portion of the box. Well, it’s a rectangular sleeve and not a box.
The package includes a thermal pad, a Phillips screwdriver, a user manual, and a couple of cables. The cables included are a Thunderbolt 3 cable and a USB Type-C to Type-A cable. Use the Thunderbolt cable to get a faster read/write speed. The USB cable is limited to around 5Gbps to 10Gbps only of data transmission.
When it comes to size and dimension, the Yottamaster USB4.0 NVMe enclosure measures around 10.6cm x 4.3cm x 1.5cm; and roughly weighs around 130 grams. There are grooves or small “fins” on the top and sides to help dissipate the heat produced by the SSD.
On one side of the enclosure, you can see the USB-C port with a 40Gbps label. Again, it’s just a theoretical speed and not the actual speed. There’s also a small hole for the LED indicator or activity indicator.
Installing an SSD inside the SO3-C4 is easy, but you will have to be careful due to the design. Simply remove the screw on the backplate and it will expose the components inside (first photo of the left). Next, there are (oddly) three screws that need to be removed. And finally, the whole PCB or board needs to be removed and flipped to reveal the M.2 slot (photo on the middle). From there, you’ll just have to insert the M.2 SSD on the M.2 slot and screw to hold it in place.
While installing an SSD is not that difficult, I find it not very user-friendly and there is a potential risk that a user may damage the electrical components or the chips on the PCB. I’ve seen a much better implementation than this and I hope Yottamaster can improve this design in their future version of the product.
Test Setup Used
In testing the Yottamaster USB4.0 NVMe Enclosure, I am using MSI’s MEG Z590 ACE motherboard powered with an Intel Core i5-11400F processor. The MEG Z590 ACE has various connectivity options, including the latest Thunderbolt 4 and support for USB 3.2 Gen2x2 20Gbps connectivity; eliminating any potential bottleneck during the test.
I also tested the SO3-C4 using four different NVMe SSDs; two Gen3 and two Gen4. These are the Samsung 980 Pro, WD Black SN850, Kingston KC2500, and Samsung 980 NVMe SSD. The reason why I tested it using different drives is that I noticed that it tends to perform better with some SSDs. And the SSD’s speed isn’t a determining factor. Feels like it’s playing “favoritism” or has a bias.
For reference below is the maximum potential speed of each drive when connected directly to a motherboard:
|SSD Drive||Sequential Read||Sequential Write|
|Samsung 980 Pro Gen4 NVMe SSD||7,000 MB/s||5,100 MB/s|
|WD Black SN850 Gen4 NVMe SSD||7,000 MB/s||5,100 MB/s|
|Kingston KC2500 NVMe SSD||3,500 MB/s||2,900 MB/s|
|Samsung 980 NVMe SSD||3,500 MB/s||3,000 MB/s|
Enabling Better Performance
When I first tested the Yottamaster USB4.0 NVMe Enclosure, I noticed that the write speed was very slow. It was far from the advertised speed of up to 1,400MB/s of sequential write speed. This is because, by default, any external storage connected to the PC is set to a “Quick removal” policy. You’ll have to switch it to “Better performance” to get the best possible speed a drive can offer.
To do this, access Device Manager and look for the external drive. Open its properties and go to the Policies tab. From there simply select “Better performance”. Also, enabling write cache may help improve the drive’s performance in some cases.
The first screenshot on the left is the default settings, with Quick removal as its policy. After switching to Better performance, you can see that the write speed significantly improved. The read speed also partially improved.
Yottamaster USB4.0 M.2 NVMe Enclosure Benchmark Results
AJA System Benchmark Results
AJA system test uses video files to test the read and write speed of the drive; it’s mostly sequential. And as you can see from the results above, the maximum potential speed of the SSDs dropped. Only the Samsung 980, which is an entry-level SSD, was able to achieve at least near its rated speed.
Most of the drives were able to reach above 2,600MB/s in sequential read speed, and the Samsung 980 Pro performed better overall with the SO3-C4.
AS SSD Benchmark Results
In AS SSD benchmark, we can see that the Samsung 980 Pro still gets the “better” result. And looking at the 980’s result, it’s still somewhat close to its advertised speed.
Surprisingly, I got a better 4k random write speed when the drives were installed on the Yottamaster USB4.0 NVMe enclosure. I’m not really sure why, but that’s a plus for the SO3-C4.
ATTO Disk Benchmark Results
ATTO disk benchmark is a sequential test and it usually returns the best possible performance of the drive. Although not necessarily the actual day-to-day performance. That’s why most storage manufacturers use this as a reference to promote their drives’ speed.
As you can see, the Samsung 980 Pro was able to achieve 2,900MB/s of sequential read speed and 2,730 MB/s of sequential write speed. That’s the kind of speed you would expect from a Thunderbolt 3. The WD Black SN850 was able to get a similar read speed, but its write speed was only 1,080MB/s.
The Kingston KC2500 got a slightly better write speed than the SN850, despite being the slower drive. And the Samsung 980, again, manages to achieve speed close to its advertised speeds.
CrystalDiskMark Benchmark Results
ezIOmeter Benchmark Results
We can see similar result patterns with the CrystaldiskMark and ezIOmeter tests. The Samsung 980 Pro performed better among the four drives with the SO3-C4, while the 980 got a closer read/write speed from its advertised speed. So, what do these results tell us?
I noticed that the Yottamaster USB4.0 NVMe enclosure is somewhat bias towards Samsung SSDs. I haven’t tested the other Samsung SSDs, like 970 series, so I’m not sure if it will behave similarly. Nevertheless, I did get better results with both the 980 Pro and 980.
However, don’t go buying a 980 Pro just to use on an external enclosure. Despite having better results, its speed was reduced significantly; same with the WD Black SN850. Not to mention, these Gen4 SSDs are (very) expensive compared to the Gen3 NVMe SSDs.
Now the Samsung 980 looks like the sweet spot. It’s the cheapest among the drives tested and I got speeds (somewhat) close to its maximum potential. The 980 is also a DRAM-less SSD, but I don’t think that’s the factor. Since I also tested the Crucial P2 and Lexar NM620, but they didn’t perform well. That’s why I didn’t include them in this review.
Finally, although advertised as a “40Gbps” enclosure, the actual speed that I got is nowhere near 40Gbps. Well, technically speaking, Thunderbolt 3 (and TB4) is 40Gbps capable, including USB4.0. Note that a USB4.0 Gen3x1 offers speed similar to a USB3.2 Gen2x2, which is 20Gbps. And USB4.0 Gen3x2 can reach up to 40Gbps of theoretical transfer speed.
That’s why it is important to use the right cable and plug it into the right port to achieve the best possible speed. Not to mention, pair it with an SSD that works best with the SO3-C4. Okay, time to wrap up this review.
Price and Availability
The Yottamaster USB4.0 NVMe Enclosure (SO3-C4) is now available and comes with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $179.99 USD. For the latest pricing and availability, kindly check out the link below.
Yottamaster USB4.0 NVMe Enclosure is available on Amazon.com here.
Yottamaster USB4.0 M.2 NVMe SSD Enclosure Review Conclusion
I’m having mixed feelings about the Yottamaster USB4.0 M.2 NVMe SSD. On one side, it is a fast storage enclosure; even faster than Silverstone’s MS12. On the other side, it is quite expensive and some people might not be comfortable working with sensitive components.
I believe M.2 NVMe enclosures should be user-friendly and installing an M.2 SSD should be as easy as removing the cover and inserting the drive. Tool-less if possible. I like how easy it was to install an M.2 SSD on the Yottamaster MS3 M.2 enclosure, and I hope they can implement a similar design to a future iteration.
Not to mention, if Orico can do it with their M.2 NVMe enclosure, which is a very similar product; I’m pretty sure Yottamaster can find a way to implement a similar mechanism or design as well. Perhaps even better.
At the end of the day, I think this is a (slightly) niche product. If you want a faster M.2 NVMe enclosure that works not only with USB4 and USB3, but also with Thunderbolt 3/4; this could be the product for you.