If you're about to upgrade your computer to an NVMe solid-state drive (SSD) or have one laying around and want to turn it into a portable drive, you'll find this Alxum Aluminum M.2 NVME SSD Enclosure quite handy.
While ready-made NVMe-based portable drives, such as the Crucial X8, can be excellent mobile storage solutions, they generally don't work as a quick NVMe-to-USB adapter, nor do they allow you to upgrade or replace their internal storage.
The Alxum M.2 SSD Enclosure lets you do all those, and it also delivered excellent performance in my testing. So, for less than $40, it's a considerable alternative.
Alxum M.2 SSD Enclosure: A simple yet effective solution
The Alxum M.2 SSD Enclosure comes with two main parts. A small circuit board can house an NVMe drive of any standard length and an aluminum chassis that also works as a heatsink. Both feel solid to the hand and seem well-made.
In between these two are a bunch of tiny screws to tighten them together. So no, this is not a tool-free accessory. But it's easy enough, and there's even a tiny screwdriver included.
The board has an integrated USB-C port. Also included are two USB cables, USB-C and USA-to-USB-C. As a result, out of the box, the Alxum is ready to work with any computer. Or is it?
Note on quality: Of the two cables, the USB-C one was faulty in my trial. Both of its ends had no lock, meaning I couldn't connect it firmly to a port. While the enclosure worked with all other cables, this unpleasant surprise made me question the quality of Alxum's products.
Alxum M.2 SSD Enclosure’s detail photos
Designed for NVMe drives
According to Alxum, the circuit board features an ASMedia PCI Express ASM2362 chipset that supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps). The board has a standard M.2 M-key slot that works only with NVMe drives (and not SATA drives.
In shorts, this board converts data signals between USB and PCIe Gen 3. Apart from USB 3.2 Gen 2, the Alxum also works with USB 3.2 Gen 1 and USB 2.0.
As for how to use it, mount an SSD on the board, then connect it to the computer using a USB cable. And that's it. Now the drive will work just like any portable SSD.
I tried the Alxum with both Windows and Mac computers, and there was no need for any software or driver to make it work. As a result, it's a handy tool if you need to replace or upgrade your computer's internal drive to a (larger) NVMe drive.
To turn it into a complete portable drive, however, you can slide the board into the metal chassis and screw the lid tight with the SSD on it. Now the whole package is not that much different from a ready-made NVMe portable drive.
Note, though, that the Alxum itself has no storage-related feature of itself. That depends on the drive you use. Like all enclosures, it's just a bridge that turns an internal drive into a portable one.
Alxum M.2 SSD Enclosure: Excellent performance
I tested the Alxum M.2 SSD Enclosure using a couple of different NVMe SSDs of capacities ranging from 240 GB to 2 TB, and they all worked. Alxum told me that you could use SSDs of up to 8 TB with it.
For official scores below, though, I used a Crucial P1 drive to make it comparable to the Crucial X8, one of the first NVMe-based USB 3.2 Gen 2 portables drive on the market. So, for the most part, the numbers on the charts are those of the P1 SSD.
And the Alxum+P1 combo proved to be a formidable contender. It was one of the fastest portable NVMe-based portable drives on the market, with a sustained copy speed of over 900 MB/s.
The Alxum worked well as an NVMe-to-USB adapter, too. I used it to upgrade a couple of laptops to larger Samsung NVMe SSDs, which worked out without a hitch.
However, it didn't work with all NVMe drives I've tried. Specifically, it didn't work with any from WD, like the WD SN550.
But, in all, considering the low cost, this little gadget proved to be a valuable tool for a storage geek.
Alxum Aluminum M.2 NVME SSD Enclosure's Rating
Fast USB 3.2 Gen 2-Class performance
Handy and compact design
Includes more than enough screws, cable, and even a screwdrivers
Not a tool-free accessory
Faulty USB-C cable
Doesn't support all NVMe SSDs
Not everyone needs to play with NVMe internal storage, but the Alxum M.2 SSD Enclosure sure is useful for those who want to.
It'll make it worth your while after a few upgrade jobs, and the fact you can quickly convert that old NVMe drive, or one of any capacity for that matter, into a homemade super-fast portable SSD is a sizable bonus.