I would like to thank ASUS for supplying the sample.
While ASUS may be best known for their graphic cards and motherboards, the ROG or Republic of Gamer sub-brand also offers all things a gamer could want for, including cases, chairs, monitors, peripherals, and the ROG Strix Arion NVMe Enclosure.
Package and a Closer Look
The ROG Strix Arion ships in a full-color package with an image on the front and lots of details on the rear. This presentation is meant to draw your attention at a brick and mortar store, and may be hung on a shelf.
The enclosure itself has been placed in a foam tray with additional accessories on the second layer. Overall, the unboxing experience is quite nice and cohesive.
Asus ships the ROG Strix Arion NVMe enclosure with two cables, one with USB-C for the host system and another utilizing USB-A. Both cables are sturdy as well as nice and long. A pin much like the one you would find with your cell phone to access the sim card tray is also included for accessing the interior of the ROG Strix Arion. On top of that, ASUS also included a silicone bumper and R-shaped clip. While a great little additional accessory, it would be good if the clip were made of some sort of metal instead of plastic. Lastly, a manual and some legal warranty papers are also included.
The unit itself looks pretty nice. It is asymmetric in its design, with flat sides and lots of design details.
On the main side is an inlay with the ROG logo, and a clear plastic bit above it will light up when the enclosure used. Turning the case on its side, you will find a black sticker with all the legal necessities. On the bottom is the USB-C port and a pin-hole for the tool to be pushed in to open up the ROG Strix Arion.
Putting it on the scale, it clocks in at a nice and hefty 100 grams, so it should be able to cool the SSD rather well given all that mass.
The spring-loaded locks are easily pushed in with the pin, which opens up the ROG Strix Arion and reveals its pre-applied thermal pads and the PCB that will host your drive. There is absolutely no reason for you to pull out the PCB, but we did to see which IC is being used. It is also cooled by the housing using a thermal pad. While its markings are hard to make out, it is an ASMedia IC, and we know the enclosure is capable of 10 Gbps data transfer. ASUS also placed a warning here to let you know that you should initialize your SSD first before installing it, which is interesting as this is the first time we have seen this.
Assembly and Performance
Installing the NVMe drive of your choice is simple and does not require any tools. Simply insert it at an angle and use the tiny thumb screw to hold it in place. The enclosure has screw positions, so you may use smaller form factors than 2280 as well. Once the drive is in place, simply clip the cover back on, which will make contact with the drive through the pads.
The ROG Strix Arion is unique in that you may control its lighting via the ASUS Aura software. As such, you may adjust it to your preferences if you have an ASUS motherboard. While there are other enclosures with embedded RGB, those don't offer any customization options. The video above shows the default color cycling mode realized by the numerous LEDs on the PCB.
Performance was right where you would expect it for a 10 Gbps USB-C enclosure. The rule of thumb is that it will max out at 1 GB/s, which all modern NVMe drives should be able to give you.
We also attempted heating up the drive by writing 10 GB files to the internal drive over a hundred times, generating over 1 TB in host writes within a very short time span with a thermal sensor attached to the exterior of the ROG Strix Arion to get a sense of how well it dissipates heat. The enclosure did extremely well, maxing out at 55°C for the drive and 53.4°C on the external surface of the enclosure. This means it will get warm, so handle it with care.
Value and ConclusionThe ASUS ROG Strix Arion NVMe Enclosure is not cheap. Clocking in at $59.99, you can get 20 Gbps variants for that price, essentially giving you double the performance. That is certainly something to consider if speed is of the essence.
But once you look past the price, many things speak for the enclosure potentially being the perfect enclosure for a gamer. It is build extremely well, and the accessibility method and pre-installed thermal pads offer the best assembly experience we have seen to date. Then there are the AURA customizable ARGB elements along with the design details which really make the ROG Strix Arion pop visually. Lastly, considering the well-rounded accessories package, which includes a bumper and two well-sized cables, you do get a well-rounded package and product experience. ASUS should take that DNA and introduce a 20 Gbps or even 40 Gbps variant.