Quick Look: TDBT SuperC Pro NVMe Enclosure 0

Quick Look: TDBT SuperC Pro NVMe Enclosure


I would like to thank TDBT for supplying the sample.

TDBT is a boutique brand offering Thunderbolt as well as USB-C based products. The SuperC Pro is a tool-less, USB-C Gen2 based enclosure that can handle both NVMe and SATA drives.

Packaging and A Closer Look

The SuperC Pro ships in a compact, full-color package with an image of the enclosure on the front and some additional specifications and information on the rear.

TDBT includes both a USB-C and USB-A cable in the package, so you can easily use the enclosure no matter which type of USB port your host system has. On top of that, there is a thermal pad and a pamphlet with basic instructions on how to add your storage drive. I was surprised to see the thermal pad since the drive and enclosure do not touch at any given time, but hey, it will be used regardless.

The exterior of the TDBT SuperC Pro is made out of a single aluminium piece. This is achieved by taking a long pipe of this shape, cutting it down to size, and then finishing off the edges and drilling holes as needed. There is a subtle TDBT logo on top, while the underside is completely devoid of any additional labels.

The USB-C port is centered on one end of the SuperC Pro, with a small blue LED set to shed light through the hole in the housing. Given the enclosure is tool-less, all you need to do is press and pull the tab, which will then slide out the inner plastic tray:s housing both the controller PCB and drive.

The TDBT SuperC Pro weights in at 47 grams, which is fairly light. The lack of material usually also translate into less cooling prowess. In comparison, TDBT's own original SuperC weighs in at 89 grams, which does not include the separate 11-gram internal heatsink it ships with.

Assembly and Performance

To take the SuperC Pro apart for assembly, simply pinch and slide the inner tray out of the aluminium exterior. The majority of the PCB is hidden underneath a plastic cover, and there is no reason you should be taking your unit apart, but you may do so by removing the two screws holding the plastic piece in place.

The PCB is rather compact with the dual purpose slot on one and the controller IC on the other side. The TDBT SuperC pro utilizes a Realtek RTL 9210B, which is a USB bridge that combines a USB device with both a PCI Express (PCIe) controller and a SATA controller. It provides a 10 Gbps USB interface to the host system.

To test the performance of the TDBT SuperC Pro, Kioxia was kind enough to provide us with their XG6 at 1 TB capacity. The NVMe SSD features 96-layer, 3D TLC NAND and sequential read and write speeds of up to 3180 MB/s and 2960 MB/s respectively—magnitudes more than the SuperC Pro is capable of.

Installation is truly tool-less as you simply insert the drive into the slot and press it down until it clips into place. While this works well, I am a bit worried about the longevity of the clips. If one breaks, the TDBT SuperC Pro becomes useless for a drive of that format.

As the unit is also capable of utilizing SATA drives, a Kingston A400 256 GB M.2 SATA drive is being used for testing.

The TDBT SuperC Pro manages to perform as expected for both drive types, providing around 1 GB/s performance when utilizing the NVMe drive and well over 400 MB/s read as well as nearly 400 MB/s write speeds when using a classic M.2 SATA drive.

While using the NVMe drive, we pushed things to the extreme by repeatedly writing 10 GB to the drive over 100 times to heat it up by simulating a sustained load over time. A K-type thermal sensor was placed on the exterior of the housing to get a temperature number as well and gauge how well heat transfer between the drive and enclosure works. The NMVe drive hit a toasty 78°C while the enclosure was at 52.1°C at the end of the test. The benchmark is not a torture scenario, but gets pretty close. Using the TDBT SuperC Pro while pushing the drive a little harder than we did, thermal throttling will most likely occur, unfortunately.

The temperatures are not really a surprise. The thermal pad does not touch the housing, and considering it is a slide-in tray, that would cause problems when assembling the enclosure even if it did. TDBT's own SuperC does a much better job in this regard even if it may perform ever so slightly slower on the same 10 Gbps interface.

Value and Conclusion

The TDBT SuperC Pro may sound like a better version than the original SuperC, but the two could not be any more different. While the non-Pro variant can only use NVMe drives and offers proper, passive, heatsink-equipped cooling, the SuperC Pro is a more basic enclosure lacking such thermal efficiency, but offering tool-less assembly and support for both NVMe and SATA-based M.2 drives.

Odds are users would be looking for either SATA or NVMe compatibility instead of both. NVMe enclosures with some sort of functional passive cooling cost around $15–$20 and may make for a better choice for those types of drives. For those looking for an enclosure for M.2 SATA drives, the 10 Gbps interface is overkill anyways, and there are 5 Gbps options out there with proper passive cooling for less than $15. That all makes the TDBT SuperC pro hard to recommend—not even at its sale price of $25 as the tool-less installation and dual-drive support aren't strong enough points to forgo proper cooling and drive longevity.
May 21st, 2022 15:29 EDT change timezone

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