How to build your own high-performance portable SSD – PCWorld

If you’ve been eyeing one of the big-name high-performance portable SSDs but don’t want to pay the high prices—just build your own. Yes, you can skip those big-brand prices by building your own portable SSD using off-the-shelf parts, getting the same performance and typically a lower price, too.
Building your own portable SSD is easy.
You’ll first want to pick out a USB SSD enclosure, which can be found on sites like Newegg or Amazon, and at other electronics stores, from around $10 to $50. Before you shop, you’ll want to know what kind of enclosure to buy. Much of that depends on what kind of SSD you want to put inside of it.
2.5-inch SATA SSD (left) vs M.2 NVMe SSD (right)
There are 2.5-inch SATA SSDs like this SK Hynix Gold S31 we reviewed. These offer very good speeds, which can reach about 560MBps for reading, but they fall short of the even faster M.2 PCIe or NVMe SSDs.
If you want to build your own USB portable drive to rival the high-end, big-brand portable SSDs, you’ll want to buy a PCIe or NVMe SSD enclosure. While both types are equally easy to make, and the 2.5-inch SATA SSD is usually more than enough, I’m going to focus on an NVMe drive in this video.
Fore more information about SSDs you could buy for this project, check out our roundup of the best SSDs.
Asus ROG Strix Arion (left) vs SanDisk Extreme Pro (right)
For my example I’ll be building a drive using an Asus ROG Strix Arion enclosure (currently $54 on AmazonRemove non-product link)—mostly because it has RGB for maximum flair! With an SK Hynix Gold P31 NVMe SSD inside, it can reach the maximum bandwidth out of the USB 3.2 Gen 2 interface. That’s basically around 1GBps. Like all USB drives, its backward-compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0. This enclosure comes with both USB-C and USB-A cables.
Now that we’ve picked out the parts, let’s get to installing it.
Just remember that the drive and enclosure aren’t the only things that determine how fast you can move files. The port you plug into matters as well. Generally, most laptops or desktop computers that will accept USB-C will usually offer the most speed. The older but far more common USB-A can vary from very slow to very fast.
One final step the drive may need before it’s recognized by Windows is to provision it within the operating system.
Boom, your Portable SSD is now ready for use—and this one has RGB for even more nerd cred! But if you’d rather skip all this and buy one that is ready to roll, read our roundup on Best External Hard Drives.
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