Price: £69.90 – 120GB version, £89.90 – 240GB version
Manufacturer: MINIX Technology Limited – http://minix.com.hk/
Compatibility: MacBook, MacBook Pro, Windows 10 possible (using a USB-C port)
Four key features
* Two USB 3.0 ports
* Small and lightweight
* HDMI 4K support
*Choice of built-in 120GB or 240GB SSD storage solutions.
We take a look at the world’s first compact USB-C hub to include a built-in SSD, together with display and data ports. Impressed? We certainly are.
The Hong Kong technology manufacturer, MINIX, is the gift that just keeps giving. If it’s not the continual upgrade cycle and improvement of the company’s range of mini-PCs, then it’s the accessories that enable MINIX to dominate a market that’s saturated with micro-sized computers and peripherals galore.
The MINIX NEO Storage is the newest addition to the company’s accessory stable. Using the base design of the already popular, and extremely handy, MINIX NEO C-Plus Multiport Adapter, MINIX has gone a step further in the evolution of the media-port hub, and added an SSD – as already mentioned, a world’s first.
Exclusively designed for Apple MacBook’s, MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro, this USB-C powered all-in-one solution offers a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a HDMI port capable of 4K resolutions at 30Hz, and a further USB-C pass-through. The unit is presented in a splendid brushed aluminium case, that’s lightweight and measures 115 x 43.5 x 11 mm and is available in silver or Space Grey. To the end of the unit is a subtle LED strip, that’s powered when you plug it into an available USB-C port. On the whole, it’s a very elegant setup, and one that will certainly compliment your MacBook. To top it off, inside the box you also get a soft felt, draw-string bag to transport the NEO Storage around in.
However, the star of the show here is the choice of two SSD storage solutions: 120GB or an impressive 240GB. Using an M.2 2280 SSD with a JMicron controller, the NEO Storage’s internal drive isn’t just being hailed as a world’s first, it’s a startlingly good idea, and one that we’re surprised hasn’t already been adopted – especially since M.2 SSDs have been around for some time now.
As for the drive performance, you’re not going to achieve the kind of results you would when the SSD is housed inside your computer, using ports directly connected to the motherboard. But, since USB-C is a pretty quick interface, you can get some decent numbers.
Running the CrystalDiskMark 6.0.2 benchmark on the 240GB NEO Storage version – which we executed on a Windows 10 PC that had a USB-C port – we we’re pleasantly surprised by the results. In the sequential 1GB test size, the NEO Storage SSD managed a read score of 291.5MB per second, together with a write speed of 416.2MB per second. Furthermore, the 4KB random tests were equally good, hitting as high as 174MB per second read and 163MB per second write. Overall, very good indeed.
Read and write speeds aside, one of the more alluring features of the NEO Storage is the fact that it’s absolutely silent. Gone are the days of hooking up an external drive and having to place something over it to muffle the noise of the drive spinning up. This makes it especially good when using it in silent study zones, with the NEO Storage’s lack of noise, and it’s relatively small footprint, you can have access to all the necessary data ports as well as good sized storage without the need to take up a huge amount of space.
The MINIX NEO Storage is available now, costing £69.90 for the 120GB SSD version, and £89.90 for the 240GB version; amazing value for money, we think.
Overall, the MINIX NEO Storage is an excellent, all-in-one solution that ticks all the right boxes. It’s small, light, has ample expansion and the inclusion of the SSD is simply fantastic. Certainly one peripheral we’d highly recommend.