ATF Blackbird VX-2SSD USB 3.1 review: Internal SATA speed at the end of a wire

Add fast SATA storage to your laptop or PC.

There are times when adding additional drives to your laptop or PC just isn’t an option. That doesn’t mean you have to make due with less storage, or even compromised performance from an external solution, as Atech Flash’s Blackbird VX-2SSD proves. This dual-bay, 2.5-inch, external USB 3.1 enclosure lets SATA drives perform as quickly at the end of a cable as they would inside your computer. Kind of liberating, if you think about it. Of course, that’s assuming your laptop or PC has 2nd-generation, 10Mbps USB 3.1 on board. If your PC doesn’t have it, you can add it easily enough with a $35 PCIe card. If your laptop lacks it, you’ll have to live with 5Mbps USB 3.x.

Hardware

The VX-2SSD (which has an MSRP of $149 but can be had for about $10 less on Amazon) is a rather small, but extremely sturdy, approximately 4.6-inch long, by 2.2-inch high, by 4-inch wide black box. Styling is limited to the red accents around the front-accessible drive slots, and logos on the front and side.

A fair amount of pressure is required to insert and remove drives; perhaps more than you might comfortable with at first. But you’ll get used to it, and a wee struggle now and again is certainly better than your drive popping or dropping out in mid-write. A lot better.

aft raid3 AFTech

The back of the VX-2SSD is home to a single USB 3.1 (Type C) port, the AC jack, a RAID-mode DIP switch, and a reset button. To configure or reconfigure the unit, you set the DIP switches to the desired mode: RAID 1 mirrored, RAID 0 striped, or JBOD, which in this case results in dual drives; then press and hold the reset button for about five seconds. There’s a legend for the dip-switch settings printed on the back of the drive. Nice touch.

I had no issues setting up the VX-2SSD for the first time, but it seemed that when I wanted to change from RAID 0, to RAID 1 or JBOD, the unit would no longer mount—i.e., show up in Windows. After reinitializing both drives, then partitioning them while directly attached to the motherboard, things were hunky-dory again. Atech Flash was as puzzled over this as I was, but I have a talent for making things misbehave, largely based on impatience. Go figure.

Performance

The VX-2SSD performed as expected—like a SATA RAID array. We used two fast OCZ Vector 180’s configured in RAID 0 (striped) and saw 591MBps reading and 791MBps writing in AS SSD. Most enclosures are faster readers than writers, but we do see the reverse occasionally, depending on chipset and drives. Note that the same drives mounted in the Akitio Thunder3 Duo Pro performed in the more common manner.

Regardless, the VX-2SSD is a heck of a lot faster than a single internal SATA drive, as fast as dual-drive internal SATA RAID 0, and anything we’ve seen from USB 3.0.

as ssd atech vs 2ssd

The VX-2SSD is an extremely fast writer, though read performance was slower than with the Akitio Thunder3 Duo Pro.

20gb copies atech vs 2ssd

The VX-2SSD is a worthy competitor for the Akitio Thunder3 Duo Pro, and at considerably less than half the price.

Note that we used an Asus X99 Deluxe motherboard with the Asus Thunderex 3 PCIe expansion card for connecting the VX-2SSD.

Conclusion

The VX-2SSD is a great little product that allows you to leverage any type of 2.5-inch SATA media to best effect. I can see using it for data recovery, backup, and a host of other chores besides simple storage. It’s easy to use, and at $149... Okay, I was hoping for $99, but it’s still a fast and highly versatile enclosure. And certainly a lot less expensive than the Thunderbolt 3 SATA enclosures we’ve seen so far.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags SSD

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon L. Jacobi

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2018

Secure and Save before time runs out with Bitdefender Exclusive Clearance Offer! Get Bitdefender Total Security 2018 Now!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?