DOCKCASE Explorer M.2 SSD Enclosure
Dockcase still is producing some cool accessories. Last time we reviewed a specialized USB hub that also provides information regarding the health and data of the devices you connect. Today, Dockcase sent us an M.2 SSD enclosure known as the Explorer, which is currently available on Kickstarter.
This M.2 enclosure's main selling point is the fact that it provides very useful information regarding the SSD you plug in. Not only that, but you also have other neat features, such as Power Loss Protection and a real-time scanner. So, theoretically, this should be the perfect device for those hardware enthusiasts looking for a very neat M.2 reader.
I got this review unit from Dockcase and have been using it for a week with my gaming laptop and the main PC. I also would like to add that for this review, I will be using the Kingston FURY Renegade as the testing M.2.
So, let's start with the technical stuff. This is what you're here for, after all. The Dockcase Explorer enclosure supports M.2 SSDs of up to 4TB. The enclosure also comes with a 10 Gbps USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 cable which can be adapted into USB-A (Thank god).
As for the casing, this is a pretty slick one. It has a strong aluminum frame with a glass casing on the front. The device looks futuristic and stylish, about what you'd expect from something like this, but it certainly looks and feels a bit frail. If you're prone to drop things, you'll probably end up cracking the front panel.
Still, the real draw is the PLP feature. The Dockcase Explorer M.2 enclosure will protect the data in your M.2 through a 10-second Power Loss Protection. This ensures that you don't lose your data in the case of a sudden shutdown from the computer and it's definitely not gonna be easy to find on a lot of SSD enclosures of this kind.
In addition to that, we also have the LCD screen, which relays all kinds of useful information from the SSD itself. You can consult all kinds of information through this device, including the M.2 current health, how many partitions the SSD currently has, and other miscellaneous information such as the device's serial number and model.
You have access to all of this technical information at all times and at the press of a button. I honestly just adore how easily accessible all of this information is, especially because I want to be aware of the health of my SSD (after many unsafe shutdowns due to energy shortages).
Now, as I said before, I tested the enclosure in two different environments. One was through my IdeaPad Gaming 3 laptop, and the other was the gaming PC that was used to review the Renegade. The device works on both environments, obviously. But the key difference is the fact that your transfer speeds might be affected depending on the device you are using.
In order to fully utilize this enclosure, you need to plug it into a USB 3.2 Gen-2 port. It sounds almost silly in hindsight, but the transfer speeds get massively gimped when used on other ports. Since the IdeaPad doesn't have USB 3.2 Gen 2 support, it gave me the following results, which obviously pale in comparison to those provided by the ones that came during the review.
Things changed once I plugged the device into the main PC's motherboard's USB 3.2 Gen-2 port. You'll notice a massive difference when it comes to R/W speeds. The conclusion we can draw from this is that plugging the device into an incompatible slot really isn't going to give you any performance increase outside of what you can find in, say, a normal SATA SSD.
Of course, since this is an early revision of the product, maybe the device will eventually reach that speed in the final revision.
I abused the heck out of this device to test the PLP. I wanted to see if there was any circumstance where it would have any sloppy results or damage my M.2. I'm proud to say that the device's PLP not only charges quickly but can also manage to retain the data it has stored in the cache through those ten vital seconds. The Dockcase Explorer enclosure also has a separate USB-C plug that you can use to power the device, so you won't be without alternatives should you face a sudden shutdown.
Overall, this enclosure is great for hardware enthusiasts who wish to access more data about their SSD than usual. It certainly does a lot with its luxury features, such as health and partition information. For $79, I'd say you get your money's worth, and you'll gain access to very reliable PLP protection alongside special information that can help with debugging and stat checking.
The device isn't completely rid of issues, though. While the protection the device offers is something we don't see physically in many enclosures, I feel like I could break this device if I stare at it hard enough. Don't get me wrong, the case is sturdy, but I feel like one nasty drop can mean the end of both the enclosure and the M.2 it's carrying.
Still, for a device you can easily carry in your pocket, there's a lot of utility to be found here. It can be used with Windows and Mac devices, and it's Plug & Play, so you won't have to really go anywhere to make this device work with your M.2 SSD. The major deal breaker for some people might be the R/W speed since... You know, it isn't going to give you any exceptional speed compared to SATA SSDs; doubly so if your device doesn't support USB 3.2 Gen-2.
At least the Dockcase Explorer Enclosure works for what it needs to do. In some cases, that's all that matters.
The Dockcase Explorer enclosure provides a lot of benefits for debugging and stat checking. This device is perfect for hardware enthusiasts who not only want a portable NVMe SSD enclosure, but also want a set of premium features that tell them of the SSD's health and other stats in real time. While the device does offer a lot of great options, it does have its shortcomings that may turn off a few enthusiasts.
- 10 Gbps speed with USB 3.2 Gen 2 support
- Provides users with easy access to device health and other useful information
- Realtime monitor
- Can Support up to 4TB NVMe SSDs
- Speed is gimped if the device isn't connected to a USB 3.2 Gen 2 slot
- The device can have a few issues connecting to desktop PCs