OWC Evolve Pro Mini
OWC Evolve Pro Mini and the Kingston KC3000 Review
Solid-State Drives run faster, fill smaller spaces, and offer flexibility that even the smallest spinning drivers can’t match. They are a bit pricier than their spinning counterparts, but their convenience—and their robustness—offsets price issues.
After CES, I received two SSDs: one from OWC and one from Kingston. These two solutions demonstrate how far storage has come, and how obsolete the drawers of spinning drives we still maintain just in case have become.
OWC Evolve Pro Mini
The OWC Evolve Pro Mini is a highly engineered technological marvel of heat-dissipating aluminum. No fans. No heads or platters. No motors. No noise. The drive employs a combination of sliders and covers that allow it to connect to any device. The diminutive drive itself fits into the pull-out-and-swing-around USB-A end of the device, roughly half of the drive’s 3.2-inch length.
The other half of the drive’s length houses a rugged USB-C adapter. A flip cap covers the USB-C connector. To use as a USB-C drive, the USB-A connector disappears into the housing, forming a formidable aluminum case for the drive. In this form, the OWC Evolve Pro Mini appears nearly indestructible.
I’m not a big fan of flip caps, as every device I’ve evaluated so far that uses one has eventually failed, leaving me with a tether-less cap. Hopefully, the softer plastic and integrated molding of this connector won’t wear like those made of thinner, harder plastic. For this design, I’d actually like to see an old-school metal hinge on the USB-C to match the aero-spacey look of the flip-out USB-C solution.
Given the movement away from USB-A, I would not be surprised if OWC isn’t looking at a USB-C first device with USB-A adapter, and perhaps even Thunderbolt compatibility that they use in their bus-powered Envoy Express product as a model.
A blue LED indicates activity from behind the opaque plastic cover at the end of the drive.
The 1TB drive is suitable for general data storage, with enough speed for video editing or gaming. Its universal formatting makes it at home with Macs, PCs and game consoles. And because it is a full SSD, it can also easily act as a bootable external drive. The drive can also be formatted for specific operating systems to maximize the features found on the target systems.
OWC backs the Evolve Pro Mini with a 3-year limited warranty.
Kingston KC3000 PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD
In contrast to the OWC Evolve Pro Mini, the Kingston KC3000 is a rather simple thing; its etchings and connectors lie exposed, waiting for a home.
The PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD doesn’t compete with the OWC Evolve Pro Mini, at least not directly. Indirectly, the owner of the Kingston KC3000 decides on what a drive like this does. Mine currently resides in a Sabrent USB 3.2 USB-C enclosure. The two drives can now serve the same purpose.
The OWC product, however, is designed for rugged field use. The Kingston KC3000 requires its owner to decide to buy an enclosure that meets the service needs.
More importantly, Kingston’s drive can transform into something other than the drive in an external drive enclosure. It’s good to have a flexible drive on the shelf as an evaluator. It can fit into a USB-C hub equipped for drives like the Satechi USB-C Hybrid Multiport Adapter or the OWC miniStack STX. It can serve as the boot drive for a home-built PC with an M.2 connector slot or as a replacement drive in one of the few operable laptops that remain.
The Kingston KC3000 leverages PCIe for connectivity. Kingston rates the 512GB eval unit at up to 7000MB/s.
I can’t add much more to an evaluation of the KC3000, as my focus is on use cases, not performance. There are plenty of benchmarks if you want to look at speed. For this evaluation, the key is flexibility. The KC3000 can exist as a standalone external SSD that will perform well and inherit environmental protections from its enclosure. Need an SSD in a machine? Easily remove the drive from the enclosure and mount it elsewhere.
You may well see the KC3000 show up in other reviews as other CES 2023 hardware arrives.
Evolve Pro Mini and the Kingston KC3000: The bottom line
Computing still requires storage: local storage to act as a scratch disk for editing, places for personal files that can’t be trusted to even the most secure cloud server, bootable start-up disks for days when cosmic rays rewrite a random bit and keep the computer from starting, and as a way to make a persona portable. And even in the era of massively accessible and shareable online storage, some people still put the presentation on a stick ahead of a big keynote.
OWC provided the Evolve Pro Mini for review. Images courtesy of OWC unless otherwise noted.
Kingston provided the KC3000 for review. Images courtesy of Kingston unless otherwise noted.
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