Surprise Solution Emerges as a Bridge

Isn’t it incredible how quickly the world of technology evolves? SK hynix, already a heavyweight in the flash-based storage sector, has been making waves with their move towards catering to end consumers. Yeah, that’s right! They’ve been known for their stronghold in the OEM market, rubbing shoulders with giants like Samsung and Micron. However, not too long ago, they began tempting us, the direct end-users, with their own line of products. Enter the scene, the Gold S31 and Gold P31 internal SSDs, and not to be left behind, the Beetle X31 portable SSD followed suit. And just when we thought that was it, SK hynix threw in another curveball – the Tube T31 Stick SSD.

Imagine having a portable SSD that can just slide into your pocket with the ease of a traditional thumb drive but carries the punch of a heavyweight. That’s the Beetle X31 for you. But the Tube T31? It’s like the younger sibling that decided to take all that was good with the Beetle X31 and compact it even further into something you can literally carry around on your keychain. Just when I started thinking about how bulky some flash drives can be, SK hynix seemed to have read my thoughts. Although, it’s a bummer that its size might make it a bit of a tight fit next to other devices plugged into your USB ports.

A Fresh Take on Storage Solutions

The wave of change doesn’t just stop with SK hynix entering the chat for direct-end products. The whole USB flash drive game has been stepping up, with storage capacities and speeds hitting new highs. Thanks to the magic of 3D NAND and a USB specification that’s been getting beefier, we’re now seeing ‘stick SSDs’ that don’t just walk the walk but talk the talk, boasting speeds north of 1GBps. And with everyone wanting a piece of the pie, we’ve got options galore, including some that offer up to 2TB of storage. Yes, you heard that right, 2TB in something that fits in your palm.

But here’s where it gets spicy. The high-performance ‘stick SSD’ alley is still relatively fresh, and the competition is just warming up. We’ve got some using native UFD controllers that are all about delivering that speed without breaking a sweat or frying the circuit board. And then, there are the early birds like the Beetle X31 making do with a SATA SSD controller behind a USB bridge. It’s fascinating how this dance between performance, thermal constraints, and cost unfolds in such a tiny form factor.

The Nitty-Gritty of Stick SSDs

Let’s dive a bit into the internals, shall we? The Beetle X31 wasn’t shy about showing off its SK hynix BC711 M.2 2242 NVMe SSD, all cozied up with an ASMedia ASM2362 USB bridge. But what caught my eye was its choice of packing just 512GB and 1TB variants. It turns out, this tight-knit integration of flash dies, controller, and DRAM all in one, although genius, left little room for adding more NAND dies. Hence, the limited capacity options.

On the flip side, the Tube T31 sticks to the same capacity playbook, hinting at a similar internal setup. However, it’s not just what’s on the inside that counts, right? The real measure of its mettle came from seeing how it fared under the hood – performance consistency, power munching habits, and how cool it stayed under pressure. Spoiler alert: it’s got a few tricks up its sleeve.


Disassembling it was a breeze, almost like it was beckoning us to peek inside. And there it was, the heart of the beast – a single-sided board with a thermal pad whispering sweet nothings to the main board to keep the heat at bay. But the star of the show was the ‘SK hynix HNB001T14M’ package, a marvel of integration with its 128L V6 NAND, controller, and DRAM all bundled into one. Switching up the game, the Tube T31 opted for JMicron’s JMS583 over the ASMedia chip used in the Beetle X31, a choice that’s been making waves for its surprising comeback in recent offerings.

Internal SSD

Now, let’s not forget about the tech that talks to your PC, the S.M.A.R.T passthrough and that coveted TRIM support, keeping things running smooth and efficient. And with a comparative glance at the specs against its contemporaries, the Tube T31 is not just here to play; it’s here to slay.

Setting Up the Battle Arena

Talking about slaying, how do we size up these gladiators of storage? Enter our arena, the Quartz Canyon NUC, armed to the teeth with Xeon muscle and ECC memory shields. This beast of a testbed is where we pit these warriors against the demanding trials of synthetic and real-world workloads, not to mention custom robocopy tests and a gauntlet run of sequential write torture.


Each matchup is meticulously calculated, ensuring no stone is left unturned in evaluating their prowess. From the lightning-fast sprints of CrystalDiskMark to the endurance challenges of PCMark 10’s storage benchmark, we’ve set the stage for a showdown that’s bound to have you on the edge of your seat. And let me tell you, the Tube T31 has some aces up its sleeve, ready to surprise and, possibly, redefine what we expect from our portable storage companions.

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