Question Replacing all SATA connectors for SSDs with USB - getting rid of power cables

Jan 28, 2021
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Hi

I hate cables. To connect my 6 SSDs I need [in theory] 12 of them: 6 for data and 6 for power; although power can be delivered with 2-3, as they have multiple connectors. But that is still too many

And I thought: if I already run one of them via USB with a simple relatively cheap connector [something like https://www.amazon.com/Sabrent-2-5-Inch-Adapter-Optimized-EC-SSHD/dp/B011M8YACM or https://www.ebay.pl/itm/USB-3-0-To-SATA-22-Pin-2-5-Inch-Hard-Disk-Drive-SSD-Adapter-Connector-Lead-Cable/254692417899?hash=item3b4cd9e16b:g:v2MAAOSwphNfPFyF] would it be possible to run all of them in such way? In theory it should work, right? But will the motherboard transfer then enough power to them? [I just bought a new machine. But this time without a computer chassis as I intend to hide my PC in a chamber of custom build furniture. And I plan to place components on different levels - so having as little cables coming out from PSU would be a bless]

Have someone actually done such a thing? And with how many drives? Was it a stable set-up; where there any issues with time?




The principle would be to use at least USB 3.0, right? But would I gain speeds if I used USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 or USB 3.2 Gen 1×2 or USB 3.2 Gen 2×2?

And how about running Windows 10 from one of them? Is there a simple way to boot from SSD re-connected to motherboard from SATA to USB?
 
Hi

I hate cables. To connect my 6 SSDs I need [in theory] 12 of them: 6 for data and 6 for power; although power can be delivered with 2-3, as they have multiple connectors. But that is still too many

And I thought: if I already run one of them via USB with a simple relatively cheap connector [something like https://www.amazon.com/Sabrent-2-5-Inch-Adapter-Optimized-EC-SSHD/dp/B011M8YACM or https://www.ebay.pl/itm/USB-3-0-To-SATA-22-Pin-2-5-Inch-Hard-Disk-Drive-SSD-Adapter-Connector-Lead-Cable/254692417899?hash=item3b4cd9e16b:g:v2MAAOSwphNfPFyF] would it be possible to run all of them in such way? In theory it should work, right? But will the motherboard transfer then enough power to them? [I just bought a new machine. But this time without a computer chassis as I intend to hide my PC in a chamber of custom build furniture. And I plan to place components on different levels - so having as little cables coming out from PSU would be a bless]

Have someone actually done such a thing? And with how many drives? Was it a stable set-up; where there any issues with time?




The principle would be to use at least USB 3.0, right? But would I gain speeds if I used USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 or USB 3.2 Gen 1×2 or USB 3.2 Gen 2×2?

And how about running Windows 10 from one of them? Is there a simple way to boot from SSD re-connected to motherboard from SATA to USB?
If I understand you correctly, yes you can connect as many SSDs as you have ports and you can get even more USB ports by a suitable PCIe card. USB2 would do for pure storage while for other usage like for installing programs, at least USB3.1 then it would be just as fast as any internally connected SATA3 SSD allowing you to even run W10 from it. It's a bit more complicated to install windows on a removable device but it can run.
One problem though, windows will treat them all as "Removable" so it could assign different letters to them if removed. I have several SSDs but they are mostly connected one at a time, I found out it could be cheaper and faster than USB dongles of higher capacity. I used https://www.techspot.com/downloads/7203-flashboot.html to install W10 one one of them and another one has Linux Mint on it.
 

Krotow

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"Smarties" with USB connected SSDs may expect issues with TRIM support over USB. Which mean that their SSDs will simply wear out much faster. Just sayin.
 

USAFRet

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^^^^ Yep, that is also a consideration.

The goal here is to reduce the number of cables going to the drives?
This is mainly a visual consideration?

Solutions:
  1. Reduce the number of drives. Consolidate the smaller ones into a larger
  2. Siamese the SATA data cables on to the wide SATA power. Color coordinated and done properly, looks like a single cable.
 
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Are you building an art installation? Otherwise tie cables together and forget about them. You will not see them anyway.
[...]
This is mainly a visual consideration?
An what if I am building a showcase?

This is for an easier building of my "case" and being able to re-build it in the future when another and another new hardware I will start to use. So that is also a reason to not just connect all the parts and throw them into a pit covering them over with something

[And on top of that there is the issue of black cables, black motherboard, black PSU - all that black is not helping when trying to check / change something in a tight space. And so: less stuff = less black = less obscurity]



Solutions:
1. Reduce the number of drives. Consolidate the smaller ones into a larger
I just bought a 4TB SSD as a replacement, which I could hardly afford; and got rid of 128 GB and 500 GB SSD because there were too small for my needs. And what I wanted was to replace an 8TB HDD with at least 12TB SSD. Instead of that I redesigned my system, splitting that already exiting data / purpose between that new 4 TB and a new 18TB HDD kept offline

And in overall I use SSDs instead of HDDs because I need as much silence as I can get



2. Siamese the SATA data cables on to the wide SATA power. Color coordinated and done properly, looks like a single cable.
I just do not understand what you are saying. Data is data, power is power. Maybe some link / photos please?

A cable like this https://www.newegg.com/multi-color-tekit-1-5-7-15-pin-serial-ata-sata-male-to-female-data-power-combo-extension-cable-m/p/0ZF-0010-00007 gets me nowhere in this case. But I do use them: for my Scythe Quiet Drive boxes for my off-line kept HHDs

I just do not see how some kind of siamense connectors would do the trick. Because at their ends I would still need to split power to separate drives. Thus had to put drives with proper / fixed distance; some kid of scaffold. And that is because both PSU power and SATA data cables are not easily bend / folded-while an USB cable can be twisted around. I already had the problem with spacing in my last PC case- I had to use more power cables becasue of that, becasue the cables would not succomb to limited space- and I do not want to replicate those limitations in a custom build system

Plus: my top of the line PSU will not like using any kind of ables that are not from the manufacturer of it. I already expierienced that firsthand 2 high-end PSU units ago


[...]
you can get even more USB ports by a suitable PCIe card.
Yes- I was already anticipating that, having checked how may and of what kind USB connections my motherboard provides [not enough / too slow]

USB2 would do for pure storage while for other usage like for installing programs, at least USB3.1
[...]
The USB interface is slower than the native SATA connection.
Nominal speed of USB 3.2 Gen 1×1 is 5 Gbit/s while SATA 3.0 is 6 Gbit/s. So that would be a 17% loss - in theory. Because I never ever saw real transfer speeds on my multiple SSDs to hit such high values- so I theory I would not loose speeds even when using USB 3.0?

But to be future proof / wanting to utilize this also for other purposes if such need arises, I would probably invest in an PCI-e card with at least USB 3.2 Gen 2×1


"Smarties" with USB connected SSDs may expect issues with TRIM support over USB. Which mean that their SSDs will simply wear out much faster. Just sayin.
Now that is the kind of info that I should explore thoroughly before switching to USB. [I have all kinds of drives and all kind of purposes for my drives. So in the end I could decide to utilize USB for some of them]

But if the CMD shows me value "0" after exeuting

fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify

then I am and will be OK in this regard?
 
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USAFRet

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I get that you may be building a visual showcase thing.
No problem.

I'm just proposing alternatives in making it look good, rather than USB for these drives.
Especially the OS drive.

A flat SATA power cable, and black SATA data cables, and black zipties (or white/grey for visual contrast)....can be made to look like a single thing going to the drive location.
Just like the "single USB cable".

And the TRIM thing mentioned above is a crucial consideration.
 
I just tested speed of one of my SSDs with USB3.1 (1st gen) adapters, its a Cheep Kingston A200, 120GB. Sequential read/write are 456.4/398 MB/s which is darn close to it's advertised speeds as SATA3. It has Windows 10 to GO on it and thats why it maybe a tad slower.
Same one connected as SATA3 drive but with W10 insider version on it scores 475.6/403.79 which is imperceptible difference.
Still helluva faster than any HDD SATA3 drive.
 

USAFRet

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I just tested speed of one of my SSDs with USB3.1 (1st gen) adapters, its a Cheep Kingston A200, 120GB. Sequential read/write are 456.4/398 MB/s which is darn close to it's advertised speeds as SATA3. It has Windows 10 to GO on it and thats why it maybe a tad slower.
Same one connected as SATA3 drive but with W10 insider version on it scores 475.6/403.79 which is imperceptible difference.
Still helluva faster than any HDD SATA3 drive.
Sequential numbers may be mostly the same as connecting on a regular SATA port.
The problem comes in with the small data transfers, that is most of what we users and Windows does. The USB interface will inhibit that back and forth conversation.


How is the actual operation of that Windows to Go vs a normally connected SSD?
 
Sequential numbers may be mostly the same as connecting on a regular SATA port.
The problem comes in with the small data transfers, that is most of what we users and Windows does. The USB interface will inhibit that back and forth conversation.


How is the actual operation of that Windows to Go vs a normally connected SSD?
I just quoted sequential read(writes, differences are similar in other data tests, very small.
 
Could you post the make/model of all of your specs?
Do not forget case and psu.
What is this pc primarily used for?

If your motherboard has m.2 slots, you will not need any sata or data connectors at all.
Today, you can buy(at a hefty price) 4tb and 8gb m.2 drives.
Perhaps a upgrade is in order?
 
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Krotow

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An what if I am building a showcase?
Seems I understand what you want to achieve. And case probably is translucent from both sides like Azza Pyramid 804 or Fortron T-WINGS CMT710. But at this case large (1 TB+) NVMe drives, if your motherboard does support them, will hide much better. Put two 2 GB NVMe PCIe 3.0/4.0 drives in your box and problem is solved without any cable. If you have a cash to burn and already spend a ton of money for such case, NVMe drives will cost peanuts. Will be faster than SATA SSD as well. I imagine that you have some SATA SSDs left from past. Too small drives was exactly mine case on upgrade to new system (see signature). Bought two 1 TB NVMe drives instead as OS/work/game cache. 120 GB and three 250 GB SSD drives which was left behind, used for HDD upgrade to SSD in my family member laptops. Problem solved, zero cables added.

And in overall I use SSDs instead of HDDs because I need as much silence as I can get
There I will completely agree.

fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify

then I am and will be OK in this regard?
Technically correct. However check how it works with your drives. In some cases DisableDeleteNotify remain "1" and need extra measures to get it enabled. Some drives simply does not support TRIM over USB (seen a thread about PNY having such problem).
 
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[...]
But if the CMD shows me value "0" after exeuting

fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify


then I am and will be OK in this regard?

[...]
check how it works with your drives. In some cases DisableDeleteNotify remain "1" and need extra measures to get it enabled. Some drives simply does not support TRIM over USB (seen a thread about PNY having such problem).
That is a possible limitation that anyone should explore before switching to USB connectors




Aa for the rest of your propositions / insights




After recent updates I have Gigabyte X570 Aorus Ultra rev. 1.2 [with BIOS F30] running on brand new NVMe M.2 2280 Samsung 980 PRO 500GB PCle 4.0 [MZ-V8P500BW] - which replaced SSD 2.5" Samsung 850 EVO 120GB SATA III [MZ-75E120].
I also have in my other slot brand new NVMe M.2 2280 Samsung 980 PRO 1TB PCle 4.0 [MZ-V8P1T0BW] *. The third slot for now I left empty for future upgrades - but the manual of the mobo says that I will run into some limitation in regards to disks connected via SATA when I will utilize third third slot. Plus this slot only fits 2280s while the first two can hold 22110s [although both my drives are now 2280s]


I also have a:
  • brand new SSD 2"5 4TB SATA III 560/530 MB/s [MZ-77Q4T0BW] **
  • brand new HDD 3.5" Western Digital Ultrastar DC HC550 18TB 7200 RPM 512 MB cache [0F38459] ***
  • 1 year old SSD 2.5" Samsung 860 EVO 1TB SATA III 550/520 MB/s 1GB cache [MZ-76E1T0B]
  • 2 year new SSD 2.5" ADATA Ultimate SU900 256GB SATA III 560/525 MB/s MLC 3D [ASU900SS-256GM-C]
  • 2 year old SSD 2.5" ADATA Ultimate SU800 2TB SATA III 560/520 MB/s TLC 3D [ASU800SS-2TT-C]
  • 4 year old SSD 2.5" Crucial MX300 750GB SATA III 530/510 MB/s [CT750MX300SSD1]
  • 5 year old HDD 3.5" Seagate Archive 8TB SATA III 5900RPM 128MB cache [ST8000AS0002]
And I got rid of a:
  • 5 year old HDD USB Seagate Portable Backup Plus Black 4TB USB 3.0 [STDR4000200]
  • 7 year HDD 3.5" Seagate 4TB SATA III 5900 RPM 64MB cache [ST4000DM000]
Basically I replaced my fast system SSD for a fast NVMe and my two old 4TB HDDs with a new 4TB SSD and a new 18TB. I also rearranged purpose of of other drives thus I am able to keep from now on those two HDDs off-line [thus achieving silence]

However I spent way too much money on each of the brand new drives marked with * / ** / ***. But I analyzed the market and it did in order to avoid situation which repeats itself to me over and over since ~2005. Which is: after a couple of months I am where are started - choking my drives with data. My 18TB is over 50% empty and will not run out of space for years [or so I would like to believe...]

And prior to my shopping I looked extensively for a motherboard that would fit to my needs. And did not find such and so I bought the closest one to what I needed and a one that I could still afford - but once again spending way too much money. There were some better models but I just did not wanted to spend even more cash - and in case of a hardware failure be faced with a need of buying another extremely [at least for me] expensive motherboard

ERGO: from now on I do cannot spend more money on drives - and will not replace a motherboard with a different one



And on a side note about M.2 NVMe drives. I do not like the idea of not being able to physically disconnect a drive other than by the means of totally removing it from its slot. With HDDs / SSDs I can always remove the cable on either ends - but with NVMe I have to make my way to them through components [a big CPU radiator and PCI-express cards] and only then unscrew them. I am waiting for the manufacturers to take notice of the fact that this concept is both unfriendly and counter productive for users who e.g. use an image based backup system and / or want to be able to protect their data for a time being by taking hardware hosting it out of the power circuit system. A simple physical switch would do the trick here. A validation of my request would be for example this situation: https://forums.tomshardware.com/threads/cannot-switch-booting-from-m-2-nvme-to-sata-ssd-any-more.3685533/#post-22206614


But who are we kidding here? I used to have a motherboard with a Dual BIOS with a physical switch but now I have a 2.5 times more expensive motherboard with a Dual BIOS accessible through software operation- which already showed to me it drawback in form of resetting itself to factory settings [apparently because I accidentally connected an unrelaated bootable USB in a Q-Flash USB slot]. And I believe that it is only recently that some laptops have a physical way to obscure the camera, so that the user cannot be spied on with it






The priorities are in this order:
A] silence
B] access
C] visuals



ad A]

I will put it a wooden chamber. If needed, I will use acoustic foams afterwards. Flow of air will be provided with silent fans [below ~12-13 dBA]. The will be some wholes for the exchange of air with the room

[And so I think I will have to turn off the fan provided by the GIGABYTE for the chipset - but I am afraid to do so as to not burn the chipset]



ad B]

The chamber will be as big as to house even an extended versions of motherboards with lot of margins and with ability to have levels [shelves]

The first level will be accessed from top, as it will end at the level of the desk. It will contain the motherboard and the drives. Below will be the power supply and GPU [connected via riser]



ad C]

All I will see will be a custom made I / O [maybe movable] panel. So the insides in theory do not really concern me. But any upgrades and checkouts will be done much easier with components being in as many different colors as possible

Single cables for drives would be a bless. So that here would be only 3 power cables going from PSU to motherboard [main, CPU and GPU] and USB cables going from mobo to SSD [plus power for fans]
 
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As for a possible drop in speeds of drives



After recent updates I have Gigabyte X570 Aorus Ultra rev. 1.2 [with BIOS F30] running on brand new NVMe M.2 2280 Samsung 980 PRO 500GB PCle 4.0 [MZ-V8P500BW] - which replaced SSD 2.5" Samsung 850 EVO 120GB SATA III [MZ-75E120].

I also have in my other slot brand new NVMe M.2 2280 Samsung 980 PRO 1TB PCle 4.0 [MZ-V8P1T0BW]
[...]

How can I check them now? I run some CrystalDiskMark tests on my NVMe - and I must either:
a] be using this software wrong
b] bought a faulty drives
c] did not done something in BIOS or Windows 10 to unblock the potential the drives


Those drives are connected via the M.2 slots on a PCI-Express 4.0 line. And there are suppose to be the quickest commercially available. And yet I am simply disappointed with how little speed I have gained after ditching my old machine, which was also run with Windows 10 but on SSDs
 

USAFRet

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Those drives are connected via the M.2 slots on a PCI-Express 4.0 line. And there are suppose to be the quickest commercially available. And yet I am simply disappointed with how little speed I have gained after ditching my old machine, which was also run with Windows 10 but on SSDs
We are chasing diminishing level of return.

HDD -> SATA III SSD. --- 3 sec to 1 sec. Large noticeable change.
SATA III -> PCIe 3.0 SSD. --- 1 sec to 0.5 sec. Faster, buuuut...
PCIe 3.0 -> PCIe 4.0. -- 0.5 sec to 0.25 sec. Did we blink and miss it?

The next iteration to PCIe 5.0 will be 0.25 sec to 0.12 sec.

Each change was 2 or 3 times faster than the earlier. But diminishing returns.
And then we factor in all the other considerations. Software and the rest of the PC hardware, which is also doing things.

Just the way it is.
 
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We are chasing diminishing level of return.

HDD -> SATA III SSD. --- 3 sec to 1 sec. Large noticeable change.
SATA III -> PCIe 3.0 SSD. --- 1 sec to 0.5 sec. Faster, buuuut...
PCIe 3.0 -> PCIe 4.0. -- 0.5 sec to 0.25 sec. Did we blink and miss it?
[...]
Well

I am thinking about an operation like loading 20 000 audio files of various formats filled with various data in their tag fields to Mp3tag

When I went from 7200 RPM HDD to 10 000 RPM it ways alike a difference between night and day. Going from that 10 000 RPM to SSD was another huge difference. But now after going from SSD to NVMe I am disappointment to the point of suspecting a malfunction of some kind. [I know- showing numbers would be valuable, but I just do not have them as I do not have that particular set of 20 000 files from 6 years ago]

Are CPU, RAM and motherboard also responsible for that speed. If yes then this is very suspicious, as I have now much quicker machine in every aspect - and yet still waiting way to much time for those files to load up. [Re-load is much faster as apparently some of the info is stored later on in RAM]
 

USAFRet

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Yes, the whole rest of the system comes into play.

And 20,000 files is also another issue.
The benefit of the SSD over HDD is the near zero access time. This applies to ALL solid state, including SATA III.
But the CPU/RAM has to stop and think about each individual file.

The benefit of the PCIe 3.0 and 4.0 over SATA III SSD is the large sequential read/write. A single large file.
Which is NOT what you're doing with these 20k audio files.

Again, the near zero access time is of significant benefit over the HDD, no matter how fast the HDD was.
But the raw sequential speed of the NVMe dries is not what most of our (and the OS) tasks are. Including this 20k of files.


A test of game load times shows pretty much zero difference between 3.0 and 4.0, and only minimal benefit over SATA III.
Even though the 3.0 is "7 times faster" than SATA III, and 4.0 is "twice as fast" as 3.0.

This game load thing would be similar to your 20k music files.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YoRKQy-UO4




Is your 4.0 drive faster than a 3.0? Absolutely, yes.
But nowhere near "twice as fast" once we take the totality of the operation into account.
 

Krotow

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HDD -> SATA III SSD. --- 3 sec to 1 sec. Large noticeable change.
SATA III -> PCIe 3.0 SSD. --- 1 sec to 0.5 sec. Faster, buuuut...
PCIe 3.0 -> PCIe 4.0. -- 0.5 sec to 0.25 sec. Did we blink and miss it?
What definitely changes between HDD and SDD - file access time. In SDD (nevertheless, SATA or PCIe NVMe) it is almost zero. It is why OS and software must be installed on SSD nowadays. Works even in runt laptops with Atom (N28...) CPU.

NVMe have same SATA SSD bonuses. Plus is much faster in large single file loading and writing. Video editing, backups and similar. PCIe 4.0 NVMe drives are 50-70% faster than PCIe 3.0 NVMe drives here. However OS file system management begin to interfere here. In result a batch of small files on NVMe drive will be processed in approximately the same speed as on SATA-III SSD. By the way those huge game resource files almost always are loaded by tiny small chunks - that is why level loading in both SATA SSD and NVMe SSD drives is basically the same. So if OP in his "glass house" works with audio file and sample library, he will not benefit much aside aesthetic gain with NVMe. Through if aesthetics does matter for him, NVMe drives are still better choice, because he may have two large NVMe drives and move his stuff here.
 
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Yes, before I went shopping I have seen a lot of videos about game loading time and some about boot time, comparing HDDs/ SSDs / NVMEs

My main reason for that upgrade which I could hardly afford was that loading time of files to Mp3tag, as I do it constantly and with various sets of files. And yet I am devastated with my minimal gains in this regard. [The upgrade was done also in a "forced mode" because my old machine started to send me so many warning signs that its life was inadvertently coming to and that I just could not risk anymore waiting for USB 4.0 / PCIe 5.0 / DisplayPort 2.0 to arrive to the market - for which technologies I was holding out with the purchase of a new machine]



And yes - NVMe in a M.2 slot has that huge bonus of not having a cable at all. But its biggest minus to me is that I do not have a physical kill switch for it

But nevertheless I bought to and expensive ones to squeeze out a much a possible out of this technology - and to be able to sell those drives in a future for noticeable amount of money




So in conclusion: should I go forward with the concept of using USB connection for my SSD SATA drives? But only if in the end I can connect them via USB 3.2 Gen 2×1?
 

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