Last fall, the Taiwanese manufacturer SilverStone, which will probably be known to most for its cases, coolers and fans, introduced two SSD adapter cards. With the help of the adapters, an SSD in M.2 format can be used. The SSD is connected via PCIe, you need a free PCIe 3.0 x4 or alternatively a free x16 slot on your motherboard. The adapters are the rather minimalistic SST-ECM21-E and the SST-ECM24-ARGB, which offers a heat sink and ARGB lighting in addition to the M.2 slot itself.
We have both adapters in review, going into additional features and comparing the performance of the NVMe SSD connected via the adapters with direct operation in the motherboard’s M.2 slot.
|Connection||PCI Express x4||PCI Express x4|
|SSD interface||M.2 (PCI Express; M-Key)||M.2 (PCI Express; M-Key)|
|Supported M.2 SSD length||30 mm, 42 mm, 60 mm, 80 mm||30 mm, 42 mm, 60 mm, 80 mm|
|Dimensions||120 mm (W) x 23 mm (H) x 104 mm (D)||121 mm (W) x 20 mm (H) x 130 mm (D) (incl. heat sink)|
|Weight||57 g||110 g (incl. heat sink)|
|Features||Screwless design for M.2 SSD||Aluminum heat sink with ARGB lighting|
|Price||Price not available *||Price not available *|
SST-ECM21-E in detail
The SST-ECM21-E adapter card comes together with a shorter slot bracket and instructions in a compact cardboard box. Screws are also included, but are not needed thanks to the tool-less mounting.
The PCB is black, and M.2 SSDs in four lengths, up to a maximum of 80 mm, can be mounted. Everything is already prepared for the common M.2-2280 format. If you want to use shorter SSDs, you can of course use the bracket in a different place. Alternatively, the included screws can also be used for mounting.
Overall, the SST-ECM21-E adapter card concentrates on the essentials. You get another M.2 slot with this, but you have to do without further features.
SST-ECM24-ARGB in detail
The SST-ECM24-ARGB adapter card offers a few other features besides the M.2 slot itself. This is already noticeable when looking at the significantly larger scope of delivery. In addition to the adapter card, the shorter slot bracket and the manual, you will also find a heatsink with ARGB illumination, the corresponding connection cable, heat conduction pads, plenty of mounting material and a screwdriver in the box.
The PCB itself is similar in size and is also black. SilverStone does not offer a tool-free installation of the SSD. The installation is very simple. The M.2 SSD is embedded between two different heat conduction pads and screwed tight from the back. Afterwards, the heatsink and the slot bezel are screwed on. To enable the control of the RGB effects via the motherboard, you also have to connect the cable.
The SST-ECM24-ARGB adapter card offers with a heatsink and ARGB lighting all possible features you could wish for your SSD. In addition, there are enough thermal pads for a later SSD replacement.
- ASUS ROG Strix B560-F Gaming WiFi Motherboard
- Intel Core i5-11400F processor
- 32GB G.Skill RipJaws V 3200 RAM
- MSI Radeon RX 5500 XT Gaming X 8G graphics card
- TeamGroup T-Force Cardea IOPS 1TB SSD
- Crucial P5 2TB SSD
- Seasonic Focus GX-550 power supply
For the performance comparison, we use the Crucial P5 with 2 TB, which we had in test just recently. Since the fill level varies greatly, we also retested the SSD internally, which is why the values can differ from the then test. We install the SSD internally, with the SST-ECM21-E and then with the SST-ECM24-ARGB and test it with the AS SSD and CrystalDiskMark programs.
|SEQ Read||2280.58 MB/s||2289.35 MB/s||2322.72 MB/s|
|SEQ Write||1712.74 MB/s||1695.54 MB/s||1828.94 MB/s|
|4K read||39.58 MB/s||39.50 MB/s||39.50 MB/s|
|4K write||71.02 MB/s||71.19 MB/s||71.14 MB/s|
|4K-64-THRD Read||1707.01 MB/s||1708.19 MB/s||1707.68 MB/s|
|4K-64-THRD write||1984.04 MB/s||1907.17 MB/s||1897.11 MB/s|
|Access Time Write||0.107 ms||0.107 ms||0.107 ms MB/s|
In the AS SSD benchmark, all three variants are very close to each other. In most cases, the internally installed SSD is slightly ahead, but partly this also applies to the adapters. Thus, we achieve ~116 MB/s more in sequential writes with the SST-ECM24-ARGB adapter card than internally.
|SEQ Q32T1 Read||3184.00 MB/s||3128.30 MB/s||3160.50 MB/s|
|SEQ Q32T1 Write||3139.00 MB/s||3004.30 MB/s||3064.50 MB/s|
|4K Q32T1 Read||684.10 MB/s||669.90 MB/s||680.40 MB/s|
|SEQ Q32T1 Write||627.20 MB/s||623.40 MB/s||628.85 MB/s|
|SEQ Read||1960.00 MB/s||1938.70 MB/s||1862.00 MB/s|
|SEQ Write||1689.00 MB/s||1686.00 MB/s||1705.00 MB/s|
|4K Read||57.30 MB/s||56.63 MB/s||56.88 MB/s|
|4K write||120.80 MB/s||118.00 MB/s||119.35 MB/s|
In CrystalDiskMark, the picture is very similar. All three variants are close to each other, in most cases the internally installed SSD is just ahead.
Overall, the performance via the PCIe adapters can be rated as positive. The SSD is connected via PCI Express x4 in all three cases, the SSD is not limited in any case and the measured values are very similar. A larger performance loss due to the adapter cards is not noticeable.
In most cases, the SST-ECM24-ARGB adapter card is ahead of the SST-ECM21-E adapter card. The reason for this is most likely the additional heat sink for the SSD, which is also present in our motherboard. Completely without a heat sink, we partly reach 75°C, which is why a short throttling would be possible. Internally, we reached a maximum of 56°C with the heat sink, and even only 50°C with the heat sink of the SST-ECM24-ARGB adapter card. However, this point should not be seen as a problem of the SST-ECM21-E adapter card, but as a problem of the SSD, which shows that a heat sink can be quite useful in many cases.
In conclusion, we can recommend both adapters from SilverStone, especially in terms of performance. The cheaper ECM21-E adapter card achieves an average of 99.3% of the transfer rate of the internally installed SSD when reading, and it is still 98.1% when writing. The more expensive ECM24-ARGB even achieves 99.4% of the transfer rate when reading and 99.7% when writing, compared to the internal SSD. The deviations and drawbacks are thus only minimal in benchmarks and probably non-existent in everyday use. While both adapters can convince in the performance test, the price is unfortunately a reason for criticism. Other manufacturers also have adapters, partly with a heatsink and ARGB, in their range. These partly offer more or are considerably cheaper.
Due to the value for money, the ECM21-E ultimately receives the Silver Award with 89/100 points. With 92/100 points, the ECM24-ARGB receives our Gold Award.
Which card is the right one for you depends on the features you need. If you want an additional M.2 slot and don’t need more, you can go for the ECM21-E adapter card. However, you should take into account that an additional heat sink offers advantages for intensive and longer write processes, depending on the application. However, many M.2 SSDs now offer a heat sink out of the box.
If you do not want to do without a heat sink and are a fan of RGB lighting, you should go for the ECM24-ARGB adapter card. It simply offers more for a small surcharge.