Top critical review
Have switched from ASM1153 to Norelsys NS1068 :(
Reviewed in the United States on March 26, 2019
I was pleased with a set of these I ordered back in March 2019 (see original review below), and so recently (May 2021) bought two more. Unfortunately, at some time over the past two years, the manufacturer switched from well-regarded Asmedia ASM1153 controller chips to the poorer-performing Norelsys NS1068, which is blacklisted for UASP under Linux due to the unreliability of that protocol with Norelsys chips. A search for "2537:1068" should turn up details about this problem, which apparently can occur under Windows as well under some circumstances. With the Norelsys unit forced back to the safe but slower usb-storage driver, these seem to peak at less than 400MB/s when paired with a WD Blue SSD, more often hovering around 130Mb/s for general ext4 filesystem access (>80% reads), while the original ASM1153-based ones achieve at least 15-20% better performance.
Although the listing never advertised any particular controller chip, and so I can't complain too much, this silent substitution was disappointing, and I hope my original review didn't lead many people to purchase these based on what became a false premise.
These Norelsys-based ones do work, though, albeit more slowly, so I put them on two less-important drives, swapping two older and better-performing ASM1153 units onto my SSDs. Both types look nearly identical from the outside, but my older ones with Asmedia chips have a cable more than twice as long, about 52.5cm from USB to SATA connector tips vs. 25 cm for the "new" ones - presumably another means of cost-cutting.
ORIGINAL REVIEW FROM MARCH 2019:
I bought several of these for a custom external drive array, choosing them for the mentioned Asmedia AS1153 controller chip, known for solid UASP operation under LInux (unlike certain earlier chips, which the kernel will "blacklist", i.e. force down to BOT / usb-storage mode to guard against various data-corrupting bugs). They've been reliable and perform well, with large-file transfer rates in the 120 - 150MB/s range from a 5400rpm drive behind one 4-port USB3 hub. 7200rpm disks and SSDs should do even better.
One negative is that these come with a very aggressive, hardcoded 3-minute idle spin-down timer (15 or 20min would have been more reasonable), which kicks in regardless of how you set the attached drive's power management options. i.e. setting the drive to spin down after only 1 or 2 minutes' idle will work as expected, but trying to extend the time beyond 3 minutes, or disable automatic spin-down altogether (e.g. 'hdparm -S 0 -B 255 /dev/sdX' in Linux) will have no effect. This may be OK for some uses, but in my case it was causing not only annoying spin-up delays, but an excessive accumulation of load-cycles on the drives, which isn't good for their long-term health - especially with 3.5" drives (see below).
It doesn't seem possible to control this timer directly, but it can be defeated by reflashing the adapter with an alternate firmware, which can be found by searching for "USB3-SATA-UASP1 140509A18280 firmware". Choose the result at plugable.com, and download their file under the "ASM1153e" column that mentions this ...18280 version (not 18200). This Asmedia flasher tool is available only as a Windows EXE, but the change has to be made only once. I'd recommend using a USB 2.0 port to reflash, and ensuring no hard drive is connected to the adapter during this process.
I use these with 3.5" drives (4TB WD Red's), even though only 2.5's are normally supported, by powering the drives separately from an ATX PSU providing both +12V and +5V, and connecting the USB adapters through Monoprice SATA extender cables (https://www.amazon.com/Monoprice-6-inch-Female-Extension-Cable/dp/B01BKT7FMK) to prevent them from covering the drives' power sockets..
One nice thing is that unlike with some older models, you can swap drives behind one of these, or toggle the attached drive off & on if it's on independent power, without ever having to physically unplug from the USB bus. The adapter will monitor for such events on the SATA side, and automatically disconnect/reconnect its USB endpoint afterwards to ensure the host picks up on any changes. My array is designed to power up specific drives on remote command using a relay/MOSFET board, and this quality avoided having to arrange for switched +5V power to the USB adapters as well.
These include an internal blue status/activity LED, but it's very dim, really only visible from directly above the flat side of the SATA-side housing - better than the excessively bright ones so many devices like to include, though.
All in all, these are great for the price, which I'd rate at 5 stars if not for the forced 3-minute spin-down annoyance, but at least a workaround is possible.