Hands-on: StarTech’s USB-C to SATA adapter makes for a great MacBook Pro accessory

I recently got my hands on the Atomos Ninja Inferno external recorder and monitor for my Panasonic GH5. This 7-inch monitor allows you to record 4K video directly to 2.5-inch SATA SSDs. It’s a wonderful tool for my video workflow, because it allows for extra long recording times, and fast data transfers to my Mac.

The only problem is that the external monitor doesn’t ship with the needed USB-enabled caddy for transferring data from the SSD to my MacBook Pro. Atomos sells a docking station, but it’s limited to USB-A connections.

That’s where StarTech’s wonderful USB-C to SATA adapter comes in. This inexpensive adapter makes it super-easy to transfer data from a SATA-enabled SSD to the MacBook Pro via USB-C. Watch our hands-on video inside for the details.

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StarTech sells multiple versions of its USB to SATA adapters, including USB-A-enabled editions featuring either USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 Gen 2; the USB-C version is USB 3.1 Gen 2 only.

The benefit of USB 3.1 Gen 2 is that transfer speeds max out at 10 Gbps instead of the 5 Gbps available with USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 Gen 1. Unfortunately, real world transfer speeds for SATA III max out around 600 MB/s (4.8 Gbps), which won’t come close to saturating the amount of bandwidth available with USB 3.1 Gen 2.

Video walkthrough

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With SATA III’s real world transfer limits in mind, you’d probably be able to opt for the cheaper USB 3.0 adapter and still achieve close to maximum transfer speeds for SATA III drives. That said, if you opt for the USB-C version of the adapter, USB 3.1 Gen 2 comes standard.

Whichever version you choose, I think you’ll be satisfied with the results. The SATA end of the cable snaps right on to a 2.5″ SSD, and features a small LED indicator on the back of the cable to indicate when it’s successfully connected to a computer. Keep in mind that the adapter only provides 5V of power, which is enough for a 2.5-inch drive, but not enough for larger 3.5-inch drives.

Transfer speeds will, of course, depend on the attached SSD, but as stated, don’t expect anything above 600 MB/s read. With my SanDisk Ultra II 960 GB SSD, which is rated at up to 550 MB/s read and 500 MB/s write, I was able to get above 500 MB/s read consistently.

Transferring high bitrate footage to my MacBook Pro via the traditional SD Card was proving to be a time-consuming process and a bottleneck for my workflow. With the Atomos Ninja Inferno + StarTech adapter, my workflow has sped up significantly.

I’ll have a post later on our sister site, 9to5Toys, that outlines my thoughts on the Atomos Ninja Inferno for the Panasonic GH5. Just keep in mind that StarTech’s USB to SATA adapter cable is useful for many more situations than the use-case I outlined in this post, even if it’s just using a SATA drive as a backup drive or for external storage. I purchased both the USB-C and USB-A versions of the adapter, because I know they will come in handy for both my laptop and desktop machines.

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