Review cover Helix Dura Portable NVMe SSD (Hardware)
Official GBAtemp Review

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Stylish, portable, and fast, we check out Oyen Digital's external NVMe SSD: the Helix Dura!

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In years gone by, we lamented the limits of capacity. We cheered at the thought of 30 whole gigabytes of storage, blind to the speed our games and applications loaded. Time, as it often does, kept moving forwards. We now find ourselves in an age of capacity beyond what we can reasonably expect to fill, and shift our focus to dizzying new heights. We find ourselves in an age of speed.

As flowery as that may sound, SSDs are swiftly becoming the norm as we prioritise speed over raw capacity for our everyday activities. While you'll find them an essential component of any modern gaming PC, their potential is often overlooked as external storage. It's here Oyen Digital aim to join the ranks of Seagate and Samsung among others in delivering a quality and speedy choice for your portable storage needs.

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Out of the box, the Helix Dura looks incredibly sleek. With what they describe to be a shockproof heat-sink design, wrapped in a silicon rubber sleeve, it is perhaps the most durable storage device I've ever owned. To say I'd be comfortable leaving it loose in my bag would be an understatement; I don't think I'd bat an eye dropping this off a bridge. Having never owned an NVMe SSD before, the form factor also stood out to me. Compared to your standard 2.5 inch SSD, it's remarkably tiny, coming in at around half the width. Between the durability and size alone, you have two great arguments for picking this over your more standard portable drives, and even your slightly less standard 2.5 inch portable SSDs. It feels like a device built to last, and Oyen clearly think so too with a four year warranty backing it up. Of course, durability is only half of the problem. The driving factor behind a purchase such as this is, as you might expect, the speed. I wasn't disappointed.

On the official store page, you can find descriptions outlining the kind of speeds you're to expect, advertising up to 980 MB/s, with a screenshot of their own tests showing 945 MB/s write speed and 964 MB/s read speed. Putting it to the test myself with a delightfully-themed CrystalDiskMark via a USB 3.1 port, I can say they're bang on. Hitting just above the advertised speeds for both read and write, the Helix Dura does what it sets out to. In my brief time with this SSD, I've used it for a fun variety of things.

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Between backing up and subsequently playing my media library, it faced no issues. You wouldn't expect it to when Oyen themselves advertise it as a device for A/V professionals. It's at this point it hit me. I have a whole terabyte to play with, why not just install an operating system on it? Using it as an excuse to finally try Linux, I managed to install a few different distributions to it as I found my feet, each surprising me in just how snappily they ran. If I hadn't the cable trailing from my laptop, I wouldn't have known I was running from an external drive. Its performance really did impress me as what I would describe as an average user.

As for the SSD under the hood, the Helix Dura sporting a Mushkin Pilot (MKNSSDPL1TB-D8). Knowing the SSD inside helps us then look at the price, and see to what degree the parts add up. This particular SSD coming in around $160, and NVMe enclosures ranging from $25 to $60 on Amazon, not to mention the warranty on top, I don't think you're getting a bad deal. With the Helix Dura, you have a drive that's built to last, with the performance to back up the price point. For those looking to expand their external storage horizons, I can recommend it without hesitation, and look forward to seeing what Oyen Digital do next.

Verdict

What We Liked ...
  • Performs as advertised
  • Incredibly sturdy
  • Heat-sink design
  • Four year warranty
What We Didn't Like ...
  • Can be easy to lose with its compact size!
9
out of 10

Overall

The Helix Dura is a fine choice for anybody after a speedy external storage solution. Performing as advertised in both read and write speeds, its compact and sturdy design contribute to a product of quality, backed confidently by a four year warranty. If speed is a requirement for your external needs, look no further.
Ah, a small, portable SSD? How much would the option with the most capacity co-

*sees $350 on Amazon for the one with the most storage (even though I think even 2TB isn't gonna be enough for the ninth generation of consoles/games)*

 
Ah, a small, portable SSD? How much would the option with the most capacity co-

*sees $350 on Amazon for the one with the most storage (even though I think even 2TB isn't gonna be enough for the ninth generation of consoles/games)*

Aye it's the kinda thing that'll inevitably come down in price. I remember the days where getting a 64 GB Micro SD was completely off the table because they were extortion, it's wild how fast the times move on.
 
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International, specifically Australasia, shipping? A lot of products don't have this, which is stupid really; leaving a significant number of potential customers out. Not what I call "smart business", that, considering profit is all businesses care about.
 
I would want to open it up and check what the actual SSD is. Some of them have a piss poor life span.

True true, but I expect SSD's in this day and age to be quite solid

International, specifically Australasia, shipping? A lot of products don't have this, which is stupid really; leaving a significant number of potential customers out. Not what I call "smart business", that, considering profit is all businesses care about.

oh hey buying anything here is costly as well
 
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True true, but I expect SSD's in this day and age to be quite solid



oh hey buying anything here is costly as well
But they aren't. Some of them have like 45% of the lifespan of a competitor. Of course you probably moved on from it before it reach the lifespan. But some of them also got less retention on keeping the electricity (your data).
 
oh hey buying anything here is costly as well
Yeah, but it still sucks to be unable to buy something because it's locked to the American Amazon instead of Amazon.com.au, or unable to buy a textebook for university because Vitalsource Bookshelf only has the ebook available in the American store and not the Australian store and I can't find the specific ebook anywhere else since university doesn't provide textbooks for their students yet expect me to read from it regardless so finding it is somewhat important ARGH.

...The textebook will be useless in half a year, so what's the point? Seems like just a waste of money to me, when they could provide PowerPoint slides detailing the important stuff, and most subjects rely on that or Cisco instead of actual textbooks/textebooks.

Anyway, yeah. Stuff should not be locked to the American market. If I want to buy something from an American online store (especially if said store can provide stock for the Australian store - "shipped from Amazon US") I should be able to, unless it's like a gun or whatever. A particular gaming mouse, or headphones, or portable SSD, or an ebook, I should be able to get shipped from the American store. The fact that I can't with specific products is just batshit-crazy to me, since the companies are losing my business.
 
But they aren't. Some of them have like 45% of the lifespan of a competitor. Of course you probably moved on from it before it reach the lifespan. But some of them also got less retention on keeping the electricity (your data).

I avoided like the first gen of ssds that were on the market so they could work out the kinks, I assume they would use a decent brand
 
do you even read reviews
Devil's Advocate here, but how do we know if it's actually that, and the reviewer didn't mix it up with some other, similar, product and product ID?
Is the product name and ID printed on the SSD's casing? If so, do we have a photo of said printing? If not, and again I'm currently a devil's advocate, how are we supposed to know it's actually a Mushkin Pilot (MKNSSDPL1TB-D8)? And not, I don't know, a Mushkin Copilot (MKNSSEQM1TB-D9)?

We still need to see at least a photo showing it opened up to check the actual SSD, says a devil's advocate.
 
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Devil's Advocate here, but how do we know if it's actually that, and the reviewer didn't mix it up with some other, similar, product and product ID?
Is the product name and ID printed on the SSD's casing? If so, do we have a photo of said printing? If not, and again I'm currently a devil's advocate, how are we supposed to know it's actually a Mushkin Pilot (MKNSSDPL1TB-D8)? And not, I don't know, a Mushkin Copilot (MKNSSEQM1TB-D9)?

We still need to see at least a photo showing it opened up to check the actual SSD, says a devil's advocate.
why would i ruin a perfectly good ssd when i can get the information from crystaldiskinfo?
 
why would i ruin a perfectly good ssd when i can get the information from crystaldiskinfo?
You mean that program with the cute anime kimono girl (...why does it have this?)? I don't see the SSD model name and ID there, just a bunch of numbers, says a clueless devil's advocate - to the person who wrote the review, and I only just realised that. Oops. :blink:
 
I could see this being awesome for a Pi media box for my parents. They don’t have the room for a large HDD enclosure behind the TV, so this could actually work. Bit overkill maybe, but I like the idea.
 
I could see this being awesome for a Pi media box for my parents. They don’t have the room for a large HDD enclosure behind the TV, so this could actually work. Bit overkill maybe, but I like the idea.

There's the Sabrent Rocket Nano that's similar to this, but it's a HDD as opposed to an SSD.
 
Aye it's the kinda thing that'll inevitably come down in price. I remember the days where getting a 64 GB Micro SD was completely off the table because they were extortion, it's wild how fast the times move on.
Reminds me of when I first started reading Maximum PC around 10 years ago. According to their reviews, a 256 GB SSD went for around $750. In the same vein, I'm pretty sure some of today's 2 TB drives are cheaper than the 256 GB drive I bought 6 years ago.
 
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If you think that's tiny, you'd be amazed at the size of a bare m.2 drive. It's barely bigger than a stick of gum, it really is astounding. But they do have some cooling requirements, and in an external enclosure that lacks any active cooling (air flow), they have to compensate with a heatsink instead, increasing the overall size.

Flash drives are great as they're small, cheap, disposable items, I would be worried about losing something like this due to the much higher price, as well as storing a much larger amount of data, which may be important data, making it all the worse to lose it all.
Not that that should stop anyone from buying an external m.2 SSD if they really want one. Just keep it in a good place where you remember where it is (and not a "seems like a good place but you can never remember where the hell it is when you need it" place)

That being said, I would love to see someone somehow minimizing cooling requirements to where the SSD can fit into a standard USB stick form factor, and then it would also be small enough to fit on a keychain without much trouble, so it would be harder to lose as well. There definitely is something to be said for having a TB or more of storage in your pocket at all times. Never know when someone might want your help to back up some data before reformatting or selling off/trashing an old PC, but they don't have an external HDD to store it on, or you're at a friends' place and they have all the episodes of *insert show here* downloaded and your internet at home is kind of slow, conveniently you have a SSD in your pocket and you can just copy it over in an hour or less. It's something you can live without but in all likelihood once you have it, you will never want to be without it again due to how convenient it is.
 
Also, the OS idea is a good one. You could basically keep a full OS install with all your data on this and rather than bringing a laptop with you, if you know you're going somewhere you can borrow a PC you just need to plug the SSD in and boot straight from it.
But Linux and its programs don't take up that much space so 1TB seems like a lot of wasted space. Windows would be a better fit, but even these days, Windows does not play nicely with USB drives and relies on 3rd party solutions, back in the day that was BartPE, these days it's WinToUSB or similar. At the very least I think WinToUSB has proper driver support, something BartPE was lacking which meant you could never get graphics or audio drivers working, making it rather limited for general use. So WinToUSB for all intents and purposes should work the same as a normal Windows 10 install.
 
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Those read/write speeds seem great for a portable storage solution, but it seems like USB 3.1 without Thunderbolt compatibility is a real bottleneck compared to what on-board 2280 slots can pull out of an NVMe drive.

HOWEVER - this has a very agreeable price for a 500GB drive considering what it is. You'd be spending $30 - $55 just for a sketchy enclosure that I wouldn't trust a high-end SSD to. I'm thinking it won't be an incredibly long time before TB3 enclosures become more affordable (only ones I saw that was pushing ~3GB/s is $130 on amazon for only the enclosure.)

I'd say this would be absolutely great for consoles if it wasn't liable to send the drive to an early grave, but 2280 NVMe drives at 500GB aren't too expensive if you just went with another cheapie anyway, and if you kept it waiting in the wings and regularly backing up your first into the second you wouldn't miss a beat once the first dies.
 
Those read/write speeds seem great for a portable storage solution, but it seems like USB 3.1 without Thunderbolt compatibility is a real bottleneck compared to what on-board 2280 slots can pull out of an NVMe drive.

HOWEVER - this has a very agreeable price for a 500GB drive considering what it is. You'd be spending $30 - $55 just for a sketchy enclosure that I wouldn't trust a high-end SSD to. I'm thinking it won't be an incredibly long time before TB3 enclosures become more affordable (only ones I saw that was pushing ~3GB/s is $130 on amazon for only the enclosure.)

I'd say this would be absolutely great for consoles if it wasn't liable to send the drive to an early grave, but 2280 NVMe drives at 500GB aren't too expensive if you just went with another cheapie anyway, and if you kept it waiting in the wings and regularly backing up your first into the second you wouldn't miss a beat once the first dies.
Oh gosh I'm sorry I forgot to add that it DOES have Thunderbolt 3 compatibility! I was just unable to test it because my laptop's Thunderbolt port is a little sketchy when it comes to any device that tries to use it to its full potential (the port surges, nasty stuff).
 
Oh gosh I'm sorry I forgot to add that it DOES have Thunderbolt 3 compatibility! I was just unable to test it because my laptop's Thunderbolt port is a little sketchy when it comes to any device that tries to use it to its full potential (the port surges, nasty stuff).

Well send it my way, I'll test it for you on my laptop and desktop :rofl2:

Edit: Do you see yourself putting any heavy use on this thing? I'd like to see how it's doing after a few months. I wouldn't mind buying this, running the drive into the ground and putting in a WD or samsung drive after failure to see how one of those performs.
 
Don't use this shit for long term >10 year storage. You should know nand flash gate charge degrades over time. So dont put it on your shelf and forget it.
 
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