OWC has introduced a new adapter that allows you to build a 2.5-inch U.2 SSD using a mainstream NVMe M.2 drive. The U2 ShuttleOne adapter maintains key advantages that a U.2 SSD has for typical users, yet it comes at a fraction of U.2 drive pricing.
OWC's U2 ShuttleOne is essentially a 2.5-inch/15-mm metal box that can house an M.2-2280 SSD (one of the best SSDs, perhaps?). The adapter packs a rather simplistic motherboard with an M.2-2280 slot, a power management IC (PMIC), and a set of capacitors to enable hot pluggability.
The adapter essentially connects a drive to an SFF-8639 connector, supporting all speeds featured by a U.2 interface (i.e., up to 8 GB/s supported by a PCIe 4.0 x4 interface).
U.2 SSDs are typically positioned for enterprise, mission-critical, and workstation applications, so they are pretty expensive compared to regular M.2-2280 drives. Unlike M.2 SSDs for client PCs, U.2 drives feature higher endurance, higher sustained performance, high capacity, considerably better cooling, hot pluggability, and ruggedness.
But U.2 drives aren't only used in the data center. There are many creators (and other types of users) that need to transfer large files from one PC to another quite often and they don't need enterprise grade-endurance or extreme capacity but can appreciate all the other features, such as performance and ruggedness. The U2 ShuttleOne is designed just for this kind of user.
OWC's U2 ShuttleOne is $44.99. The price difference between an M.2-2280 and a U.2 SSD is considerably higher. Meanwhile, a U.2 ShuttleOne populated with a 480GB SSD costs $149.
A U2 ShuttleOne can be plugged into any U.2-supporting backplane, including a workstation with an appropriate slot, a server, a NAS, or a DAS.