When you use an Atomos recorder like the Shogun or Ninja Assassin, there’s no getting around using those Master Caddy II cartridges. Kind of a hassle, they’re not tool-less, with four tiny screws that need a screwdriver. Other than adding a layer of plastic protection, they don’t really do much, and become disconnected easily, as they merely use the same standard flimsy SATA drive connector designed for use inside of a computer case.
There’s always been the Atomos Powered Docking Station product that mates your Master Caddy II with your computer via USB 3.0 using its single main blue plug, or USB 2.0 using the included pair of plugs. Even at faster USB 3.0, which has a maximum theoretical speed of 5 gigabits per second, the Atomos Powered Dock has often been dogged with the suspicion that it’s a bottleneck, slowing down transfers. It might be the internal USB 3.0 controller, or something else; but rather than figuring out the reason, I thought I’d run it through some tests and let the data speak for itself.
Problem is, that Master Caddy II also increases the height and width of the cartridge surrounding the standard SATA connection, so you can’t just plug it into a typical 2.5″ hard drive dock. You can’t even plug in a standard internal SATA connector, because it won’t go in all the way as the caddy recesses the connector a bit. So, to do this test, I had to go through the hassle of unscrewing the four caddy screws, and remove the hard drive for testing.
The most simple but also ideally spec’ed tool for this is by Sabrent, seen in this picture, which plugs straight into the bare 2.5″ SSD, and terminates in a USB 3.0 plug (also the additional USB 2.0 connector for more power, if necessary). It features a protocol called UASP that may or may not be available to you, depending on (for example) your computer’s motherboard, for up to 20 percent faster speeds.
Connected into the Sabrent, my SSD holding numerous Atomos Shogun files performed appreciably faster, as seen in my actual benchmark report above. However, the speed improvement was mainly in the write speed category, which is far less important for the primary reason you’d hook up your Master Caddy II: you’re only reading from it most of the time, to ingest footage onto your hard drive for editing.
You can verify this above by comparing my benchmark using the Atomos Powered Docking Station, where the write speeds are considerably slower. Are these tests of much practical value? Not really. First, you still can’t plug the Sabrent Adapter straight into the SSD when it’s screwed into a Master Caddy II – though it would have been nice to use the Sabrent instead, because of its faster speeds, UASP compatibility, and more portable form factor. Second, and again: this isn’t really a workflow for writing onto your SSD, mostly just reading from it for ingesting media, so the speed gain isn’t such a big deal anyway. But I’m glad I checked this out, hoping you find it useful too – and please let me know if you’ve gotten different test results using other products.