Apricorn is one of the most reputable names in the secure storage business, and their latest launch is the Aegis Secure Key 3NXC. It is essentially the same as the existing Aegis Secure Key 3NX, but the USB-A port is now USB-C.
While other brands have shifted to app-controlled Bluetooth based drives, this is a traditional keypad based drive. While more basic, it offers the advantage of being completely software free. You manage everything via the keypad on the drive, and when it is unlocked, you just plug it into any device you want, and it will work like any other USB drive.
Specification & Features
- Data Transfer Rate: USB 3.0 – up to 5 Gbps
- First USB 3.2 Encrypted Flash Key with C-type Connector
- FIPS 140-2 level 3 Validation pending
- AES-XTS 256-bit encryption
- IP-68 protection
- On-the-Fly 100% Hardware-Based Encryption
- Software-Free Setup and Operation
- Cross-Platform Compatible
- Host-Free Onboard Keypad Authentication
- Rugged Extruded Aluminum Enclosure
- Can be Set as Fixed Disk or Removable Media
- Sizes: 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB
Like all keypad based secure drives, setting the device up requires lots of button pressing in the right order. While it is quite easy to do, you need to read the instructions and follow them properly.
The device has a built-in battery, so everything is done with the USB stick unplugged, it would be a nightmare to use otherwise.
Initial use requires you to set up an admin user, from there you can set up secondary users, so you can safely give employees access to the data on the drive without risking them locking you out of it.
In use & Performance
With everything set up, all you need to do to use the drive is to wake it up with the unlock key, type in your password and hit unlock again. When you plug the drive into the PC is should work just like any other USB drive. The data is encrypted on the fly via the built-in encryption chip, so there is no additional software required at all.
Performance is decent enough, encrypted drives tend to perform a bit worse than normal drives due to that on the fly encryption, but this achieved 66MB/s read and 16MB/s write using Crystal Disk. Real-life transfers using a large zip file hit just over 40MB/s and stayed flat at that speed.
As soon as you unplug the drive, it automatically locks.
I have recently covered Bluetooth based drives from iStorage and SecureDrive. I wouldn’t say one solution is better than another, but one key difference for me is the convenience of unlocking. I can have a Bluetooth drive plugged into the back of my PC all the time and unlock it remotely. It is not a huge difference, and if you predominantly work from a laptop, it quite likely is quicker to use a keypad.
Works with phones
One advantage this has is it will work with your phone, again without having to mess around trying to find an adaptor. With it unlocked I can plug it into my Huawei P40 Pro, and it works like any other USB drive. You can then use this for secure backups from your phone, such as photos etc.
Price and Alternative
|Apricorn ASK3-NXC-4GB||£55.00||Buy on Amazon|
|Apricorn ASK3-NXC-8GB||£64.00||Buy on Amazon|
|iStorage datAshur PRO 4 GB Secure Flash Drive FIPS 140-2...||£57.16||Buy on Amazon|
With this being the only USB-C drive, there is no like for like alternatives, but anyone with a USB-C only laptop will likely have an adaptor.
The 4GB model I was sent is quite affordable at £47 direct from Apricorn. Amazon is less attractive at £55 or £64 for the 8GB model.
This has the same price as the Aegis Secure Key 3NX 4GB, so Aegis is not charging a premium here.
Unfortunately, Apricorn is US-based so when attempting to buy the drive from the Apricorn you have to pay a ludicrous £110.67 FedEx shipping fee.
Simms International is currently the sole distributor for Apricorn products in the UK but they don’t have an easy way to buy online (you have to ask for a quote. The other official European suppliers will sell the drive, but these all work out more expensive than the Amazon price.
iStorage datAshur is a FIPS 140-2 Level 3 drive from £36.32 for 4GB, or the datAshur PRO 4GB is £48 which offers USB3.0 and up to 116/43 MBps transfer speeds.
Apricorn have always been one of the best companies to opt for when buying secure storage, and this applies here.
The 3NXC ticks all the boxes you could want for security FIPS 140-2 level 3, AES-XTS 256-bit encryption and IP-68 are about as good as it gets for commercially available drives.
The USB-C connection makes it stand out from the crowd, and if you have a particular need for this, then it is a lot more convenient than carrying around an adaptor.
The only viable option for UK buyers is via Amazon, and you pay quite a large premium compared to competing for USB-A drives from other companies. For the 4GB model, it is not a massive amount of money, and I don’t think you should cheap out with securing your data, but it is certainly worth considering.
Overall, this is a good drive, it is offers extremely high levels of security, is easy to use and tiny, making it easy enough to carry around with your anywhere.
Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3NXC Encrypted USB-C drive review rating
Excellent hardware, being the worlds first secure USB-C flash drive. It is easy to use and offers an exceptional level of security.
For UK buyers, the pricing is a little off compared to similarly secure drives from other brands (albeit USB-A drives)
Overall - 70%
- USB-C drive which also works with phones
- FIPS 140-2 level 3
- Easy to use
- Overpriced in the UK
Last update on 2021-05-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API