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Coler Master X-craft eSATA External HDD Enclosure
Topic Started: Jul 29 2007, 10:23 AM (303 Views)
Zybch
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Normally external drive enclosures have just a single USB socket (sometimes firewire or LAN) as the only way to connect them to your computer. The X-craft has this, but also a 2 port USB hub (so you don't have to sacrifice any of the USB ports on your PC) and whats really cool, an eSATA connection.

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eSATA is literally a direct extension of your motherboard's internal SATA connection, routed to the back of your case with a special cable.
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eSata is slightly different to an internal SATA connector, so you have to use a special eSATA cable (which has extra shielding and is quite a bit thicker).

The really cool thing about the eSATA capability is that the drive literally runs as fast as if it was mounted internally. USB2.0 maxes out at around 35-40Mb/sec (if you're lucky) and most enclosures are usually a lot less, eSATA through, runs at whatever speed your motherboard's SATA controller allows, generally 1.5Gb/sec or 3Gb/sec.

Because of this its possible to run your entire computer through the external drive so you literally have an internal HDD-less computer.


The whole thing is screwless (which I don't like) and there is a thermal pad on the underside of the top part of the case which helps transfer heat away from your drive to the aluminium case.
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The bottom of the case is primarily a mesh grill to allow for added cooling, and as you can see the unit can be mounted vertically with a detachable stand.
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Installation of the drive is not what I'd call ideal. The drive itself drops onto 4 spring-loaded pins which fit into the screw holes on the underside of the drive, then you just attach the SATA power and data cables to the drive. This is the bit I don't like, as the sata cable is not flexible enough and you have to apply quite a bit of force when sliding the enclosure's cover on! For some reasons, Cooler Master decided to use a round SATA cable instead of a flat ribbon one which would have been a lot better.
Because of the lack of flex in the cable, the case doesn't really fit together as well as it should, and because it just uses a single clip at the back to hold everything in place the flex makes everything sit just a bit out of line. Screws would have solved this problem.

The front of the case has a blue LED illuminated Cooler Master logo which flashes purple/red when there is any drive accessing. It is also a push-button which initiates an automated backup program (provided) that lets you do full and/or incremental backups of selected drives or folders.

I installed a Samsung 750Gb hard drive easily. Data transfer with USB was as slow as expected, but using eSATA it was as fast as if I'd installed the drive internally.

Temperature got pretty high. Even with the cooling pad and bottom ventilation the enclosure got well above 50C and the inclusion of a cooling fan would have been a good idea. I eventually mounted a small USB fan to one of the rear USB ports and by having it pointed at the top of the case the temps dropped right down.

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The main letdowns were the whole screwless thing and inflexible SATA cable, and the lack of a fan which resulted in temps too high for my liking.
The eSATA capability is great though, and the unit itself looks nice. The backup button thing is something I'll probably never use but its nice to know its there (it will only work with the drive connected via USB).

Build Quality
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Transfer Speed
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Cost
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Overall Value
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Product page at Cooler Master
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herosrest
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Cool if this goes standard for new build m/c's, carry your os with you.
lt will probably be strangled or cobbled about and possibly raise licencing issues.
l have long been a fan of potable storage in its many incarnations.

NEAT REVIEW. :drop:
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Zybch
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Well a lot of new motherboards have the eSATA connector near the USB ports.
The speed over standard USB 2 ports is huge.
From around 10-15Mb/sec to over 40 with the eSATA.
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