Enermax Laureate EB205U external notebook HDD enclosure

Storage
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METRICS

The Enermax EB205U + Samsung drive felt quick, noticeably quicker than USB flash drives for moving any files bigger than ~100 MB. The speed difference may have been there for smaller files too, but it wasn't as easily noticed.

Some HD Tach performance and AC power draw measurements were done with the EB205U + Samsung drive in a desktop PC as well as a laptop. A USB flash drive and a 200G 3.5" drive were also tested under the same conditions for comparison.

EB205U + Samsung MP0402H versus...
Storage Device
EB205U /
Samsung MP0402H
SanDisk Cruzer Mini 512 MB
Samsung P120 SP2004C 200GB†
Random Access
17.4 ms
14.6 ms
14.6 ms
Avg Sequential Read
23.3 MB/s
8.7 MB/s
50.9 MB/s
Power Draw*
+3W~6W
~1W
+11~16W
Noise (SPL)
17~20 dBA@1m
none
21~24 dBA@1m
* The AC power to the entire system was measured. Shown is the additional power that inserting and using the drive in idle / seek caused the system to draw from the AC outlet.
This Samsung 3.5" / 7200 rpm / 8 MB cache / SATA drive was added to an existing desktop PC.

POWER QUESTIONS

There are some practical power-related considerations about using the EB205U. The main question is how much power can be pulled from a USB 2.0 port.

As far as I can tell, USB ports are specified to provide a maximum of 500mA at 5V, or 2.5W. This is fine with true USB 2.0 “powered bus” ports. Unpowered USB Hubs and most after-market USB 2.0 PC CardBus cards will not provide the necessary 5-volts. The EB205U + Samsung MP0402H combo worked perfectly fine with about a half dozen desktop PCs with motherboards ranging in vintage from current to almost three years old. Using the USB ports on the I/O panel of the motherboard ensured reliable connection every time.

Interestingly, Samsung 40 GB drive has the following power requirements:

Startup / Typical / Low power idle
5W / 2.5W / 0.85W

So the specified startup peak power draw is double what USB 2.0 is specified to provide. The Samsung in the EB205U always started without problems when inserted directly to a motherboard USB header or expansion slots connected to the internal motherboard USB pins — like the USB ports on the front or back panel of most PCs. With unpowered extension cables, it did not always work, however. The extra contact point and length of the extension cable may cause enough of a voltage drop to prevent the drive from powering up. The very short USB 2.0 cable supplied with the EB205U may be very deliberate, to avoid voltage loss.

A check of all the major hard drive makers' specifications revealed that virtually all the 5400 RPM parallel ATA notebook drives are rated for 5W or lower startup power. SATA models usually take a bit more power, but that's moot because the EB205U does not accept SATA drives. Seagate's 7200 RPM drives are also 5W at startup. Hitachi's 7200 RPM drives are the only ones that went higher: 5.5W. So, in general, it would appear that just about any current notebook would work fine when used directly into a USB 2.0 port without an extender or unpowered hub. Unfortunately, I didn't have a powered hub to tell you how that works. From a mobile point of view, that's hardly serious, but my guess is that it would probably work fine..

CONCLUSIONS

You must know by now what I am thinking about the Enermax Laureate EB205U:

  • Its suggested retail price is just $22.
  • Add a $61 notebook drive and you have 40GB of imminently portable storage that does not need its own power cord.
  • It provides faster performance than any other portable storage device.
  • Choose a quiet notebook drive, and noise is just not an issue.
  • $83 for 40 GB is a price/storage ratio that's not even close to beatable for any other small portable storage.
  • The EB205U + a notebook drive in the supplied soft pouch is ready for the shocks and bumps of the road.
  • Fits easily into inside jacket pocket meant for mobile phone.

What's not to like?


Ready to take the storage road.

Thanks to Coolergiant Computers Inc. for the Enermax Laureate EB205U sample and for bringing our attention to this storage option.

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Discuss this article in the SPCR Forum.



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