It is currently Mon Sep 01, 2014 2:42 pm

All times are UTC - 8 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 19 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: External fanless hard drive enclosure - USB, Firewire, SATA
PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2005 4:14 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:24 am
Posts: 47
As part of my backup strategy I want to use an external WD3200JB PATA 320Gbyte disk (good price/capacity point, acceptable performance, and quiet enough with AAM enabled) . I'm thinking it should be possible to put this drive (which is meant to be cooler running) in a fanless aluminum external hard drive enclosure with a USB 2.0 connector. Some mods may be required eg making a better thermal contact between the drive and the enclosure.

Searching around, I found this Thermaltake Muse A2292 Aluminum 3.5" USB2.0 External Enclosure:
http://www.thermaltake.com/enclosures/a2292muse35/a2292.htm
It is not too pricey (about $48 ), the reviews seem positive, it is all aluminum, and it uses a reasonable IDE/USB bridge chip. Only downside appears to be it's a short (1m/3ft) USB cable and a trashy looking meter!

Does anyone have experience with this unit, or alternative suggestions? I've searched around but nearly all units have fans, and previous enclosures I've owned have had VERY noisy fans!

(Edited title to reflect information drift in post)


Last edited by akerr63 on Thu Dec 08, 2005 11:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2005 4:37 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2003 10:29 am
Posts: 2299
Location: Bellevue, Nebraska
i personally will never buy, nore endorse anything made by thermaltake. everything they make is garbage, and most of it is just cheep immatation ripoffs of some other company's products.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2005 10:11 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:24 am
Posts: 47
Did some more research and found a few other common units. The Bytecc page has more detailed specifications, so you know what you get. The reviews for all units seem to be favorable. including warm cases, indicating heat is disipating!

Bytecc ME-350U2(V3) (note - version 3) - about $30
http://www.byteccusa.com/product/enclosure/ME-740B.htm

Bytecc ME-740U2FB (note - B version!) - about $42, USB+Firewire
http://www.byteccusa.com/product/enclosure/ME-350V3.htm

Vantec NexStar 3 NST-360U2-BK - about $38
http://www.vantecusa.com/product-storage.html#

I'll probably make a choice tomorrow night, unless I receive other comments, and I'll post a short review when I get it running.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2005 12:21 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:24 am
Posts: 47
I did some more research, and summarized it here in case this helps anyone else, and also so I can refer to my notes again!

Fanless enclosures are currently widely available with USB 2.0 and/or IEEE 1394a (Firewire 400) interfaces. With a good bridge chipset implementation, both will have similar real world transfer rates, except that USB will place a higher load on the CPU than 1394a. The bulk of the market and therefore the cost effective products have these interfaces eg Bytecc, Rosewill, Vantec, etc.

There is a limited selection of more expensive IEEE 1394b (Firewire 800) enclosures. These provide a significantly higher transfer rate then either USB 2.0 or 1394a, if you have the appropriate adapter card in your PC. The Rosewill RX30-U2FAB uses the Oxford 922 chipset and provides 1394b, 1394a, and USB 2.0 interfaces for about $100 ($85 on sale at Newegg today). The RX30-U2FAB appears to be the USA import of the Pleiades 800+. However on the Rosewill page it states this enclosure only supports up to 300 Gbyte hard drives. I think this is an obsolete statement but I have not been able to verify otherwise. Note: If you are running WinXP SP2 read this Microsoft support bulliten ”Performance of 1394 devices may decrease after you install Windows XP Service Pack 2” to restore full 1394b transfer speed.

There are also some enclosures with a SATA I (1.5 Gb/s, SATA-150) interface, using the internal SATA type L connector. This is a stop-gap solution until the pure eSATA solutions are available (see below). SATA hot-plug requires both a hard drive that supports hot-plug and a hot-plug capable drive controller. It appears that the VIA southbridge VT8237 is not hot-plug compatible (from what I read, did not test). The Coolgear SATA or IDE COMBO SATA + Firewire + USB 2.0 enclosure (listed here and here for about $60 interfaces a PATA or SATA hard drive to SATA I type L, 1394a, or USB 2.0 interfaces.

The ideal (and just emerging solution) is the eSATA interface with SATA II (rev 1.0a or later chipset). eSATA is designed for external use outside the PC case, and supports hot-plug with the newer chipsets (unless the vendor is just using eSATA physical connectors with SATA I chipsets). eSATA uses a type I connector, which is shielded and physically stronger than the internal type L connectors. The ideal solution would be an enclosure with eSATA and USB 2.0, allowing fast transfer on one PC with an installed adapter card, and connectivity on all other PCs. Products I found in this category, including some not released yet, are:
    An inexpensive SATA II adapter card of unknown performance. Looks like it uses a SiS chipset: SS-108SE for $30.
    The Oxford 924 DSB chipset can be used to implement enclosures with eSATA II 1.5 Gb/s, 1394b, USB 2.0 interfaces to a enclosed SATA II hard drive.
    The Vantec NST-360SU connects a SATA hard drive to eSATA or USB 2.0 interfaces. Currently listed for pre-order here and here for about $45. This appears to be a USA import of the Welland ME-740J. Bytecc seems to import from this manufacturer too (by comparing case styles).
    The Pleiades Super S-Combo uses the Oxford 924 DSB chipset to interface a SATA drive to eSATA, 1394b, 1394a, or USB 2.0 ports. Presumably this will turn up as a Rosewill product.
    This product supports both PATA and SATA hard drives to eSATA and USB 2.0 interfaces. It supports hot-plug. Don’t know who the USA importer would be.
    The G-DRIVE Q is a complete external drive (includes a drive) and uses the Oxford 924 DSB chipset to provide eSATA, 1394b, 1394a, and USB 2.0 interfaces. Prices for a 250 Mbyte unit is $289.
Based on this I now think I'm going to wait a month or so and purchase an eSATA/USB 2.0 enclosure so I can connect with eSATA and get much faster large backups.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 9:13 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:24 am
Posts: 47
Reviewing web comments on Firewire enclosures, there are many reports of data corruption and other issues when using drives in enclosures over Firewire interfaces. A common problem is delayed write failure (DWF). More details here.

The Oxford 911 chipset had these issues but it appears that the current firmware fixes the problems.

The Prolific PL-3507 (PL3507) chip also has many reported corruption/failure problems, but the newer firmware seems to be fixing most (but perhaps not all?) of them. Also note that there are multiple versions of the PL-3507 chip. If you want Firewire booting you need at least a rev C chip. The rev C chip also supports drives larger than 400 Gbytes.

Finally this Microsoft bulletin may help: "You experience problems when you disconnect a single IEEE 1394 device from a computer that is running Windows XP SP2".


Last edited by akerr63 on Thu Dec 08, 2005 9:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 9:18 am 
Offline
*Lifetime Patron*

Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2003 2:51 am
Posts: 1464
Location: Elk Grove, CA
By all means, use whatever firewire that you have. It's just that using the OXford chipset will achieve the highest transfer rates that i have ever seen in all the firewire drives out there, especially in the DIY firewire enclosures.

_________________
My Pretty Black P180 Rig .:drool:.
"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of mad silence." -acaurora


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 12:04 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:24 am
Posts: 47
An excellent external hard drive enclosure summary, recommendations, and discussion is listed on FatWallet: ”The official external ENCLOSURE thread”. Also a listing of enclosures with Oxford chipsets (apta’s post, valid in August 2005, subject to change).

Potential issues include:The conclusion seems to be that the best external enclosure uses the Oxford 911 for Firewire and a Cypress chipset for USB 2.0. However enclosures that I can find using this combination seem to only support up to 300 Gbyte drives.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 8:00 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2003 4:23 pm
Posts: 65
Location: Sydney, Australia
Akerr,

Thanks for such a thorough summary! You've saved me about a week of work :)

Takre care,
Tim.

_________________
Asus A7N8X-Deluxe rev2 | XP2800 @ 1.60V, 10x210Mhz | Thermalrite SLK947U, 92mm L1A @ 6V | 2x256MB Corsair XMS3700 @ DDR420 |
2x SP1213Ns in RAID0 | SLK3700BQE, 120mm L1A @ 5V | Radeon 9600Pro 256MB w/ ACVS rev3 | 485W Enermax EG495P-VE-SFMA + 80mm M1A


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2005 12:37 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:24 am
Posts: 47
Finally got an e-mail reply back directly from Rosewill. The RX30-U2FAB, which uses the Oxford 922 chipset and provides 1394b, 1394a, and USB 2.0 interfaces (and I think is an import of the Pleiades 800+) supports drives up to 500 Gbytes (in contrast to the note on their website).


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2005 4:06 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:24 am
Posts: 47
Many (all?) 1394b / Firewire 800 PCI cards only support 1394a / Firewire 400 (S400/S200/S100) speeds when installed in a 33MHz/32-bit PCI slot. They only support S800 when installed in 64-bit PCI slot. This seems to be a generally reported problem, which pretty much makes it a waste of money to buy Firewire 800 enclosures unless your motherboard supports 64-bit PCI or PCI-X etc.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2005 7:58 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat Jul 09, 2005 6:56 pm
Posts: 23
Location: Marin, CA
I personally have two of these, and I love them. They mount the HD's via soft rubber gromits, which helps on the noise. It also comes with both firewire & USB, squashing that whole compatability problem.

(Plus, I think it looks nice.)

_________________
RITTER | SLK3700BQE, TruePower 330, Athlon 64 3200 @ 1.10v (w/ Zalman 7000b @ 5v), Asus A8V, 1GB Corsair Value, ATI AIW 9600XT (w/ Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer @ 5v), WD800JB[/size]


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2005 11:47 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2003 6:54 am
Posts: 3009
Location: Sweden
I think USB + eSATA looks like the best combination, works everywhere and you'll get nice speeds at home. Vantec Nextar 3 looks good.
One questions though, have you seen any cables + connector for getting eSATA out of a regular SATA connector on a mobo? It has to be SATA2 IIRC, or am I wrong?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2005 8:03 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:24 am
Posts: 47
I've seen enclosures that are both SATA I and SATA II, and with L type and I type connectors! So be careful which options you get. If you want SATA II eSATA (type I) connectors I think this is what you want: http://store.yahoo.com/cooldrives/dual- ... a-ii-.html


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2005 10:49 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2005 12:17 am
Posts: 105
Location: Helsinki, Finland
A few months ago I bought an AgeStar CFB3A1 enclosure, it has USB/Firewire/SATAI ports using some version of the PL3507 chip. So far I've been happy with it, I'm using it through firewire to store disk images and backups.

The deciding factor about the enclosure for me was that it has internal connections for both IDE and SATA. Heat transfer to all-aluminium frame is excellent due to hard mounting to the sides although seek noise is quite terrible. Then again, I'm only keeping the drive on when doing backups so the noise isn't a big issue.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2005 11:46 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2005 8:20 pm
Posts: 6
Mats wrote:
I think USB + eSATA looks like the best combination, works everywhere and you'll get nice speeds at home. Vantec Nextar 3 looks good.
One questions though, have you seen any cables + connector for getting eSATA out of a regular SATA connector on a mobo? It has to be SATA2 IIRC, or am I wrong?


The Nextar comes with the SATA to eSATA bracket so I don't think you need to buy anything else.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2005 4:58 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:24 am
Posts: 47
After all the research, I finally got the time to make a purchase! I'll let you know how it goes:
    Vantec Nexstar 3 NST-360SU-BK - eSATA 3Gb/s, USB 2.0
    Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD3200KS - 320 GB, 16 MB SATA II
    eSATA-150 2 port PCI card, Sil 3512 chipset
I would have got a card based on the Sil 3124 if I had a 66MHz PCI bus. This is for backups so should run cool with good performance and hopefully not too much noise.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2006 11:06 am 
Offline

Joined: Sat Dec 10, 2005 11:35 am
Posts: 202
Location: California
So the big question, (I'm in the same dillema)


COULD YOU BOOT WINDOWS FROM A HD ENCLOSURE? YES, NO, HOW?

OR YOU CAN ONLY USE YOUR BOOTING DRIVE ON A SILENCING BOX (IE SMART DRIVE 2002c)?

Thanks!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2006 7:34 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:24 am
Posts: 47
Overdue update on Vantec Nexstar 3 NST-360SU-BK, WD3200KS, and eSATA-150 PCI card.

WB3200KS works great. Formatted it on an internal SATA port while base mounted in the pc because I did not want to format for 1+ hours in enclosure until I knew things worked. Its a quiet drive that seems cool running too. It has a 150Mb/s jumper so works with my VT8237 when installed internally. However when installed on the VT8237 every operations seems to 'hang' for a few seconds at the end. This does not happen when the drive is mounted in the enclosure using the eSATA card so is probably a VT8237 issue.

Enclosure look good, easy to assemble, but once hard drive is mounted it 'rattles' a little. Will need to find a way to make a better fit to the case. Otherwise enclosure seems ok. When the enclosure is connected using eSATA Speedfan can monitor the drive parameters including the drive temperature. This is great since I can detect any drive over-heating in the enclosure.

Have had major problems with the eSATA pci card and the enclosure (not sure where the fault lies!). I was never able to get hot-plug to work. I had to boot the pc with the enclosure powered on to get the drive recognised. I could hot-remove the enclosure it by disabling the drive in the SATA management tool. I tried loading different BIOS/driver versions including the latest IDE only BOIS and the latest RAID BIOS but it do not help the hot-plug issue. This is despite the drive, enclosure and card all supposedly supporting hot-plug. At least I think the drive supports hot-plug - the WD website is not 100% clear on this.

Unfortunately somewhere along the way I've now broken something (hardware or software) and the drive/enclosure is no longer recognized at any time. The card has a working BIOS, the drive still works when connected bare to the internal VT8237 SATA port, and all the devices in system manager are ok, so I'm not sure what is wrong.

Can anyone recommend an alterantive eSATA PCI card? I'm thinking another card might solve the hot-plug issue, and would also isolate whether the card, enclosure, or software is faulty.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2006 7:37 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:24 am
Posts: 47
Re booting windows. I think you can boot windows from a eSATA or USB enclosure. I've read that USB booting should be possible on Win pc's, and when my eSATA card/enclosure were working my BIOS would list the enclosure drive as a BIOS boot choice. Note that I've not actually tried any of this, so YMMV!


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 19 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot], Google [Bot] and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group