Date: November 19th, 2008
Article by: Mike Carter (Hardware Reviewer)
Edited by: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)
Product was submitted by: Thermaltake USA
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PRODUCT PICTORAL AND WALKTHROUGH
Around the backside, you'll find all the ports you need. USB, e-SATA and power are all accounted for. On the far left is the power button.
The bottom of the dock has four textured rubber feet to keep the dock stable on your desk.
The topside of the dock is where all the action happens. A spring-loaded door adapts to either 2.5” or 3.5” SATA drives. Beneath the door are the power and SATA plugs.
All in all, not a bad package, and well laid out.
PRODUCT INSTALLATION AND TESTING
Here's where the fun starts!
Unlike your typical enclosure, you connect the BlacX to your computer first, leaving the power off. Then, it's a simple matter of plugging in the drive you want to use. Starting with a blank, unformatted drive, you power on the dock. Windows will “find new hardware” and install the necessary drivers for the dock to function.
Formatting the drive is a straightforward Windows affair, which I won't go into details here. Suffice it to say that if you've ever installed a hard drive, the process will be familiar to you. Format the drive, make a new partition, assign a drive letter, and you're ready to go.
Here's where the BlacX differs from regular enclosures. It's a hot-swap unit, meaning you can have multiple HDDs formatted and ready to go; you can swap drives on the fly, which is handy if you have a lot of media, backups, or similar.
Once I formatted my drive, I did a few speed tests, transferring large movie files, mp3s, and photos. Speeds were on par with other enclosures, measuring at approximately 460-470 Mbps. Not bad. If you have e-SATA capability, you should see speeds comparable to an internal drive.
Testing consisted of moving a 8.7Gb drive to and from the drive through the USB and a SATA1.5 motherboard connection. Times were recording in identical conditions.
USB 2.0: 6:04:32 write. 5:17:43 read
SATA1.5: 3:02:12 write. 2:37:30 read
All's not rosy, though. Since the drive is 80% naked, it generates a lot of noise. If you're in an environment that requires relative silence, this may be a turnoff. Likewise, the drive is exposed to the elements, collecting dirt and dust, much more so than an internal drive. These are relatively minor concerns, though.