Most helpful positive review
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Works Great - Neat Design
on March 6, 2010
My goal was to purchase a 4 drive USB enclosure that supported the latest 2TB drives. I have a bunch of these drives so I can test right away.
My first attempt was the Sans Digital TowerRAID TR4U-B 4 Bay SATA to USB 2.0 JBOD/Spanning Enclosure (Black):
Based on the reviews you would think this would work well, and also based on the description "Supports the latest 2TB Hard Drive. Up to 8TB in storage capacity. (*Max. 2TB volume when in Spanning mode)." You would think it's the best choice. Think again. I owned 2 of these, one from newegg and one from Amazon. I got one from newegg tried it with a few 2TB drives, and it does NOT recognize them. I thought that maybe the newegg model was older so I contacted Sans Digital for support, they replied promptly asking me for the makes/serials of the drives that I used. I sent them high resolution pictures of the drives that don't work. No reply. I ordered another one from Amazon, thinking that it must support 2TB drives, because it says so in the description. Wrong again. Returning as we speak.
So I popped the Sans Digital from newegg open to find the chipset that it's using. It was an IDE chipset and had the markings "D8927GC-002" on it. Strange, because this is a SATA box. I tracked the company that makes these to a Japanese company named Workbit. The chip is also called the USAT-3.
Sans Digital Chipset Datasheets:
60Mhz whoopie! It's kind of old.
Then, the Sans Digital uses an IDE to SATA bridge made by CFI. CFI no longer exists ([..]) and so I couldn't find any specs on that.
This was not the storage box I was looking for, it had no chance of supporting the 2TB drives that I wanted. Right now I'm trying to return both of these.
So I did some research on this StarTech model and their website clearly states what chipset they use. A sure sign that these guys are not hiding anything.
Here is the datasheet:
I am very impressed with this model.
Advantages over Sans Digital:
* Properly supports 2TB drives.
* Modern chipset.
* Smaller form factor. Yes, this houses 4 drives but is significantly smaller that the Sans Digital model.
* Better design. No comparison here from the finish on the outside to all the details inside, this is a FAR superior unit.
* Drives have attachable handles for easy removal. These also provide padding and ensure a secure connection then the spring loaded front bracket is closed.
* Has a metal bracket that ensures the drives are well secured in the unit, screw-less design here. The drive handles are however attached once using 2 screws, but once attached, drive can be swapped in and out very easily. Brilliant.
* Front spring push-locked door. This is actually removable, if you need quick access to swap the drives often. Again, brilliant.
* Detailed indicator lights on the front.
* Can connect both esata and USB at the same time to 2 different computers. Swap between which computer will see the device with a push button on the front (I did not try this).
* Silent fan, controlled by a thermistor (temperature sensor). Also can be put into manual mode.
* Each drive has an activity indicator light. It's integrated in a very slick way with the front bezel.
* There MUST be a drive in the TOP slot or else the USB will not connect. This is probably what one of the reviewers was experiencing.
* Drive handles may be a problem if swapping drives often between different make enclosures. This is not the case for me, and you can actually not use them if you want to.
Just to reiterate the above point, if there is no drive in the first TOP slot, the unit will not power on properly and will not be recognized by your computer.
This seems like a great unit, they should be selling more of these.