By OvRiDe at 2010-05-20 17:50
by Curtis Gauger (OvRiDe)
Need the convenience of a SATA hard drive dock with the speed of USB 3.0? Vantec has heard your pleas. The Vantec NexStar Hard Drive Dock has SuperSpeed USB 3.0 combined with a simple to use SATA HDD Dock...more...
For anyone not familiar with a hard drive dock, it connects to your PC and gives you the ability to plug a hard drive in like a cartridge. These units are extremely useful for retrieving data from a hard drive without having to crack open your case. Vantec has just made the whole process better by giving it the 5Gps speed of USB 3.0.
The Vantec NexStar Hard Drive Dock comes packaged nicely and includes everything you need minus the USB 3.0 Host connection and of course a Hard drive.
Included in the box is the NexStar Hard Drive Dock, a power adapter, instruction manual, and a USB 3.0 cable.
When I first unboxed the unit, it was a bit lighter then I had anticipated. Its primarily made of plastic, unlike the aluminum enclosures I am used to from Vantec. On the front of the unit, there is a most conspicuous on/off toggle button that is illuminated by a blue ring when powered on. Just below is the HDD activity indicator, also illuminated blue.
Out back is just as spartan as the front. A USB 3.0 connection and the power connection. That's all there is to it.
Once your all connected up to your PC or laptop, you can insert a hard disk into the slot on the top of the unit. The dock will accept either a 2.5" SATA laptop hard disk or a regular desktop 3.5" SATA hard disk. The SATA connection is visible at the bottom of the slot to ensure you get proper orientation (Top of drive faces forward.)
Here you can see the SATA connections and the mechanism that assist in the ejection of the hard disk when you are ready to remove it.
Note the ejection button on the right side of the inserted disk drive.
Now we are ready to move on to some of the performance values. Since I just finished reviewing the Vantec NexStar 3 USB 3.0 enclosure I will be using the data I acquired to compare USB 3.0 speeds. The PC setup is a C2D E8500, 4GB of RAM, and a Vantec UGT-PC302 PCI-Express card will be performing the USB 3.0 duties. A Samsung HD080HJ 80GB 7200RPM 8MB Cache 3.5" SATAII will be used as my test subject. First up we have READ statistics.
The Vantec USB 3.0 Hard Drive Dock performs as expected, GREAT. Read speeds are just a hair less then if the drive was connected directly to a SATA II port. On to the WRITE statistics.
Again the NexStar USB 3.0 Hard drive dock delivers blazing performance. It is just shy of SATA II performance, and well exceeds USB 2.0.
I did encounter a small issue with the its plastic construction. After removing and inserting the drive a half a dozen times during my testing, I noticed that the drive door was not returning to its upright position. Upon further inspection the drive door was detached and laying in the bottom of the unit. Apparently the little "knobs" on each end of the door that act as the hinge had broken off.
Since I do not have a 2.5" SATA drive available, I am not sure if this will affect the ability to use them. As you can see there is a notch in the door to support the smaller drive form factor. A 3.5" drive still locks firmly in place. I am uncertain if this is just an isolated incident with my unit. Performance wise, and form factor wise, I would rank this unit 5/5. Unfortunately with my experience, the plastic construction of the unit is a bit lacking, and my final rating will reflect its deficiency.
Attractive white glossy finish with blue illumination.
Convenient form factor for swapping drives.
High speed USB 3.0 performance.
Broken door assembly
For any desktop tech that needs to retrieve data quickly from various hard disks, the Vantec NexStar USB 3.0 Hard Drive Dock is an awesome addition to their arsenal. There are so many situations where a hard drive dock is so convenient, and with the extra speed of USB 3.0 its hard to beat. Priced at just under $45, the gloss white finish with its bright blue status indicators is attractive, and will definitely make a statement on your desk or workspace.
This product was provided free of charge by it's manufacturer for the purpose of review.