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IcyDock's MB559 Happily Marries eSATA and USB 2.0

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October 25, 2006 11:11:01 AM

The IcyDock MB559 hard drive enclosure lets you pick and choose between USB 2.0 and eSATA connections. For $60, do you get more than what you pay for?
October 25, 2006 11:48:03 AM

I like the concept of an Esata enclosure, I'm planning to get one myself. However what type of thermal dissipation does this enclosure use? A drive stuck in a box like that without a fan can get extremely hot.
October 25, 2006 2:08:48 PM

Something for everyone to note, SATA is not trully hotswap capable across the board. I have a machine with a storcase sata enclosure. If I remove the SATA drive (even using the storcase utility), and then put it in again. The machine hard freezes and requires a reset. I tried this out on 3 machines and the same thing happens. Just a word of caution on using the eSATA bracket.
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October 25, 2006 3:25:11 PM

the benchmarks charts on page 5 don't even include the icydock! TH's proofing editors are asleep at the wheel. 8O
a c 142 G Storage
October 25, 2006 3:26:04 PM

nice idea...but whats with the access times....why so high(27.5)?
October 25, 2006 3:28:09 PM

I'm not sure if I understand what motherboard support is required for eSATA. I have a Chaintech VFN4 MB with 4 SATA I connectors. Would I connect the eSATA cable to one of the SATA I connectors?

-Bob
October 25, 2006 3:43:28 PM

Correct, it takes a mother board sata connector to a card slot. Remember, your machine will most likely hard freeze if you attempt to hot swap.
October 25, 2006 5:16:36 PM

Quote:
Correct, it takes a mother board sata connector to a card slot. Remember, your machine will most likely hard freeze if you attempt to hot swap.


Cool.

-Bob
October 25, 2006 5:25:33 PM

your mobo should support AHCI for hot swapping. if the mobo is just exposing the SATA drives as IDE devices, hot swapping won't work.
October 25, 2006 5:51:10 PM

Is that common knowledge? I thought since the SATA spec called for the ability to hot plug/swap that it would do it just by implementing to spec. Now I know.

Thx.
October 25, 2006 6:06:09 PM

I googled and found some more information. So AHCI isn't in full swing yet from the general concensus of the search results. I love that they produce a technology like SATA and allow it to take 3-4 years to actually deliver.

I just power down and swap. I can't complain about backing up 136GB in 80-90 minutes. I will live with it till my next build.

:roll:
October 25, 2006 10:35:17 PM

eSATA support and hot swap support are optional features of the SATA specification. A manufacturer of a SATA controller can choose whether he wants to implement these features or not.

eSATA support is separate from hot swap support (although it makes sense to support both or neither). eSATA support means that the controller supports the tighter voltage specifications required for eSATA, enabling the use of the 2m cables. Hot swap support means that the controller treats the devices as removable through the Windows removable device API.

MANY motherboard SATA controllers do not support either of these specifications. If you use an internal SATA -> eSATA bracket with one of these motherboard controllers, that's asking for trouble, because the signals will be out-of-spec. It's likely that error correction will have to be used on a constant basis to provide communication to the drive, which is dangerous. There will eventually be a situation where the error correction algorithms could not correct the error, and data on the hard drive will become corrupted.

If you want trouble-free use of eSATA, get a SATA controller that specifically supports eSATA and hot swap, like the Promise SATA 300 TX4302. I have two machines using this controller, hooked up to internal removable caddy systems using SATA drives. This card is the first that I've used that properly and flawlessly supports hot swap. It has two eSATA ports on the back that fully support it as well.
October 25, 2006 10:49:49 PM

Are there any, CD Drive bay styles of this? (i know it isnt eSATA.. but it would do the same quick in quick out thing... quicker even)...
Imagine, a world where Hard Drives are free to come and go as they please...
October 25, 2006 11:00:35 PM

SomeJoe7777:

I would never hot swap. No need here.

Are you saying I should go for the Promise controller anyways if I go the external eSATA route?

-Bob
October 25, 2006 11:14:05 PM

Quote:
I would never hot swap. No need here.

Are you saying I should go for the Promise controller anyways if I go the external eSATA route?


Not necessarily. The Promise card is a very good card, but by no means the only card out there that supports eSATA.

However, I would always recommend some kind of card that specifically supports eSATA rather than using one of the internal SATA->eSATA brackets.
October 25, 2006 11:34:46 PM

Quote:
Are there any, CD Drive bay styles of this? (i know it isnt eSATA.. but it would do the same quick in quick out thing... quicker even)...
Imagine, a world where Hard Drives are free to come and go as they please...


Not sure exactly what you're referring to, but allow me to show you the system I recently built that may be what you're seeking.

We use our internal caddy removable enclosures for video editing where I work.

Recently, we had a need to enable the removable caddys to be used on a laptop, and I put together the following solution that works very well:

Caddy System:

http://www.startech.com/Product/ItemDetail.aspx?product...

This is the dock (which sits inside a 5 1/4" bay), and the caddy. The caddy houses one standard 3.5" internal SATA hard drive. You can also buy extra caddys for more drives.

External enclosure:

http://www.cooldrives.com/sadual5inbay.html

This is one of the only external enclosures I could find that was eSATA, but also 5 1/4" bays. Most external enclosures either are 3 1/2" for direct hard drive mounting, or have their own proprietary caddy removal system. Since I had already standardized on the above dock/caddy system for my desktops, I had to find an enclosure that would mount them.

eSATA card:

http://www.cooldrives.com/esii2pcancqp.html

Full hot-swap, NCQ, and eSATA support. Supports 150MB/sec transfer rate only.

This syetm works fine ... you can double-click on the Safely Remove Hardware button in the system tray, remove the external drive, pop another caddy in, and reseat the eSATA card to pick up the new drive.
October 25, 2006 11:38:19 PM

SomeJoe 7777:

OK, thanks.

The Promise card is $100 Canadian. I'll research it and alternatives thoroughly.

I've decided to go the eSATA route before Christmas. That means I will dedicate my external USB 2.0 drive to my non-SATA notebook, and dedicate the external eSATA to my SATA tower.

No more switching the USB cable back and forth!

The reason I am looking for another external drive is because in the process of switching the USB cable between machines, I came very near to knocking the external drive to the floor. Caught it just in time 8O

-Bob
October 26, 2006 1:33:46 AM

You should look at Storcase.com. These are very rugged units and offer a better return on the dollar spent.

We use the DE110 USB 2.0 in our server for backup. Absolutely love these things. Rated for 12K insertions (thats once a day for 32+ years).

I doubt the startech and cremax products will match that.
October 26, 2006 2:39:08 AM

Quote:
I doubt the startech and cremax products will match that.


True. But the StarTech docks I have are in desktops, not servers. Not mission critical, some downtime would be permissible. Plus, a brand new dock & caddy costs $24. 8)
October 26, 2006 5:47:41 AM

i got a similar enclosure but it's from stardom(iTank 302).
http://www.stardom.com.tw/itank%20i302.htm
It's caddy based and it features both USB2.0 and eSATA. Been using it for about 3 weeks now. 8) It's full aluminium but the harddisk does not contact the case within the caddy. As a result, the harddisk can get rather hot.. so it's best to pay close attention to it. As for me, i have my aircon on so it's alright. Otherwise, temps may reach 45-48 in a poorly ventilated room on a WD Caviar SE16 320GB. :roll:

Quote:
Correct, it takes a mother board sata connector to a card slot. Remember, your machine will most likely hard freeze if you attempt to hot swap.


I don't know if it applies for non-motherboard SATA connectors.. but i'm using a PCMCIA SATA I cardbus.. No problems. (My desktop is down btw :(  ) It's based on silicon image's SATA(not eSATA) controller. And it detects my drive as an SCSI drive for god knows what reason. But it works.. quite well in fact.
SATA in fact, was made hotpluggable if i'm not wrong.. and eSATA's just the external standard of it, just different sockets.
October 26, 2006 1:33:34 PM

I have tried both the storcase utility and the silicon image utility.

My setup is an Albatron KX600Pro mainboard w/ Sil 3114 PCI SATA card Windows 2003 server latest SP, yada, yada, yada...

The drive is on its own power lead. While the machine is fine for removal. It hangs on insertion. I am going to look at the low end Promise card that is supposed to offer hotswap.

I am pretty sure that the storcase and silicon image utility do the same thing.
a c 328 G Storage
October 27, 2006 1:44:11 PM

Once again you've provided the truth of measured performance. Specs of maximum performance are so misleading! As you say, USB2.0 maxes at 480 Mb/s or 60 MB/s; 1394a at 50 MB/s, 1394b doubles that; eSATA3 maxes at 300 MB/s. But your measured values are 27 to 32 MB/s on USB2 connection, and 30 to 60 MB/s on eSATA3. All confirms, however, that eSATA3 is the fastest - just don't expect to achieve max speed as the average!
I bought a similar case, the AZIO ENC311SU31 from Newegg. It does NOT have the removable drive feature, though. I have not used it yet - building my system now. My Mobo is an ASUS A8R32-MVP Deluxe which had a Silicon Image controller that explicitly includes an eSATA interface, so I'm guesing it all should work. This unit containing a 500GB Seagate drive will be my backup device. I'm hoping I can set it up so that, in a major problem, I can simply plug in the (up to date!!) eSATA drive and boot from it to get going and repair the system.
November 1, 2006 7:41:00 PM

So has anyone found a place that sells additional frames for this unit?

I would like to use it to swap out drives used to store DVD backups, but it seems kind of useless without additional frames...
November 2, 2006 9:39:45 PM

I was looking for the trays too. I called icydock and they informed me that they could be purchased at www.buywee.com.
November 3, 2006 2:47:44 AM

Cool, thanks. They didn't respond to my emails...

Wow, $25 a pop for empty trays. I guess that's better than having to buy another drive though.
!