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Conclusion

Desktop Backplane? Three 2.5" HDD Solutions Reviewed
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Feature-wise, all three devices make a lot of sense, allowing comfortable and manageable deployment of 2.5” SAS or SATA hard drives. The backplanes from Chieftec (SNT-1042-SS) and Sunnytek (SAS1842C) allow installing four drives into a 5.25” drive bay. Sunnytek even supports redundant SAS connections. Both solutions clearly represent the most compact hard drive deployment possible.

Handling

Drives must be connected to the host adapter individually, so you’ll rely on the controller’s RAID capabilities. The Mobile Backplane by Sunnytek has its own RAID controller by Silicon Image, which allows configuring combined RAID 0 / RAID 1 modes, to get one partition for maximum performance and another for redundant storage.

Downsides

However, all devices also have substantial weaknesses, which come from designing products without a desktop user in mind (despite targeting desktop and mobile users with these products).

All three devices are far too noisy for desktop deployment, although the four-bay backplanes from Chieftec and Sunnytec would be otherwise perfectly suitable for enthusiasts to install a couple of flash SSDs. The Mobile Mini Backplane was even worse in this regard.

In addition, the configuration options are not perfect. The Sunnytek Mobile Mini Backplane can easily be switched to a different RAID mode, which results in data loss, while the four-bay backplanes from Chieftec and Sunnytek should be configured before installation, as the jumpers are hard to access once the system has been installed into a drive bay.

All three solutions can be recommended for entry-level server environments, where configuration is considered beforehand, and where noise doesn’t matter. But the vendors failed in delivering products suitable for desktop environments.

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  • 0 Hide
    gpsxsirus , April 9, 2009 8:45 AM
    I'd like to see a review of some backkplanes that support a couple more drives that's still mountable in an ATX case. I'm looking to run RAID 5 or 6, ideally with a hot spare.
  • 1 Hide
    BKD , April 9, 2009 12:12 PM
    How about 2x5.25" bays hosting vertical 3.5" disks, maybe five or six? I prefer this setup to the standard desktop internal cages which are a pain.

    gp-Just use more then one of the above-the raid is controller dependent.
  • 1 Hide
    WyomingKnott , April 9, 2009 1:49 PM
    BKDHow about 2x5.25" bays hosting vertical 3.5" disks, maybe five or six? I prefer this setup to the standard desktop internal cages which are a pain.

    And here it is: http://www.addonics.com/products/raid_system/ae4rcs35nsa.asp
  • 1 Hide
    joex444 , April 9, 2009 3:49 PM
    Almost, its a 3x5.25" but you need that with 3.5" drives. 2x5.25" can only get you 3 horizontal 3.5" drives.
  • -4 Hide
    yourhighness , April 9, 2009 5:02 PM
    I saw this article and I though, Awesome this is going to be a great article that will apply to me (and enthusiast and a Small Business).

    But then I noticed it's all about 2.5" hard drives instead of 3.5"...

    FAIL
  • -1 Hide
    yourhighness , April 9, 2009 7:25 PM
    yourhighnessI saw this article and I though, Awesome this is going to be a great article that will apply to me (and enthusiast and a Small Business).But then I noticed it's all about 2.5" hard drives instead of 3.5"...FAIL

    Sorry to be debbie downer, I just feel that the vast majority of people looking to add storage space would prefer the larger, cheaper, faster 3.5" form factor of the 2.5" drives.

    I understand that SSD is changing things, but it still costs 10-100X more than 3.5"HDD, and 2.5"HDD still costs 2-5x as much as 3.5"...

    I guess it would be more productive to ask for 3.5" backplanes than just being a dick.

    Please can I see some 3.5" storage solutions? I'd especially like to see some of the drive bays supporting more than 4 drives.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 9, 2009 8:57 PM
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&DEPA=0&Order=BESTMATCH&Description=backplane&x=0&y=0

    for a list of backplanes out there
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 9, 2009 10:00 PM
    Having 40mm fans very close to rotating media is a very bad idea. Hard drives do not like the intense vibration from high speed fans.
    Performance and reliability suffer badly. I would like to see the issue
    addressed in a serious way, not just the obvious user oriented features.


  • 0 Hide
    michaelahess , April 10, 2009 4:10 AM
    Tom StephensonHaving 40mm fans very close to rotating media is a very bad idea. Hard drives do not like the intense vibration from high speed fans.Performance and reliability suffer badly. I would like to see the issue addressed in a serious way, not just the obvious user oriented features.


    Except when using, oh I don't know, laptop drives that are already built to withstand this kind of abuse, kind of a non-issue.

    Also considering how hot many laptop drives get when on your lap, I don't think heat will be as big of an issue as you'd think if your case is cooled properly. My Stacker 830 would be a perfect fit if I threw one of these in my top bay, just fashon a air guide for the top fan to pull air from the first bay, turn the 40mm fans off and be happy!
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 10, 2009 3:21 PM
    Bought This - Returned it the next week: No stress relief on the connections and several came disconnected due to the fact that the SAS/SATA connections were only held on to the circuit board via the soldier holding the pins in place - Hey! I paid $40 for this backplane that was little more than 4 places to mount hard drives, what do you expect?
  • 1 Hide
    kenyee , April 13, 2009 2:03 PM
    I'd like to see a similar roundup but with 3.5" HDD backplanes. There are quite a few that fit into three 5-1/4" slots and is a better compromise if you run a mid-tower...
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 13, 2009 10:17 PM
    Excellent review, however it seems like the backplanes that you choose to review all are approximately the same unit with a different brand pasted on... would like to see some more diversity in the choices.
  • 0 Hide
    ShadowFlash , April 13, 2009 11:21 PM
    Any word yet on the patriot, OCZ, or A-DATA versions of the mobile backplane ? I think any of those would work alot nicer in the desktop enviornment, as they fit neatly into a single 3.5" bay. There are also a number of chinese 2-bay RAID enclosures out there, but who knows the quality? I would really like to see a true round-up on those.

    For those who don't see the point in 2.5" vs. 3.5", consider a ultra-fast OS/Program array, and a nice fast RAID 10 array for storage, and pretty soon you're running out of physical space in the average desktop case, not to mention competing for power with your high-end video card. While 2.5" drives are still a bit pricey for storage drives, a pair of 73GB 15K SAS and a dual RAID 0 enclosure for about $300 is certainly worth it ( or even 4x 36GB 15K for the same price ), as space requirements are simply not needed for an OS/program drive.
  • 0 Hide
    mikolay , April 15, 2009 3:08 PM
    SuperMicro Backplane CSE-M28E2B for 8x 2.5"HD, 2x 5.25"Bay; Redundant 2x4xSAS port :) 

    http://www.span.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=15973&language=en
  • 0 Hide
    mileage , April 16, 2009 5:05 AM
    is there any internal enclosure fit two of 2.5" hdd into one of 3.5" bay?
  • 0 Hide
    ShadowFlash , April 16, 2009 5:00 PM
    mileageis there any internal enclosure fit two of 2.5" hdd into one of 3.5" bay?



    Here's the RAID version from A-DATA....they also have non-raid versions I believe.

    http://oc.adata.com.tw/1_product_detail.asp?pid=ASX1SUMAL-2

    I have not found any reliable review on these type of things yet. There are a number of chinese versions off of E-bay which look to be identical and both Patriot and OCZ are promising their vervisions as well. I doubt these would get rid of the stuttering problems of low-end SSD's, but it would make for some nasty RAID-on-RAID action, spawning all sorts of bizarre set-ups.
  • 0 Hide
    mileage , April 16, 2009 8:20 PM
    Thanks for the info.
    I found one for internal for two of 2.5inch to one bay of 3.5 inch.

    http://www.acmemicro.com/estore/merchant.ihtml?pid=6982&lastcatid=390&step=4

    I'll test this later today for our product test.