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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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