Storage Accessories For Easier HDD Handling

iStarUSA T-5 SS HDD Reader

Product Type: HDD Reader for Fast Drive Mounting

Cost: ~ $28

Product Information:

iStar’s T-5 SS is a rather unconventional drive installation bay, as it works without needing the hard drive to be attached to or installed into any frames. Instead, 3.5” hard drives are directly inserted into the device like cartridges. The connection is passed through by the T-5 SS to your host controller via two different connectors. We particularly liked the fact that the device accepts either Serial ATA or Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) hard drives, but iStarUSA’s implementation requires some attention.

Be Careful With SAS Cabling

The yellow connector is used for SAS, the black one for SATA.The yellow connector is used for SAS, the black one for SATA.

iStar decided to support both SAS and SATA, which is easy to do on the hard drive side: SAS requires one connector that holds both the data pins and the power supply wires. SATA drives can always be plugged into SAS connectors, but not vice versa. A SATA-only version of this product would not be capable of supporting a SAS drive for mechanical reasons at the connector.

The controller side of the T-5 SS is not very conventional, though. While a SAS drive would feature a SAS connector (power and data merged into one connector), this product simply comes with one SAS port and one SATA port, which you have to wire correctly. Power is supplied via a standard four-pin power connector. Since most SAS controllers come with standard SAS cables, you might have to get fan-out cables that allows connecting a single data port to a SAS multilane port on the controller.

Proper Cooling, Easy Handling

Once you have mastered the installation, using the T-5 SS is simple. Open the lock and the front door, insert a SATA drive and you’re ready to go. All AHCI SATA or SAS controllers are hot-plug capable. We also liked the fact that the device comes with a powerful fan—although it can be noisy, it is necessary in case you need to insert a 10,000 RPM or 15,000 RPM 3.5” SAS drive. Unlike mainstream SATA drives, these enterprise drives still get rather hot, and require active cooling. We used a Fujitsu MBA3174RC, which worked fine.