Holiday Buyer's Guide 2006, Part 3: Components & Peripherals

External Storage

Single Hard Drive Enclosure: Coolermaster X Craft

Xcraft is an aluminum enclosure for 3.5" hard drives that supports either UltraATA or Serial ATA drives at all available capacity points. Installation is pretty easy and requires no tools, as the hard drive is simply locked into the device's mounting mechanism. Coolermaster put an emphasis on low-noise operation and didn't provide a fan, but a well-designed aluminum structure dissipates heat away from the hard drive, over the frame and through the anodized aluminum cover. That said, we do not recommend installing 10,000 RPM hard drives into the X Craft if you want to ensure a long life for your hard drive.

The device connects to your PC via USB 2.0, which makes it a very versatile storage option: almost all computers carry at least two USB 2.0 ports these days. Coolermaster even added a little USB hub, which allows you to connect two more USB devices to the X Craft. This USB hub is based on a multi-TT design (double transaction translator), so you can attach a slow USB 1.1 device to one port without slowing down the hard drive or the second port.

Prices for the X Craft vary between $35 and $50; we recommend that you not spend more than $40 on it.