Storage Accessories: Move, Cool, Multiply

Permanent And Portable Storage: Silverstone Silverstone MS05

Silverstone's MS05 is also named the 2.5" External Storage with a 3.5" Docking Bay, which describes pretty well what this device was designed to do: Basically it is an external enclosure that holds a 2.5" Serial ATA hard drive. Although it connects to a host PC via USB 2.0 or eSATA, it can be inserted into the included docking bay, which must be installed in a 5.25" drive bay. Once you slide the device into the docking bay, the drive connects to a Serial ATA interface, which you should have connected to a SATA port on your motherboard. Clearly, the purpose is to avoid copying data to and from a mobile hard drive every time you have to go on a trip.

While the limitation of this concept can only be found in the maximum capacity of 2.5" hard drives (320 GB is the maximum capacity available today), the MS05 is amazingly easy to handle. The drive enclosure is made of aluminum with a plastic front part. Although the aluminum is of nice quality, the plastic part doesn't fit entirely, as you clearly feel a curb when you pass over the gap with your finger. Usability and flexibility are, however, excellent. USB 2.0 performance is limited to 32 MB/s (reads) and 27 MB/s (writes) and the average access time is somewhat longer as well, but by using SATA you'll get the maximum performance delivered by the 2.5" hard drive you choose.

There is no mechanism to eject the drive from the docking bay, which is why the drive always sticks out of the bay. Still, we liked this approach, as it is easy to remove and insert the drive. Internally, the docking bay has a SATA port and a power port, which is connected to a standard Molex power connector, delivering 5 V to the MS05 device. When you want to use the drive on the road, many users typically opt for USB 2.0, which is how Silverstone intended it to be used. The USB cable that comes with the product has two host-side USB ports to make sure the drive gets sufficient power. However, there is a way to operate the device via eSATA even though you don't get an external power supply: Just connect the eSATA cable and the USB cable, but make sure you only connect the auxiliary power port of the USB cable!

Since this solution is meant to combine a fast, permanent solution with mobility, it would have been nice to get a protective bag for the enclosure. Mobility, however, is slightly hampered by the substantial weight of the product: After installation of a Seagate Momentus 7200.2, it weighed 326 g. Other external 2.5" hard drive solutions weigh in at 200-250 g. Cables are excluded from these numbers.