Connecting multiple storage drives externally doesn’t work equally well on every connection type. If you were to use a USB 3 connection you would get the speed necessary, but your access times would suffer. If you were to connect it via eSATA you would have the access times, but shared bandwidth between the connected drives.
The solution is a direct SAS connection and the SilverStone TS431S that I’m taking a closer look at today is just such.
SilverStone’s TS431S DAS Tower Enclosure uses an external miniSAS interface to connect up to four SAS or SATA drives to your system. One of the great things about an enclosure like this is that its features pretty much depend on the controller you connect it to. This makes it universally usable without limitations; if your controller supports it, so will this tower.
The PC connection via 6Gbps SAS/Mini-SAS interface enables data transfer with maximum compatibility and stability, a thing that makes the TS431S a great choice for storing and backing up large quantities of data. You won’t notice any difference whether your drives are connected internally or through this DAS.
One of the first things I noticed on the TS431S was the choice of an internal power supply, and this is great. SilverStone knows a thing or two about power supplies and they opted to use that knowledge rather than just bundle a less efficient power brick. It works with both 110V and 230V power outlets and uses a normal 3-pin power connector for universal operation everywhere. Otherwise, the TS431S doesn’t have many external features, as they simply aren’t needed.
The installation couldn’t be any easier than it is. All you need to do is open the front door, slide your drive into a bay, and close the door again. Connect power and an SAS cable, press the power button and you’re done. You will need to setup the drives on your raid controllers interface or software, of course, but that’s a given.
The tool-free and trayless design makes removing a drive just as easy as plugging it in. Open the front door, release the hatch, and take your hard drive out. Close the door and you’re done. You don’t even need to power the enclosure down as it also supports both hot-swap and plug and play.
Backed by a two-year warranty, the SilverStone TS431S looks to be a great option to expand servers with limited drive bays the simple way, and without sacrificing functionality.
- Supermicro C7Z97-OCE
- Intel Xeon E3-1230Lv3
- Corsair Vengeance 8GB 1866MHz
- Corsair H100i
- BeQuiet Dark Power Pro 850W
- Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD
- LSI MegaRAID SAS 9271-8i
Disks in Product:
- Western Digital RED 6TB 3.5-inch
We would like to thank our sponsors for supplying us with the components needed for the test system as well as drives. I’ll be using as many different software applications as possible to gain the broadest spectrum of results that in return allows for the fairest testing possible.
- AIDA64 Engineer
- Anvil’s Storage Utilities
- AS SSD Benchmark
- ATTO Disk Benchmark
I will be creating each possible RAID array through the MegaRAID Storage Manager followed by a series of benchmarks with the software mentioned above. After completion, the array will be destroyed before moving onto the next.
I’ll be using four drives in all the tests except RAID 1 mode that only allows two disks to be used. While the drive performance doesn’t really reflect on the enclosure I’m testing but rather the drives themselves and the controller they’re connected to, the results will show what is possible with a device like the SilverStone TS431S.
AIDA64 is a streamlined Windows diagnostic and benchmarking software for home users. It provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring.
It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, and disk drives and is compatible with most Microsoft Windows operating systems. It also has a disk benchmark tool, and that is the one we’ll be using.
Anvil’s Storage Utilities
Anvil’s Storage Utilities is a relative new benchmarking utility that has the ability to test mainly hard drives and solid state drives, but also any other form of storage medium that you can throw at it. It is completely free as well, which is a nice thing
As well as testing the drive in a variety of benchmarking tests, it also has a drive endurance test that consistently reads and writes data to the selected medium to give days, months and potentially even years of use in a shorter period of time to see how the drive handles in the long run.
The AS SSD software determines the performance of Solid State Drives (SSD). The tool contains five synthetic and three practice tests. The synthetic tests determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD. These tests are performed without using the operating system caches. In Sequential tests, the program measures the time it takes to read and write a 1 GB file respectively. To give a clearer picture of the drives tested, I’ve chosen to include all tests. Special the copy test is one that I think is relevant on the consumer level as it gives the user a view
To give a clearer picture of the drives tested, I’ve chosen to include all tests, also the copy test. While it isn’t the most static test, I think it is a relevant test in the eyes of consumers, giving them a view into one of the operations they’re going to be doing many times.
The ATTO Disk Benchmark is a performance measurement tool is for Windows. It measures storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for both reads and writes. It has multiple options available to customize your performance measurement, including queue depth, overlapped I/O and even a comparison mode with the option to run continuously.
ATTO can be used to test any manufacturers RAID controllers, storage controllers, host adapters, hard drives and SSD drives so it is a popular tool everywhere.
CrystalDiskMark is a small HDD benchmark utility for your hard drive that enables you to rapidly measure sequential and random 4KB/512KB read/write speeds.
Whether you think the SilverStone TS431S is expensive or not, that’s a thing that comes down to each individual. I for one think it’s very fair priced at $184.99 at Amazon, £131.28 at Scan UK and €179.99 at Caseking.
The SilverStone TS431S is a very simple unit to deal with, especially since its 100% plug and play ready. No tools, no drive trays and no extra configurations are needed. Just slide your drives into the unit, connect it to your PC, power it on, and you’re ready to go; I like that.
It is a very solid build unit, from start till end. The overall weight of the device gives it a firm stand on the four large rubber feet. Every part of the case is connected to each other far better than would be needed, making sure that nothing will rattle lose, vibrate or otherwise misbehave even after long periods of use. The black finish and aluminium front door also give the unit a sleek look to go along with the functionality.
Using a TS431S is a great way to expand the storage of a PC or server that doesn’t have room for any more drives. Using the miniSAS connector allows us to gain the same benefits and speeds as if they drives were connected internally.
The two 60mm fans in the unit did a great job of keeping the drives cool. My Western Digital RED drives stayed below the 40 degrees marker, even after days of continuous benchmarking.
The built-in PSU is another thing I see as a bonus. It will provide a more stable and efficient power than an external brick, but in return sacrifices the ability to easily replace it in case of failure. The security and stability does take priority for a DAS enclosure that most likely will be running 24/7 and SilverStone has certainly made all the right choices here.
- Plug and Play
- Hot swap
- Tool and tray-less
- miniSAS interface
- Internal PSU
- Price might be too much for some
“The SilverStone TS431S could very well be the perfect DAS enclosure. It allows for easy expansion of systems with limited drive bays without sacrificing configuration abilities or speed.”
Thanks to SilverStone for providing us with this test sample