SilverStone MS08 Mobile Rack 3.5-inch RAID Enclosure Review

Introduction


Today I am taking a look at something a little different from my usual drive and NAS reviews, today I’m taking a closer look at the SilverStone MS08 mobile rack that converts a single 3.5-inch drive bay into a two-bay 2.5-inch RAID unit with hot-swap abilities.

The SilverStone MS08 mobile rack can be a very useful tool to have at your disposal in several different scenarios. First of all, it allows you to connect two drives as a single one to your motherboard or host controller. You have three modes that you can connect the drives as, whether you want performance, redundancy, or capacity. All the basics are covered RAID 0, 1, and JBOD at your disposal.

The RAID feature is set by the hardware itself. You got two small switches on the rear of the unit that lets you select the mode and a little button that needs to be pressed in order to change the configuration. SilverStone included an SATA cable and a power adapter from MOLEX to SATA, allowing you to connect it to your setup without the need for anything that isn’t in the box. Even the four screws to mount it into the chassis are included.

The SilverStone MS08 connects to a single SATA connector and it supports up to SATA3 6Gbps. Mechanical hard drives, and especially 2.5-inch, aren’t fast enough to saturate such a connection, but with an enclosure like the MS08, you can get very close. The added bonus of being able to hot-swap the drives by simply ejecting them to the front make the enclosure even more useful.

Even people who want to take their drives on the go can benefit from the SilverStone MS08. Thanks to the standard 3.5-inch form factor, the MS08 fits into any docking station and enclosure that is built for 3.5-inch drives. Where you’d normally take a single 3.5-inch drive with your data, you can now take a RAID setup of 2.5-inch drives instead and you don’t need to worry about the order of them. You also don’t need to worry about drivers or complicated setups when you’re on the go, the unit is fully plug-and-play the same way a normal drive is.

The tool-less tray design is a great feature and it allows for true hot-swapping of drives. The enclosure itself is both durable and beautiful thanks to being constructed from premium aluminum that also aids in cooling the drives as well as their protection. There are a few plastic parts, but the majority of the enclosure is made of aluminum. You can load the MS08 with 2.5-inch drives that have a height of up to 9.5mm, making it compatible with most 2-5inch hard drives and solid state drives.

The front of the MS08 enclosure has two blue LEDs, one for each drive, allowing you to keep an eye on what drive is active and not. The drive tray isn’t lockable, but the ledge is secure and there is little risk that you could end up opening it by accident. Even if you should end up opening it when you didn’t want to, you don’t need to worry. The door has to be opened fully and then pressed in to eject the drives. Both drives will be ejected at the same time.

Pulling the rear of the enclosure off and having a look inside, we see that SilverStone added the SATA connectors on an independent PCB. It doesn’t feature much besides the two SATA connectors and a little power stabilization.

The main PCBB has the external connections and buttons. To the right we see the two LEDs mounted that then are passed on to the front of the enclosure. We can also see the connector for the sub PCB here.

Turning the main PCB over and we find the brain in this enclosure, a JMicron JMS562 bridge chip. The JMicron JMS562 is a Super Speed & eSATA GEN III to Dual SATA Gen III Ports bridge chip with four independent SATA channels and a microprocessor integrated.

Features

  • Premium aluminum construction for durability and protection
  • Supports for two 9.5mm 2.5” drives
  • Supports RAID 0, 1, and JBOD
  • Offer great performance of up to SATA 6Gb/s
  • Tool-less tray design for quick hot-swaps
  • Fits into any 3.5” drive bay

Packaging and Accessories

SilverStone wrapped the MS08 Mobile Rack in a colorful orange themed box that makes it stand out. The front of the box shows the enclosure itself as well as its features. There’s also a handy QR-Code to scan in order to check the official product page online.

The rear and the sides once again feature the features of the MS08 enclosures and you’ll find it in multiple languages on the rear of it.

Inside the box is everything that you need to connect the MS08 and get started. You get an SATA data cable, an MOLEX to SATA power adapter, four screws to mount the enclosure, and a manual that explains how to install and use it.

Enermax 2.5 and 3.5-Inch Mobile Drive Rack Roundup Review

Introduction


Being able to quickly eject drives can not only be an extra convenience but also a great bonus in many situations. Enermax has created a very long list of amazing docking bays and mobile racks for just this and today I’m taking a closer look at three of them in different form factors and with different capabilities – one for every usage scenario.

We will need to go up a drive size when we have a docking station around the drive, that’s a given. The three mobile racks that I’m taking a closer look at today are the EMK3101 for a 2.5-inch drive in 3.5-inch bay, EMK5102 for a 3.5-inch drive in a 5.25-inch bay, and the EMK5201U3 that combines the two previous into one smart unit. It has both a 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch bay as well as two front USB 3.0 ports in the spare area.

The EMK3101 allows you to easy swap, plug-in, and swap out 2.5-inch drives in this 3.5-inch sized mobile rack. A simple mechanic lever will eject the drive when you need it and it comes with a lock when you want to make sure that it stays in there. The connection is a direct pass-through and one that won’t affect performance. A simple solution that works every time.

SSD or 2.5-inch HDDs might not be all you would like to hot-swap with easy front access, 3.5-inch drives are still king of the storage area and that is where the EMK5102 comes into play. The 5.25-inch sized mobile rack allows you to hot-swap a 3.5-inch drive, in the same way the EMK3101 does with a 2.5-inch drive.

Combining the two enclosures above and adding two USB 3.0 ports and we get the Enermax EMK5201U3 mobile rack. It can hold both a 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drive as well as having two USB 3.0 ports with direct header connection.

All three enclosures come with the patented Non-Scratch SATA connectors that guarantee a maximum life span with up to 50,000 drive insertion and ejections. The SATA connectors are gold-plated for better grip and protection from corrosion and the steel clip on the included SATA cable to avoid accidental cable removable.

The mobile racks support the latest SATA III and SAS drives as well as USB 3.0 5Gb/s connectivity for the EMK5201U3 model. The enclosures are built from with sturdy stainless steel frames to keep everything living for as long as possible and have LED indicators to show when the drives are being accessed.

Enermax EMK3203 3.5″ Mobile RAID Rack with 2x 2.5″ Drive Bays Review

Introduction


Taking a RAID setup on the road can be a tricky thing and one that is destined to fail most of the time, unless you have a dedicated enclosure. When it has to be portable, it also has to be small, light, and universally usable and Enermax has created such a solution with the 3.5-inch to dual 2.5-inch SATA HDD converter with built-in hardware RAID.

The mobile rack has a default 3.5-inch HDD format with default connector placement and that makes it universally usable. You can just plug it directly into any SATA bay and your RAID setup is seen as a single virtual drive. It further has a hardware switch on the back to select either of the drive modes depending on what you need.

The rack has a solid build all the way around. The aluminium plate on the top helps the drives to dissipate heat faster while the bottom plate has ventilation cutouts to let the drives breath. Whether you use SATA or SAS drives, the EMK3203 supports it all.

Gold plated SATA connectors ensure a perfect connection and prevent corrosion. The EMK3203 utilizes the patented non-scratch SATA connectors that ensure 50.000 drive inserts and ejects for even the most demanding drive swappers.

Just plug your drives right into the enclosure and close the door, chose your mode and your set to go. That is really all there is to this great piece of engineering. The Enermax EMK3203 supports RAID 0, RAID 1, JBOD and Nor (No-Raid) modes.

Enermax has included everything you need in the box, which isn’t much. You get screws to mount it in non-swap positions as well as a SATA cable to connect it. Thanks to the hot-swap system you don’t anything else.

The EMK3203 is using a JMicron JMS562 Super Speed & eSATA GEN III to Dual SATA Gen III Ports bridge chip in the heart of the enclosure. It combines four independent SATA channels and a microprocessor into a tiny chip. The chip can be configured as 1 to 2- ports Serial ATA III Port Multiplier or hardware striping & mirror, where the last one is the one used in this mobile rack.

The chip also supports USB 3.0 and it looks like Enermax also thought about including this. It is mentioned on the label, but the port isn’t there. This could either just be to keep the costs low, the enclosure stable, or simply because there wasn’t room to cram more hardware into the enclosure. My guess is the last one, as it is pretty tight in there with the two PCB boards

Icy Dock Release ToughArmor MB998SP-B 8×2.5″ SATA Drive Hot Swap Mobile Rack

Being able to put four or even up to six 2.5-inch drives into a single 5.25-inch bay has been seen before, but having a total of eight drives in a single bay is somewhat unusual, but that is what Icy Dock’s new ToughArmor MB998SP-B hot swap mobile rack can do.

The full metal-built docking rack allows you to slide eight 7mm drives right into the enclosure and easily connect them to your SATA and RAID controllers. The rear has eight SATA ports and two SATA power ports, saving you a total of six power cables.

The MB998SP-B mobile rack also has two 40mm fans and a built-in fan controller as well as LED activity lights for each drive. The enclosure also has EMI grounding, anti-vibration, and metal heat dissipation to help the flawless usage.

Thanks to Icy Dock for providing us with this information