Please recommend an external HD enclosure

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by georgec, May 24, 2006.

  1. georgec macrumors newbie

    Nov 2, 2004

    With my Macbook arriving tomorrow (I damn well hope - it's only 100 miles away now according to TNT), I'm wondering about upgrading the internal hard drive to a faster model with larger capacity. This would leave me with the stock 60GB drive, which I'd like to turn into a portable external backup disk.

    I would like some recommendations for external drive enclosures. They must obviously be 2.5" form factor, and must take a SATA drive (plus whatever else I need to consider - advice appreciated!). I'm very keen to find one which is powered entirely from a single USB/Firewire port. In my searches so far, I have found a few which need two USB connections - one for power, one for data. Perhaps this is the only option with a 2.5" enclosure and drive???. I am not interested in any enclosures which require a power brick.

    Suggestions welcome, particularly from retailers in the UK.

    Many thanks!
  2. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Over the past couple of months, I've bought 3 IcyBox enclosures from

    USB2 & FW400, SATA and ATA, range of colours and styles, easy to put together, can handle 500gb drives. About £30-35 depending on model. Some of them even have flashing blue lights if that's your thing.

    Edit: Ah. OK. Don't want power bricks. Forget about Icy Box then.
  3. imacintel macrumors 68000

    Mar 12, 2006
    You may want to consider Lacie. Some lacie models have Power Brix, but some of them don't. Lacie is known for veryhigh quality.
  4. imacintel macrumors 68000

    Mar 12, 2006
    Oops. you don't want an actual drive.
    sorry...cant help ya.
  5. mrichmon macrumors 6502a

    Jun 17, 2003
    Many of the USB and Firewire 2.5" drive enclosures out there do not require a power brick. Once you step up to a 3.5" drive then the USB or Firewire port is not able to provide enough power for a 3.5" drive to operate.

    So since you are interested in an enclosure for a 2.5" drive then you shouldn't have trouble finding one that will work without a brick. But many of these drives come with a brick since not all computers provide sufficient power to the ports to power even a 2.5" drive.

    The trick is that after a few google searches it appears that most of the 2.5" enclosures available in the UK are USB only. Most external enclosures are designed for IDE drives -- this is especially true for 2.5" enclosures since 2.5" SATA drives are not common.
  6. georgec thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 2, 2004
    Thanks - interesting stuff. Without meaning to start a huge debate, would you go for Firewire over USB for an enclosure if you had the choice?
  7. mrichmon macrumors 6502a

    Jun 17, 2003
    According to the specifications, firewire 400 and USB2 are about the same speed. In real-world use however, firewire 400 is measurably faster than USB2. Firewire also does not require as many CPU resources during a transfer as USB2 requires.

    So yes, firewire over USB2 if possible. A search of these forums will turn up various anecdotal comparisons.
  8. AppleAce macrumors regular

    Mar 7, 2005
    Firewire, definitely. I have a triple interface (firewire 800, 400, USB 2.0) and the firewire recently stopped working for some reason, so I had to use USB. Soooo sloooowwww....
    An enclosure with both USB and firewire might be useful though if you are planning to use it with PC's as well, as most PC's don't have firewire.
    Also, the only external drives you can boot from are firewire. Can't boot directly from a USB drive.
  9. Moof1904 macrumors 65816

    May 20, 2004
    Other World Computing

    They sell the same enclosure that's used in their Mercury Elite Pro series. It's very quiet and has worked for me for over a year with no problem whatsoever.
  10. NadeemF macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2002
    Cambridge, UK
    IcyBox and Crossfire

    I bought an IcyBox enclosures from and found it to be nice and quiet (no fan) but it kept causing trouble on FireWire - it would disappear slightly and hang the system for about 5 minutes or until I disconnected it. In the end I hooked the drive up to my ATA bus of my eMac (don't ask) and the drive itself was fine. Now I'm using the Icybox as a USB enclosure and it works fine.
    IcyBox firmware update involved hooking it up by USB to a Windows machine (one to which you have admin privileges), and despite the online specifications it didn't have an Oxford FireWire chipset.
    I've also got a CrossFire drive; bulky and the fan is always on but it is reliable.
    Also, I've had a couple of FireLite enclosures (to hold my old laptop 2.5" drives) - 1 works fine and is a real trooper, its been my Powerbook boot drive for about a year (don't ask) but the other eventually failed.
    Oh and I've an ancient Archos FireWire enclosure which whines a lot.
  11. mrichmon macrumors 6502a

    Jun 17, 2003
    Although this is true for most systems, it is not true for the intel macs. The Intel macs are able to boot from a USB drive.
  12. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    I agree with the guy who said get an Icy Box. I have two. Great enclosures. Great price. No fan, hence no added noise. Drives stay cool.

    EDIT: Sorry, just saw the part about the power brick.

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