Bare 3.5 hard drives, & enclosures vs buying all in one external hard drive

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Sossity, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. Sossity macrumors 65816

    May 12, 2010
    I have been looking around at hard drives & enclosures.

    I read that it is more economical to get bare hard drives, & swap them out in enclosures.

    But I am finding that as capacities of hard drives increase, my enclosures that I have are already obsolete, I see 4tb hard drives now, & all my enclosures are rated to support up to 2tb.

    I dont want to have to keep buying new enclosures to accommodate bigger capacity hard drives almost every year, or at least for the enclosures to last more than just a couple of years.

    On the other hand I can just buy a whole external hard drive in an enclosure ready made, & it seems cheaper this way.
  2. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    What type of system do you have a Mac Pro? External? All that matters with enclosures is that they are rated at the same speed as the drive.
  3. Sossity thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 12, 2010
    I currently have a mac mini 2011, & I am not using these particular drives to back up the mini, these are just external hard drives for all my data.

    so all that is important is that the enclosure's rated rotational speed be the same as the bare hard drive I am placing in it?

    will I be able to place a 4tb bare hard drive into a 2tb rated enclosure?
  4. costabunny macrumors 68020


    May 15, 2008
    Weymouth, UK
    Used to be true but in these past twelve months I have purchased several externals (for various friends/family) and found in nearly all cases I could get a ready-made on offer formless than the bare drive price.

    Eg got a 3Tb western digital external and at the time the best price for a 3tb wd disk on its own was about £3 more than this package deal from currys.

    I think it depends on actors such as what brands you want and if you are fussy about quality of enclosure?

    I find having all in one from WD or seagate etc means warranty on disk and the box.

    Only time i got a separate box lately was to put my 3tb seagate into a USB3.0 box. Got a good quality box for £30 from a local supplier that I've known for many years.

    Piece of mind is worth a few pounds extra in my opinion.
  5. frankieboy macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2009
    I think the OEMs don't use the same quality drives in their ready-made enclosures that they sell as regular bare drives. For example, Seagate's Freeagent series do not use Barracuda-quality drives, they use some inferior one.

    So it may be worth the extra cost to buy a top-shelf bare drive and put it in a decent enclosure.
  6. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    1. it's not necessarily more economical to buy separate drives and enclosures. its usually cheaper up front to buy preassembled - the advantage of buying separate is being able to swap drives or enclosures separately, so if one part dies, or you need more space or a different connection technology, you don't have to buy a whole new (preassembled) external drive.

    2. all enclosures support all hard drive capacities. when they list a max of 2TB, that just means 2TB was the largest capacity available at the time the enclosure was made.
  7. js81 macrumors 65816


    Dec 31, 2008
    My $.02

    I've had both...

    First, I only buy Western Digital drives; not that the others are bad, it's just that I've had great luck with WD and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

    Second, I see both sides of this - pre-made ARE usually cheaper, but they're kind of one time use. Third-party enclosures are a crap-shoot, though; you never really know what you'll get. For example, I recently bought a very nice looking Masscool enclosure from Newegg, but it wouldn't spin down the drive. EVER. (Unless I switched its physical power switch, of course.) I want my drives to spin down when my mini sleeps.

    I have two excellent OWC enclosures for 2.5" drives. I'm getting ready to buy a Mercury Elite Pro 3.5"; OWC has already confirmed that it WILL spin down when my mini sleeps. :)
  8. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Actually, I find that external drives are often times on sale for cheaper than bare internal drives. Especailly around black friday. I actually picked up 6 - 3TB external drives from Seagate from Bestbuy and Amazon and each one was 99.99 (had to pay tax on the Best Buy ones). Looking at Newegg the prices for internal 3TB bare drives is currently $140 for the cheapest. I ended up ripping the drives out to the enclosures since I actually needed bare drives. Downside to this is I completely negated any warranty, but since I paid $600 for 18TB of storage compared going with the externals as opposed to $840 for bare drives I'll take the chance.

    So no it is not necessarily cheaper to buy a bare drive and add an enclosure. Now what I will say, is that generally buying cheap externals means that the drive itself is usually in a cheap plastic case with poor thermal dissipation. If I want to keep a long term external drive, I usually do "roll my own", because I like active cooling in my hard drive cases (i.e. a fan) and/or go for aluminum cases as opposed to cheap plastic passive cases. However, these cases will generally run you about $50 so prepare to pay a lot compared to a cheap external....

    Just my .02 worth.
  9. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    Enclosure electronics don't care at all about rotational speeds. As others have said, you can occasionally get into a situation where the enclosure's electronics won't handle a particular size of drive. That wasn't rare in the old days, but I think it's a thing of the past now.

    Since you have a mini, take a look at this enclosure. Technology/MSQKIT0GB/

    It matches your mini (or so it's claimed), and has an excellent set of interfaces (FW400 and 800, USB2 and 3, eSATA). I've been running one (3 TB disk inside) for a couple of months and it's performed flawlessly.

    The biggest advantage of buying an enclosure and bare drive is that it's very easy to swap the drive for another one, anytime you want to. And if you can handle a small Philips-head screwdriver, you can install a drive. Nothing to it -- a 5 minute job, if that.
  10. jwjsr macrumors 6502


    Mar 15, 2012
    Fairhope, Alabama
    Nice, what drive did u install? Would you recommend getting the bare bones one or the one with the software bundle?
  11. Giuly, Feb 8, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013

    Giuly macrumors 68040


  12. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    I dropped one of the 3 TB Seagates into it.


    and I see that Amazon has them for $132.

    I didn't get the software bundle.
  13. js81 macrumors 65816


    Dec 31, 2008
    Don't drop a hard drive! It's bad for its health! lol

    I debated and debated on a mini stack, but since my mini's an '09, I decided to wait and get one when I get a new mini.
  14. Giuly macrumors 68040


    The Pegasus J4 is a nice stack - if it holds 2TB WD Green (2.5" and 15mm high), which I doubt. But nice for SSDs, too.
  15. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    This is a safe-for-work site, so I didn't want to say that I slipped it in.
  16. Macsonic macrumors 65816


    Sep 6, 2009
    Try buying your 3.5 HD and enclosure from one store/supplier so in cases of repairs, you only need to go to one source or the store can easily isolate if the problem is with the HD or the enclosure.
  17. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    I'm a big fan of "USB/SATA docks".

    With a hard drive mounted in a USB dock --
    - If the drive fails, just eject it and insert another drive
    - If the dock fails, just replace it with a working dock (and your existing drives)
    - Makes it easy to manage multiple drives and backups.
    - Can be booted from if necessary

    I use a "lay-flat" dock in conjunction with an Intel 520 series SSD to serve as the "external booter" for my 2012 Mac Mini. Mounted this way, the drive runs VERY fast (over 410mbps reads), no random disconnects, no sleep issues.

    The only reason I'd again use an actual "externally-enclosed" hard drive is for purposes of portability. But even a docked drive is readily portable.

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