Best eSATA ExpressCard/Enclosure for the MBP?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by BlueArctos, Jul 22, 2007.

  1. BlueArctos macrumors member

    Jun 17, 2007
    With eSATA benchmarks out everywhere, I'm content to purchase my next drive enclosure with eSATA. Unfortunately, there aren't any product guides (that I could find) for the poor ExpressCard/34 consumer.

    Models I've managed to find so far:
    • Addonics 2 Port eSATA ExpressCard 34 and RAID5/JBOD eSATA ExpressCard 34
    • Rosewill RC-605
    • Koutech ECSA220
    • Merax eSATA Xpress
    • Sonnet Tempo SATA Express 34
    • NitroAV 2-Port eSATA II 3Gb/s Professional Express Card (34mm) Interface Adapter
    • BYTECC Express Card eSATA II 2 Ports
    Some of those manufacturers creep me out.



    What are your recommendations for eSATA express cards compatible with the MacBook Pro?

    ...and while we're at it, your thoughts on enclosures?

  2. tw0k1ngs macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2007
  3. CrimsonScythe macrumors newbie

    Apr 24, 2007
  4. BlueArctos thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 17, 2007
    That thing looks glorious. I'd be yanking out my credit card straight away IF it supported 3.0 Gb/s transfer speeds. Only runs at 1.5 Gb/s =(

    Any thoughts on the Antec MX-1?
  5. koalition macrumors member

    Apr 23, 2007
  6. tmoney468 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 13, 2007
    I'd vote for the Bytecc SATA expresscard. It's a lot cheaper than some of the other ones but it got good reviews on NewEgg from users using Macs. I've owned 3 Bytecc External HD Enclosures and all have been great. Bytecc is a good company
  7. koalition macrumors member

    Apr 23, 2007
  8. krisis1 macrumors member

    May 13, 2007
    I just ordered an Addonics external case with hardware port multiplier for raid, and a 5 hot-swap sata-bays to go inside the case, along with a 2-port non-raid Addonics expresscard. This combo should work fine on the MBP, or so I hope.

    Too bad the case itself is on backorder, I expect to have it in less than two weeks and when I get it I'll try to post a review.
  9. xristy macrumors member


    Jul 31, 2007
  10. CrimsonScythe macrumors newbie

    Apr 24, 2007
    The MacPower one runs the latest Oxford chipset on the market right now. (Oxford 934 DSB will probably start appearing in the somewhat near future, which does support SATA 3.0Gb/s. But, out of curiosity, why do you need 3.0Gb/s, when absolutely no hard drives can deliver that speed? (Not even half of that speed, actually.)

    As for Antec, I'm a bit wary of them after I had a PSU of theirs blow up on me and take with it several disks... Could be good, though.
  11. pengu macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2005
    Diddily Daddily...
    #11 is the one im planning to get (but im gonna use it over FW800).. If you want more than 1/2 drive enclosures and more than RAID0/1 you wont find many. Caldigit just released a pro-orientated external array, which comes with a card for PCIe, but can also be used with an ExpressCard adapter. However, as i said, its a Pro solution, so it'll come with a Pro pricetag.
  12. gregrochon macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2007
    montreal, canada
    I have the SIIG express/34 card connected to a Lacie Two Big 1TB external raid.

    Works very well... I looked at the price of eSata enclosures vs. kits (like the lacie) and opted for the Lacie kit since there wasn't much of a price advantage going with seperate pieces at the time. I looked at the Caldigit stuff, it looks nice, but I can't see it it's a hardware or software raid (but i did look at their site extremely quickly). If you're going for a raid enclosure, you absolutely want a hardware raid.. software raids will kill your speed advantage by going esata vs. fw or usb.
  13. matthewjheaney macrumors newbie

    Sep 6, 2007
    I've also been looking at the Addonics mini storage tower. I noticed that you can buy the tower with either a "hardware" PM or a "software" PM. You stated above that you selected the "hardware" PM. Can you elaborate on the reason for choosing the hardware PM? I couldn't decide which kind of PM I need.

  14. krisis1 macrumors member

    May 13, 2007
    Well the thing is, with the Hardware Port Modulator, you configure a RAID set on the controller chip inside the box. Your RAID volume(s) don't appear as individual drives, but as a logical "mirrored volume" for instance. The regular PM just gives you access to all the disks on your box and that's it.
    This means your entire RAID config is on the box, and you can just plug the box in another controller and it works. Otherwise, you have to reconfigure software etc etc, too much risk for valuable data.
    Also, if the controller inside your box would break, you can upload a backup of the config data of the broken box to a new box, insert your disks, and you're ready to work again.
  15. matthewjheaney macrumors newbie

    Sep 6, 2007
    Thanks for your help. I'm still trying to figure this stuff out.

    Actually, that's all I need it for anyway. I wasn't intending on creating RAID storage.

    If I'm not planning on RAID, then it sounds like a software PM is all I need. Can I configure a hardware PM to give me plain, non-RAID access to the drives? Of course I wouldn't need a hardware PM to do this, but would prevent me from configuring the tower that way?

    Besides offering the possibility of a RAID configuration, would the hardware PM confer some other benefit over a software PM?

    Thanks again,
  16. krisis1 macrumors member

    May 13, 2007
    Seems like a regular PM will do fine for you right now!
    I ordered my HPM but got a PM model, unfortunately in a box labeled HPM, so it wasn't the dealer's fault. Anyway, the dealer went on vacation right after I discovered this, and I got to keep the PM for another week or two. In the meanwhile I configured a software raid, and now I finally have my HPM and the disks work default as "JBOD": straight access to the hardware that is, just as the PM does. On the HPM is also a jumper to enable RAID. If it's removed the HPM acts like a regular PM, but you can also configure say 2 disks for JBOD and 2 for RAID, then you'd have 3 volumes visible in your OS.

    If you can afford the HPM and maybe someday use the extra features it's well worth it. I don't really need the HPM, a PM would work too for my case, but I feel safer knowing I have flexibility in my setup.
  17. matthewjheaney macrumors newbie

    Sep 6, 2007
    I read at Addonics' website that (with an eSATA-to-USB adapter) you can connect the storage tower via the USB port of the laptop. Is the USB option only available with the hardware PM? (If so then that would be a good reason to go with the hardware PM, since that would allow me to connect it to some other computer that lacks an ExpressCard slot.)
  18. krisis1 macrumors member

    May 13, 2007
    As far as I know the USB adapter is able to connect to any PM-compatible device, or straight to a SATA device (through eSATA connection ofcourse).
    So I don't see why the PM would work less than the HPM. But I'm not an expert in this matter, better email the addonics support, they're great and friendly, and had to reply several mails of me too prior to purchasing ;-)
  19. ruftytufty macrumors member

    Jan 4, 2005
    Berkeley, CA
    I've got the BYTECC card, and it works fine. An important thing to pay attention to is the chipset, since that contains all of the real functionality, and the chipset mfr actually writes the driver in most cases. The chipsets I know of are:

    Silicon Image SIL3132: good Mac support, including RAID and port multiplier (though I haven't used RAID or PM).
    JMicron: if you really search their website, you find a claim for "limited" Mac support. This is used in the card Meritline's been selling for $20. I'd stay away from this one until someone takes the dive and gives it a try.
    Oxford: don't know about these - CrimsonScythe says that's what's used in the MacPower, and Oxford has a good rep.

    BYTECC: SIL3132 (I had to write their support dept. to ask - they don't officially support Mac)
    Addonics: SIL3132 (good reviews for the Mac)
    SIIG: SIL3132
    Firmtek: SIL3132, I think, though they've fine tuned their drivers according to barefeats:
  20. Inconsequential macrumors 68000

    Sep 12, 2007
    Does anyone have any idea where to get one of these cards in the UK?

    Found the sonnet one for £90 ($180 for you Americans :p)

    Probs cheaper to buy one in the US and import it for £40! ($80).

    Bloody UK :rolleyes: lol

    Cheers guys :)
  21. 9Charms macrumors regular


    May 19, 2006
    Vancouver, BC
    I personally owned the Sonnet Tempo Sata 34 Express Card. It was solid. No hitches, worked great. Vista loved it as well (under bootcamp).

    I used a Nextar Vantec enclosure. Can't go wrong with the enclosure for $30.

    FYI I got annoyed at the MBP's inconsistent screen, so I don't own one anymore.
  22. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    We have a number of customers with these. They work well.

    One thing to remember for any ExpressCard 34 product -- Apple's ExpressCard socket does not positively lock the card into place - its prone to ejecting the card if the card gets pushed in or pulled on by the cables or otherwise. Of course, ejecting a drive interface while the drive is mounted or worse, being written to, is a Very Bad Thing.
  23. weckart macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
    This adaptor from Apiotek also works although not officially supported by Mac OS X. However write speeds were disappointing, although that may be due to the no-name housing I used. It is not hot-pluggable under Tiger and will cause a kernel panic if ejected. However, I tried it on a friend's laptop under Leopard build 9A499 and it ejected gracefully, so this may be the budget option for UK buyers.
  24. aimfire macrumors regular


    Jun 30, 2007
    Sunnyvale, CA
    I'll vouch for the Rosewill RC-605 express card...
    I got it from Newegg for $40 the other day and works fine, no problems whatsoever.

    If anyone goes with this, just make sure to ignore the cd and grab the drivers straight from Rosewill's web site, as they are the most recent.
  25. tmoney468 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 13, 2007
    I just got the Bytecc eSATA expresscard here the other day:

    I ordered from Directron and they have it for $29 plus shipping. It works great, and the difference between USB and eSATA is night and day when I've been working on this DVD project on my external drive. eSATA is SO much faster it's amazing.

    One thing I should mention is that there aren't any drivers included with the expresscard, so you have to download them here:

    It's the chipset that the expresscard uses, I installed those and it works perfectly.

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