External enclosures for removable SATA drives

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by macstatic, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. macstatic, Jan 20, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013

    macstatic macrumors 65816


    Oct 21, 2005
    I need an external enclosure with removable hard drive bays allowing me to easily and quickly swap 3.5" SATA hard drives.
    The drives will function as file storage and backup drives of these (hence the need for at least 2 drive bays so I can copy between them).
    It should have the following features:

    • Work with ANY 3.5" SATA hard drive (no limitation to SATA II only, only up to 2TB or 3TB etc. as with some enclosures)
    • Allow for bare drives without any tray, caddy or special mount
    • The drives will be set up as individual (JBOD) drives, so RAID support isn't essential
      (but welcome in case I need it later if the price isn't a lot higher)
    • Have at least 2 drive bays (4 is even better, but depends on the additional cost)
    • Have at least an eSATA interface (preferrably also Firewire 800,
      but since SATA + Firewire interfaces seem hard to find and I can always network my Powerbook G4 through
      my Mac Pro for drive access I can live with just eSATA)
    • Be silent (no noisy fans! Possibly with temperature controlled fans to keep noise levels down)
    • Be Mac compatible of course!

    Here are some enclosure I've found which seem to have some/many of those features:
    Sharkoon SATA QuickPort Duo v.2 (2x bays, SATA, USB 2)

    Sharkoon SATA quickport Quattro (4x bays, SATA/USB 3)

    Thermaltake BlacX Duet (2x bays, SATA/USB 2)

    StarTech SATA HDD duplicator dock SATDOCK22RE (2x bays, SATA/USB 2)

    Orico 8648rusi3 (obsolete) (4x bays, SATA/USB 3/Firewire 400 & 800)

    Orico 9849rusi3 (obsolete) (4x bays, SATA/USB 3/Firewire 400 & 800)

    Orico 9648rusi3 (replaces above 9849 model) (4x bays, SATA/USB 3/Firewire 400 & 800) -not sure what specs differ except the rack ears and openings for the front LEDs look slightly different.

    Orico 6204ss (for mounting in a 5.25" drive space -I assume PC type enclosures with power supplies can be bought for this purpose) (4x bays, SATA)

    Orico 6205ss (similar to the above, but for an additional drive) (5x bays, SATA)

    OWC Mercury Rack Pro (looks very similar to the two 19" rack units from Orico, doesn't it?) (4x bays, SATA/USB 3/Firewire 400 & 800)

    The 8648rusi3 (obsolete but still available many places online as far as I can tell) seems to be a good choice, as do the Orico and OWC 19" rack units (but at a price). I don't know enough about how the 5.25" Orico devices connect to the Mac -if they're simply mechanical units meaning they can use any SATA interface inside a DIY 5.25" PC enclosure, allowing for simple upgrading (of the SATA interface) if newer, larger SATA hard drives appear in the next few year that no longer work with the current SATA interface inside the PC enclosure or not.
    The drive docks would of course be a simpler, cheaper alternative to all the above but none of them support Firewire and they're probably less sturdy/more fragile and lack cooling fans (except for the 4 bay Sharkoon above).

    So what do you suggest I go for, and does anyone here have any experience with any of these (or similar) solutions?
  2. Ccrew macrumors 68020

    Feb 28, 2011
    I have the Thermaltake. Low cost, works great, does what it does. Also works for 2.5" laptop drives.
  3. hallux macrumors 68030


    Apr 25, 2012
    Personally, I'd go with the Thermaltake or StarTech. Something to keep in mind with the max drive size spec, that's probably the largest drive that was available at the time of testing. Saw that a lot with digital cameras and some of the early cell phones that took micro-USB cards. They couldn't test them with larger sizes, so rather than say it'll work then find out it won't and have a lot of ticked-off customers, they don't advertise compatibility.
  4. macstatic thread starter macrumors 65816


    Oct 21, 2005
    Yeah, I need to check that out for sure.
    Someone told me that most of those docks are built around the same chipset which has limitations concerning drive size etc.

    I've been looking closer at the so called SATA backplanes such as the Orico 6204ss. They seem to be more or less mechanical devices (connectors for the drives etc.) with SATA connectors going to the interface of your own choice if I'm not mistaken. I'm guessing that apart from installing it in a suitable PC case with a power supply I'd need a SATA 4-port multiplier with (for compatibility with other Macs than my Mac Pro) a Firewire bridge and possibly also a USB 3 bridge. I've even seen that some of those port multiplier/bridge boards have PCIe type brackets which mount to the back of the PC case, so that's nice. The eSATA connector on the back would then be connected to my Mac Pro's SATA PCIe card with a cable. Can someone conform if this is correct?
    If so, this would probably be the most "future proof" and cost effective solution even though I'd have to spend some time DIYing it. If the multiplier/bridge board becomes obsolete (if larger SATA hard drives are introducted making it incompatible) I could exchange it for a different board. I see they cost around US$ 70 to 130, so that's not too bad compared to buying a brand new enclosure.
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    I would suggest looking for docks that utilize either the
    - ASMedia 1051E chipset, or the
    - ASMedia 1053 chipset

    I believe both of these support "UASP" (USB Attached SCSI Protocol). I'm going to -guess- that USAP contributes to attached USB drives using less CPU power than earlier USB technology did.

    You also want to thoroughly investigate as many "user experiences" as you can, through product reviews, etc. I've found the user reviews at amazon.com (and a few other places) quite informative. I just search using "mac" as my search string. Seems like some folks have problems with the multiple-bay docks, in such areas as:
    - random disconnects
    - involuntary "dismounting" of one drive when the second drive is inserted into the dock.

    Then again, I saw one reader report about one dual-bay dock that could 'dupe" a Mac-formatted drive by itself (not connected to the Mac). I think that one was:
    I don't have that one, so I can't vouch for other than what is posted in the user reviews.

    If all you really need to do is dupe one drive at a time, it might actually be less problematical to get two single-bay docks, and do it that way. I realize that means two separate peripherals on the desk instead of one, but "what works, works"….
  6. FireWire2 macrumors 6502


    Oct 12, 2008

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