OWC eSATA enclosure (and extender) review

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Digidesign, Jun 20, 2007.

  1. Digidesign macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2002
    #1
    I've been looking for a cost-effective RAID solution to add additional drives to the Mac Pro. MaxUpgrades has a nice caddy that will allow up to 4x drives in the optical bays, but since I use both of the bays I needed something else.

    After doing some research on firewire 800 vs. usb 2 vs. eSATA speeds, I decided to go with OWC's external eSATA case, which house 2x drives. In order for this to work, I also had to purchase an eSATA extender bracket, which plugs into the 2x unused Mac Pro slots and provides two plugs in a slot at the rear of the machine. Total cost is ~$93, and will provide faster speeds than an external firewire enclosure. The CRITICAL thing to remember, is that these drives are not hot-swappable, and if they are unplugged while live, kiss your system goodbye. My workspace is somewhat boxed off, so hopefully this won't be an issue.


    First Part: eSATA enclosure
    [​IMG]
    After unscrewing 4 screws on the bottom of the enclosure, the middle slides out, where you mount your two SATA drives.

    [​IMG]
    The enclosure comes with the option of a power LED. I chose to install it as a visual reminder that it's connected to the Mac Pro. To do so, you just swap the default power cable with the cable that includes the LED. Place a small grommet in the location of your choice (3 possible) and run the LED there.

    [​IMG]
    Front plate goes back on...

    [​IMG]
    ... and slides back into the enclosure.

    [​IMG]
    This is a pic of the rear from OWC. The only options are eSATA cables, no firewire or USB. Since this is a stationary enclosure, that's fine with me. The power cable snaps and holds pretty well, compared to other enclosures I've had in the past where the cable pops out with the slightest tug. The fan noise is low, but not silent. Average temps of the drives was around 41C.


    Second Part: eSATA bracket / extender
    [​IMG]
    This is the most difficult step of the install. There are two heads, one at 90-degrees that you must plug into the unused SATA ports on the motherboard. The tricky thing is that these ports are sitting behind the plastic shield of the front fan/cardslot guide. The instruction says to remove a lot of parts from your Mac Pro to have full access to the motherboard. BUT, many Mac Pros have their screws bonded to the case and cannot be removed easily. Mine is one of those Mac Pros.

    Since I installed this at ~3:00am, I was tired and didn't want to bother finding another way to remove the screws. So I got a small flashlight (cell phone light), laid the mac pro down, and reached in there with my hands trying to plug them in. The first plug (90-degree angle) is easier to put in, since the cut-out on the plastic guide will allow you to move further in. The second takes a bit of finessing, but here's something you can try: hold the cable and bend the head at a 160-degree angle so it's bent slightly downward. Then tweak it so it also slants slightly down to the right like this \ This will let you place the head over the slot a bit easier. Once you have a part of the head over the slot, you can use a flat piece of metal (I used the PCI port piece from the back that the bracket replaced) and gently push it down into the slot. The nice thing is that the slot has the protruding groove facing towards you, so you can just align the plug with the groove and push down with the bracket piece.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Cables galore.

    All Done
    [​IMG]

    After rebooting, I set up my drives to the following, using a similar setup that I found at MacProJournal.com

    [​IMG]

    So far so good. Having the RAID-0 across the four drives is a great boost. I'm still not sure about having my DATA sit on the same drives as the RAID-0, on a different partition. In the even of 1 drive failure, wouldn't the whole RAID-0 AND RAID-10 go down? So for now I'm keeping critical data backed up on another drive in the eSATA.
     
  2. plumbingandtech macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    #2
    thank you for posting this. I am trying to setup the same type of system..

    Question:

    Does the OWC enclosure allow use the drives inside as a boot drive?

    I know the ESATA bracket will do this but I went the cheap route and bought a $30 esata enclosure and while it does mount on the desktop... when I set the esata drive to boot, it hangs and restarts the drive on the "apple" screen... (and I am thinking its because of my cheap esata enclosure.)

    I hope to use this setup to boot from the esata enclosure on both a mac pro (main machine) and another g5 tower i have (that has a new pci card that is supposed to boot esata drives (but I have not installed it yet.)
     
  3. Digidesign thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2002
    #3
    Yes it does. :) I'm currently booting off the enclosure with the OS X drive inside. That same drive also has a boot camp partition for windows Vista, but I have yet to boot into Vista off the enclosure.

    I will test out booting into Vista later tonight. If there are problems, I will post them here, but otherwise you can assume that it worked fine.
     
  4. plumbingandtech macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    #4
    thank you so much. My prob. is prob. the enclosure (slaps self for going cheap.)

    For the record I only plugged in the L shaped sata connector... the other is still not plugged in since I stripped the screw (you know the one they warn you about AFTER you buy the bracket) and have to do it by hand...



    Do you think that the OWC enclosure will work fine if I only put in one drive and connect it to my one esata bracket bracket connector?
     
  5. Digidesign thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2002
    #5
    What I tried was unplugging the second drive on the enclosure and the bracket, effectively connecting only one drive (from the L-shaped cored I believe, which leads to port #1 which leads to drive #1 - the boot drive).

    Mac OS X still boots up fine with no problems.

    However, Vista no longer boots off the external eSATA enclosure. It might have something to do with disk location since the boot drive with Vista used to be in Bay 1. Some OSes like Linux (Ubuntu 6.10) won't automatically re-map to the drive if it is physically moved to another location.
     
  6. plumbingandtech macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    #6
    I ordered the same OWC enclosure this morning and it will prob. take till next week to get here..

    (i got an rma on my old enclosure btw so at least i can get some of my money back. i tried putting a bigger drive in it and it would not spin up so this is almost cert. power related.)

    I use parralels and plan and putting vista there someday. right now I do not need it and use XP, I still have not installed bootcamp for xp though as Parralels is doing a great job so far.

    thanks so much again!

    (someday somehow I will get the other sata port plugged in.. for now one is good for me...)
     

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