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As most computer enthusiasts, or even casual computer builders know, Thermaltake has been setting the standard in quality for years, and while some may argue that they've been slipping lately in chassis quality, they still continue to grow and diversify their products, including their BlacX USB docking station, which we're going to be looking at today.
• Supports All 2.5” & 3.5” SATA HDDs up to 1TB
• Hot-Swap Capability for Rapid Multi HDDs Access & Exchange
• Supports USB 2.0 Transfer Speed up to 480Mbps
• Compact Docking Station Design maximizes Heat Dissipation & Exhaust
• Windows & Mac OS Compatible
Price: $39.99 @ Newegg
Amazingly, for the first time, Thermaltake has completely plastic wrapped the outside of the packaging as well as securely protected the insides of the box. Thankfully, Thermaltake has included all of the barebone necessary components to get your BlacX working correctly, from a cheap generic USB cable, to a decently sized compact wall adapter to give your BlacX the necessary juice to power your larger capacity hard drives.
There's a small spring door on the base of the unit that allows you to simply slide your 3.5" or 2.5" drive into the BlacX. Smaller 2.5" drives slide into a smaller notched portion of the door, while 3.5" drives easily slide into the unit. The unit also features a small round oval which lights up blue to show power and drive activity, similar to the lights on the front of your computer case. All of this is featured on a slick black rectangular device, which while some may consider cheap looking, it easily blends into any professional workstation setup.
As previously mentioned, installation is relatively simply, the BlacX has two connectors on the back, one for the included USB Cable, and another for the power adapter. Once everything is connected, you simply turn the unit on and wait for the drive to spin-up, then you plug the device into your computer over USB. If you're running any Windows XP and up, it should install automa-"gically", and with-in minutes you'll be up copying all of you're "important documents" over to your drive, or for that matter off.
To swap out your drive, thanks to Thermaltake's "revolutionary" “Hot-Swap Capability”, all you do is press the power button on the dock, and hit the eject button, then your hundred dollar investment "safely" pops-out of the cradle.
Unfortunately, the drive easily falls out if the cradle accidentally falls over, this is some risky businesses, because you may lose your date during a transfer, we suggest in future revisions, that Thermaltake produced a better locking mechanism to keep your drive securely mounted.
Processor: Pentium D @ 3.2GHz
Motherboard: Asus P5ND2-SLI DELUXE
Memory: (1) 512MB Crucial (1) 512MB Spire = 1GB Dual Channel
Hard Drive: Maxtor
Power Supply: Thermaltake PurePower TR2-500
The Sandra software provides decently precise benchmarks, and as shown above, the BlacX runs at 27.26MB/s, while the Blues enclosure is at 21.8MB/s. While these aren't eSata worthy speeds, the USB performance on this dock is not slouch.
The BlacX, while using the more outdated and "convient" technologies of USB, manages to dish out a fair amount of speed perfect for older workstations or *gasp* laptops without eSata or firewire support. Thankfully in case anything goes wrong, Thermaltake supplies a 3 year warranty for any defects, I would however also like to see a limited 90-day warranty for your drive itself, even though we didn't experience any problems. Other than that, the BlacX is a decent foray into the portable drive market.
Easy enough to use
Above-average USB performance
We'd like to see the perfomance on the eSata version
Drives can sometimes be knocked out
Drives can sometimes be knocked out
Plastic material a little flimsy