12-06-07 - 1

Followup on my previous eSATA report :

The best drive is the Samsung F1 which is very fast, runs quite cool, and is also nice and quiet. The Western Digital GP is even cooler and slightly quieter, and has a longer MTBF and better head parking, so if you just care about backing up data really safely it would be a better drive (but it's a lot slower).

All the SATA PCMCIA CardBus cards seem to be about the same. CardBus can run at 132 MB/sec which is theoretically slightly less than SATA can do; in practice I can't imagine it will be a limit on any real world drive use. ExpressCard is even faster of course. BTW they provide eSATA ports.

Now you could of course stick this in a normal enclosure and be good to go. It's good to pick a cool drive cuz all the enclosures suck pretty bad for cooling, even ones with fans. They also all pretty much suck for noise reduction. Despite the manufacturer advertising, the sealed all-aluminum enclosures are not particularly good for noise reduction, because the drive is bolted to the enclosure it just transfers vibration and acts as an amplifier. The ones with fans pretty much all suck for quietness as they have ass-tastic fans. Your best options seem to be : CoolerMaster X-Craft fanless enclosure but with good thermal design (open vents - presumably very loud), Apricorn EZ-BUS fanned enclosure is supposedly decently quiet (I haven't found reliable reviews on this), or the Rosewill RX-358 crappy noisy fanned enclosure, but it uses a standard 80mm fan so you can replace it with one of the high quality silent fans and presumably get a decent result.

But there's another way to go, which is basically just running your SATA drive bare. What you do is just take the bare drive and run a SATA-to-eSATA cable and plug it into your eSATA port. Then you just power on the drive with an AC-to-molex or AC-to-eSATA power cable. this blog is the closest thing I've found to a "how to" on that simple operation. One tricky bit I'm finding is just finding the power adapter. I want one with a hard power switch and they're really hard to find. WTF I just want an AC to DC-molex (4 pin) power brick with a switch, how is that not cheap and standard? One option for getting this power cord is to just buy a USB to SATA box and not use the USB part at all and just use the power supply.

The final piece of the puzzle is instead of just sitting your drive on your desktop bare, you put it in a Scythe Quiet Drive . I don't know why more external enclosures aren't designed like the Quiet Drive. It's got noise dampening heat-conductive foam, so the whole box acts like a heat sink (just like all the aluminum enclosures) but it has excellent noise reduction properties. To make it really quiet you should suspend the whole box in an elastic web, which you can of course do. Quiet Drive should not be used with a drive that runs hot, which is why we have to buy one that's reasonably cool. It does make the drive cooler than just sitting it bare on a desk.

Even though this is just a bare external drive, it gets expensive. The SATA-eSATA cable is around $10, the external power supply is $15-$20, and the Quiet Drive box is $35-$40, making a $70 enclosure.

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