StarTech.com 2.5/3.5" USB2.0 SATA HD Docking Station (SATADOCKU2) Review
Hard drive portability has sky rocketed over the last couple of years. With the introduction of larger hard drives that are inexpensive, portability has become a great alternative than installing one inside the computer internally. Plus most users have no idea how to install one inside their computers.
There is a wide variety of hard drive enclosures on the market and I think we’ve seen all of the innovation we can see out of them. While they are simple for just about anyone to install, today I will be reviewing a product that thinks outside the box. It’s a hard drive docking station that requires no tools and no knowledge; all you do is swap as many hard drives into it as you want. It’s the StarTech 2.5/3.5” USB2.0 SATA HD Docking Station (model number: SATADOCKU2).
Instead of a hard drive enclosure that needs the hard drive to be tightened down to the chassis, why not invent a docking station specifically made for hard drives and make it work like mounting an iPod to iPod docking station? The idea seems so simple yet this idea was never made until recently just a year ago. Since then, many companies have jumped in and created their versions of such a device.
Today I will review StarTech’s version of the hard drive docking station.
“Since 1985 StarTech.com has provided a complete range of IT and A/V products for a diverse customer base that spans many channels, including government, education and industrial facilities to name just a few. We are dedicated to providing comprehensive information in order to simplify your purchasing process and to ensure that the solutions you need are available when and where you need them.
“This external hard drive dock adapter functions as a SATA HDD docking station - providing full, instant access to any 2.5in or 3.5in SATA (SATA, SATA II, SATA/300) hard drive - without having to mount the hard drive in a computer or install it in an enclosure!
Ordering the StarTech HD Docking Station will provide you the following with your purchase…
Taking a look at the StarTech docking station, there is nothing that really stands out. It’s just a simple black rectangular box made out of tough plastic that you simply drop in hard drives that are either 2.5” or 3.5” in size and are SATA. At the front is where the StarTech logo resides and just below is a multi-colored LED which lights up blue and purple under hard drive access.
The rear of the docking station is where you have the connections. From left to right is the ON/OFF switch, DC-IN for power, USB2.0 port and the optional eSATA connector which is not present in this basic model. No FireWire is offered. This basic model is $50CAD from StarTech.com
Flipping the device to see the underside will reveal four rubber feet to keep the device from slipping and sliding.
Inspecting the top of the device, you notice a door. This door will house your 2.5” hard drive within the opening and 3.5” hard drive once you place your hard drive down on the door that flaps.
With this StarTech HD dock you have the capability of hot swapping. What this means is you can swap out hard drives on this device without turning it off. I don’t really see why you would not turn off this device when swapping as it’s just a safer thing to do.
Now we’re going to see if the StarTech SATADOCKU2 performs just as fast as a normal USB enclosure. Utilizing HD-Tach as the test program, I tested out the StarTech docking station compared to my normal enclosure HD enclosure and also for kicks, I tested out how fast my SATA hard drive was when directly connected to my motherboards SATA connector.
As you can see in the gallery, there is basically no difference between the performance of a normal enclosure and the StarTech hard drive docking station since they are limited to the speed of the USB2.0 specification.
It was interesting to see how limited USB2.0 is in terms of speed having a burst speed of 31MB/s compared to 128MB/s if directly connected to the motherboard. It’ll be interesting to see how fast USB3.0 turns out to be in the coming year(s). But if you have an eSATA to your disposal, it’s the closest thing you’ll come in performance as if the hard drive was connected to the motherboards SATA port. eSATA is fast.
One thing I’d like to mention is that this StarTech HD docking station has the ability to automatically switch into sleep mode after a couple of minutes of hard drive inactivity. This basically spins down (off) the hard drive instead of having it on all the time wasting energy like is done on other hard drive enclosures. This little detail is a nice touch to have to extend the life of your hard drive as the docking station has no form of cooling and relies on ambient temperatures. I’ve had no problems with this device and my hard drives have never been abnormally hot so I would not be afraid of running it often.
I love the StarTech 2.5/3.5” USB2.0 SATA HD Docking Station. This type of product is truly innovative and saves so much time when you have more than one hard drive available to you since there is no need to mount it to a chassis, just plug it in and go.
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