Highpoint e.SATA Kit Review
Technology is improving each day and at a faster rate than ever. We demand the fastest and greatest. Some examples of high-speed connectivity ports that can handle external devices are USB2.0 (speeds up to 480Mbps) and FireWire (speeds of up to 400 Mbps). Highpoint now has something creative up their sleeves. That is e.SATA. e.SATA aka External Serial ATA, claims to be capable of speeds up to three times faster than both USB and FireWire at speeds up to 1500Mbps. Continue to reading and see what I think about e.SATA and if it will be the next big thing.
The e.SATA kit includes the RocketMate 1000 HDD Enclosure and the Rocket 1511 Single e.SATA channel Host Adaptor. eSATA derives from the Serial ATA, which is the new standard in hard drive world.
The e.SATA kit arrived to us in a corrugated box. There was no damage to report. Both boxes are nicely designed with a big image of what is inside and specifications on the rear.
The Rocket 1511 comes with the following items:
Specifications of Rocket 1511
is interesting here is that the card's performance solely depends on
the speed of the bus. As current PCI speeds are only 33MHz, you
will see better performance in the upcoming new 66MHz bus as in the
Athlon64/Intel Prescott. You are not seeing the full potential
here. Just half.
The e.SATA card fits into any PCI slot, which enables you to use an e.SATA device. The card only has one connector. Highpoint offers more e.SATA ports on higher models of their cards.
Lets see the HDD Enclosure. The Highpoint RocketMate 1100. The box contains the following:
Specifications of RocketMate 1100
The RocketMate 1100 accepts all 3.5” Hard Drives up to ATA 133. It’s also capable of handling bigger hard drives larger than 137GB.
The main unit features a big e.SATA logo embedded on the top of the enclosure. There are two plastic ends surrounding the ends. The front of the drive has a LED activity light. The rear of the drive contains the power switch, ON/OFF button, and the e.SATA connector. The unit sits vertically with rubber feet on the bottom preventing any slippage. Notice the e.SATA cable connector? Looks like a FireWire port right? Something to think about. Very unique.
Placing a hard drive is very easy and straightforward. From the rear of the enclosure, remove the two screws on opposite ends to open access to the tray. You are now able to slide out the tray, which is easy to do and doesn’t get stuck in the process.
Once removed, we see a couple of things. You see the PCB, which has the ATA converter and the Molex connector to power the drive. On the side you will the LED.
Once you have connected those two things flip over and install the mounting screws to keep the drive stable and non-shaking. Slide it back in and you are ready to go. From there, install the e.SATA Host Adaptor drivers, reboot and you are now ready to rock.
I will be using an old Fujitsu MPE3136AT for testing and a Western Digital 8MB 80GB HDD. The Fujitsu is not new and only supports ATA66 but we will see if it’s any good. The WD on the other hand spins at 7200PRM and has 8MB cache onboard. This will give you an idea of performance of the newer drives that you are likely to buy. HDD Tach and Sisoft Sandra MAX3 will be the programs of choice where it permits. The motherboard is a Soltek SL-FRN2-L that has no SATA onboard.
Fuji onboard Sisoft
Fuji onboard HDD Tach
Fuji on e.SATA Sisoft
Fuji on e.SATA HDD Tach
As you can see the performance improvement with the old Fujitsu drive is negligible but does improve slightly. CPU Utilization is a tad bit higher. I guess the ATA66 drive is at its limit. It could improve slightly more on a 66MHz PCI bus though.
WD e.SATA on Sisoft
WD e.SATA on HDD Tach
On the WD test, the e.SATA beats out FireWire and USB2.0 and does very well. Maybe not three times better yet but we are seeing 50% of it's theoretical performance using only a 33MHz PCI bus. Once we test it on a 66Mhz bus, maybe then we can see what it has to offer.
Note: No two systems are the same. There are many factors such as bus speed, etc. You may get better or worse results. Also both drives had data and a install of Windows XP inside.
Overall the e.SATA is quick with the old drive and fast with the new one. The performance is there and the installation doesn’t require you to be I337. I support the need of e.SATA to become more present in the industry. However there are some quirks. e.SATA is not widely known yet and thus you need an e.SATA port whenever you want to bring it over to a friend’s home and use it. There is concern of hard drive heat. The hard drives can become hot when used for a long time but it wasn’t in my case. The exterior still felt cool and it shouldn’t pose a problem. Also I feel that the AC Adaptor cord and the e.SATA connector cord should be longer. It is too short for my taste.
Best thing is that you are ready to use it in a new 66MHz bus which you will see it's full potential speed. Future proof I'd say.
Since this review, HighPoint has introduced newer models of this kit.
I rate the HighPoint e.SATA kit a…
Pros and Cons
I would like to thank HighPoint for making this review possible on this product. If you are on the hunt for a HDD Enclosure, the HighPoint with it's new e.SATA should rank high on your "look at" list. Matter of fact, these kits have good pricing and lower than some USB 2.0 or FireWire enclosures that I know of.