SUMMARY: A budget priced Mobile Hard Drive Rack for multiple purposes.
The good guys at Kingwin sent a sample of their Mobile Hard Drive Rack for us to check out. Cooling has to be a key concern for a portable like this, as the drive is surrounded by the mobile case.
This model, KF32, has an MSRP of about $20 and features two cooling fans, one at the front (40 mm) drawing air in and one in the center of the bottom plate (50 mm) exhausting air out into the case. Even with both on, they are virtually silent – you have to put your ear on the vents to hear them. I measured the drive’s temp using a IBM 7200 rpm drive and measured a 9.9 C difference between ambient and drive temps with the cover on.
To install, first you place the rack into an empty 5.25″ bay. Be careful when you do this – check your motherboard to make sure you have enough clearance for the rack – it’s almost an inch longer than a CD ROM. The rack is plastic, so you use self tapping screws in pre-drilled plastic holes. Actually, I found it was a tight enough fit that the screws were not really needed.
To mount the hard drive, slide the cover off the mobile insert, place it inside, insert the power and cable connections and screw it into the side rails. Place the top back on and you’re set to go. Then you lift the front bracket up, slide the drive into the rack, and flip the front lever down to lock it into place. To power up the drive, you must lock it with a key; this is tied into the power plug – no lock, no power.
The reasoning behind this is to prevent the drive from being removed accidentally while it’s powered up – definitely not something you want to do, so it’s a good safety measure.
When you engage the locking lever, it levers the drive into the rack’s connectors. This rack supports ATA 66/100 drives, so performance is not a problem.
To aid cooling, there are vents in the side as well.
I used the mobile rack and found it easy to use but not as robust as an all-metal rack. Whether this is something you would be happy with depends on your intended use.
If this is something you will use everyday and it’s going to get knocked around, I don’t think a $20 rack is going to cut it. The top is sheet metal about as thick as what you see on a typical case. It rides in plastic grooves on the rack, and I found the top cover fit loose enough so that I could lift it off without sliding it towards the front. It can be made tighter by slightly bending the sides for a better fit.
The mobile insert has a metal bottom that slides on plastic rails in the rack – I did not find any plastic wearing due to rough surfaces, so undue wear should not be an issue. In use, you need two racks and one insert for portability at a minimum, so factor into a purchase decision additional component costs.
The alternative to a mobile rack such as this depends on what you’re trying to accomplish:
If security is a concern, then a mobile rack makes sense – you leave and the PC basically leaves with you. If you want to isolate OSs completely, then a rack with additional inserts also makes sense – one PC with two or three inserts can become a W98, NT and W2000 system, each independent of the other.
If you want to experiment with OSs, software or whatever without potentially damaging your important data, then a second “junk” drive that you can slip in and out makes a lot of sense – blow it up and so what? If you want full isolation for interent browsing, what better way to achieve it – an internet-only drive.
Now, your significant other may be someone who has techno-shock; I know my wife is one of these. I can tell her how to use Word, for example, and the next day she forgets. Worse, she’ll do something that I can’t undue, through some absolutely weird combination of commands no one ever thought possible and can not be reconstructed.
If you have someone like this, then the BEST solution for a harmonious relationship is to give them their own drive – basically, a PC they can destroy without impacting your stuff. You can actually leave them alone without hovering over them.
THIS makes great sense to me and is what I’m using this product for – $20 is not too much for PC marital harmony.