Kingwin Aluminum 3.5" Hard Drive Enclosure

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SUMMARY: Data on the go, with big bold bubble lighting

Boxes

The good folks at Kingwin were kind enough to send one of their
External Hard Drive Enclosures to take a look at.

Pictured above is a pair of Kingwin’s external enclosures. Today, we’ll look at their 3.5″ Hard Drive Enclosure (the top box of the two).

If you’re interested in the 5.25″ Optical Drive Enclosure (the lower box shown above), it’s own seperate review is coming very soon. Stay tuned! 😉

Kingwin offers three different variants of their 3.5″ model as seen here, with the differences being connectivity. They are:

  • KH-350UF, USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394 (Firewire) connectors (two of them)
  • KH-350F 2x IEEE 1394 (Firewire) only
  • KH-350U USB 2.0 only

The exact model seen here is the third, with USB 2.0 only.

These items are also available from Kingwin in a black finish as well as silver.

Specifications:

  • Bus Interface: USB 2.0
  • Compliance: USB 2.0 EHCI based
  • Data speed: USB 2.0: 1.5/12/480 Mbps
  • Rear panel connection: USB “B” type receptacle (A to B cable included)
  • Suitable for all IDE 3.5″ HDDs, up to 350GB supported
  • Plug & play and hot-swapping capability
  • Large bubble light LEDs for Power ON (Blue) and HDD Activity (Orange)
  • Cypress chipset based USB controller
  • Power supply: 12V/1.7A, 20w switching AC/DC power adapter (included)
  • 2 stands (included)
  • Dimensions: 8 7/8″(227 mm)L x 5 7/8″(151 mm)W x 1 1/4″(32 mm)H
  • Weight: 3.00 lb

Mentioned above are a few included items. Let’s look at what does come in the box:

Included

Pictured here (clockwise): the enclosure, the power adapter, stands, and a bag containing the USB cable, driver disk, and User Manual.

Included also (inside the enclosure) is a small bag with four screws for mounting your hard drive.

The KH-350U does require the power adapter to operate. The lead from it to the enclosure is fairly generous (just over four feet long), as is the USB cable (which measures six feet).
Finding a place for this on your desktop and being able to plug it in should pose no problems.

The User Manual details the specs as highlighted above, driver installations for Windows 9x and Mac systems (not required for Windows 2000/ME/XP), and assembly.

Assembly is very straight forward, and those who’ve installed a hard drive in their own systems before won’t even need the instructions. It’s very easy to mount one in this enclosure.

Let’s do that next, and we’ll have a look at the case, electronics, and those big bubble lights along the way.

Disassembly and Reassembly…

Disassembly and re-assembly

Disassembly is easy. Looking at the end of the enclosure with the switches;

Switches

(Left to right): Main power switch, power adapter socket, and the USB socket

Removing the four screws (two at each end) allows the end piece to come off. After which the top panel is free to slide out of it’s grooves.

Cover off

Highlighted here are the holes for mounting the drive. This model bottom mounts it, rather than using the sides of the drive.

Turning our attention to the end piece we just removed, we find the electronics used attached to it.

Electronics

Noteworthy here are the two big LEDs at each end (used in conjunction with the bubble acrylic along each side of the enclosure). When reassembling, make sure these seat into the recesses
in the acrylic. If the cover doesn’t seem to go on easily, this is likely why.

The short 80 wire IDE ribbon is seperated into smaller segments, which allows it to flex easily.

This circuit board is identical to the one used in the larger 5.25″ enclosure. Note the fan header in the lower right corner. The 5.25 drive enclosure also features a 40mm
fan for additional cooling.

I could find nothing specifying, but set the jumpers on your hard drive to “Master” before installing. Where it’s the only drive on this channel, it should be.

Mounting the drive is very easy. Locate it against the rear end of the enclosure, and the screw holes should be lined right up. Hold the drive/enclosure assembly with one hand,
flip it over, and put the four screws in. Get them all started before tightening them fully, and you’ll have an easier time getting them all lined up.

Drive mounted

Next, plug in the leads for the IDE ribbon and power into the drive. Let the end piece hang loose, and slide the top cover into place. Finally, reattach the end cover, again, ensuring the LED’s sit into the recesses in the bubble acrylic.

Assembly

Hooked up

Assembled, plugged in, and ready to go. Shown here using the stands included.

Looks and Performance…

Looks

Lights

With the camera flash off, you get an idea how bright the bubble lights are.

They’re actually a bit brighter than the picture leads you to think. Using bubble acrylic is an easy way to make things seem brighter, as the light from the LEDs reflects
more off of the bubbles in the acrylic.

While pictures are “worth a thousand words”, performace is very important with an item like this. How fast it can transfer a thousand words (or a thousand pictures) to and from your PC
is what we’ll look at last.

Performance

Points to ponder: An external enclosure like this will always be slower than mounting the drive internally.

Figuring that USB 2.0 transfers data at maximum of 480 megabits per second, this is somewhat below the maximum speed of an internally mounted ATA66 drive (66 megabytes per second).

So, there is a performance tradeoff for portability. This tradeoff doesn’t apply to optical drives, which still operate at ATA33 specs.

My testing will be done this way; First, I’ll test the drive externally, and then remove and install the drive internally, as a slave in the test system used. I’ll use three
benchmarks to evaluate performance, those being the Si Soft Sandra 2004 File system Benchmark and Removable Storage/Flash Benchmark, and HD Tach 3.0

What I’m actually testing:

The drive I’m using for these tests is a 20GB Western Digital (model number WD200EB), that operates at ATA100, 5400 RPM. A very common, inexpensive drive, one that might find
a home into an enclosure like this often.

The system I’ll be plugging this into is specs out as follows:

  • Abit NF7-S v2.0
  • AMD XP-M 2500+, overclocked to 2500MHz (12.5 x 200)
  • 1 GB PC3200 (Corsair Twin-X1024-3200 XLPRO)
  • Windows XP Pro SP1a
  • Master HDD in system: Western Digital 40GB WD400 BB (ATA100, 7200RPM)

Benching

Benchmark

Mounted Externally (USB 2.0)

Mounted Internally (ATA100)

Sandra 2004 File System Benchmark

Drive Speed Index = 15 MBps

Drive Speed Index = 22 MBps

Sandra 2004 Removable File System Benchmark

Max. Read

14.4 MBps

19.5 MBps

Max. Write

15.1 MBps

23.3 MBps

HD Tach 3.0

Random Access Time

17.7 ms

17.3 ms

CPU Utilisation

8% (+/- 2%)

2% (+/- 2%)

Average Read

18.2 MBps

25.5 MBps

Burst Speed

18.9 MBps

91.7 MBps

What can be gathered from the numbers above, is that the data transfer rates are indeed slower with the drive mounted in the external enclosure. The largest margin of difference
being the Burst Speed, where rates were just over four times slower.

I did one more test, that being to copy a good sized folder to and then back from the external drive. I have a folder on my desktop that I’ve been tossing odds and ends into,
to get burned to CDR. It contains a mix of zip files, .exe files, .AVI’s, MP3’s, folders of jpegs, etc.. It weighs in at 1.36GB.

Benchmark

From PC to External Drive

From External Drive to PC

Manually Copy/Paste a 1.36GB folder

2 minutes, 14 seconds

2 minutes, 23 seconds

Again, the penalty so to speak, for portability is performance. Using a lesser hard drive such as this older Western Digital would be an excellent choice for an application like
this enclosure. Using a higher end drive would certainly raise the scores across the board, but also likely widen the margin between external and internal as well.

An ATA100, low rotation drive should be adaquate for this type of application.

Conclusions…

CONCLUSIONS

Being able to take your data with you on the go is becoming more and more a necessity than a luxury these days. This enclosure makes it easy to do so, and offers good performance
in the bargain. The lights are sure attention getters.

The manual included is good, covering everything needed to get this product working on Win9x and Mac systems, and installation of the drive physically. Installing the drive itself is remarkably easy.

All in all, this is still a very nice product. I’d like to thank Kingwin for sending it out.

Email Brian

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