Syba 2.5" HDD Enclosure for PCI Slot

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As PC’s become commonplace in all areas of the home, people are looking for smaller and less obvious cases. For many people, their living room features a PC in it that serves up music and movies and delivers various media streams. While such PC’s have their place, the chances of a full-size case sitting in or beside the entertainment center are less and less likely. HTPC (Home Theatre PC) setups are becoming more and more commonplace. The available space in these cases is tight at best.

Today I am reviewing the SYBA SY-MRA25018 Mobile Rack, which enables the use of a spare PCI slot to hold a 2.5” HDD. This unit is also hot-swap capable and comes in at under $20 in price.

I frequently skip to the end of a given review, in order to read the pro’s and con’s before I actually read the entire article. Hence,  I am going to change the structure of this article a little.

Package contents:

  • Drive Enclosure
  • 1 6/32 screw
  • HDD pin protector
  • Standard (non-locking) SATA cable, in the typical red color. Approximately 18” in length
  • 4 pin molex to SATA adapter with additional LED power connection, which plugs into the rear of the enclosure
  • HDD protective film (one time use)
  • Documentation in English (and what appears to be Chinese)

Pro’s and Con’s

Pro’s Con’s
Prevents wasting a 3.5″ or 5.25″ bay in order to old a 2.5″ drive Some force required to eject the drive, which can make it difficult
Ability to remove the drive without opening the system To eject the drive, 4.5″  of space is required at the rear of the case
Makes use of a spare PCI slot Ejection mechanism is very small and hard to see
Black powder-coated finish and overall high build-quality Airflow in the case may need considered very carefully
Power and data connections are on the rear, which allows for better cable management Metal case may cause shorts
Ventilated at both sides Not practical for hot-swap use
Ejection mechanism prevents accidental removal Blue LED is gimmicky
Screwless drive retention mechanism

The screwless drive holder is a plus: the drive is held in place by friction and sheer force of will. The only time you will need a screwdriver is to screw down the enclosure in the PCI slot. The overall build quality is high. However, ejecting the drive requires considerable force. After playing with it, testing it and using it in a case, I am still concerned that I will break the mechanism when I am removing a drive. When you eject a drive it does not fully come out. In testing I found that there were burrs on some areas which prevented the drive from being removed easily. Also, to eject a drive requires you to have enough space at the rear of the case to remove the drive plus a bit extra (roughly 4.5” space).

Airflow is a big issue and raises a question. If you stack a few of these side by side, you will absolutely require directed airflow if standard 2.5” drives are used. SSDs do not produce much, if any, additional thermal load so this might not be an issue in all instances. While the unit is powder coated, I am a little concerned about the base of the unit: it covers a spare PCIe slot for stability. The issue with this is the construction is metal so there is a chance it may contact something it shouldn’t and ground out. Many manufacturers are using every available space for capacitors, MOSFETs, and additional components so space is always tight.

The “hotswap” ability is useful for some users but it’s need is questionable. The likelihood that the majority of users will be swapping drives in and out is slim. Also, it is placed rather inconveniently on the back of the computer which can be out of reach and crowded with cables (i.e. monitors, mice, keyboards, speakers, etc.).

As for the blue LED: sorry, personal gripe but I am tired of blue LEDs in everything.

Overall opinion

Even with the con’s that I have listed, I am honestly impressed with this and intend to pick up a few of these to use in my firewall, HTPC, and file server. Given a bit of refinement, this has the capability to be a very useful product. This enclosure definitely has a niche for use in the expanding use of smaller enclosures around the house.

-Adragontattoo

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Discussion
  1. Success, I can now see what it is. That is very cool. I may consider one of these in my server if they don't charge an outrageous price for them.
    Unfortunately no. It is currently running the OS of my 4u fileserver. Between its location, its color, the amount of cabling and I think possibly the largest heatsink capable of fitting in a 4u case. There is absolutely no way that you would even see it.
    If I end up changing over to a different board and possibly a different case(ongoing debate in my head), I will put it into a better location though. At that point I will be sure to grab pics.
    Aww, you resized my pics! Now you cant see the scraping that the burrs were doing to the SSD. Or the whorls on my fingers.