Vantec EZ-SWAP MRK-200ST-BK

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Very nice mobile solution for SATA drives – Joe

SUMMARY: Very nice mobile solution for SATA drives.

EZ

The good guys at Vantec were nice enough to send a sample of their EZ-SWAP removable hard drive rack. This is a hot-swap mobile solution for those who wish to transport hard drives between locations, or perhaps those who routinely change hard drives for different OSs or enhanced security (Worried about viruses? Dedicate one drive to the internet only and swap out one for a “local only” drive).

Key features include:

  • Compatible With 3.5″ SATA Hard Drives (HDD)
  • Hot-Swap HDDs – no need to turn the PC off or open it
  • Aluminum case w/ additional cooling, some plastic parts
  • Blue LCD that displays HUTR (HD Usage Time Record), Case temperature (C or F, user settable with audio alarm), HD Designation (slave or master), HD Access and Fan Status (LCD Settings)
  • Power/HD access LEDs
  • Anti-Dust Hard Drive Casing
  • Three-Step Key Lock – HD on and locked, HD powered off and locked, HD powered off and unlocked.
  • 40 mm rear cooling fan
  • Size: 148 x 42 x 236 mm, 117 x 35 216 mm (Cartridge only)
  • Weight: 750 grams full kit, 420 grams cartridge only

Note that the HUTR only records when the drive is accessed, not the total time the hard drive is powered up; I should also mention that the key is “universal”

Key

Anyone who has one can unlock any drive.

The front shows the LCD

LCD

buttons to set temperature in degrees C or F, to set the temperature at which the alarm sounds (very shrill!) and to toggle the display functions.

Front

The actuating lever is the silver locking arm to the right; rotating the lever out

Apart

allows the user to pull the case with the HD inside out of the sleeve. There is a plastic dust flap which swings down to keep dust out and look neat.

The Sleeve

The back of the sleeve

Back

shows the SATA cable connector, power plug and pins for the access cable connector. Inside the sleeve

PCB

shows the PCB with the connector for the case, the cooling fan to the right.
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The HD Case

Behind the lever assembly is the LCD PCB:

Latch

The grate on the left allows cooling air to flow through; the round black object in the middle is the alarm. The rear of the case

PCB

shows the drive connector and the thermistor:

Thermistor

Note that this measures the temp inside the case, not the actual drive temp.

The back of the drive case

Case Back

shows the pin connector which mates to the sleeve. Circled in red is the jumper which designates whether the drive is a slave or master.

The drive is a snap to insert into the case:

Sleeve HD

Included are the appropriate screws for mounting the drive and securing the sleeve to the case, and a cable for drive status:

Cable

Temperature Test

To test how well the EZ-SWAP cools the HD, I taped a thermocouple to the bottom of the drive’s spindle, figuring this would show the highest temp. I then measured this temp with the drive in free air; that is, running at full tilt suspended on two small pieces of wood so that the HD was not resting on any surface.

I then installed the HD in the case and ran it again, measuring HD temp again. I used another thermocouple to measure ambient temps at the same time as HD temps were recorded.

Condition

Drive Temp

Ambient Temp

Delta

HD In Free Air

35.5

19.1

16.4

HD Inside the Case

33.1

19.4

13.6

Note: The LCD displayed temp: 22.0ºC

Looks like the fan is doing some good. Considering that the fan pulls ambient, not warm case air, into the sleeve, HD cooling may actually be somewhat better.

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, Vantec’s EZ-SWAP allows easy hot-swap functionality for SATA drives, monitors HD status and keeps HDs a bit cooler in the process – not a bad package!

Thanks again to Vantec for sending this our way to evaluate.

Email Joe

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