Vantec NexStar TX
We would like to thank Vantec for the review sample.
This is what Vantec has to say about themselves from their website:
Vantec have been on a roll lately launching a wide variety of useful external USB products and devices. With a large amount of their external enclosure lineup already in their repetoir, Vantec brings to us today for review the NexStar TX 2.5" SATA External USB 2.0 Enclosure. With a dizzying amount of external hard disk options on the market one is left too many choices. First one needs to find what what qualities are important in an external enclosure. As with any product, things like value, performance and quality come to mind. Keep these things in mind as you read further into what the Vantec NexStar TX is all about.
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<th scope="row">Device Support</th>
<td scope="row">SATA I/II Hard Drive</td>
<th scope="row">Device Size</th>
<th valign="top" scope="row">Internal Interface</th>
<td valign="top" scope="row">SATA</td>
<th valign="top" scope="row">External Interface</th>
<td valign="top" scope="row">USB 2.0</td>
<th valign="top" scope="row">Material</th>
<td valign="top" scope="row">Aluminum</td>
<th valign="top" scope="row">Dimensions</th>
<td valign="top" scope="row">130 x 73 x 14mm</td>
<th valign="top" scope="row">HD Capacity</th>
<td valign="top" scope="row">500GB</td>
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The NexStar TX comes in a small full color box just large enough to hold the enclosure and its accessories. The front of the package features a picture of the unit as well as some key information such as what the enclosure's intent is. The sides of the box feature the words "Data, Music and Photo" giving an inclination on what external hard disks are intended for. The backside of the package is chock full of all the information a prospective user may need, with a brief product description and lists of features, specifications, requirements and contents. Overall the packaging is simple. No heavy plastics to cut through and nothing else unnecessary or flashy. Perhaps this will be an inclination of what is to be found inside.
Opening the package we find the NexStar TX snuggly nestled in between protective cardboard inserts and wrapped in protective plastic. Removing everything from the box and laying it out we find the enclosure itself, an instruction booklet, a USB adapter cable, a Phillips head screwdriver and a faux leather protective sleeve for the enclosure. The instruction booklet is well laid out and is quite easy to understand and it seems like Vantec has included everything needed to get your 2.5" HDD enclosed and running.
A Closer Look
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Getting up close with the Vantec NexStar TX: its first impression is one of simplicity. The enclosure is not much larger than the 2.5" hard disk that goes in it and in this case having more is nothing gained, so it is an ideal size. The TX is made out of aluminum and its surface is flat black with a light texture to it. The topside has the NexStar TX designation printed on it and has ribbed indentations along the surface for a design element as well as structural firmness. The aluminum is rather thick and extremely sturdy, so much that it can easily handle the weight of a 180 lb. man. From every other angle you look at the enclosure, it is simple with nothing flashy or unneeded. Both ends of the NexStar TX are capped off by plastic caps and on one end there is a HDD activity light and the USB port.
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Disassembling the NexStar TX is as simple as removing two screws with the provided screwdriver. All of the internal components are connected to the USB and HDD activity light end cap and that is the cap that needs to be removed. It unscrews simply and easily, then the plastic end cap is removed. As you can see, on the other side of the cap the PCB is mounted with the storage processor and SATA ports mounted to it.
Zooming in on the storage processor itself we find that the NexStar TX utilizes the JMicron 20329 SATA bridge chip. JMicron doesn’t list this particular chip on their website, however they do list the JM20330 SATA bridge chip that has similar if not identical specifications. The PDF datasheet for the JM20330 chip can be found here: JM20330 Overview and Datasheet.
Read further to the Performance section to see how well this enclosure stacks up to the competition.
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With the NexStar TX already disassembled, installing the hard drive is a snap. Simply plug the HDD into the SATA ports on the end cap. Once connected it easily slides into the aluminum enclosure and the two screws are fastened back into the holes. Once installed the hard disk is firmly in place and there is no noticable movement from within when it's lightly shaken. At this point the NexStar TX is ready for use. To connect to a computer, the USB adapter cable is connected to the enclosure and then one needs to connect the two standard USB connections to a computer. One USB connection is for supplying power and the other is for DATA transfer. The USB cable is only about 14 inches long which may be too short for some, however it does save on space for storage. As you can see with everything connected and powered up, a green LED light illuminates to indicate power and hard disk activity.
To test the performance of the Vantec Nexstar TX, we used a single 2.5" Hitatchi 7200 80GB hard disk drive. Performance was measured using HDTach 188.8.131.52 and ATTO Disk Benchmark.
Read bandwith, write bandwith and CPU utilization are all very good with the NexStar TX. Write bandwith in ATTO is above 30 MB/s which is outstanding for a USB 2.0 device. CPU utilization is a good 5% and this value can change from system to system. With 36.8 MB/s average read performance in HDTach it is the fastest external hard disk enclosure we have tested so far. Of course operation is silent with the exception of the hard disk mounted inside. The TX does do a very good job of isolating hard drive noise with its quality construction.
Value and Conclusion
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A conclusion generally consists of the key points both good and bad in a written review. The thing is, there is nothing bad or negative about this hard disk enclosure from Vantec. Sure, the USB cable could be longer but any user can make do with the length that is provided. Aside from that miniscule discrepency the NexStar TX does exactly what is advertised with big pluses. It is a solid unit. The NexStar TX is sturdy, unbendable and protects important data storage devices like hard disks perfectly. It looks good. It is black, smooth, stylish, finely crafted and there is nothing gawdy or unecessary about it. It's all business and in the realm of being classy. Performance of course, is key and with chart topping read performance, file transfers take much less time. Fast, reliable and speedy storage are the essentials to a good external enclosure, the Vantec NexStar TX has all of these covered and more. Best of all is the price. At under ten dollars this is the enclosure to get if a 2.5" enclosure is what you need and it comes highly recommended.<td></tr>
that is a good looking case. nice review, btw.
STOLEN, right from Celestron. Celestron's been using the "Nexstar" name for YEARS.:laugh:
Do 12.5mm height 2.5" HDD's (like the WD 1TB #WD10TPVT) fit into the TX? Seems like it might - not like the CX.
(9.5mm HDD height being most common now)
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