Vantec NexStar Dual Bay Hard Drive Dock 8

Vantec NexStar Dual Bay Hard Drive Dock Review

Use & Performance »

A Closer Look

The Vantec NexStar Dual Bay dock has a somewhat geometric design and features two slots for two separate 3.5" or 2.5" hard drives. This model comes in a semi-gloss white and is constructed of a thicker, hard plastic that seems quite sturdy. Overall the design is quite simple and will easily look good on any desk. There is nothing gaudy or "extreme" looking and overall the dock has a nice small footprint.

Looking at the front of the unit there is the prominent on/off button in the center and hard disk activity LEDs below it. The power button is made from the same plastic as the rest of the dock and easily pushes in and out without sticking while making a clicking noise. Surrounding the button are three LEDs to indicate power. The sides of the Dual Bay dock are void of anything and are simply white in color like the rest of the unit. The backside is reserved for the power input, the eSATA and USB connections. It would be nice to see two eSATA connections in the back but alas there is only one. Up top there are the two hard disk slots that as you can see will accept a 3.5" or 2.5" hard disk. Next to each slot is an eject button that pops up when a hard disk is inserted which aids in removing the drive by pushing up on it from the bottom. This also helps in relieving stress from the SATA connections inside the dock and on the hard drive. Looking inside the slots we can see the SATA connectors with a part of the eject mechanism next to them.

Turning the dock over and looking at the bottom there is a sticker with the model designation and a small specification list. In each corner is a rubber pad to keep things from sliding around. To get a closer look at the unit, though not recommended for the normal end-user, we took the Nextar Dual Bay dock apart to get a better look of what makes up its internals. First the four rubber pads on the bottom are removed and four screws beneath the pads are removed, then the unit easily comes apart. The bottom half of the unit holds a large piece of what appears to be cast iron in the middle for a weight. To either side of the weight are the disk eject mechanisms with the buttons laying flat. The other half of the unit holds the dock's main circuit board. The front of the unit's button and LEDs are connected to the circuit board using the colorful ribbon cable as pictured. Six screws hold the circuit board to the dock and with these and the cable removed the board comes out of the casing. Turning the board over we can see the SATA data and power connectors as well as the external connections on the back.

Here we have the Silicon Image SiI5734 Storage Processor which is at the heart of the NexStar Dual Bay HDD Dock. As suspected with just a single eSATA connection on the back, the single chip controls both the USB and eSATA functions. Much more information about the SiI5734 can be found below, or a visit to this link: Silicon Image SiI5734 Storage Processor

Serial ATA Host Interface Features
• Serial ATA Gen2m compliance
• eSATA and 2-meter cable support
• 3 Gbps (auto-negotiates to 1.5 Gbps)
• Compatible with PM aware and non-PM aware hosts
• Allows multiple drives to be accessed by non-PM aware drive hosts
• Supports NCQ

USB Host Interface Features
• Complies with USB 2.0 specification
• 480 Mb/s (can auto-negotiate to 12 Mb/s)
• Compatible with OHCI / UHCI / EHCI hosts
• Supports up to four LUNs
• Supports Mass Storage Class

Device Interface Features
• Serial ATA Gen2m compliance
• eSATA and 2-meter cable support
• 3 Gbps (auto-negotiates to 1.5 Gbps)
• Independent 8 KB FIFO / Port
• Power management capabilities
• Supports hot plug
• Supports ATAPI & asynchronous notification

Electrical Specifications
• GPIO pins: 9 GPI, 6 GPO
• 3.3V IO supply, 1.8V core supply
• 1.02 watts (typical)

• Operating temperature: 0ºC to 70ºC
• Operating relative humidity: 5% to 80%
• Non-operating relative humidity: 5% to 95%

Physical Specifications
• 88-pin QFN
• 10mm x 10mm

Additional SteelVine Features
• No driver, BIOS or software required
• User API interface through I2C
• No drive reformatting on RAID change
• Email Notification
• Optional XML API
• Optional SteelVine Manager GUI
• Mandatory SMART commands available
• SAFE later
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