Thermaltake BlacX Hard Drive Docking Station Review

ajmatson - 2008-04-10 19:29:52 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: ajmatson   
Reviewed on: May 5, 2008
Price: $35.99


There is nothing like upgrading your computer, right? What about getting your old data from the last drive to the new one? Sure you can set it as a slave, but what if the drive is failing and you need to get the old stuff quick? Or what if you need to prep that drive to be installed in another computer and do not want to have to install it and then take it out, only to install it again? I know what you are thinking - external enclosure, right? But then again, there is the installation effort. What if you could just slip the drive into a dock and pull it out when finished without much effort? Well, now you can.

The Thermaltake BlacX is a hard drive docking station designed to give you quick access to a bare SATA drive, with little effort. The BlacX supports both 2.5 inch notebook drives and 3.5 inch desktop drives with the Serial ATA interface. Unlike traditional hard drive adapters, that just leave the drive laying around, the Thermaltake BlacX places the drive in and upright position allowing maximum cooling efficiency.


Closer Look:

The Docking Station comes enclosed in a black packaging matching the BlacX design theme. On the front of the packaging, is a picture of the BlacX with a drive in it and a few of the specifications. The back of the box highlights more of the features and specifications, as well as giving a breakdown on the parts of the BlacX Docking Station.















Opening the box reveals the contents inside. Included is the BlacX Docking Station, the power adapter, a USB 2.0 cable and user manual.



Closer Look:

The docking station is made of a hard plastic that is very sturdy. The bottom has four rubber feet to keep the unit from sliding while in use. There is an eject button right above the logo on the front, that securely ejects the hard drive, protecting it from possible damage during removal. To the right of the eject button is the power and activity LED. The circle glows blue when the drive in on and will flash red when there is activity on the inserted drive. On the back of the docking station, are the power switch, the power plug and the USB 2.0 plug for data transfer.






















Installation of the BlacX is quite simple really. Plug in the power source and the USB 2.0 cable. Next slide the 2.5" or 3.5" hard drive into the docking bay. The flap will fold down according to the drive thickness and help keep it stable. Once in, turn on the power switch and you will see the power LED light up. On the computer, you will see the auto-run box pop up and you are ready to go.





Model Number
SATA to USB 2.0
Transfer Rate
up to 480Mbps (Max)
SATA Compitable
HDD Compatible
All 2.5" & 3.5" SATA
OS Compatible
Windows Vista/XP/2004/2000/NT/98/95 & Mac 10.3 and later
ABS Plastic
DC 12V/2A
5.12"L x 3.55"W x 2.56"H (130x90x65mm)






So how well does the Thermaltake BlacX Hard Drive Docking Station work? Well, there is only one way to find out the answer and that is to put it on the testing bench. I am going to pair the BlacX with a Seagate 750GB hard drive and run a series of tests on it. Then I will compare it to other enclosures, using the same hard drive to see how well it stacks up. The tests I will be running are HDTune and Sisoft Sandra Professional XIIc version. This will give us a good view on where the BlacX performs. All other hardware will be run at stock speeds, timings, and voltages to keep any outside variables from interfering with the scores. Again, also the same drive will be used for each type of enclosure/dock.


Testing Setup:


Comparison Enclosures:





HD Tune:

HDTune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.




SiSoft Sandra:

Sandra is a benchmarking utility designed to test all areas of a computer system. Today I am going to use three tests, that will measure the performance of the hard drive using each enclosure/dock.




It was close, but the BlacX does have a slight advantage over the other two enclosures.


Well, I must say I quite like the Thermaltake BlacX Hard Drive Docking Station. Transfer speeds were the same or better than the two traditional style enclosures that it was compared to. The ability to hot swap not only 3.5" hard drives, but 2.5" notebook drives as well, makes this unit a must-have for a computer enthusiast. Most enclosures are built for a certain size drive and take some work swapping them out, but with the Thermaltake BlacX, you just push the eject button and place a new drive into the docking station. This is especially good for transferring files from an old drive to an upgraded one with ease. One thing I liked is the fact that there are no fans, meaning it is very quiet when in use.

The only thing that worries me with the Thermaltake BlacX, is that when a hard drive is installed, the majority of it remains uncovered outside of the dock. This leaves the PC board and critical components open to dust and other items that may cause shorts, or other damage with no protection. Also, the power cord has to be the shortest cord I have ever seen. Even the USB 2.0 cable is longer than the power cord. This makes it difficult to place without an extension cord or power brick. I was also surprised that there was no eSATA connection available, which would greatly increase speeds. This should be a 'must', since it is a connection that is more common for external hard drive enclosures now. At $35.99 for this dock, this would be a wise investment for anyone who changes computer drive frequently. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a quick back-up solution.