Thermaltake Vi-on 3.5 Hard Drive Enclosure Review

Desja - 2008-09-10 15:16:41 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: Desja   
Reviewed on: September 15, 2008
Price: $59.99

Introduction:

In a world where bigger and better seems to mean things keep getting smaller and smaller, is there a need for big bulky hard drive enclosures? Let me paint you a picture. You’re riding your bike, hit a rut and eat it. “Oh #$%@!” you say to yourself, “I forgot I had my jump drive in my pocket.” You remember backing up all of your work and pictures off your PC before formatting your PC’s hard drive. You reach down into your pocket pulling out the crushed remains of your new 32 GB jump drive.

In a world where things are getting smaller and people aren’t getting smarter, maybe, just maybe, convenience and portability isn’t as important as being able to know exactly where you put your beloved data back up device. Hard drive enclosures like the Thermaltake Vi-on have been out for awhile and most IT employees use a combination of both thumb drives and hard drive enclosures for portable data backup. Thumb drives, while convenient, still do not hold enough storage to fully replace hard drive enclosures.

I can here you saying "I am not an IT worker, why would I need a backup enclosure?" The answer is simple, you have pictures, songs, documents, and other personal files that may not be the end of the world to lose for others but mean the world to you. The thought of losing these can be alleviated by backing them up on an enclosure. What other purposes could you have? Well, let's say you have two computers and want a similar song, game, movie, or anything else for that matter on your second PC. All you have to do is plug in the drive, copy over the files, and put them on your second computer. Are all enclosures created equal? That is what we are here to find out. Let’s check out the Thermaltake Vi-on hard drive enclosure and see how it stacks up next to the competition.

 

Closer Look:

The Thermaltake Vi-on hard drive enclosure’s packaging seems quite substantial for such a small item. The graphics on the packaging show exactly what the internal fan does for the system's temperature regulation, along with all of the specs and features found in this particular unit. The box mentions a three year warranty, which we learned from the movie Tommy Boy is important for customers to see. The design work is very quality, some packaging I have seen reeks of cheesy design; if I saw this box on a shelf I would buy this product.

 

 

 

Opening the packaging reveals why the packaging is as large as it is for such a small item. The Thermaltake Vi-on hard drive enclosure is well protected in its packaging. Due to the large pieces of foam used it is definitely secure. I think a person would be hard pressed to open one of these to find it damaged in shipping.

 

Like some of the other Thermaltake products, the Thermaltake Vi-on comes with the fancy wiping cloth. Also included in the packaging are USB, eSata, power, manual, and installation instructions.

 

 

Let's check out the enclosure a little closer now.

Closure Look:

Packaging is only as impressive as what is inside. I can’t remember the last time I said "man, that product I bought sure was a piece of crap, but boy was that package pretty!" Hard drive enclosures come in all shapes and sizes these days. Personally, my external hard drive enclosure is going to be spending a lot of time on my desk. I want something that looks pretty slick; I like black and blue as I have said many times in the past in my reviews, and Thermaltake’s Vi-on external hard drive enclosure does not disappoint.

The enclosure looks like something straight out of a Star Wars movie and it wouldn’t be something the good guys use. Protruding diagonally from my desk it looks like the monolith plummeted from the sky and plunged straight into my desk. I like the design of this enclosure, it has a sturdy base that I wont easily knock over, which for me is a feat all in its own. The ventilation is on the bottom of the enclosure; heat is the number one killer of your hard drive's longevity, blocked fans may cause issues down the road.

On the back of the enclosure you can easily see the options for both eSata and USB, which is a bonus. Having eSata for the quick transfers on newer computers, and still offering backwards compatibility USB for older systems, is very important if you are going to be taking files from a number of different computers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Thermaltake Vi-on hard drive enclosure easily slides on and off of its base. This is great for carrying a smaller item from computer to computer but still offering stability for times when it will be sitting on your desk for an extended period of time. Inside of the unit you will find enough room to slide your SATA hard drive easily into place. I have used a few hard drive enclosures and I must say this is up there for ease of installation.

 

 

Let's check out the real specs on this thing to understand the options a little better.

Specifications:

 

Enclosure Interface

eSATA & Hi-Speed USB 2.0

Transfer Rate

USB 2.0: up to 480 Mbps

eSATA: up to 3.0 Gbps

HDD Compatible  

SATA I & SATA II

HDD Capacity  

3.5" SATA up to 1TB

OS Compatible  

 Windows XP & Vista / Mac OS 9.04+

Material   

SECC Steel & ABS Plastic

Power  

-External Universal Switching Power Adapter
-UL, FCC, CE, CSA Certified

Dimension  

255 x 70 x 205 mm, 10.04" x 2.76" x 8.07"

Accessory   

Hi-Speed 2.0 Cable
eSATA Cable
Full-Range A/C Power Adapter
Dust Cloth

Fan   

Active SMART Cooling 40mm Fan
Fan Current: 0.06Amp (Max)
Fan Power : 0.76W
Fan Speed : 1000 ~ 4800 RPM (thermally controlled)
Rated Voltage: 12 VDC
Fan Noise : 27 dBA @ Max

Weight   

480 g

Special Features 

-Embedded Disk Drive Suspension System eliminates most of vibrating noise from HDD.
-Active SMART Cooling System effectively manages the thermal efficiency to maximize cooling and minimize noise.

 

Features:

Let's see how this thing does in a test drive.

 

All information on this page sourced from Thermaltake at http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/Product.aspx?S=1307&ID=1814#Tab1

Testing:

To complete the review, I am going to run some tests on the Vi-on to see just how well it performs against real world competition. I will be using OverclockersClub's standard test hard drive (1 x Seagate 750GB SATA) in the enclosure and the testing will take place against the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Mini 250GB as well as a Western Digital Caviar that is connected directly to the motherboard's SATA bus, and another external enclosure, the Eagle Consus.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Drives:

 

Benchmarks:

 

HD Tune:

HDTune measures performance by comparing drives and disk controllers.

 

Test File Transfer:

These test files are created by OCC and used on all of our test suites like these to insure fair testing for all storage devices. Time is measured by stopwatch.

 

 

Performance of the test hard drive in the Vi-on enclosure performed almost as well as an internal drive and in some instances outperformed it when connected via e-SATA. When connected via USB the performance was almost identical to the other drive enclosures.

Conclusions:

So how well did the Thermaltake Vi-on hard drive enclosure do? Let’s start with the overall design. I was very impressed with the look and stability of this enclosure, but one design flaw I would have to point out is the plastic side panel felt a little flimsy. I loved the black finish with the added touch of a blue LED for HD activity. I wouldn’t mind this thing cluttering up my desk because it's not an eyesore like most external enclosures.

One drawback to the design is the exhaust fan positioned on the bottom of the unit really cuts the airflow down for no good reason. I would like to see future attempts with a smarter placement of the exhaust fan. Now let's get into the numbers. The Thermaltake Vi-on beat a lot of the other scores by quite a bit and fell behind on a couple but still did very well in the long run. If the decision comes down to looks and performance when it comes time to spend your hard earned dollars, usually performance is the winner; consider this, the Thermaltake VI-ON has both looks and performance. I would recommend the Thermaltake Vi-on for anyone in need of a quality hard drive enclosure. Able to use hard drives up to one terabyte in size, it matches up well with some of the actual external hard drives in storage capacity. The dual connectivity makes connecting to any PC a breeze, e-SATA, if its available, and USB for use by just about any computer out on the market. What it lacked in a couple of the tests it made up for in aesthetics.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: