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A decent option to use with your spare HDDs, but needs a price reduction

geggeg
Posted · 266 Views · 1 Comment

Pros: Well built, performs great, small form factor, includes a fan to help cool the HDDs

Cons: Expensive for the feature set, included fan is slightly noisy and has no speed control

Here I was with a new system being built, and I wanted to get off spinning drives completely here. Trouble is, I had a few older 3.5" HDDs now doing nothing but whiling away with time. I also had heard about some failures with these drives so I did not want to take the chance of installing them in another system either. At this point, I figured the best thing to do was to get an external HDD enclosure and have a couple of 3 TB external drives. On to Amazon I went, and I ended up with this instead. The Orico dual bay enclosure ended up being my primary choice for the form factor wherein a lot of the others were either massive or looked like a gaming keyboard had just mated with a USB drive. When the product arrived, I figured I might as well do a quick review as well and so here we are.




Click on the images to be taken to a larger size, if interested. The packaging was my first impression here, and it was solid enough to be the main reason for the review. Orico have used a fairly clean design here with a tan background, a carry handle, and a label on the front with some marketing features on it. This continues on the side with some illustrations of the product, the components present as well as some specs and more marketing talk. Not much else going on the sides besides the company logo, and a seal over a double flap helps keep the contents inside in place.


Opening the box, we see two thick polystyrene foam pieces on the sides to provide protection to the products, and an accessory box on the top with a convenient pull-out hole. This box is plain cardboard with no print, and opening it we see a fair amount of accessories that Orico provides.


Neatly packaged separately, we have a power adapter and brick that is rated to take 100-240 V, 50-60 Hz, 1.5 A max and outputs 4 A at 12 V for a theoretical max power draw of 48 W by the enclosure to power the two HDDs and the cooling fan, among other things. A US-mains specific charging cable is included which plugs into the enclosure and brick on the two ends. Also here is a USB 3.1 Gen 1 compatible male-male USB Type-A to Type B cable, with the latter connecting to the enclosure presumably and the former to an available USB port on your computer or other device (router, for example). Finally, Orico provides a multi-language user manual to aid those who need some help in the setup.


The dual bay enclosure itself comes in a plastic wrap and is surrounded by the thick polystyrene foam pieces aforementioned, thus providing excellent protection against shipping and handling issues. Once taken out, we see there is another plastic wrap- this time on the magnetic bay door that has a glossy finish. I would have rather this be matte like the body, although I can understand why they did not do so given the body itself is made of anodized aluminum for the thick frame used here. Build quality is very good, with any light smudges that catch easily wiped away. There are ventilation holes all around where the magnetic door meets the body, through which air is sucked in to help cool the HDDs. The magnets holding the bay door in place are not the strongest, which is more negative than positive in my opinion, as we shall see soon.


The two bays are clearly marked and have a rotary cover as well when not in use. Pushing one aside, we can take a look at the SATA data and power connectors at the end that plug into the 3.5" HDDs. Note that 2.5" HDDs will not work without adapters and some modification to fit the SATA connectors.


Taking a look at the back, we see the small 40 mm fan that helps cool the HDDs, and is another thing I would have liked to see improved as there is no speed control and it spins fast enough to create a constant noise. The pitch of this noise is not unpleasant, however, at least to my ears to where it ended up being white noise and I did get used to it. For those curious, the noise level measured 32.3 dBA from 6" away. However, given the choice between speed control/larger fan and this, I would go for the former every single time. Also on the back are the two connectors for power and data, along with a power button that is marked clearly along with the others. A set of four screws holds a thin aluminum plate over these components on the back. We can now see four more screws holding the fan in place as exhaust, and also a set of what looks like polymer caps on a blue PCB.


There are notches here to be able to pull out the entire assembly, and we see wires connected that go to the SATA connectors inside the bay enclosure on the other side. Once disconnected, we can take a better look at this metal cage framework that houses the controls and cooling for the enclosure and there are indeed capacitors to help smoothen the power delivery to the hard drives. The 40 mm fan employs a DC brushless motor, and is 20 mm thick. Orico uses a JMicron JMS561U superspeed USB to dual SATA driver that supports USB 3.1 Gen 1 port bridging and copying alike. This has an integrated microcontroller and supports up to two independent SATA channels. So the two drives you use with this enclosure will show up as two separate drives, and do not expect any form of hardware RAID control here.



Installation is a piece of cake where all you need to do is align the hard drive such that the SATA connectors meet up and mate inside the enclosure. Do not press down too hard as there is no real feedback to indicate connection, and when you meet some resistance know that it is complete. As we can see, the drives just outwards and the magnetic bay door now also acts as a cover. Unless you decide to tilt the enclosure downwards, the drives will stay inside just fine. The magnetic door also provides some resistance in case the drives are naturally trying to come out, but there is a limit to this so don't carry this around expecting it to behave as a fully enclosed product. This is meant to rest on your desk, or floor, wherein it works as intended. Connect the two cables and press and hold the power button for a couple of seconds to turn the enclosure on. A single blue LED will light up on the front to indicate power, and it will blink to indicate HDD activity as well.


As mentioned, the drives will show up as separate external hard drives on your computer (or other device). There were no issues regarding connectivity during the weeks of testing.


I did some quick performance testing using CrystalDiskMark with the default test settings to gauge if there was going to be any performance loss. From left to right, we have drive 1 connected internally to the motherboard and PSU, the same drive in the external enclosure, and drive 2 in the external enclosure. I was pleasantly surprised to see no real change in performance here, which to be fair isn't all that high for spinning hard drives anyway, nor across the two drives. So I have no issues at all having these be in the external enclosure and serving as my backup, and backup to the backup. Orico also claims to have some magnetic absorption here, although I honestly do not know what that means. All I can tell you is not to worry about the magnets in the door, as that is simply not strong enough to affect the magnetic platters in the drive.

Hopefully this helps prospective buyers or those in a similar position as I. It is priced at $99.99, however, so without some Amazon gift card balance around I would probably go with a less expensive solution. The problem is that nearly every lesser expensive alternative has had many people complain about poor connections or build quality, including some from Orico themselves, and this is a new, higher end option from them that has been promising here as well as for the other customers who bought this so far. Similarly, there are products from companies such as Mediasonic who offer a quad bay enclosure with some fan control options, but you get plastic construction and yet more complaints about broken parts or non/poorly working controls. At the $75-80 price point, this would fare much better and hopefully this gets a price cut sooner than later. No complaints otherwise!

1 Comment:

Had it not been for my past bad (& only) experience with Orico's enclosures, I'd had dived on the deal, as I also have a lot of good Enterprise (WD RE4) drives laying around, some in single enclosures. Others loose & used in one of my two docking stations (one has yet to been used except to test that it works), and have a couple not used at all as of the moment, yet will soon be, one in my newly acquired Optiplex 780 MT, very clean PC inside out for $10 less than this dual drive bay offering.

That said, I generally don't allow lightning strike twice, my last Orico enclosure lasted all of 4-5 months & was cost prohibitive to RMA, so like with a few other accessories in my lifetime, ate the loss & went my way. However I did learn a lesson, use certain charge cards when buying, and the OEM (or in my case, the distributor, Newegg) is on the hook for everything, return shipping & new replacement.

It's probably an OK product if tested extensively for QC, would be even better if an eSATA input was added, to allow for an external RAID device, and the magnet does cause concern, although wouldn't if using 2.5" drives screwed into two 3.5 adapters, this places the magnet further away from the drives. Bad engineering on Orico's end for that, most of us aren't too lazy to use a couple (or 4) screws instead, like on most single 3.5" drive bays.

Final point, one can purchase two known quality enclosures for less than the cost of this dual unit, although an extra wall socket & cable would be required. The way some of the PSU's of these are made prohibits from using two in the same socket, leaving one to have to use a power surge strip (better than just a strip w/out surge protection) & space the plugs, with some luck, one may can use one of the outlets in between the two.

All of this stated, my past negative experience along with the magnet issue drives me further away from taking a second chance with Orico's products. Hopefully those that does purchase has a better ride with the brand than myself.;-)

Cat
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