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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

REVIEW: FirmTek miniSwap
Dual Bay Trayless 6Gb/s eSATA Enclosure

Originally posted Tuesday, January 10th, 2012, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

Recently we did a shootout between various dual bay notebook enclosures. The newest enclosure in the test group was the FirmTek miniSwap which you can order as of today. It's combination of features inspired us to do a special article on it.

KEY FEATURES of the FirmTek miniSwap

  • Easy drive swap with no trays or screws or tools required
  • Dedicated 6Gb/s rated eSATA port for each drive with direct connect to backplane (no internal cables)
  • Support for 7mm, 9.5mm, 12.5mm, and 14.9mm thick notebook HDDs and SSDs
  • Rugged aluminum case with efficient passive heat dissipation (no fans)
  • Power and Activity LEDs for each drive
  • Smart Power Management: Auto-on or Manual-on

Using various kinds of drives and various numbers of drives, here's what we observed:

LEGEND of GRAPHs (LONGEST bar means fastest)

four 6G SSDs 2ch = four OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6Gb/s 240G SSDs inside two miniSwap 6Gb/s eSATA notebook enclosures; each miniSwap connected to its own miniSAS port of the RocketRAID 2744
four 6G SSDs 1ch = four OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6Gb/s 240G SSDs inside two miniSwap 6Gb/s eSATA notebook enclosures; both miniSwaps connected to the same miniSAS port of the RocketRAID 2744
two 6G SSDs = two OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6Gb/s 240G SSDs inside a miniSwap 6Gb/s eSATA notebook enclosure connected to the RocketRAID 2744
one 6G SSD = one OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6Gb/s 240G SSDs inside a miniSwap 6Gb/s eSATA notebook enclosure connected to the RocketRAID 2744
one 3G SSD = one OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 3Gb/s 240G SSD inside a miniSwap 6Gb/s eSATA notebook enclosure connected to the RocketRAID 2744
two Constellation.2 HDDs = two Seagate 500G Constellation.2 enterprise HDDs in FirmTek miniSwap connected to the RocketRAID 2744
two Hybrid HDDs = two Seagate 750G Solid State Hybrid HDDs in Firmtek miniSwap connected to the RocketRAID 2744

"Test Mule" was an 'early 2010' Mac Pro 3.33GHz Hex-Core Westmere running OS X Lion. The HighPoint RocketRAID 2744 6Gb/s SAS/SATA RAID host adapter was in slot 2 (x16).

INSIGHTS and ANALYSIS
The
FirmTek miniSwap enclosure enables a Mac Pro with a fast 6Gb/s eSATA host adapter to squeeze out the full potential from 6Gb/s SSDs.

We like the versatility of being able to use both thick and thin drives as well as the ease of installation. Its power supply and circuitry easily spins up the power hungry Seagate Constellation.2.

As shown in our dual bay notebook enclosure shootout, when the miniSwap (or any eSATA notebook enclosure) is connected to a MacBook Pro with an ExpressCard/34 6Gb/s eSATA adapter, the read and write speeds are lower than those attainable on the Mac Pro with the RocketRAID 2721/22/44 SAS/SATA host adapters.That's due to the limited bandwidth of the ExpressCard slot.

The combination of dual direct connect eSATA ports, handling of different drive heights, and easy drive switching makes it not only unique among notebook enclosures, but a clear favorite in the Bare Feats
lab.


The miniSwap is designed to work with all models of Mac without disturbing the Apple "feng shui."

Feedback or comments? Contact me , mad scientist.
Also, you can follow me on
Twitter @barefeats

WHERE TO BUY the FirmTek miniSwap
Order from FirmTek direct

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copyright 2012 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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