The demand for high performance computing in laptops has never been greater.
Vantec NexStar 3 NST-360SU-BK
- Transfer speeds, SATA to e-SATA bracket/cable, e-SATA and USB connectivity
- Nothing notable
The Vantec NextStar 3 is an excellent option for directly connected external storage. It's fast, easy to use and is not too imposing aesthetically.
Price$ 60.00 (AUD)
External storage offers an easy solution when a PC is overflowing with video, music and picture files. It can also be a simple way of moving large amounts of data from one location to another. The Vantec NextStar 3 is an external hard drive enclosure for SATA hard drives, and offers the benefits of e-SATA connectivity as well as USB 2.0.
The black and silver enclosure doesn't come supplied with a hard drive, but includes everything else needed to get a fast, external hard drive hooked up to the PC. A single hard drive cage slides out of the enclosure and a hard drive can be fastened to it using the supplied screws. For testing we used an Asus P5B premium motherboard with an e-SATA port on the rear port cluster. However, the Vantec NextStar 3 comes supplied with a SATA to e-SATA cable and bracket for motherboards that have no e-SATA port. Also installed in our test bed is a 150GB Western Digital (WD) Raptor (10,000rpm) hard drive, so we installed an equally speedy WD Raptor 36GB hard drive into the Vantec NextStar 3 for transfer tests.
We used a total of 4.12GB of raw data in varied file sizes for our transfer test. Using this data we did copy tests to and from the Vantec NextStar 3 external enclosure with the supplied e-SATA cable and also with supplied USB cable. Connecting the device with either cable can be done as a hot plug device, and the device shows up as an extra drive in Windows Explorer, just as an internal drive does.
Using the e-SATA cable to write data from the PC to the Vantec NextStar 3 took two minutes and 36 seconds, or 26.4MB per second. Copying data back, or reading from the Vantec NextStar 3 took only one minute and 50 seconds, or 37.4MB per second. Both of these results are excellent, and software is not required, so data transfer is both quick and easy.
As an external drive, the device needs to be somewhat portable and needs to be easily connected to any PC. Since not all PCs support e-SATA or may not have any free ports, the NextStar 3 can also be connected via USB 2.0. Writing the same 4.12GB of data from PC to the enclosure using the USB cable took three minutes and 14 seconds, or 21.2MB per second. Reading from the device and copying data from the Vantec NextStar 3 back to the PC took two minutes and 50 seconds, or 24.2MB per second.
Clearly the e-SATA connection is the best option, but having the USB connectivity gives the enclosure greater versatility and portability. If Network Attached Storage (NAS) over LAN capabilities are not required, this system offers an excellent solution.
The enclosure has clear markings for each port, including the power connector, which the Vantec NextStar 3 requires to function, so it's relatively clear how to set it up. Its aluminium case helps keep the hard drive cool and a light on the front edge shows the system is powered on and indicates hard drive activity, though it can be a little too bright and overbearing at times.
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