Vantec NexStar 3i Hard Drive Enclsoure

Posted by on Saturday, June 27, 2009 - 4:01pm

Top ImageVantec has added another member to the NexStar 360 lineup. The 3i boasts some things that we have not seen from Vantec in their many ages in the industry. In the past year or so we have seen motherboards feature energy efficiency, now we have it in hard drive enclosures. The 3i has an integrated controller that can regulate power to the drive resulting in less power consumption, less noise and longer drive life. Adding the real reason why  we buy hard drive enclosures, which is for data storage, the new Vantec housing may be worth taking a look at.

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Introduction

Take a walk over to the hard drive enclosure aisle at your favorite computer store, chances are you will find many different models of enclosures from many different companies. At my local retailer there are companies like Icy Dock, Themaltake, Antec, Kingwin, Coolmax and many others that I can’t think of right now. Its about as clustered as the motherboard aisle. All these various models have some form of gimmick to get you to choose their models. Chances are you have come across Vantec and their units as well. Vantec is known to have a very sleek and shiny enclosure which would include the NexStar line.

Vantec has added another member to the NexStar 360 lineup. The 3i boasts some things that we have not seen from Vantec in their many ages in the industry. In the past year or so we have seen motherboards feature energy efficiency, now we have it in hard drive enclosures. The 3i has an integrated controller that can regulate power to the drive resulting in less power consumption, less noise and longer drive life. Adding the real reason why  we buy hard drive enclosures, which is for data storage, the new Vantec housing may be worth taking a look at.

Vantec brief us on the 3i

With the advent and subsequent popularity of portable computers, power management of system components has become an important issue. The NexStar 3i Power Management Enclosure can reduce energy consumption and cooling costs, reduce noise, and prolong the life of hard drive. Less electricity consumption with three intelligent power management modes: Idle, Stand By, and Power Down. The NexStar 3i utilizes USB 2.0, offering speed up to 480 Mbps, and it is an ideal way to store and transfer large amounts of data in an enclosure that matches your style!


 


Packaging and contents

The new enclosure comes protected by a white and green box that one would say would represent the new ‘Green Earth’ movement. The rest of the packaging is typical of Vantec:  an enlarged image of the enclosure on the front and on the back are product details.

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Once in the box, the first thing you will see is another white product from Vantec. It seems Vantec is into the white theme this year. Remember the Vantec Hard Drive Dock we review last week? The white looks quite good on the 3i.

The enclosure comes with a short list of accessories  to get the box going: one stand, power adapter, USB cable which you guess it is white. The rest of the list includes a software CD and screws for hard drive mounting.

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Specifications

Model: NST-360S2i-WH
Device Support: SATA I/II Hard Drive
Device Size: 3.5”
Internal Interface: SATA
External interface: USB 2.0
HD Capacity: Up to 1TB
Data Transfer Rate: 480Mbps (12Mbps w/ USB1.1)          
Power Supply: AC Adapter
Material: Aluminum
Dimension: 198 x 125 x 33 mm
Power Management Mode: Idle/Stand By/Power Down

Features

Power Management: Saves Power and Extends Hard drive Lifetime
Built-In Automatic Power Management Processor
Three Intelligent Power Management Modes: Idle/Stand By/Power Down
Supports 3.5” SATA Hard Drive Up To 1TB
Transfer Rates Up To 480Mpbs w/ USB 2.0
Attractive LED Indicates Power / HDD Activity
Aluminum Casing Cools Down Your Hard Drive
Hot Swappable: Plug & Play


 


Closer look

From the outside there isn’t much difference between the previous enclosures from the 360 line up and the new 3i model. It still shares the same long slender structure of the rest. I must take a moment and say that Vantec makes the sexiest enclosures on the market. The unit can be positioned to stand up or lay flat for better stacking. Vantec is known for making each enclosure they have in different colors but as of now white is the only color the 3i comes in.

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There isn’t much going on in front of the enclosure. Vantec keeps the front clean and spotless. The only thing that will grow your attention here is the Vantec insignia at the top, which also serves as the activity light when in operation. Being the backer for the eSATA movement, I was sad to see this unit did not support it. The 3i is strictly USB 2.0 and works with all the OS’s that supports the protocol. All the connects are neatly arranged on the rear of the casing.

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The sides of the enclosure show off the shine and radiate of the unit. Besides the product name are three indicator lights that tell what mode the unit is in. The unit supports three modes from power down, idle and standby. Each mode is a result from how long the drive has been last accessed or set by the user.

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Now we get the chance to dissect the enclosure, which begins with pulling apart the end from the rest of the box. Once apart you are greeted by a metal frame attached to a PCB board. The connection to the hard drive is permanently attached to the PCB, not like before when it was a short extension cable that would break in with time.

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Assembling

There isn’t much to do to put that 3i together. Once the two parts are seperated, it is a matter of sliding the drive in the metal up to the point it attachs firmly to the SATA/power connector. Before closing the unit back up, you must connect the three pin plug to achieve LED readings.

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Software

The Power Magement Software that is included with the 3i is a very simple application to use.  One of the options you have access to is the Power Scheme option. At default it is set at ‘Auto’ which allows the enclosure to determine power settings. By changing this option to ‘Set by User’ you can tell the enclosure just when to get into what mode.

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Testing and results

We believe that it isn’t important to show performance number for USB connected devices as they can only go as fast as the port allows it to go. But we know readers like charts and numbers, so we put the 3i up against some of the unit we have around the lab using HD Tune.

Motherboard

ASUS P5E3

Processor

Intel Core2Duo e8400

Ram

OCZ DDR3 14400

Video

Zotac 8800GTX

HDD

Seagate 7200.8 120g SATA

Power Supply

Tagan BZ700

OS

Microsoft Vista Ultimate

Cooling

Thermalright Ultra 120

Case

Open air

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Results

Like we stated above, the 3i was right in the middle of the pack of other enclosures.

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Conclusion

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The Vantec NST-360S2i-WH aka 3i continues the silky steamline looks of their 3.5” hard drive enclosures. It is hard to believe that a device like a hard drive enclosure could enhance a desktop. But this Vantec unit can. This is definitely not one of those cheap knock-offs we see on store shelves.

What makes the new Vantec stand out even more is power management features. Why do motherboards get to have all the fun when it comes time to save us a few dollars on the old electric bill? And with the included software, the user has the ability to set the parameters on when the enclosure goes into a particular mode.

You should see the 360S2i on store shelves in the coming weeks.

Vantec has once again showed why they are leaders in the hard drive enclosure market. And we would like to thank them for sending us the unit.

award

 

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