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REVIEW: CoolGear SATA Drive Docking Station

Posted December 12th, 2008, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

Have you ever wanted to check the contents of a drive but didn't have an enclosure for it? CoolGear has come up with a novel solution. It's a Docking Station for both 2.5" and 3.5" SATA drives and can be connected to either a SATA port or USB 2.0 port of your Mac.

GRAPH LEGEND
2.5" Scorpio = 2.5" WD Scorpio Black (7K RPM, 320GB, 3Gb/s, model WD3200BEKT)
3.5" Blue = 3.5" WD Caviar Blue (7K RPM, 640GB, 16MB cache, 3Gb/s, model WD6400AAKS)

INSIGHTS
The CoolGear SATA Drive
Docking Station does work as advertised.
We tested various notebook and desktop drives using a 'late 2008' MacBook Pro to see what kind of transfer speeds we would get with both USB 2.0 and SATA interfacing. Above is a graph showing the speeds you can expect.

Though the USB 2.0 speeds have improved with the 'late 2008' MacBook Pro, they don't "hold a candle" to the speeds attainable with SATA. So to squeeze out the most speed from your SATA drive, you'll need some kind of SATA host adapter with external ports -- especially since no Mac has a built-in external SATA port. In our testing, we used the FirmTek SeriTek SATA ExpressCard/34 adapter (2SM2-E) in the MacBook Pro. (See the WHERE TO BUY section for a complete list of SATA host adapter soures).

We tested various 3.5" drives from 500G to 1TB on the docking station. However, it could not spin up the 1.5TB Seagate Barracuda. We contacted CoolGear about it. They indicated that the default power adapter puts out 2.5 amps. The big Seagate requires 2.8 amps to spinup. If CoolGear decides to offer a slightly "stronger" optional power adapter, the 1.5TB will work.

OTHER DRIVE DOCKS
Wiebetech has made FireWire drive docks for years. Their latest is the UltraDock V4 which has eSATA, FireWire 800, FireWire 400, and USB 2.0 ports. It costs more than the CoolGear Docking Station and is designed primarily to work with 3.5" drives though an adapter is available so you can use it with 2.5" drives.

A reader pointed out the NewerTech Voyager quad interface dock. It handles both 2.5" and 3.5" drives like the CoolGear dock.

FYI, FireWire 800 speeds fall somewhere between USB 2.0 and SATA. We tested the WD Caviar Blue drive, for example, using a WiebeTech FireWire enclosure. We saw 75MB/s READ and 60MB/s WRITE.

Apple Online Store

WHERE TO BUY THE COOLGEAR DRIVE DOCKING STATION
Order directly from CoolDrives.com.

WHERE TO BUY SATA DRIVES
Other World Computing
TransIntl
Silverado Systems
MacGurus

WERE TO BUY EXPRESSCARD/34 SATA HOST ADAPTERS FOR MACBOOK PRO
FirmTek's SeriTek SATA ExpressCard/34 adapter (2SM2-E) can be ordered direct.
LaCie's SATA II ExpressCard/34 can be ordered direct
Sonnet Technology's Tempo SATA Pro ExpressCard/34 can be ordered direct
All three cards can be ordered from Other World Computing
Trans International has their own SATA ExpressCard/34
WiebeTech has their own SATA ExpressCard/34

WHERE TO BUY SATA HOST ADAPTERS WITH EXTERNAL PORTS FOR MAC PRO
If you want to hook up the CoolGear Docking station to a Mac Pro or G5 Power Mac, you will need a PCIe or PCI-X Host Adapter. Check with the following companies:
Trans International
Other World Computing
FirmTek (SeriTek)
Sonnet Technology
WiebeTech
LaCie

WHERE TO BUY APPLE PRODUCTS
When you purchase Apple USA products, please CLICK THIS LINK or any APPLE BANNERS at the top of our pages. It's a great way to support Bare Feats. since we earn a commission on each click-through that results in a sale.

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© 2008 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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