Hobbyist or hardcore? StarTech dual-bay Thunderbolt enclosure

Build your own 760MB/s storage, anyone?


Review The last couple of Thunderbolt drive reviews we’ve undertaken at Vulture Central tempted us to crack open the enclosures to see what made them tick. In the case of the GTech GDrive, substituting the supplied hard drive with an SSD proved it could turn over some respectable figures in this configuration.

StarTech S252SMTB3 2-bay Thunderbolt enclosure

DIY storage: StarTech's S252SMTB3 2-bay Thunderbolt enclosure

Still, not everyone is going to be too handy with a screwdriver to split apart a portable drive casing without damaging it, as we discovered. For the less adventurous, StarTech’s dual-bay Thunderbolt enclosure for 2.5-inch drives looks like a much easier prospect. Even though it comes unpopulated, the StarTech S252SMTB3 still suffers from that Thunderbolt premium pricing. However, being a dual-drive bay it can be configured in stripe or mirrored arrays, which is handy.

The StarTech S252SMTB3 comes with a Thunderbolt cable, external PSU and a bag of screws for drive mounting. It has a very simple aluminium drawer-style arrangement that you affix to the drive to push and pull inside the enclosure where two SATA connections reside. A small fan is mounted on the hinged door at the back of the unit above the two 10Gb/s Thunderbolt ports.

StarTech S252SMTB3 2-bay Thunderbolt enclosure

Two Thunderbolt ports enable daisy-chaining, but alas, no USB 3.0 option

Certainly having two ports is a major plus point enabling daisy-chaining to other storage devices, break-out adapters and a DisplayPort monitor. That’s one of the disadvantages of the portable drives: they’re end point devices that rely on a low power Thunderbolt controller to allow host-powering.

Talking of controllers, the StarTech enclosure is yet another device that relies on an AS Media ASM1061 SATA chip. Now, this has been a tricky customer in previous tests on both of the Elgato Drive+ portable SSD and GTech GDrive mobile Thunderbolt drives. However, problems with drives not mounting on Windows machines were corrected by downloading the AS Media driver that Elgato makes available on its support site.

Screw in metal drawers to slot in the drives

Drives need to be screwed onto metal drawers to slot them into the enclosure

When it comes to getting the StarTech Thunderbolt enclosure up and running on Windows 7, the result was exactly the same as on the previous tests: the drive won’t mount until you install the AS Media driver.

The situation on Mac OS X is hassle free, as was the case with the Elgato and the GTech. The only time the Mac comes unstuck is with Boot Camp running Windows 8.1. Alas, this configuration does not play nicely with Thunderbolt and Apple’s suggested fix for this doesn’t do the job reliably either.

Still a bit on the bulky side, despite being for 2.5in drives only

Still a bit on the bulky side, despite being for 2.5-inch drives only

Luckily, I’ve had extended use of an HP ZBook 17 mobile workstation – which features Thunderbolt and by default has Windows 7 installed. While it’s been a godsend for testing lately, it doesn’t work perfectly until the AS Media driver is installed. Also, as luck would have it, Vulture Central was sent two Intel 730 480GB SSDs for review recently – ideal for testing the real world throughput potential of the StarTech in stripe mode.

Next page: Stripe action

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Immersion cooling no longer reserved for the hyperscalers, HPC
    With increasing density in a smaller footprint, small shops finally have datacenter dunking dibs

    Immersion cooling has long been the domain of larger datacenter operators but with increasing density and therefore smaller datacenter facilities, there is a need for shops of all sizes to get around heavy-duty AC and air cooling.

    This is the target for German server maker RNT Rausch, which has teamed up with cooling specialist Submer to provide immersion cooling for RNT's server and storage systems

    The partnership means businesses of any size can deploy liquid cooling in their datacenter. A relatively small space is required for this as it eliminates the need for air-conditioning units to cool servers, or for expensive and sophisticated fire extinguisher systems, the companies said.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Samsung unveils hardened SD card that can last 16 years if you treat it right
    And apply an asterisk or two

    Samsung has dished up a new variety of SD card that can, it claims, sustain 16 years of continual writes.

    The Korean giant's calculations for the longevity of the PRO Endurance Memory Card – for that is the new tech's name – assume their use to record 1920×1080 video content at 26Mbit/sec (3.25MB/sec).

    At that rate, the 256GB model is rated to endure 140,160 hours of use. Smaller capacity models won't last as long because they'll be overwritten more often, so the 128GB, 64GB and 32GB each halve their larger sibling's lifetime.

    Continue reading
  • Panzura scores $80 million funding to grow storage footprint
    Startup aims to add more than 150 workers by the end of 2022

    Cloud storage company Panzura has received an $80 million injection in a Series B funding round, which CEO Jill Stelfox says it'll use to build a "different" kind of storage company.

    "The whole storage industry and management of end user data hasn't changed in 20 years," Stelfox told The Register. "We think we've got a shot at bringing it all together and making a real change."

    Panzura competes in the enterprise cloud-based NAS market, with its hybrid cloud-based CloudFS. More recently, the file sync-and-sharer added cloud outage failover, shared NFS and SMB access, and Hyper-V support via its Data Flex release in February this year.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022