Product: Thermaltake BlacX USB2.0 SATA HDD Docking Station
Date Reviewed: July 26, 2010
Retail Price: $59.99
Average Mail Order Pricing: $32.99
The inevitable fact of computing is that, at some point, your internal hard drive will fill up and you will find yourself in the position of needing to replace it with a larger unit. Or you might be tempted to upgrade your drive to something bigger in size, just because new drives so darn inexpensive.
A few months back, the upgrade bug hit me (as it is wont to do from time to time) and I purchased a shiny new 1 terabyte SATA Seagate internal drive to replace the stock 400GB SATA drive that came with my 2008 model Mac Pro. Having already filled the remaining 3 drive bays in the Mac Pro, I was in a quandary. How do I occasionally access the data on the drive, without putting it back in the computer?
I had a few options: I could deal with the cumbersome swapping of drives by removing the Mac Pro’s drive mounting plate and adding it to the other drive (which is both time-consuming and tedious), house the drive in an external drive enclosure OR purchase a drive docking station. The external enclosure would work great, BUT I wanted the flexibility of accessing ANY internal SATA drive at a moment’s notice. The docking station solution seemed to be the most practical option. I had a few options available via mail order, but I couldn’t wait.
For around $30, I picked up the Thermaltake USB 2.0 to SATA HDD BlacX docking station at CompUSA. The unit is advertised as working with both Mac and Windows machines. Inside the box is the docking station, a few brief pages of documentation, a power supply adapter and one USB cable. On the front of the BlacX is a latch used to eject the drive (the unit takes both 2.5″ and 3.5″ SATA drives). To its right is a small blue LED used to indicate power / drive activity.
On the back of the BlacX are a power switch, DC IN, and a USB port.
Setting up the docking station took all of 2 minutes. Adding the drive to the docking station was quick and effortless (no force needed whatsoever). The docking station itself feels very durable and solid. The drive sits flush with the docking station, and the drive fits like a glove (no wiggle room). The BlacX is made out of heavy duty plastic and feels solid and well built. The eject mechanism, which is used to unmount the drive, feels “plasticky” to the touch, but it works fine.
My MacPro immediately recognized the drive when the BlacX powered up. With the docking station, the SATA drive operates at USB 2.0 speeds (not terribly fast). For occasional data access, it was more than sufficient. If it’s more speed you crave, and you have a SATA interface on your computer, you can step up to the BlacX model that features USB 2.0 and eSATA interfaces. (Newegg sells it for $39.00). If I wasn’t in such a rush, I would have opted to go with this particular unit, instead of the USB 2.0 only unit.
As it stands, I’m pretty satisfied with my ThermalTake BlacX docking station. It’s easy to use and has a solid build quality. Value-wise, I feel it’s a little pricey, especially when the BlacX eSATA / USB 2.0 combo model is just a few dollars more.
The ThermalTake BlackX gets a solid 4-star rating.