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I'm looking for an external SATA enclosure to host a minimum of 4 standard 3.5" form-factor SATA hard disks.

I currently have a 4-disk enclosure from Vantec that uses a SATA port multiplier but has a drawback that one port always reads as SMART disabled regadless of the disk and overall suffers from poor cooling.

My requirements:

  • Minimum of 4 disk enclosure for 3.5" form-factor SATA disks
  • Good cooling, ideally low vibration and not too loud
  • eSATA data interface
  • Not a rackmount solution. This will sit on a desk or on the floor.
  • Ideally can accommodate 6 GB/s SATA III disks at full bandwidth.
  • Externally powered with a switch to turn it off
  • Fairly easy install/removal of disks in the enclosure.

My use case is intermittent backup where the disks and enclosure are only on and spinning during the backups.

  • 1
    Question: do you have a controller that supports SATA port-multiplier? – Adam Comerford Sep 22 '15 at 15:31
  • @AdamComerford yes, my current enclosure uses a port-multipler and my system reports it as ata6.15: Port Multiplier 1.2, 0x197b:0x0325 r0, 5 ports, feat 0x5/0xf – casey Sep 22 '15 at 16:16
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OK, so I have used an older version of this product with success, but not had a chance to use their latest version. My experience was good enough to make a general recommendation. Icy Dock now offers a 4 disk enclosure, with lots of nice options (including adjustable fan speeds, dust filters, drive trays) called Black Vortex.

You need to have port-multiplier support to use the eSATA interface and that is limited to SATA II speeds (3 GB/s). I should note that I used USB personally on the Icy Dock, and FireWire 800 on an Drobo rather than eSATA - my experiments with eSATA drives have been poor (might just be my bad luck).

On that point, you will only get one channel's worth of SATA II bandwidth (3GB/s) with this approach. That is significantly less than a well performing USB 3.0 interface, especially when you consider that a single channel SATA II is limited to ~300MB/s thanks to 8b/10b encoding. USB 3.0 will likely outperform eSATA here, so worth considering.

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The Mediasonic Probox looks like a good option for you. It can be found here It has support for esata and usb 3.0. It has fairly good cooling with a thermal sensor to automatically change the fan speed. It has a power switch and can give you 6 gigabytes per second which is the maximum you are going to find in a sata 3 disk. It also has 4 bay enclosoures and it is not a rackmount solution.

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  • Have you utilized the Probox before? How loud is it? – Andy Sep 22 '15 at 18:04

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