In the world of external hard drives, eSATA is the clear way to go. With both USB and eSATA on the Cooler Master X-Craft 350, it is positioned with plenty of bells and whistles to entice you to buy it. But is it worth it?
The need for truly portable storage is getting greater everyday and this can be proven by the immense popularity of thumb drives. Consumers can now purchase up to 16GBs worth of capacity and when they are done with it, they can simply throw it in their pocket and go about their business as usual. These are truly amazing times in the world of portable storage. There comes a time though, that 16GBs just isnâ€™t going to cut it and its times like these when we turn to the good old hard drive.
When large data backups are needed, itâ€™s nice to be able to plug a hard drive into your PC, pull any and all critical data and then migrate it to another PC. To address this need, many companies over the past years have produced enclosures for just such uses. Ranging in connectivity from eSATA, USE and Firewire, external enclosures provide a perfect way to either store or move critical data. This is especially handy for home users who have more than one PC but lack a home network by which to transfer files.
With the companies jumping into the hard drive enclosure market, Cooler Master has decided to test the waters and offer up their X-Craft 350 for evaluation. Armed with eSATA and USB 2.0 for connectivity, the 350 appears to be a winner on paper but how will things look one performance is factored in. With my trusty Seagate Barracuda 250GB SATA drive, I intend to find this out.
Cooler Master has packaged the X-Craft in a colorful and informative box. Just by looking around it, most relevant information can be found on either the back or the front.
Once opened, we see a well organized box with all the essential hardware and software packed away.
With everything out of the package, we can get into what is included with the X-Craft 350. For starters, we see the unit itself.
The bottom of the 350 if made entirely of a metal mesh to helping the circulation of air across the hard drive itself. This not only looks incredible, but also adds considerable functionality to the enclosure as well.
On the front of the enclosure, we find more mesh and a Cooler Master logo on the front. This serves as a power light as well as an activity light too. When powered on, the logo will glow a pleasant blue and when the hard drive is writing or seeking, it will indicate this with a red/pink glow.
On the back of the 350, we see all of the connectivity that the X-Craft offers. From the left to right, we see an upstream USB B connector, a pair of USB 2.0 connections for anything you can think of, the ever important eSATA port, the power connector and the on/off switch. Located directly below the eSATA port is a small rectangular button that we will use to disassemble the enclosure but there will be more on this later.
Before we get into the interior of the 350, letâ€™s take a look at the other accessories that ship with the X-Craft.
The X-Craft 350 ships with a stand, a power supply and power cable, a PCI SATA to eSATA pass through, an eSATA cable as well as a USB B to A cable to be used if your PC lacks SATA ports on the motherboard.
For good measure, Cooler Master has also included a disk with back up software and a simple but effective manual.
Onward to installation!