Backups Backups Backups! I can’t stress enough how important it is to have them. Here are UMLan we always work around the clock and keep our data as safe as possible however, accidents and misfortunes do happen. Just over a month ago we have lost our NAS where we keep all of our benchmarks, data and of course pictures. Recovering from something like this is a nightmare but doable. We only have 1 NAS which we trusted very much however even things you trust the most do break. Having a stand by storage enclosure would have helped if we lost our files on NAS. Just a few weeks ago we reviewed SilverStone DS322 which is a USB RAID enclosure and we liked it as it does exactly what it supposed to. Keep your data redundant. Today we have a privilege to take a look at one of the newest enclosures by SilverStone, TS231U. TS231U is also a desktop version of hard drive enclosures however it has different connections available besides USB. Let's dive in to TS231U and see what it has to offer.
About the Product
Following information is taken from the Teratrend's web site.
The TS231U is a 2-bay RAID storage tower with SuperSpeed USB 3.0 and eSATA interfaces which has over 200MB/s in transfer speed. The included USB 3.0 port is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 ports, make it more flexible for accessing data. With built-in hardware RAID 0, 1, JBOD, the TS231U provides RAID redundancy protection against hard drive failures. Embedded RAID controller can reduce CPU utilization from the host PC and RAID controller cards are unnecessary. Two hot-swappable hard drives slots are behind the front cover to allow easy trouble shooting and hard drive replacement. The newly trayless design allow easy installation. With high performance transfer rate and up to 8TB capacity to support various audio and video editing problems, TS231U is the ideal storage tower for professional application.
Aluminum + SECC
70mmx70mm cooling fan x1
HDD size support
HDD interface support
SATA I / II / III
USB3.0 (Max. 5Gbps) compatible with USB 2.0 eSATA ( Max 3Gbps )
Internal universal power supply design Input: AC 100-240V, 50Hz/60Hz Output: DC +12V / 3.5A , +5V / 3.5A
RAID mode support
RAID 0, 1, Combine, Normal
HDD Drive Support
Up to 4TB per HDD is supported
214mm (D) x 130mm (W) x 115mm (H)
Power LED - Blue for power on HDD status LED - Blue for HDD detected Red flashing for HDD access
Windows XP, Vista, 7 Mac OS 10.x Linux Kernel 2.6.31 or above Computer with SuperSpeed USB3.0 or USB2.0 interface * Only Windows XP 64 bit/Vista/7 /OS X/Linux can support when RAID capacity over 2TB
Now that we got basic information out of the way, lets take a closer look at TS231U.
TS231U is a two 3.5" bay system which allows multiple configurations to take place. Supported configurations are RAID 0,1 and JBOD. JBOD stands for Just a Bunch Of Drives. This particular feature combines multiple hard drives (in this case 2) in to one. So unlike RAID configuration you do not need to use identical hard drives. Let's not jump a head just yet but take a look at the shipping and presentation of TS231U. The box it came in is very stylish and well as you can see has a lot if information on it. TS231U has a light blue color scheme of the packaging and all of the images are very vivid.
Features and Specifications
Out of the box
On the back of the shipping box we found an extensive list of all of the Features and Specifications of TS231U. TS231U has an aluminum enclosure which looks like going to be very beneficial when the hard drives will get warm. Cooling is a very important part when it comes to Hard Drives. The whole unit came embed in to hard plastic foam. The packaging get A+ as the whole unit didn't move one bit during shipping. TS231U comes with USB 3.0 and eSATA cables along with power cable. What is interesting here is that the power supply is built in the actual unit. So there is no "brick" power supply that always hangs out by your feet.
The front door is made from brushed aluminum as the rest of the unit is made from regular aluminum. The whole unit is black as you can see and feels very cool to the touch. On the back of the unit we found eSATA and USB 3.0 connectors along with power connector.
TS231U offers a tray less installation of your drive which I find to be very nice and useful at times. Later on in the review we will show you how easy it is to install hard drives in to TS231U. There are total of 3 LED indicators on top of the TS231U, Power, HD 1 and HD 2. Power LED glows blue for power on state, HDD LED glows blue when HD is detected and flashes red when Hard Drive is being accessed.
SATA back plane
Looking at the front of the unit we found a power button and operation configuration selector. Here we can have Normal (2 separate drives), RAID 0, RAID 1 and Combine (JBOD). Depending on what you would like to use with TS231U you might want to read up on it. There is a small mode button which is needed to be pressed to clear configurations when you change the operation mode of TS231U. I guess it is worth to mention here that only SATA type of Hard Drives is supported in TS231U.
TS231U with 2 TB Drives
Tray less Installation
TS231U Supports up to 8TB capacity however, today we are going to be using two 2TB hard drives by Seagate. These drives are Seagate Barracuda's ST2000DM001 2TB 7200 RPM 64MB and will do just fine for testing this unit. Installing these drives couldn't be easier. Just align the SATA connector to the back plain and gently push the Hard Drive in until the locking mechanism clicks. All set!
Ready to go!
To get up and running with TS231U it only takes few minutes however, I do strongly recommend to take a look at the manual. Spend few minutes with it to figure out what kind of configuration you need to set up to keep your data protected. Now that we done with general overview let's take a look at some benchmark data.
GIGABYTE GA-X79-UD3 LGA 2011 Intel X79 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 7850 2GB GDDR5 Video Card OC Edition
Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
G.SKILL Ripjaws Z Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory
Cooler Master 1200 Watts Modular Power Supply
What we use for simple benchmarking at UMLan is HD Tune Pro and Crystal Disk Mark. These two benchmarks give a really good understanding on what you should be expecting our of your connection. And in our case we are going to be testing USB 3.0 and eSATA connections with TS231U. Our choice of hard drives for this evaluation is Barracuda's ST2000DM001 2TB 7200 RPM 64MB. It is worth to mention here that TS231U supports up to 2 4tb hard drives. Since this review is really oriented towards redundancy, we are going to include benchmarks for RAID 1 mode and every connection and operation.
USB 3.0 JBOD Read
USB 3.0 JBOD Write
USB 3.0 Normal Read
USB 3.0 Normal Write
USB 3.0 RAID 0 Read
USB 3.0 RAID 0 Write
USB 3.0 RAID 1 Read
USB 3.0 RAID 1 Write
USB 3.0 RAID 1 1000MB
USB 3.0 RAID 1 4000MB
I would like to clarify what operations of TS231U. First mode which is "Normal". What this does is uses hard drives in TS231U just like any other enclosure would host. So if you got couple or hard drives that are not identical in size, TS231U can be used to host them and they would show up as separate hard drives in your computer. RAID 0 mode, provides no redundancy as data basically is written across two disks, so in our case we see combined storage of 4TB. RAID 1 provides redundancy and in this case is very useful in TS231U. With RAID 1 data has been mirrored between two hard drives. JBOD mode (short for Just a Bunch Of Drives) combines any size hard drives in to one.
After looking at USB 3.0 connection with TS231U in different modes its clear to see what kind of speed you are expected to have with each specific mode. This review is oriented towards RAID 1 and redundancy and with that in mind we looked closed at transfer speeds of TS231U with Crystal Disk Mark. With Crystal Disk Mark we can clearly see that the sequential read speed was 158.4MS/s and 156.1MB/s in RAID 1 mode over USB 3.0 in 1000MB benchmark. Running the same benchmark but with 4000MB we saw read speed of 158.7MB/s and write speed of 157.4MB/s
eSATA JBOD Read
eSATA JBOD Write
eSATA Normal Read
eSATA Normal Write
eSATA RAID 0 Read
eSATA RAID 0 Write
eSATA RAID 1 Read
eSATA RAID 1 Write
eSATA RAID 1 1000MB
eSATA RAID 1 4000MB
Looking at eSATA connection on TS231U we saw very similar numbers here to USB 3.0 connection. And again to extensively look at average read and write speeds we turned to Crystal Disk Mark. In 1000MB benchmark setting we got average read speed of 158.1MB/s and write speed of 156.2MB/s. Repeating this benchmark showed us a little bit unexpected read speed of 92.12MB/s and write speed of 156.5MB/s. The reasons transfer speeds of eSATA are very similar to USB 3.0 is because of the maximum speed of eSATA and USB 3.0. Here is a short summary of transfer speeds. SATA - 1.5Gb | SATA 2 - 3Gb | SATA 3 - 6Gb | USB 2 - 480Mb | USB 3 - 5Gb. As you can see USB 3.0 and SATA 3 are very close to each other in comparison, hence our results are very similar.
Today we had an opportunity to review TS231U by SilverStone. Our experience with the unit was nothing short of spectacular. We have not experienced any problems installing or running our hard drives in different modes. Looking at some of the comments on the web about this unit, people have difficult time understanding what TS231U really is and what it is designed to provide. If you have a bunch of files you need to keep safe, TS231U could be definitely beneficial for you. Some users complained that the ability to run TS231U in Normal mode would fail to see two hard drives. We have not seen and of these kind of problems with TS231U in fact everything worked right out of the box without any issues. One of the most important features in TS231U is the RAID 1 function. This would provide users with redundancy of their data and that is the final point. TS231U retails for about 130$ and I believe this price is very fair for RAID enclosure like this. If you looking for a desktop solution that provides comprehensive RAIDed storage solution TS231U very well might be. Great quality product!
Some pros we found:
Easy to use.
Supports multiple modes of operation.
Stay cool and keeps temps down as we saw.
No problems with transfer speeds as they were expected.
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