Build Quality and Internals:

The Mediasonic Probox 8-bay JBOD enclosure comes in a spartan package with just the bare necessities. The most important aspect of the package is the absence of an external power adapter. The PSU is internal to the unit. The contents of the package are as below:

  • Probox main unit
  • 1x eSATA cable
  • 1x USB 3.0 cable
  • 1x power cord
  • 8x plastic HDD handles and 16x screws for the handles
  • 2x keys for the door to the HDD bays
  • Screwdriver
  • Quick Installation Guide leaflet

The gallery below shows some pictures of the main unit. The unit is quite hefty at around 10 pounds without the hard drives installed. The dimensions of the main unit are 15.5cm x 25.3cm x 35.2cm. There are two internal 80mm fans which can be replaced by the user.

There are no HDD trays, but just plastic handles. The handles are also too flimsy for my liking. This means that 2.5" HDDs / SSDs are a no-go. I tried using a 3.5" adapter that is usually bundled with the SSDs, but the SATA connector on the mounted SSDs don't align up with the fixed SATA connector inside the Probox bay.

We managed to grab some photographs of the chips inside the unit. Three of them turned out to be JMicron bridge chips, as shown in the gallery below.

The main chips in the enclosure are:

JMS539: The JMicron JMS529 is a USB3.0 to SATAII 3Gbps bridge controller. It integrates a 60MIPS 8051 microcontroller along with 1 USB 3.0 PHY and 1 SATA PHY.

JMB321: The JMicron JMB321 is a single chip which integrates 6 SATAII 3 Gbps PHYs along with a host microprocessor. The firmware can configure it either as a 1-to-5 port SATAII port multiplier or 5-to-1 port SATAII selector. The Mediasonic Probox contains two of these JMB321 chips, using them in port multiplier mode. These two chips are used in cascaded configuration, with the output of the second one being routed either to the eSATA port or the JMS539 depending on the selected interface. As expected, simultaneous access of the SATA drives over both eSATA and USB 3.0 is not possible.

EM78P520: This microcontroller from Elan Microelectronics is used for overall housekeeping purposes.

 

 

Introduction and Testbed Setup Performance Benchmarks
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  • yyrkoon - Sunday, August 05, 2012 - link

    Er, heh sorry TuxRoller. I mistook you for another person. My mistake. Reply
  • tuxRoller - Sunday, August 05, 2012 - link

    Heh, no problem:) Reply
  • heron_kusanagi - Saturday, August 04, 2012 - link

    And using a eSATA PCI-e card that supports port multiplier. I say that this HDD enclosure will really do well with a bundled eSATA PCI-e card. At least saves some hassle from the consumer side. Although USB 3.0 will solve that issue somewhat, I suppose. Still, this is a nice way to expand the HDD storage of local systems. Reply
  • sheh - Saturday, August 04, 2012 - link

    What do people do with these things, I wonder. If it had a network interface in addition, then alright. But even then, for the price these things sell, you might just as well get a PC. More flexible, too. Reply
  • ganeshts - Saturday, August 04, 2012 - link

    Try getting a 8-bay NAS for around $300 :) And try assembling a PC with this low power footprint when 8 drives are added. In addition, it is not straightforward to have the drives attached to a PC be visible as a set of drives for another PC (which is the point of this gadget - a direct attached storage unit) Reply
  • bigboxes - Saturday, August 04, 2012 - link

    Straightforward for who? AnandTech readers? I have a 9 drive file server (one for the os and 8 for the files to be shared). It's hooked up to the a gigabit switch and then shared with all my home's PCs. I map all of the drives I wish to share on a particular pc. Not too complicated. It's my old A64 box. It's got 2gb of ram and more than enough horsepower to serve up files. I use a Seasonic psu that is not stressed in the least. Quiet and quite flexible. I use a couple of SATA2 pci cards to hook up all the drives. When I have trouble it's easy to troubleshoot the issue. Reply
  • Lonyo - Saturday, August 04, 2012 - link

    I'll get back to you hopefully next week when my Celeron G530 (to be underclocked) on an mATX mobo with 8 SATA ports is ready and set up.

    Rather than challenging the readers to do this, shouldn't you as the reviewer be considering it, and actually exploring the possibilities?
    Reply
  • Lonyo - Saturday, August 04, 2012 - link

    Oh, and total cost for an 8 bay mATX case ($25), G530 ($50), motherboard ($80), RAM ($20), and then $50 for a low wattage 80+ PSU gives you a total of around $225 for an 8-bay box that can also have even more storage added through PCI/PCIe controller cards, as well as USB drives being connected to it. Reply
  • ganeshts - Saturday, August 04, 2012 - link

    Guys,

    Everyone is talking about a NAS here, while I was talking about a DAS. Do you have a 8-bay PC which can be connected to another PC and have all the 8 bays visible over a eSATA or USB port?

    The whole intent is to have storage which can be taken from PC to PC without disassembling, and operating at the max. bandwidth provided by USB 3 or eSATA. With all your solutions, you can either access the drives at full bandwidth only on that host PC or on another PC through a GbE link limited by many other factors.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Saturday, August 04, 2012 - link

    People use these things to have potentially flexible, fast and economical storage.

    Sure it can be more complex to setup. But power consumption wise. It will almost certainly win over a NAS. Which in turn relates to the never ending cost of the device running over time. It will almost always be faster, and can be just as bit as flexible as a NAS. Although, a network not withstanding. Can only connect to one system at a time.

    It all really boils down to taste, and thought process put into your final objective.
    Reply

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