Introduction

Prior to the rapid rise in popularity of Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices, consumers used to store large amounts of data on Direct Attached Storage (DAS) units. While USB 2.0 and Firewire used to be the interface of choice earlier, neither of them could maximize the bandwidth capabilities of the storage units (HDDs). USB 3.0 and eSATA serve the current day consumers in a more efficient way. We believe that the adoption of Thunderbolt in computing systems will make DAS units more relevant as the days go by. Today, we will take a look at the Mediasonic H82-SU3S2 3.5" USB 3.0 / eSATA Probox 8-bay external hard drive enclosure.

Mediasonic's H82-SU3S2 is a branded version of ODM manufacturer Hotway's H82-SU3S2, and utilizes a bunch of JMicron bridge chips. The unit is capable of being connected to the PC through either USB 3.0 or eSATA. The latter case needs a port multiplier aware SATA host controller on the PC side if more than one drive bay is being used. The operation is in single mode (JBOD) only, making the unit quite straightforward to use for the consumer.

Testbed Setup

Despite having a variety of systems with eSATA ports at my disposal, I was unpleasantly surprised to discovered that almost none of them had port multiplier capability inbuilt. These included boards based on the H55 and H65-M Intel chipsets as well as the AMD A50-M Hudson-M1. The A75 chipset in the ASRock A75 Pro4 supposedly has port multiplier capability. Unfortunately, ASRock confirmed that the current BIOS for that motherboard was not capable of supporting port multiplication.

In the process of sifting through the rest of the systems at my disposal, I found that the eSATA port on the Asus P8H77-M Pro that I had used for testing the HTPC credentials of Ivy Bridge was not from the H77 chipset, but, from a Marvell 88SE9172 SATA host controller. Though Asus doesn't specifically claim port multiplier support in the board, the data sheet for the Marvell controller indicated that it was compliant. In my initial testing, the port multiplier feature didn't work, but reinstalling the Marvell Magni driver after setting the eSATA port to be in AHCI mode resolved that issue (to some extent). There were no such issues with USB 3.0

Mediasonic Probox 8-bay eSATA / USB 3.0 DAS Testbed Setup
Processor Intel Core i7-3770K - 3.50 GHz (Turbo to 3.9 GHz)
Intel HD Graphics 4000 - 650 MHz (Max. Dynamic Frequency of 1150 MHz)
Motherboard Asus P8H77-M Pro uATX
OS Drive Seagate Barracuda XT 2 TB
Secondary Drives Kingston SSDNow V+ 128 GB SATA II SSD SNV325-S2/128GB
Corsair Performance 3 Series SATA III SSD CSSD-P3128GB2
Memory G.SKILL ECO Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) F3-10666CL7D-4GBECO CAS 9-9-9-24
Case Antec VERIS Fusion Remote Max
Power Supply Antec TruePower New TP-550 550W
Operating System Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
Display Acer H243H
.

From the perspective of the Probox enclosure, two sets of SATA drives were used. OCZ provided us with some Vertex 4 64GB units for our NAS testbed (about which I will be writing soon), and I took the opportunity to sneak in eight of them for evaluating the Probox before embarking on that build.

For meansurement of power consumption and performance under normal usage scenarios, a few mix-and-matched 7200rpm 1 TB hard drives (from Samsung and Seagate) were used.

In the next section, we will briefly go over the internals of the Probox and the build quality.

 

Build Quality and Internals
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  • cdbob - Monday, August 06, 2012 - link

    I built an NAS using the G530 and it works great. The best value for money you could get. Reply
  • Deptacon - Tuesday, August 07, 2012 - link

    I have 16TB's of data spread across 8 drives..... this is plug and play from one machine, and frees up room in my machine....thats what these are for. Reply
  • PommieB - Saturday, August 04, 2012 - link

    Bit disappointed in this review, especially the lack of knowledge about eSata and Port Multiplication, I've run eSata and multiple enclosures for at least 5 or so years, I've had little or no problems using them, I'm running this particular enclosure connected to a Asus M70 laptop with no problems at all, it runs via a PM aware Addonics eSata expresscard without problems, the expresscard has a SIL3132 chip, something I checked prior to buying this particular enclosure, never had blue screens with esata, but then I do the research beforehand, something the reviewer should have done in the first place, I don't have USB3.0, so far I haven't needed it.

    All I can say, for the price these enclosures work well and so does the eSata, that's if you understand PM and know what your doing, same goes for eSata.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Saturday, August 04, 2012 - link

    The introduction section mentioned that a PM link needs to be used. However, not many users realize that their board's eSATA port most probably doesn't support port multipliers.

    One of the aims of this review was to educate the readers about this issue. Just trying to make sure that readers have a proper PM supporting eSATA port before expecting eSATA to work in this unit.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Sunday, August 05, 2012 - link

    Well then. Educate the readers who need it. But not at the expense of a product you are reviewing.

    I completely agree with the OP here on this thread. Which is why you saw my post on the first page.
    Reply
  • overanalysis - Thursday, August 09, 2012 - link

    PommieB,

    are you saying the expresscard using the sil3132 will add the multiport function to your labtop even if the chip set on mobo doesn't have it. I have xps 1640 w/ ICH9 chipset that doesn't support port mulitiplier. I have a 4 bay probox that does not have PM controller in it. I was going to going to use a usb 3 espresscard but would prefer to use the esata if I could.
    Reply
  • PureHazard - Saturday, August 11, 2012 - link

    Yes, he's saying exactly that. The Sil3132 will have a port multiplier enabling you to see up to 8 hard drives via eSATA. Reply
  • tuxRoller - Sunday, August 05, 2012 - link

    I'd be curious how a linux distro (fedora, say) handles this setup. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Sunday, August 05, 2012 - link

    Heh, I'm thinking you'd have better luck asking for openSolaris advice on this site . ..

    but freenode.irc -> ##fedora perhaps ?
    Reply
  • tuxRoller - Sunday, August 05, 2012 - link

    I suppose you are referring to their zfs coverage?
    Fedora, or something like RHEL storage, should be able to handle this easily using lvm2 + whatever fs you like.
    Mainly, though, I'm curious about the usb3 performance comparison. Linux has had usb 3 support for ages, and driver quality for windows can be quite variable for usb3.
    Reply

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