The Vantec NexStar SX 2.5 Enclosure Review

by Reads (15,117)

by Kevin O’Brien

Many of us avid notebook users know that once we upgrade to a newer laptop, we tend to tear apart the old machine in hopes that we can salvage some value from it. One part that holds up well in this special afterlife is the old 2.5” PATA drive from a notebook one or more generations ago. This drive, depending on its size, could be used for extra storage or backup. One external enclosure that makes it as easy as possible for notebook users to make use of that old PATA drive is the Vantec NexStar SX 2.5” Enclosure.


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Specifications for NST-285U2-BK (black) or NST-285U2-SL (silver):

  • Easy Installation without screws
  • USB 2.0 Interface
  • Compatible with 2.5" IDE Hard Drives
  • Aluminum Casing That Cools Down Your Hard Drive
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 75mm x 15mm
  • Weight: 3.7oz (w/o HDD), 6.9oz (w/ HDD)
  • Supports: Window 98SE / ME / 2000 / XP, Mac OS 8.6 & Above
  • Includes: 2.5" HDD Enclosure, Driver Disc, User Manual, USB Cable, Leather Carrying Case, Screws, Screwdriver
  • MSRP: Around $20.00


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Enclosure setup

The NexStar really shines in making it easy for almost any user to set it up for use with a spare 2.5” HD. No screwdriver is required to open the case, and but one is supplied if you feel you need to screw the drive to the circuit board (I didn’t). Pressing the spring loaded release buttons on either side of the case is all that is required to slide the top and bottom covers off. Next, you need to remove any attached pieces from the old HD like a caddie for example, and slip the drive into place. The only speed bump I came upon with installing then drive into the enclosure was a pad glued to the circuit board that prevented the drive from seating correctly. I peeled that off, and didn’t look back. After the drive is securely pressed in the IDE connector, you can flip the holder over and use the supplied screws to further hold the drive in place. Once that is completed, slide the covers back onto the top and bottom to complete the install.


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Computer Installation

Verify that the on/off switch on the back is set to its off position. Now connect the power and data side of the USB cable to your computer, and the mini-USB connector to the drive. Flip the switch to ON at this time, and let the device be found by your system. Your computer may prompt you to restart now that it had found and setup the new device, so a restart may be required. Congratulations, it should now be fully working with your system and ready for the drive to be formatted, or if already formatted, allow you to access your old files.


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Performance

Transfer speeds were very consistent with the USB2 enclosure, getting around 27.8MB/s peak (the USB2 upper limit). I found these speeds to be similar across many text machines including a Lenovo X61 and T60, as well as my custom built desktop. If you have a slower 4200rpm drive installed in your enclosure, you may see lower transfer speeds. While all of the 5400rpm drives tested in the enclosure were able to max out the USB2 transfer speeds, a 4200rpm Fujitsu drive out of an Apple TV would only reach 21.2MB/s. These speeds were very similar with other USB2 enclosures that I had on hand to test.

Conclusion

The Vantec NexStar SX 2.5” enclosure is great for notebook users who want to reuse a drive from a decommissioned laptop, or save money by building their own external hard drive. It is very easy to work with, requiring no screwdriver for most uses, and also looks good in your laptop bag.

Pros:

  • No screwdriver needed to open case
  • Good build quality, durable paint
  • Included leather case

Cons:

  • USB2 Interface, so faster drives will be bottlenecked in this enclosure


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