Storage racks come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on its intended use, you can have a solution that fits just a few drives or a full on monster that can hold upwards of twelve drives.
In the lab today, we have the first of two storage rack solutions from Vantec. We're starting first with the five bay EZSwap M3500. Now, the M3500 series of storage racks encompasses several models, including one, three, four, and five bay models. This should give plenty of flexibility when configuring your server or workstation for use with these racks.
One of the most unique features within the latest EZSwap series is compatibility with SAS hard drives and solid state drives. Normally, we are left using standard SATA drives with devices such as these.
Scope of delivery for the M3500 included SATA cables, one for each bay, along with the necessary screws and keys for locking each tray.
Looking at the front of the device, I first noticed the entire unit, apart from the trimmings on the trays, is made from aluminium. Each bay has its own activity indicator below, and the fan and lock LEDs are mounted above.
The back of the unit houses a SATA connector for each bay, though I did find it hard to read the layout of the connector when installed in the chassis, so it's a good idea to connect cables or find a way to highlight the letters so they are easier to read.
In addition to the SATA connectors, the back of the unit also houses dual SATA power connections to power all five bays. There is also a fan switch for high and low speeds and an HDD LED indicator switch. To the far left, we have a row of pins for chassis LEDs if you choose to use them.
Moving back to the front before we finish up the images, I found each bay has a hidden locking mechanism. By sliding the plastic down, you expose the lock.
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Above, we have the tray for the M3500, again made of aluminium.
Above, we have the results with our Seagate 600 Pro connected directly to the native SATA III port on our Z77 motherboard. As you can see, we reached 500 MB/s read and 450 MB/s write.
In our second test, we installed the same drive into the Vantec M3500. As you can see, we achieved the same amount of performance here.
Over the past few years, I have seen a countless number of Vantec products come and go, and it seems as of late there is a new energy around Vantec as a whole. What I mean by this is they have transitioned quite a few of their product lines over to more robust aluminium materials and have let go the days of cheaper plastic enclosures. The M3500 is part of the transition and one that I welcome with open arms.
Build quality of the M3500 is top notch with aluminium construction throughout. Fitting the device into my chassis was quick and painless, and drive installation was rather simple, as well, using the included screws.
Performance of the unit was great as expected, though we didn't have a chance to test the device's SAS capabilities at this time.
The only downfall I found with the M3500 was the fan noise. Now, of course, solutions such as these will most likely be installed into hot, noisy servers, but for workstation applications, I found that the fan creates too much noise. Even on low, you get that whir that small fans make.
MSRP of the Vantec M3500 is set at $149.99 with a one-year warranty.