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Thermaltake BlacX SE SATA to USB Dock

We've recently looked at what the standard BlacX offers. Now we see if the SE model brings anything else worthwhile.
@ChrisRamseyer
Published Wed, Jun 4 2008 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:27 PM CDT
Rating: 89%Manufacturer: Thermaltake

Introduction

IntroductionLast week we took a close look at the Thermaltake BlacX (USB Version) and found it to be a product that many enthusiasts will not be able to live without. Thermaltake has three versions of the BlacX; USB, USB + eSATA and finally a feature rich version called the BlacX SE. The BlacX SE is for users that want to optimize every product on their desk. Convergence is key when you only have limited space. The Thermaltake BlacX SE has everything the BlacX (USB) that we reviewed last week has, but it adds an extra feature; an integrated USB 2.0 hub. The SE version sits a little taller than the other variants and has a wider base, but the size difference isn't something you are going to notice since it is such a small amount. We found on the previous review of the BlacX that transfer speeds were hindered due to the USB interface, and the SE version is going to suffer the same. When using the USB hub, transfer speeds will be reduced even more. Let's have a look to see what kind of performance we are looking at and if sticking to the standard BlacX is a better option.

Specifications, Availability and Pricing

Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Looking at the specifications for the BlacX SE, I get a little dejà vu since they are so similar to the other BlacX. The biggest difference between the two as far as specifications are concerned is the size and addition of the four USB 2.0 ports. Although the specs list on Thermaltake's site show the two versions of the BlacX as being the same size, this is a misprint. The BlacX SE has a circular base that is about an inch and a quarter larger than a standard CD. Along the bottom front of the SE is the four port USB hub, and this is what makes the SE unique to the other BlacX versions that are currently on the market. The Thermaltake BlacX SE can handle all SATA drives up to 1TB is size. This includes both SATA I and SATA II as well as 3.5 inch standard desktop and 2.5 inch notebook drives. The SE also has a cover that secures the drive into the enclosure. Since you will be connecting and disconnecting devices into the USB hub, it is important to secure the drive with the cover so you do not accidently knock the drive out of the base. Thermaltake lists the MSRP of the BlacX SE at 69.99, but after a search on Pricegrabber I was able to find this version for 57.00 Dollars shipped (41.99 before shipping). This is in the same ball park as the BlacX we recently reviewed, so if you can handle the extra size of the SE it would be better to go ahead and get the USB hub SE version for just a couple of dollars more.

Packaging

The Package
Thermaltake do a good job on the outer packaging with a large portion of the information presented on the front of the box.
The side shows the package contents and a couple of images of the product.
The rear side of the box shows all of the specifications and features of the BlacX SE.
There is not much on this side other than the BlacX logo.

The Thermaltake BlacX SE

The Thermaltake BlacX SE
There are many things going on with the front of the BlacX SE. The first thing you'll notice is the four USB ports along the bottom. The SE variant also gets a hard drive cover that lifts over the entire front of the drive.
Here is a better look at the front from above. The cover opens to the front from the pivot points shown in the image.
To remove the drive, simply remove the cover and press the eject button.
The back is where the power button and cord are located. USB plugs in here also, and as you can see a cut out is in the plastic for eSATA but currently Thermaltake does not show a BlacX SE available with eSATA. At this time we can only hope for an eSATA version that retains the USB hub.
Here is the BlacX with the door down; you can see the connectors for SATA inside, the metal ejection mechanism is also visible.
The ejection mechanism is made of metal so you shouldn't have a problem with the unit being damaged from typical use.

Accessories and Documentation

Accessories and Documentation
The accessory package is straightforward; you get a power brick and a USB cable.
As you can imagine, with only two accessories, installation is simple and the manual is just the same. One side is dedicated to listing the parts and the other shows how to plug it all in.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and HD Tune Pro

Test System Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 (Supplied by Intel)Motherboard: MSI X38 Diamond (Supplied by MSI Computer)Memory: 2x 1GB DDR2-1200 (Supplied by Winchip)Graphics Card: ASUS HD 3870 TOP (Supplied by ASUS) Cooling: GIGABYTE 3D Galaxy II (Supplied by GIGABYTE)Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista UltimateDrivers: Intel INF 8.3.1.1009, ForceWare 163.21HD Tune ProVersion and / or Patch Used: 3.00Developer Homepage: http://www.efdsoftware.com/Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com/>HD Tune is a Hard Disk utility which has the following functions:- Benchmark: measures the performance - Info: shows detailed information- Health: checks the health status by using SMART - Error Scan: scans the surface for errors - Temperature display HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing. Read and Write Tests
SATA Western Digital Raptor 150 GB Read
BlacX SE Western Digital Raptor 150 GB Read
Shown in our test results are the original BlacX benchmarks as well as those from a Raptor 150GB connected with a standard SATA cable and also inside of the BlacX SE. As I imagined, the SE gets a slight transfer speed slowdown due to the integrated 4-port USB hub. If you were to attach more devices to the unit, such as USB keyboards, mice or thumb drives the transfer speeds would be further reduced when they are in use.
Western Digital Raptor 150 GB Write
BlacX SE Western Digital Raptor 150 GB Write
The write speeds didn't seem to be hurt from the USB hub, but once again, when devices are in use the limited bandwidth of USB will need to be divided between devices.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsThe Thermaltake BlacX SE is everything we expected it to be, and everything Thermaltake claims it to be for that matter. As was the case with the BlacX we looked at last week, the BlacX SE is not able to transfer data as fast as native SATA, so your drives are not going to see full performance as they would when mounted inside of your PC. Hopefully Thermaltake gives us a BlacX SE eSATA version just like the BlacX does.Currently the BlacX SE can be found for just a couple of Dollars more than the BlacX; just a hair above 40 US Dollars, even though the MSRP is close to 15 Dollars more at the MSRP level. When choosing between the BlacX (USB only version) and the BlacX SE, I would opt for the SE since it adds a little more value to the product. The construction of both units is similar and the quality is high. The BlacX did have a small problem with light scratching on the door cover, and that is eliminated on the SE since there is not a door that covers the slots. As someone who has dropped or knocked over more than a couple of hard drives in my day (two WD Raptor 150GBs last year alone), I like the security door on the SE. If you do not like the look of the SE with the door installed, it is easily removed.
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Chris Ramseyer started his career as a LAN Party organizer in Midwest USA. After working with several computer companies he was asked to join the team at The Adrenaline Vault by fellow Midwest LAN Party legend Sean Aikins. After a series of shake ups at AVault, Chris eventually took over as Editor-in-Chief before leaving to start Real World Entertainment. Look for Chris to bring his unique methods of testing Hard Disk Drives, Solid State Drives as well as RAID controller and NAS boxes to TweakTown as he looks to provide an accurate test bed to make your purchasing decisions easier.

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