Piano Black is the new, well....black. It started a couple of years ago when I retired my brushed aluminum Sony STR-DA4ES receiver and upgraded to a Pioneer Elite VSX-84TXSi in piano black. Ever since then the finish has mesmerized me. Is TweakTown reviewing home theater equipment now? No, not really, but this does tie in with today's review of the Thermaltake VI-ON 2.5" USB portable hard drive.
The Thermaltake VI-ON 2.5" is available in white and piano black. When I say piano black, I really mean it; this thing is shiny and you can use it as a mirror when new. The "when new" part is pretty important as you will soon also see.
Portable storage has become pretty popular and there are several ways the average consumer can carry around a lot of data. Some people may choose to carry a thumb drive, but most thumb drives are fairly small when it comes to capacity; the largest I have seen for sale to date is 64GB, but those cost a fortune. If you need large capacity and a low cost solution with high portability, a USB hard drive is the only way to go.
Let's take a look at Thermaltake's new VI-ON line and see what it has to offer.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The first thing that you will notice is the size of the enclosure. 2.5 inch notebook drives are just that, 2.5 inches, but the Thermaltake VI-ON is quite a bit larger, almost as large as a 3.5 inch drive. With everything together, the VI-ON weighs less than most 3.5 inch drives, but it is still rather bulky.
The VI-ON uses the aging USB 2.0 specification, but there really isn't anything Thermaltake can do about that since most motherboard manufacturers have all but dropped FireWire 800 and USB 3.0 is not available yet. eSATA is always an option, but from what I have observed it isn't getting the love it deserves outside of the enthusiast community.
Using the TweakTown Shopping Network I was able to find the VI-ON 2.5" like we are looking at today for a little over 25 U.S.D. which is a little less than the MSRP which is set at 29.99. Thermaltake has a really good network of distributors and retail / e-tail partners, so finding a white or black model shouldn't be a problem.
Thermaltake has a nice package for the VI-ON that has a product picture on the front and lists the USB 2.0 interface so customers know exactly what they are looking at before they even pick up the box.
The back of the box lists several features and goes into the details of the enclosure.
With the box opened we see the first layer of protection for the drive.
With the layer of accessories stripped away we see that the enclosure has ample protection from damage from those evil shipping companies.
The Thermaltake VI-ON 2.5"
The mesh is very attractive and allows the drive to breath.
The power and data connectors are located on the back. The enclosure does not come with a power brick, one of the main features. The USB cable has two heads, one for data and one for extra power. This eliminates the need for external power outside what is provided by the PC or notebook.
Ah, that is the finish we like, piano black. As you can see, you could actually use this enclosure as a mirror, at least at first.
Moving on to the inside, the VI-ON uses a surface mount SATA and power connector.
Here we see the VI-ON with a G.Skill SLC SSD installed. It takes a little fidgeting to get the drive lined up, but after the first time you will figure out the trick.
Here we see the VI-ON on top of a Western Digital Raptor 3.5" hard drive. The enclosure is quite large compared to some of the other enclosures I have seen.
After taking the entire set of pictures, I took a look at that beautiful finish. As you can see, there is a really big problem. It is not like the enclosure was sliding around on sand paper. I use a large piece of cardboard with white dye for the pictures; the scratches came from the enclosure sitting and sliding on paper.
Test System Setup and Accessories
Processors: AMD Opteron 2356 (2.3GHz Quad-Core) x2
Motherboard: Tyan S2915-E (Supplied by Tyan)
Memory: Kingston KVR667D2S4P5/2G x4 (Supplied by Kingston)
Graphics Card: XFX 8800 GTX (Supplied by XFX USA)
Enclosure: Lian Li V2000
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12DO (Supplied by Noctua)
SATA Controller: Areca ARC-1231ML (Supplied by Areca)
SAS Controller: Areca ARC-1680i (Supplied by Areca)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate X64
Drive for Enclosure: G.Skill 64GB SLC SSD (Supplied by G.Skill)
The G.Skill SSD used for testing the Thermaltake VI-ON was recently tested and reviewed here at TweakTown. We found the drive to be very fast and a good candidate for testing other devices.
The documentation for the VI-ON is very well written and easy to follow.
Here we see the two-into-one "Y" USB power and data connector. Thermaltake also included a microfiber cleaning cloth to wipe away the finger prints, but I didn't see a polishing kit to remove the scratches.
Benchmarks - HD Tune Pro
HD Tune Pro
Version and / or Patch Used: 3.00
Developer 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.
USB 2.0 holds back our ultra fast G.Skill SSD by a considerable amount. With eSATA not gaining acceptance as quickly as many would like, USB is still the preferred method of transferring data from place to place. The read speeds we observed are as fast as USB 2.0 is able to transfer.
The Thermaltake VI-ON 2.5" also maxes the USB write speed category.
Thermaltake's new VI-ON shows remarkable promise in a world of brushed aluminum and cheap vacuum molded enclosures. The finish is beautiful, but until Thermaltake is able to reformulate the plastic to be more durable, I can't recommend the VI-ON 2.5" for its looks since even removing it from the box can scratch the finish. I couldn't even imagine what it would look like after a day in my wifes hand bag or my backpack.
When it comes to speed, the Thermaltake VI-ON maxes out the USB 2.0 interface with ease. Read and Write speeds are in the top 1% of all USB enclosures I have tested.
When it comes to cost, the Thermaltake VI-ON is spot on for a powerless 2.5" USB enclosure. Unfortunately for Thermaltake there are several of these enclosures on the market for the same price, many without durability issues.
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
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