For those who upgrade their systems regularly, there is almost always a surplus of spare parts that end up sitting on a shelf. For many of us, this includes hard drives. It used to be that these parts just sat there until we finally got tired of looking at them and we try to sell them off for cheap or just toss them in the garbage.
With the Vantec NexStar external device tested here we can now give our old drives a fresh lease on life. Sure it may not be as fast as the latest screamer, but that doesn't mean it can't still be a productive part of your rig. Whether it is setup as a storage medium for important files, or a dumping ground for those movies, or even a place to safely store a good image of your current setup, the NexStar will meet your needs. I wouldn't recommend it for a place to install games and run them from here, but most other uses are fair game.
I was a little concerned about the close quarters when installing the drive, though. It seems that if you plan on swapping drives, you'll be replacing the unit soon since I don't think it will take a whole lot of switching before the cables start coming loose. Even a small increase in overall length would address this problem just fine.
Something else to consider is where you plan on placing this unit. The included cables were a bit on the short side measuring in at one meter (that is about 39 inches for those metrically challenged). This may limit where you can place the device and should be considered when making your buying decision.
Data transfer rates were also very workable. While there was nothing especially notable about the USB speeds, the Firewire mode is a shining light for this unit. With data transfer times on par with the slave drive, you'll have no problems using it for a media box.
As far as price goes, I was able to find this item online for around $58 USD while the USB only devices can be found for under $40 USD. This isn't really out of line when you consider the added usefulness you can gain from something like this. Not to mention the ease of hiding that drive full of inappropriate movies from the folks or your significant other.
Bottom line...If you're looking for a means to make use of that extra hard drive that is just sitting on the shelf, you need to look at some sort of external hard drive enclosure. While there are several hitting the streets lately, if you've got Firewire then you will love this Vantec NexStar. It offers the convenience of removable media and the productivity of an extra hard drive.
Excellent Firewire performance
Native support in OS beyond Win98
300GB size limit
Average USB speeds
Very tight fit for hard drive
Rating - 8.5 out of 10
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