Carved out from the success of thumb-drives, portable hard-drives are slowly catching on. It no longer seems awkward carrying around a hard-disk drive (HDD), especially with manufacturers introducing a colorful variety of enclosures. Banking on their vast experience in making premium casings for hardware enthusiasts, Cooler Master has recently added 3.5-inch eSATA HDD enclosures to their product range with the X Craft RX-3SB.
Pretty Piece of Metal
The X Craft's sleek-curves and mesh-screen compliments the anodized aluminum casing that is available in two flavors, matte-silver and glossy-black. Laced with gunmetal colored rails, both versions are eye-catching and will definitely find its place amongst all the other tech-gadgets scattered on any geek's desk. A stylish Cooler Master bezel found on the front plate doubles as a quick access button to backup data as well as to indicate HDD activity status with blue and red lights.
Plethora of Ports
What makes the X Craft RX-3SB external HDD enclosure especially appealing is its native external SATA (eSATA) interface which have lately been mushrooming all over new motherboards. Ever hungry power-users would not only get to appreciate the X Craft's true eSATA throughput of up to 3.0Gbits/sec, they would also get backward compatibility with USB 2.0. In total, three USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA connector and one DC power jack are on the back plate. Also, for those that have yet to upgrade to a motherboard with eSATA output, Cooler Master thoughtfully included an eSATA back-plate within the package.
The X Craft might seem a little long to some, however upon closer inspection, ample breathing space given to the HDD was the cause for it and should be considered a piece of clever engineering rather then obscure design - after all, what's the point of a HDD enclosure that looks pretty but can't keep data integrity true?
Cooler Master also added extra shock dampeners in the form of mounting-rails with integrated springs - definitely a good move considering external HDDs go places frequently. Finally, four non-slip rubber feet firmly hold the HDD enclosure in place when placed horizontally.
It's Hard to be Perfect
Despite the meticulous effort spent at product design to minimize clutter and maximize value, the X Craft is not without fault. One of them lies in the attachable metal bracket that balances the X Craft when placed in a vertical space-saving position. We found the metal bracket loose and wobbles at the slightest touch, therefore leaving data integrity highly vulnerable when in operation. The only solution would be to lay the HDD enclosure horizontally to eliminate this issue. On a less critical note regarding the X Craft, had it been entirely made of aluminum, there would have been a more solid feel to its overall construction and would definitely win the hearts of geeks all over.
With eSATA the next big thing in external storage connectivity, many external HDD enclosures often leave out backward compatibility while in a mad rush to cash in. In this aspect, Cooler Master is definitely keeping their cool and taking the right steps when adopting new technology. Despite a minor design fault with the vertical support bracket, the X Craft RX-3SB would definitely appeal to hardware junkies with its slick looks, tool-free mounting, eSATA and concurrent USB 2.0 connection options.
Cooler Master also offers other X Craft models such as the RX-3HA that offers USB and FireWire connections while the RX-3HU only offers USB links. So there's a model for every user and price category.