iStarUSA T5F-SS 5.25in Trayless SATA/SAS Rack

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Product: iStarUSA T5F-SS 5.25" Trayless Anti-vibration
SAS/SATA Mobile Rack

Provided By: iStarUSA
Price: ~$30.00(est)


Introduction:

iStarUSA may not be the first name on your lips when you think mobile HDD racks.  Other companies like Kingwin, Thermaltake, Nexstar and IcyDock get a lot of press with their external and internal HDD docks, racks and enclosures and iStarUSA is one of the names that often gets left out in the cold.  Today we are looking at a trayless 5.25" Anti-vibration SAS (Serial Attached SCSI)/SATA mobile rack that may be just the ticket if you have a drive that you want to pull from a system for security or large scale data portability.  Keep on reading to find out if the T5F-SS is a worthy choice in this crowded market.

 T5F-SS Package
T5F-SS Package

About iStarUSA:

For those of you not familiar with iStarUSA, you might find their company information interesting.  We've pulled it from their site and posted it below for your convenience.

iStarUSA established in 1989, iStarUSA Computer Inc. has over fifteen years of experience in designing and manufacturing Industrial Switching Power Supply, Rackmount Chassis and Server Cabinet. From the standard switching power supply to high-end redundant power supply, iStarUSA has grown to be one of major provider in IPC power supply industry. In recent years, we have also expanded our products to include 1U to 8U rackmount chassis and 6U to 42U server cabinets. Our goal is always to provide our customer with the best products and superior customer services. In the beginning, iStarUSA focused on providing our customers the combinations of cutting-edge technologies, high quality manufacturing, and superior customer services. It has been a proving record that these principles earned a strong partnership for iStarUSA in today's competitive market.

iStarUSA builds its strength upon its experience, technology, and strong partnership. We have been working closely with major computer components manufactures and system integrators for years to ensure that our products have high compatibility and solid stability. We also adopt new industrial standards to improve our design. Our ability to design according to customer's requirement also wins us a high reputation in the industry.

 

You can read the full company profile over here.

 

Bundle & First Look:

The T5F-SS comes is a pretty plain looking box and the bundle is pretty plain as well.  In the box is the enclosure/rack, a set of keys, four screws for mounting the rack in a 5.25" bay and a small manual.  The T5F-SS is really simple to install as you insert it into an available bay, open the door, slide a drive in and shut the door.  There is no tray to install on the HDD - it's a one piece unit that really makes installation simple.

T5F-SS Bundle
T5F-SS Bundle

 

The front of the unit is somewhat vented and this allows the small 40mm fan at the rear of the unit to achieve small airflow inside the unit to keep your drive cool.  Because there is no major aluminum component touching the drive (such as a tray) the drive could get hot if the unit were cooled passively.  The active cooling on this unit is quiet and works very well.

 Front Close - Closed
Front Close - Closed
Back Close
Back Close

 

The black hard drive connector on the back is for SATA while the orange connector is for SAS devices.  Not familiar with SAS?  Check out Wikipedia for more info.

On the next page we'll install it and test it out.


Installation:

As I mentioned before, installing the T5F-SS is very simple.  To install it into your case is as simple as installing a SATA Optical drive - just make sure if you're using a SATA drive that you connect the SATA cable to the black connector.  You can secure the unit with the included screws if you case isn't tool-less.  I used the Zalman GS1000 case and the unit slid easily into a bay and was secured with thumbscrews that came with the case.  Installing a drive is as simple as turning a key, pulling the latch on the left front of the unit and then sliding the drive in place.  When you close the door it will push the drive securely into the connector and keep it from vibrating thanks to the secure fit and spring-loaded door.

Front Close - Open
Front Close - Open
Drive Installation
Drive Installation

 

Once you've got the T5F-SS in your system and powered on, you'll see that there are two distinctive LEDs on the front left on the device.  The LED at the top of the lock indicates power and that a drive is installed.  The LED at the bottom of the lock is an HDD activity indicator.  It flashes like every other HDD light on the front of every case.  The handy thing about having drives installed in the T5F-SS devices is that you can see which drive is being accessed.

Installed
Installed

 

Usage & Testing:

I've used the T5F-SS for about a week and have had absolutely no issue with it at all.  While some may shy away from the unit because of the fan, I never found this to add any noise to the system at all.  This is currently running one half of a RAID 0 stripe on an Phenom 9950BE system and it has been rock solid.  The performance with the drive in this enclosure is identical to the performance when the drive was strapped solely into the GS1000 Case.  The benefit for some corporate users is that this device also supports SAS drives as well.  When using the iStarUSA T5F-SS in a RAID 1 array, it works as advertised and lets you hot-swap drives with no issues at all.  In terms of performance and usability, this device scores very well.

Final Thoughts:

The iStarUSA T5F-SS works as advertised and brings iStarUSA to the table in the crowded market of HDD enclosures.  One of the main benefits of this HDD Dock is also its weakness; it is tray less.  This means that you have nothing to install on your HDD and you can use your HDD in any system, dock, or other device without taking it out of its proprietary tray.  This also means that if you plan on pulling your drive from the T5F-SS before you go home at the end of the day, you'll have to transport your Hard Drive without any protection on it at all.

With this in mind, the T5F-SS is not for everyone as it is not a standard rack/tray design that many other companies use.  This leaves your drive free of the burden of a tray and makes it more usable more quickly in different situations.  Still, if you use this in your office machine and plan on taking your drive home with you at the end of the day it will certainly leave your drive more exposed to damage.

Pros:

  • Simple to install both in system and drive
  • Quiet - even though it's actively cooled
  • Drive doesn't vibrate
  • Trayless design leaves drive free for other applications quickly and easily
  • Supports both SATA and SAS drives
 

Cons:

  • Trayless design fails to protect drive when transported outside the entire enclosure

 

 BCCRating

Top Pick

 

I'd like to thank iStarUSA for sending over the T5F-SS for us to review.  It just squeaked in at 9.0 to make a Top Pick.  If you have any questions or comments, please post them in the forum at the "Comments" link below.