Zalman USB 3.0 Dual Hard Drive Docking Station

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Product(s): Zalman Dual HDD Docking Station ZM-MK200 U3
Provided By:
Zalman
Price:


Introduction: 

Today we are taking a look at a new product from the folks over at Zalman, their new Dual Hard Drive Docking Station (ZM-MH200 U3). This is the first dual hard drive dock that we've taken a look at which could come in very handy for tasks such as copying data from one hard drive to another or making a copy of a hard drive. One of the major new features on this dock is the inclusion of USB 3.0 support which should help improve the performance of this dock substantially over previous USB 2.0 versions.

There really isn't a whole lot else to be said about a hard drive dock so we will just move onto the next section where we take a closer look at the ZM-MH200 U3 dual HDD dock from Zalman.

 

First Impressions:

Not really much to say about a hard drive dock, most are generally pretty similar in the way they work and thanks to USB plug-and-play compatibility they are pretty easy to use and really don't require much effort to get working.

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Packaging (Front)
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Packaging (Rear)


As you can see in the next few pictures this dock is pretty snazzy looking and has a really nice finish to it and won't stick on like a sore thumb when sitting on your desk.

Probably my biggest (and really only) complaint with this dock is the location of the power switch on the rear on the dock. Not really a big deal to reach around to the back to turn the dock on or off, but after a while I found myself just turning the dock around so that the back was facing me for easy access to the power button. Not a big deal, just a minor annoyance.

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Top View
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Rear View


Not much comes with this hard drive dock for accessories, you basically get a power supply and a USB 3.0 cable, which is really all you need to get started.

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Bottom View
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Accessories

The Zalman ZM-MH200 U3 is capable of supporting both 3.5 and 2.5 inch hard drives, in the next few pictures we slap a couple of 3.5 inch drives into the dock.

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2 Drives Installed
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2 Drives Installed


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1 Hard Drive Installed
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1 Hard Drive Installed


There we go, that's what the Zalman ZM-MH200 U3 is all about, overall it looks really good and sturdy and I am pretty sure it will be sturdy enough to stand up for quite some time even with heavy use.

Let's move onto the next section of our review.

 


Zalman Dual Hard Drive Docking Station Specifications:

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All specifications taken from Zalman.com

 

Features:

  • Supports ‘Port Multiplier’ function enabling two SATA HDDs to exchange data through a single USB connection and supports 2.5” and 3.5” SATA I/II HDDs up to 6TB(3TB for each slot).
  • The rapid USB 3.0 interface supports DUAL, JBOD, RAID 0 and RAID 1 modes.
    Dual: Each slot is recognized as an independent HDD.

    JBOD: Two HDD’s are combined and recognized as a single HDD drive.
    RAID 0: Data is striped into 2 HDDs for increased performance, but damage in 1 drive can cause total loss of data.
    RAID 1: By mirroring the same data in 2 HDDs, damage in 1 drive does not affect data in the other HDD.
  • Supports the new USB 3.0 interface with a data transfer rate data up to 5Gbps when connected to a PC supporting USB 3.0.
  • Supports ‘Port Multiplier’ function enabling two SATA HDDs to exchange data through a single USB connection and supports 2.5” and 3.5” SATA I/II HDDs up to 6TB(3TB for each slot).
  • High quality, premium USB 3.0 cable and chipset have been utilized for a stable and error-free data transfer.
  • In order to reduce the energy consumption and extend the HDD’s lifespan, the HDD’s are also switched to stand-by mode with the PC.

 

Specifications:

Type HDD Docking Station
Dimensions 158(L) x 158(W) x 90(H) mm
Materials Plastic
Color Black/White
RAID Mode Dual, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1
HDD Interface 2.5" & 3.5" S-ATA Ⅰ/Ⅱ
PC Interface USB 3.0
Number of Slots 2
Power Supply Input: AC 100 ~ 240V / 50/60㎐ / MAX 1.2A    &nbspOutput: DC 12V / 3A
※ ZM-MH200 U3 will enter Standby mode if idle for 10 minutes. The unit requires startup time to exit Standby mode.


 

Zalman Dual Hard Drive Docking Station - Testing:

The testing of a hard drive dock is pretty straight-forward. We are going to do some file copy tests first to show the "real-world" performance of the Zalman dual HDD docking station, we will then run some hard drive performance tests in the next section to show how the hard drive that we've installed can perform.

Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 500GB hard drive.

If you would like to compare our results to another comparable device you can check out our review of the Thermaltake BlacX 5G USB 3.0 dock over here. We have run the same set of tests on both hard drive docks for easy comparison.

Let's see how this hard drive dock performs....

 

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Click on chart for larger view

 

After this first test I was pretty much ready to throw my old USB 2.0 hard drive dock into the garbage. For smaller file transfers the time difference wasn't huge, but as we started copying bigger files the time savings between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 was substantial. In the grand scheme of things 7GB of file transfers isn't that much and if you were using this dock to fill up a 500GB (or bigger) drive you could easily save hours of waiting.

In the next test we'll run some hard drive benchmarks to see just how well our hard drive is performing while in this dock.

 

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Click on chart for larger view

 

So there we go, once again we can very easily see that USB 3.0 offers a significant improvement over USB 2.0 speeds. USB 3.0 isn't the limitation of these tests, at these speeds the hard drive is the component holding us back from even better scores, if you were to drop a SSD drive into this dock chances are good you'd seen even better performance.

So there we go, testing complete, let's move onto the final section of our review.

 

Zalman Dual Hard Drive Docking Station Final Thoughts:

A hard drive dock might not be the most exciting product on the market, but if you are in a "computer-related" industry or are just an avid computer user chances are good you've got one already (or want to get one). The Zalman ZM-MH200 U3 is pretty snazzy and works as advertised and thanks to USB 3.0 outperforms previous USB 2.0 docks significantly. I've used a USB 2.0 hard drive dock for years and never really thought much about how long it took to transfer files back and forth until I got my hands on this dock and now it feels like watching paint dry when using a USB 2.0 dock.

This hard drive dock is pretty easy to like thanks to some of its features. The ability to put your two drives into RAID (or JBOD) configurations might not be for everyone, but some more extreme users out there might be able to put that to use. The build quality of this dock is also very good and I'm pretty sure it won't have much trouble standing up over the long haul. Not only is it built well it also has a very nice finish to it and it won't look like a sore thumb sitting on your desk.

The MSRP at time of publishing for the Zalman ZM-MH200 U3 was approximately ~$79.00 USD thanks to a quick search online. While this dock is definitely more expensive than other docks we've tested in the past, the features it offers (RAID Support, Energy Saving, USB 3.0) still make it a decent value. For someone who is only using one hard drive at a time it probably doesn't make sense, but I can think of many applications where having the ability to dock two hard drives would be very handy (data recovery, making a copy of a hard drive straight onto another hard drive). I would say this product is probably more aimed at the "Power-User" or "Computer Administrator" rather than the average home user.


Probably my biggest beef with this hard drive dock is the positioning of the power switch (power switch is located on the rear of the dock). It's not the end of the world to have to reach in behind the dock to turn it on and off but after a couple tests I found myself turning around the dock so that the rear of the dock was facing out so that I could quickly power on and off the dock. Zalman does include a "Green Power Management" feature on this dock that powers down the hard drives after 10 minutes of inactivity so you can probably leave the dock on for the most part without worrying about your drives running 24/7.

At the end of the day it's pretty easy to like the Zalman Dual Hard Drive docking station thanks to the unique features that it offers. While this dock might not be for the "Average" user I'm quite certain "Power-Users" and "Administrators" will appreciate the ability to dock two hard drives at the same time. Overall the Zalman ZM-MH200 U3 scored very well in our testing and has earned our "Editor's Choice - Gold" award.

 

Pros:

  • Great performance thanks to USB 3.0
  • Easy to Use
  • High Quality Construction

 

Cons:

  • Power button could be easier to access

 

BCCRating

Gold 
 

I'd like to thank Zalman for sending us their Dual Hard Drive Docking Station. If you have any questions, comments, or general feedback, please leave it at the "Comments" link below.