Introduction

Prior to the rapid rise in popularity of Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices, consumers used to store large amounts of data on Direct Attached Storage (DAS) units. While USB 2.0 and Firewire used to be the interface of choice earlier, neither of them could maximize the bandwidth capabilities of the storage units (HDDs). USB 3.0 and eSATA serve the current day consumers in a more efficient way. We believe that the adoption of Thunderbolt in computing systems will make DAS units more relevant as the days go by. Today, we will take a look at the Mediasonic H82-SU3S2 3.5" USB 3.0 / eSATA Probox 8-bay external hard drive enclosure.

Mediasonic's H82-SU3S2 is a branded version of ODM manufacturer Hotway's H82-SU3S2, and utilizes a bunch of JMicron bridge chips. The unit is capable of being connected to the PC through either USB 3.0 or eSATA. The latter case needs a port multiplier aware SATA host controller on the PC side if more than one drive bay is being used. The operation is in single mode (JBOD) only, making the unit quite straightforward to use for the consumer.

Testbed Setup

Despite having a variety of systems with eSATA ports at my disposal, I was unpleasantly surprised to discovered that almost none of them had port multiplier capability inbuilt. These included boards based on the H55 and H65-M Intel chipsets as well as the AMD A50-M Hudson-M1. The A75 chipset in the ASRock A75 Pro4 supposedly has port multiplier capability. Unfortunately, ASRock confirmed that the current BIOS for that motherboard was not capable of supporting port multiplication.

In the process of sifting through the rest of the systems at my disposal, I found that the eSATA port on the Asus P8H77-M Pro that I had used for testing the HTPC credentials of Ivy Bridge was not from the H77 chipset, but, from a Marvell 88SE9172 SATA host controller. Though Asus doesn't specifically claim port multiplier support in the board, the data sheet for the Marvell controller indicated that it was compliant. In my initial testing, the port multiplier feature didn't work, but reinstalling the Marvell Magni driver after setting the eSATA port to be in AHCI mode resolved that issue (to some extent). There were no such issues with USB 3.0

Mediasonic Probox 8-bay eSATA / USB 3.0 DAS Testbed Setup
Processor Intel Core i7-3770K - 3.50 GHz (Turbo to 3.9 GHz)
Intel HD Graphics 4000 - 650 MHz (Max. Dynamic Frequency of 1150 MHz)
Motherboard Asus P8H77-M Pro uATX
OS Drive Seagate Barracuda XT 2 TB
Secondary Drives Kingston SSDNow V+ 128 GB SATA II SSD SNV325-S2/128GB
Corsair Performance 3 Series SATA III SSD CSSD-P3128GB2
Memory G.SKILL ECO Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) F3-10666CL7D-4GBECO CAS 9-9-9-24
Case Antec VERIS Fusion Remote Max
Power Supply Antec TruePower New TP-550 550W
Operating System Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
Display Acer H243H
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From the perspective of the Probox enclosure, two sets of SATA drives were used. OCZ provided us with some Vertex 4 64GB units for our NAS testbed (about which I will be writing soon), and I took the opportunity to sneak in eight of them for evaluating the Probox before embarking on that build.

For meansurement of power consumption and performance under normal usage scenarios, a few mix-and-matched 7200rpm 1 TB hard drives (from Samsung and Seagate) were used.

In the next section, we will briefly go over the internals of the Probox and the build quality.

 

Build Quality and Internals
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  • Point2Note - Monday, August 06, 2012 - link

    @ypsylon they offer the raid version of the 8 bay as well, although the raid version doesn't work if you only use it for jbod, and the plastic handles are useless

    i use 2 probox 8 bay at home, since my case has only has 10 drive capacity, both use usb 3 since i cant find motherboard or esata card that works with this 8bay.

    the bad thing using usb is i cant remove a drive without interrupting the other drive that in the same bay (it will get disconnected and reconnected, so if im copying something from a drive inside the bay i cant unplug another drive in the same bay)

    also the speed is also halved when accessing multiple drive at the same time, but since the bay cost below 200$ each,it's fine for me

    i agree with ganesh that motherboard vendor should support port multiplier, since they usually use a chipset that already has port multiplier support but its depend on the mobo vendor to enable them or not, i also agree that mediasonic should bundle them with esata card since not many users know that they need additional card if they are using the bay with esata. i even cant get my 2 bay thermaltake to work with my motherboard esata (z68x ud7)
    Reply
  • rahvin - Monday, August 06, 2012 - link

    I have a request, in future motherboard reviews can you test for port multiplier support? When I bought my current board I had to find the JMicron chip number (using high res images of the motherboard) for the eSATA ports and look at the specs for the chip to find out if the board supported port multipliers because the manual said absolutely nothing about it, and the manufacturer didn't appear to care.

    This is a handy feature and if you guys could list whether the boards support it when you do reviews it would save a lot of time for people that need the capability. The manufacturers don't appear to care about it and it appears it's a feature they aren't even aware exists in some cases (the chip they pick for esata has the capability but it wasn't a feature that had any role in the selection). When it was looking it appeared only about 20% of the eSATA chips had port multiplier capability and it looks like a crap shoot on whether you will get it on board or not. So please add this to a list of feature checks, it a really nice feature.
    Reply
  • Antiflash - Monday, August 06, 2012 - link

    Quick question for all you storage gurus:
    Can this DAS (or any JBOD DAS) be use as a Storage Pool to create Storage Spaces in Windows 8?
    Reply
  • samsp99 - Wednesday, August 08, 2012 - link

    How well this performs with storage spaces would be really interesting. I think you could then use JBOD from the device, and the OS should be able to provide redundancy & mapping all the storage into a large volume so that file management (especially for media) becomes easier.

    Could you follow up with a part 2 when you have an appropriate esata card.
    Reply
  • philipma1957 - Monday, August 06, 2012 - link

    One question how loud does this run. Since it is right next to the pc I would hear it if it runs loud most 80mm fans are really loud. I had an eight bay rosewill like this with my mac pro. I used a card with 2 esata jacks that were pm. I ran a 4x 2tb raid0 and a second 4x tb raid0. one backed up the other it was fast 250 mb read and write. and since it had 120mm fans it was quiet. I prefer t-bolt pegasus r6 but they cost a lot more. Reply
  • Deptacon - Tuesday, August 07, 2012 - link

    Really? How is this an andandtech review? Its awful. Its obvious the reviewer has no grasp of this niche of the market. some of us with experiance with DAS units and enclousures...specifically running multiple drives through esata or USB to a main PC.....could have learned a lot from this. Instead, I ended reading the review with more questions.....

    I will buy and re-review it if Anadtech would like....christ....get someone who actually uses the products next time to review them. Like having an avid die hard android user review the new iPhone....
    Reply
  • Deptacon - Wednesday, August 08, 2012 - link

    World wide standard for measuring something is Length, width, height..... not Width length, height like you did. Yet another example of how much of a fail this review was.

    I am buying this product this week. When I get it in....I will write a lenghty review and post it in the forums. Being someone who actually has experiance with esata, port multiplying, and DAS enclosure setups....others like me might find my review I post actually useful.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, August 08, 2012 - link

    I am always striving to improve. It has been quite some time since we carried out a DAS review (I do NAS reviews usually). Please do review the product in the forums and provide the link here (or you can e-mail me too). I will take a look at it and see what other aspects should have been covered.

    In any case, it has been specifically mentioned that once we get hold of a port-multiplier enabled card, we will take another look at the product.
    Reply

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