Anyone who carries around their internal drives a lot should consider an external enclosure to protect the drive against the rigors of travel. External enclosures allow users to place internal devices such as hard drives and CD burners inside the enclosure and convert the IDE to USB 2.0 or Firewire so that you may use the device externally and benefit from its great portability. The external enclosure I will be testing today is the Cool Max 3.5-inch/5.25-inch aluminum enclosure CD-510B series.
I will begin with examining the construction of the enclosure. The frame and metal tray are both constructed out of black-colored aluminum. I feel that Cool Max did an exceptional job on the construction of the enclosure and it seems very durable and solid, although dropping it is still not a good idea. The enclosure implements a USB2.0 interface although it is fully backwards compatible with USB 1.1 albeit with a slower speed. If you are running USB 2.0, you should experience data transfer rates of up to 480bps. The enclosure is compatible with hard drives, CD-ROMs, CD burners, DVD-ROMs or DVD writers. If you plan to use a hard drive in this enclosure, you will not need a side bracket, as this external device cage merely converts the ATA connection into USB2.0. Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP and Mac OS 8.6 or higher are supported. To keep the components that you place inside cool and stable, there is a 4cm cooling fan located at the rear. The connections on the rear of the enclosure include a stereo earphone jack, USB 2.0 connection, and a power connection. Also included is a USB 2.0 cable, screws, and a 100~240V/12V � 1.7A power adapter.
Installation & Performance:
Installation of any device in the enclosure is a breeze and should take just a few minutes. Just slide out the metal tray and mount the device you will use. Next, connect the device to the cables located at the rear of the enclosure. If you are using a hard drive, just connect the Molex power connection and the IDE connector. For a CD drive, you will need to use the audio connector in addition. Drivers are included on a floppy disk.
To see how well this enclosure performs, I hooked a CD burner and then a DVD-ROM to the enclosure. I put both drives on Master for their jumper configuration. After installation, I just turned the power on and plugged it into the USB port on the rear of my computer. Upon completion, my computer (running Windows XP Professional) automatically detected the drive inside the enclosure and installed the drivers automatically. I had no need to use the floppy disk that contained the drivers. Both the CD burner and DVD-ROM were detected and ran fine. The enclosure interface is designed for use with USB 2.0 but I also tested it with USB 1.1 and it worked fine except for the lower speed. The 40mm fan located at the rear of the enclosure moved a somewhat large amount of air and was not incredibly loud. This enclosure performed admirably overall.
I was very impressed with the Cool Max 3.5-inch/5.25-inch aluminum enclosure CD-510B. It was very easy to install, had very solid construction, and overall was extremely useful. The item retails on the internet for $60-70 making this enclosure good value for money when compared to the external drives you can buy. I would highly recommend this product; the only thing I do not love about this product is the fact that the cable that was included seems to be a little short, so if you plan to place this device high on top of a desk you will probably need to buy a longer USB cable. I would especially like to thank Elaine Pan of Cool Max for providing this great product.