Need an external storage that includes all the ports that you ever need and more? If so, check out our review of the Rosewill RX81-MP-SC-SLV. This 3.5” SATA external enclosure comes with USB, FireWire 400, FireWire 800, and eSATA ports for all of your needs. Join us as we put it through the tests and see if this enclosure would be your ideal external storage option.
I have reviewed plenty of external and internal enclosures here at Bjorn3D.com. I have seen enclosure with some combination of USB, eSATA, and/or FireWire 400 connector. Today, we are going to take a look another enclosure which takes the connector to another level by incorporating FireWire 800. The Rosewill RX81-MP-SC-SLV (man that’s a mouthful for an external enclosure), will be the focus of today’s review. This is a 3.5’’ SATA to 1394a/b, USB, and eSATA enclosure.
Computer users who have been shopping online for awhile will probably not be a stranger to the Rosewill. They carry wide variety of products, ranging from simple cable, to computer cases, coolers, and power supplies. Usually Rosewill products are priced cheaper than the other manufactures and that is evident with what Rosewill describes themselves:
Not long ago we had an idea – bring quality hardware and affordable prices together. From that idea Rosewill was born. Formed from a top team of hardware professionals, Rosewill is dedicated to our mission to compete and win on price, quality, and service. We work only with the best partners – businesses we know and businesses we trust.
Our vision is to become the leading brand in computer hardware and peripherals. We aim to achieve this goal by creating superior customer satisfaction. We view our customers as our most important assets. Through our integrity, our innovative products, and our excellent customer service, we aim to create lasting customer relationships.
PACKAGING AND CONTENTS
The Rosewill RX81-MP-SC-SLV ships in a large black box. I was quite surprised by the size of the box as most enclosure I have reviewed comes in rather small package. It almost doubles the size of what I had seen in the past. The box is black and on the back is full with marketing information and features.
Open up the box and you can see why the box is so big. Not only that Rosewill protects the enclosure with two pieces of Styrofoam cutoffs, it also places the power adapter in a separate compartment to prevent any damages during shipping. This will ensures that the enclosure arrives at your doorsteps without any dent.
Inside you will find:
- The RX81-MP-SC-SLV enclosure
- A FireWire 400 cable
- A FireWire 800 cable
- An USB 2.0 cable
- A power adapter
- A power cord
- An user manual
- Real plug and play
- Hot-swappable connection
- Chipset:Oxford OX924DSB
- Support up to 1 TB
- Please NOTE: In order to enable HOT-SWAP function, please check to make sure the motherboard supports HOT-SWAP function. Otherwise, the hot swappable function won’t be work as well. (Please refer back to motherboard user guide)
eSATA x 1 port
FireWire 800 (1394b) x 2 port
FireWire 400(1394a) x 1 port
USB 2.0 & USB 1.1 x 1 port
3.5” SATA HDD
Support up to 1TB HDD
Aluminum with internal metal chassis for optimized heat dissipation
USB 2.0 & Fireware 400/800 (1394a/b) & eSATA
22.5cm x 13.5cm x3.5cm
Linux 188.8.131.52 or above
Mac OS 8.6 above
External AC Adapter
DC +5V/2A, +12V/2A (UL, cUL, TUV approved)
Universal auto-switching 100-240 VAC
Data Transfer Rate
eSATA up to 3.0Gbps
FireWire 800 (1394b) up to 800Mbps
FireWire 400(1394a) up to 400Mbps
USB 2.0 up to 480Mbps
USB 1.1 up to 12Mbps
The first impression I had with the RX81-MP-SC-SLV is how Mac-ish it looks. It reminds me of a diminished version of the current Mac Pro. The enclosure is built with aluminum for best heat dissipation. Since the enclosure is fanless, the heat dissipation solely depends on the aluminum body. In addition, the front of the enclosure has plenty of ventilation holes. On the back is where you will find all the ports.
- eSATA x 1 port
- FireWire 800 (1394b) x 2 port
- FireWire 400(1394a) x 1 port
- USB 2.0 & USB 1.1 x 1 port
In addition, to these ports, you will also find an On/Off switch and the power connector.
The FireWire 800 port is what surprises me the most. Most enclosures on the market do not come with FireWire 800, especially if you consider eSATA’s higher transfer rate and lower CPU consumption. However, some systems on the market, mainly Mac, and some devices still uses FireWire 800. Thus, having the FireWire 800 on the enclosure will help its usability. In fact, the enclosure does not come with only 1 FireWire 800, it has two Firewire 800 ports to allow users to chain-link two of these drives together.
You cannot see it from the external but the enclosure actually has a blue LED that will light up when the drive is powered and it will blink when the hard drive is being accessed. It can be too bright for some and you cannot control the light intensity but you can disconnect the power from the internal PCB which will turn it off.
The stand of the RX81-MP-SC-SLV is also made with aluminum which will further assist heat dissipation. The bottom of the stand has rubber that prevent the enclosure scratches any surface.
The enclosure’s dimension is 22.5cm x 13.5cm x3.5cm and weighs roughly 1.6 Kg, it is a bit larger and heavier than other enclosures that I have reviewed (with one exception from ICY Dock). It does make it less portable than other enclosures.
Overall, the external aesthetic of the enclosure is quite nice. I like how all aluminum looks and it blinds well with any system especially if you are a Mac user (as it blends so well with the Mac Pro’s look).
Unscrews the four screws on the bottom of the enclosure and the internal chasis will slide off the external housing. As you can see the external housing of the enclosure is nothing more than an aluminum casing that really serves no purpose except help heat dissipation and provides a stand for the hard drive. The internal metal chassis is made with aluminum and it has a covered covering the hard drive. You can see the cover has a few more holes to help heat dissipation. The cover does not cover the whole drive completely, thus, the hard drive could potentially be prone to dust buildup.
There are four rubber feet placed on either side of the internal chasis which offer a bit of protection against vibration. However, I would prefer to see the rubber feet placed on all corners as well as the hard drive installation area.
Lift up the cover and you will find the PCB board of the enclosure. The RX81-MP-SC-SLV uses Oxford OX924DSB chipset. The chipset is actually quite powerful that it supports two hard drives with integrated RAID controller with disk striping (RAID0), disk mirroring (RAID 1) and disk spanning. However, due to the fact that the Rosewill RX81-MP-SC-SLV is a single drive external storage, it will not able to take the advantage of the controller. Here is the block diagram of the chipset:
The internal chasis is where the hard drive will be installed. Simply align the hard drive to the SATA power and data connector and screws the four screws on the back to secure the hard drive. Unfortunately, the enclosure does not come with any noise dampening material or any anti-vibration mechanism. The hard drive is simply being screwed onto the metal chasis.
You can see where the cable is being route the power to the front LED.
Installing hard drive to the RX81-MP-SC-SLV is fairly easy. It is not as simple the ICY Dock’s tool-less design where you simply slide the hard drive into the enclosure. Here you would have to align the hard drive to the SATA connector, fasten the screws that hold the hard drive, and place the cover over the internal chassis. Then you put the internal chassis to the external housing and screw four more screws which secures the chassis to the external housing. Overall, it’s fairly easy process. I can’t complain too much about the installation process as the manual is fairly easy to follow with the step by step instruction. Also, it’s nice to screws the hard drive to the chassis as that secures the hard drive.
I installed Samsung HD501LJ to both the ICY Dock enclosure and the Rosewill RX81-MP-SC-SLV. The tests were conducted with HD Tach 184.108.40.206.
I originally setup the enclosure with the EVGA 680i motherboard and was getting a very poor result with the FireWire transfer rate. I thought something does not seem right. So I connect the enclosure to the Shuttle SB95Pv2 which features Intel 925XE chipset. The result is much reasonable. Thus, for the HD Tach result, the FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 test were conducted with the Shuttle system while the eSATA test was conducted with the EVGA 680i (since the Shuttle system does not support eSATA).
In addition, since not many current motherboards are equipped with FireWire 800, I use my Macbook Pro (model MA895LL) to test the transfer rate of the FireWire 800. I test the real-world performance by transferring 1 file of 1.36 GB from the internal hard drive to the Rosewill RX81-MP-SC-SLV and a folder of 1.4GB consisting 234 files to the external enclosure. I then use my stopwatch to measure the time it took for the file to be transferred.
EVGA 680i, BIOS P30
Shuttle SB95Pv2 board
Intel Pentium 4 640
2 x 2GB SuperTalent T800UX4GC5
2x512MB Kingston HyperX
XFX 8800GTS Fatal1ty (ForceWare 169.21)
VisionTek Radeon HD 2400 Pro (Catalyst 8.1)
We can see that the FireWire is clearly a better choice than the USB 2.0. Despite the fact that USB 2.0 has a theoretical 480MB/s of transfer rate compare to the 400MB/s of the FireWire 400, the design of the FireWire allows a better result. The FireWire 400 transfer performance for both ICY Dock and the RX81-MP-SC-SLV is almost identical. The ICY Dock does have a slightly less CPU usage but that is well within the 2% error from HD tach.
The USB transfer is much more interesting to look. Here the RX81-MP-SC-SLV’s transfer rate is slightly less than the ICY Dock in both the burst rate and the average transfer rate. We can also see a higher CPU usage when the enclosure is using the USB compare to the FireWire.
The burst rate of the RX81-MP-SC-SLV is lower than the ICY Dock when the enclosure is using the eSATA port. Looking at the result, we can see that the RX81-MP-SC-SLV is being limited by the SATA 1 while the ICY Dock was able to achieve the performance of SATA 2.0. However, the average transfer rate for both enclosure, CPU usage, and random access time are same for both enclosures.
Looking at the real-world benchmark, we can see that the FireWire 800 offers the best performance when compare to the FireWire 400 and USB 2.0. Although we were not able to test the eSATA transfer rate with the Macbook Pro, it is no doubt that the eSATA will offer even better performance than any other ports. The USB 2.0 is much slower than the FireWire 400 and FireWire 800 and the performance is even greater when the number of files increase. The performance gain of the FireWire 800 over FireWire 400 is not as dramatic as the theoretical number promised. We do not see double of the transfer rate, rather the FireWire 800 is only about 4 seconds faster than the FireWire 400, so even if your system does not come with FireWire 400, you probably won’t miss too much.
The Rosewill RX81-MP-SC-SLV is probably one of the sleekest looking 3.5’’ external hard drive enclosure I have seen. It has elegant looks and is well-designed for heat dissipation. The included eSATA, FireWire 400, FireWire 800, and USB 2.0 ports on the enclosure will satisfy any systems out there. In addition, the performance of the Rosewill RX81-MP-SC-SLV is comparable with other manufactures with the exception of the eSATA’s burst rate.
There is not much fault that I can find with this enclosure except that it may not be the most portable enclosures out there. In addition, its installation is not as easy as what I have seen with the ICY Dock (although it’s still easy and fast process). Also, a more padding and hard drive shock absorption mechanism would have been nice.
With the retail price of the $89.99 at Newegg , the Rosewill RX81-MP-SC-SLV is a bit more expensive than other manufacture’s enclosure. If you do not need the FireWire 800 and need a slightly more portable enclosure, then I would say go for the cheaper option and slimmer enclosure. However, if you simply need an external enclosure to add to your desktop setup and do not plan to carry it around too often, then the Rosewill RX81-MP-SC-SLV would be an excellent choice. It will blend into your workspace nicely. I do not think that you will be disappointed with this enclosure.
The Rosewill RX81-MP-SC-SLV will receive a 9 (extremely good) out of 10 for a great looking enclosure with enough port all of your needs. It will also receive Bjorn3D’s Seal of Approval Award.
+ Sleek looking “Mac” design
+ FireWire 400, FireWire 800, eSATA, USB 2.0
+ Cool and silent
+ All aluminum construction
+ Good performance
+ Easy installation
– Slightly large and not as portable as other enclosures
– No shock absorption mechanism for the hard drive
– eSATA burst rate is not as high as other enclosure