While simple in design, the VisionTek DriveXpander puts a new twist on hot swap capabilities. The DriveXpander doesn’t actually plug into a PCI-E slot (although that would have been a great option), it just uses the PCI-E slot opening to give you access to the drive gate. For under $20 bucks you get a hot swappable drive bay that opens up through one of your unused PCI-E slots.
The DriveXpander uses one of your internal SATA ports, so if you are using SATA 6G you should get pretty good speed out of the DriveXpander setup. VisionTek also included a couple of hard-to-find adapters, one being a SATA-to-Molex female and a Molex to SATA Male. Along with the DriveXpander itself, you get a screw to fasten the cage in with, a couple of platter drive protectors, a SATA cable, a key to lock the drive bay and a PCI-E bracket that helps stabilize the DriveXpander.
Your drive just slides into the cage easily, but don’t go jamming it in there all the way.
When your drive is almost all the way in it hits a little “drive ejector” bar, and at that point you need to stop inserting it and close the rear gate which locks the drive onto the SATA backplane and clicks the door shut.
Once you’ve closed the drive door, the drive engages the backplane and you should be ready to access your DriveXpander drive just like you would any other drive in your system. When you pull the latch on the back, the door opens and the drive gently slides a little way out so you can easily pull it out and insert another drive. If the DriveXpander is empty you should go ahead and close the door to prevent dust intrusion as much as possible.
Let’s do the specifications thing then look at the benchmarks for the DriveXpander and Go Drive combo.
- Interfaces: 1 x SATA III 6.0Gb/s data and power connector
- Compatible Drives: Any SATA I/II/III HDD or SSD 7mm to 9.5mm
- Performance: up to 600MB/s
- Hot Swap Compatibility: Yes
- Compatible Slots: Any full size PCI or PCIe*
- Dimensions: 0.8” H x 4.7” W x 5.7” L
- Weight: 5.22 oz
- Certifications: CE/FCC/RoHS
- Warranty: One year
When compared to a direct connection to the SATA 6G Internal connector, the DriveXpander and Go Drive combo churns out almost identical numbers. Having the DriveXpander between the drive and the SATA 6G internal connector cost us no performance at all.
Check out the video benchmark run of the DriveXpander below. (Note the video is a different benchmark run than the one above).
During the video you will see an additional benchmark run of the DriveXpander and Go Drive combo. The results are indistinguishable from the non-video run, but we will never use video benchmarks to score products because of the potential of the overhead of the video interfering with the run.
The average speed in HD Tune Pro is what we look at, and the DriveXpander and Go Drive combo score so close to the internal SATA 6G connector run that they could be twins. Testing shows that there is indeed no penalty to using the DriveXpander as far as speed goes.