Once you go BlacX, you’ve gotta get USB 3.0

I’m a big fan of Thermaltake’s original BlacX hard drive docking station. It’s a simple device, really, but one that’s been invaluable around the Benchmarking Sweatshop. Unfortunately, mine’s a little behind the times. It’s more than two years old now, and the USB 2.0 interface is looking mighty slow next to all the new SuperSpeed hotness. OK, so the second-gen USB interface was still mighty slow years ago.  But back then there really wasn’t a viable alternative to inspire jealousy.

We caught a glimpse of a USB 3.0 version of the BlacX at CES earlier this year, and Thermaltake has finally made it official. Dubbed the BlacX 5G, the new docking station has the ability to dock 2.5" or 3.5" hard drives, and it includes a SuperSpeed USB 3.0 interface. You won’t find any the extra USB ports or other connectivity options that have appeared on some previous BlacX models.  USB 3.0 is easily the best interface available for this sort of device, though.

There’s no word on when the BlacX 5G will hit store shelves, but the docking station has a suggested retail price of $49.99. That price is roughly in line with other USB 3.0 docking stations currently available on the market, and truth be told, there appears to be very little that differentiates the 5G from its rivals in this space. Perhaps we can expect a more stylish or at least distinctive take on the concept from Thermaltake’s Luxa² luxury brand, which seems to share my fetish for brushed aluminum.  One can only hope.

Comments closed
    • burntham77
    • 10 years ago

    The title of this article made me chuckle.

    • adisor19
    • 10 years ago

    Is there one with Firewire 800 as well for a resonable price ? (less then 100$ would be reasonable in my book)

    Inquiring minds want to know..

    Adi

      • 5150
      • 10 years ago

      Nope, you’re the only one.

      • Anomymous Gerbil
      • 10 years ago

      “than”, not “then”.

      • UberGerbil
      • 10 years ago

      $100 is unreasonably low for a peripheral that (for all practical purposes) uses an Apple-specific interface.

        • Trymor
        • 10 years ago

        lol

    • bdwilcox
    • 10 years ago

    Intel’s chipsets natively support SATA hotswap in AHCI mode, but their chipset software doesn’t. To use it, you have to utilize a third party software like HotSwap!
    §[<http://mt-naka.com/hotswap/index_enu.htm<]§

      • Trymor
      • 10 years ago

      Nice tip!

    • Convert
    • 10 years ago

    Meant to reply to #3

    Odd, that’s an issue we have been seeing on all of our servers as of late.

    Basically what happens, and it doesn’t matter what ESATA controller or ESATA drives we are using, is the user swaps the external and it doesn’t show up until the server is rebooted OR we switch ESATA ports. Meaning if the controller has two ESATA ports we must move it to another.

    Only seems to have started a few months ago, almost wonder if it’s a windows update that triggered it.

      • HammerSandwich
      • 10 years ago

      Have you tried:
      1) Connect drive
      2) Open Device Manager
      3) Scan for hardware changes
      ?

        • UberGerbil
        • 10 years ago

        You could probably (install and) use
        devcon rescan
        as well
        §[<http://support.microsoft.com/kb/311272<]§ Since that's scriptable and more easily turned into something that doesn't require you allow the user permission to do unspeakable things in devmgmt.msc (Actually you could probably target just the ESATA device or controller if you wanted to get tricky)

    • Krogoth
    • 10 years ago

    My old man has a fetish for the original BlacX.

    He has several them for his main rig. He managed to get a bunch of “free” HDDs from his previous job.

      • NeelyCam
      • 10 years ago

      /[

        • kamikaziechameleon
        • 10 years ago

        usually where they come from, but seriously companies don’t like to throw old HW away I get lots of free stuff from my old job and I don’t work there anymore.

    • flip-mode
    • 10 years ago

    Is USB 3 better than eSATA?

      • Krogoth
      • 10 years ago

      For one reason, it provides power.

      Where eSATA currently requires a separate line for power. Power over eSATA is currently MIA and they are only jury-rigged adapters on market as an alterative.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 10 years ago

        Er, I would think that the fact that this is a docking station and not a hard drive that fits in your pocket kind of makes that irrelevant.

        In this case, there’s no real advantage. Not even going from the fastest SSD to another would really be slowed down, as none of them write faster than 285MB/s even in a best case scenario.

        Buying a USB 3.0 docking station if you’ve already got an eSATA something or other would probably be pretty wasteful.

        A portable USB 3.0 external drive that is powered by a single USB connection would be nice, but that’s not very common yet, and none of the HDDs are slowed down by eSATA, anyways.

          • indeego
          • 10 years ago

          “Buying a USB 3.0 docking station if you’ve already got an eSATA something or other would probably be pretty wasteful.”

          Kinda depends on your environment, doesn’t it? While I have USB3 and eSATA, I have never bothered setting up eSATA on any systems simply because it’s more hassle than it’s worth and it’s never been a desire.

          I haven’t broken in my USB3 ports yet, either.

          I might pick this up in a year, but since Intel appears to be skipping/severely delaying USB3, I am thinking I will too, for the most partg{<.<}g

            • Trymor
            • 10 years ago

            I pull my right panel off, and right there are the sata ports, and power from the PSU.

    • WillBach
    • 10 years ago

    Geoff, can you recommend a good IDE dock? All the hard drives I’m not using anymore and want to back up are really old.

    • bthylafh
    • 10 years ago

    Our two BlacX docks have got eSATA connectors if we really need a full-speed interface.

      • 5150
      • 10 years ago

      One thing I HATE about eSATA is that all the cables I’ve ever used are stiff as a board.

      • Voldenuit
      • 10 years ago

      My Vantec NexStar dock also has eSATA (which I’m running off). Not sure if it’s the dock, mobo or Windows, though, but everytime I change drives I have to unplug and replug the eSATA cable to get windows 7 to recognise the new drive (I have AHCI enabled on the controller).

        • tay
        • 10 years ago

        eSATA is a hack.

        • stdRaichu
        • 10 years ago

        I have the same problem in win7 as well, but it works flawlessly in linux. Any Macs or hackintoshes with eSATA?

        • Trymor
        • 10 years ago

        Could you stand to run it with AHCI disabled? That mode has been know to be involved in at least a few different conflicts.

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