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AcomData Samurai SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Rugged Portable 2.5-inch Hard Drive Enclosure

December 7th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments
4 Stars- techdad


I’ve been using external enclosures to build my own external drives for about 6 years now and none of them were visually appealing.  Ugly or not, I always looked for certain features when building external desktop drives, like good cooling and good USB or FireWire chipsets.  When I needed an enclosure for a 2.5″ drive for use as portable external drive, I decided I would limit the search to just USB 3.0 enclosures.  I ended up with a good one, after a slight modification.

PROS
  • Very attractive design
  • Rugged
  • Includes USB 3.0 cable
  • Easy to install
  • Fairly quiet
  • Good 3 year warranty
  • Great support
CONS
  • Foam pad may need to be removed
  • Glossy plastic lid & bottom
When researching external USB 3.0 enclosures, I could not find a single one that had positive reviews either on Amazon or Newegg.  Most of the complaints were about drives disappearing or not being able to obtain USB 3.0 speeds.  I decided to chalk up the majority of those complaints to people who were using bad host cards or the lack of proper power to drive the enclosures and drives.  I tested the AcomData Samurai drive with 2 different host cards and had no problems with either host card.  One was an unpowered EVGA and the other a powered Buffalo Technology card.  Both were PCI-E 1X.

INSTALL
The installation was easy, but I did read the manual to make sure I knew what was going on.  The rubber border around the enclosure is what made me approach the install with more caution than I normally do.  The manual was confusing at first because it instructs you to remove all the screws and lids before starting even though it came disassembled already.

You basically remove the PCB board from the rubber enclosure, then insert your SATA drive to the connector on the board.  You then screw the drive into the PCB board using the standard mounting holes on the bottom of your 2.5″ drive.  I much prefer securing the drive this way.  Many 2.5″ enclosures have itty bitty PCB boards that you plug your drive into then slide into the enclosure and screw shut with 2 screws.  The Samurai feels much more secure and stable than my other 2.5″ enclosure.  Lastly, you place the lids on and screw them in.  By the way, only 9.5mm drives will fit.  If you have a newish drive, it’s probably 9.5mm.  Older 12.5mm drives won’t fit.  If you need a 12.5mm enclosure, take a look at AcomData’s Tango enclosures.

PERFORMANCE
Once I completed the installation, I connected my USB 3.0 cable to the enclosure and immediately was met with a grinding noise from the drive.  I immediately disconnected it and took it apart to inspect it.  It turns out that there is a small square foam pad on the bottom lid that helps suppress vibration and noise, but it is too thick for my 9.5mm drive and caused undue pressure on the disk once the lid was screwed on.  The foam pad is stuck on the lid via a strong adhesive but was relatively easy to remove.  Once I removed it, the drive worked perfectly.

The chipset used for the AcomData Samurai USB 3.0 enclosure is by Jmicron, which is fine by me.  I think a lot of motherboard makers have used Jmicron raid controllers on-board so I’m at least familiar with the name.  My benchmarks were as expected (~68MB/sec avg transfer rate).  The rubber sides of the enclosure not only look good, but add durability to the drive.  It also acts as a non-slip surface and as such, the enclosure does not have any non-slip feet glued to the bottom.  When I ran a 2 hour long test, I did feel the glossy plastic lid getting pretty warm, but definitely not hot.  Also, because the rubber protective casing reduces vibration, it runs very quiet and is hard to tell if the drive is even running without sticking your ear right next to it.  The foam pad may have helped further reduce noise but I’m not that concerned about it.  As a side note, I don’t believe the chipset will pass on any S.M.A.R.T.  information so if you use any utilities that use that info, you won’t be able to with this enclosure.

SUPPORT
Somehow, AcomData provides lifetime technical support for their products.  Since the Samurai is the first AcomData product I have owned, I don’t know how they’ll do with a discontinued product.  If their expertise of their current products is any indication however, then I would assume that they would rise to the occasion for all their products, old and new.  I had to speak with them regarding the foam pad issue and I received, prompt and courteous assistance.  This level of service was quite the departure from the lack of support I’d received with other enclosure makers.  Bytecc and Apricorn never even got back to me when I had problems with their enclosures.  My Vantec and AMS enclosures never had any problems to call about.

MISC
The Samurai includes a long blue USB 3.0 cable (1m), which might be inconvenient for mobile use but is nice for desktop users.  Though I find the AcomData USB 3.0 Samurai enclosure to be the most attractive I have ever used, I’m not a big fan of glossy plastic.  They smudge easily and attract too much dust.  Some type of brushed aluminum material would have REALLY made this enclosure a stunner while providing additional heat dissipation.

The enclosure’s durable features means AcomData had to sacrifice size.  Though the marketing photos show someone placing the enclosure in their front shirt pocket, I can’t imagine doing that myself.  It’s big, but I happen to like it that way.  I don’t have to worry about putting the enclosure in another case when I travel with it.  The slim power/activity light is also nice and attractive.

SUMMARY
The AcomData Samurai USB 3.0 enclosure is without a doubt the most attractive enclosure I have ever purchased.  More importantly, it performs very well, is durable and the drive is kept stable inside.  Cooling is also good and noise is minimal.  Add a 3 year warranty and free tech support and what you have is an amazing enclosure.  If I need another portable enclosure, I won’t hesitate to get another Samurai.  I hope they make a similar desktop model someday.  I highly recommend it.

Available from Amazon.com.

* Review sample courtesy of AcomData.

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