by Paul Mah

Hands-On Look at CRU-DataPort’s RTX100-3SJ Portable HDD Enclosure

Feb 15, 20123 mins
AppleComputers and PeripheralsSmall and Medium Business

On the lookout for a fast, high-quality external enclosure for your stack of 3.5-inch SATA hard disks drives? The CRU-DataPort RTX100-3SJ may just be what the doctor ordered.

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If you’re anything like me, you have a stack of hard disk drives (HDDs) from various workstations lying around somewhere collecting dust. And like me, you are probably fed up with literally screwing them into your external enclosure and then unscrewing them again for the umpteenth time–or just precariously balancing the HDDs on your desk as you hunt for an elusive file archived on one of the disks.

That’s where the CRU-DataPort RTX100-3SJ comes in. (The name is a mouthful, I know.) The RTX100-3SJ incorporates CRU-DataPort’s TrayFree technology to do away with cumbersome screws or trays, making it a breeze to swap out HDDs. You simply open the TrayFree bay door by tugging on the spring-loaded level, slide a HDD in and snap the door close. The RTX100-3SJ is the latest single-bay addition to the RTX line and sports a blistering fast SuperSpeed USB 3.0 interface as well as an eSATA port.

The review unit came with a 1TB HDD preformatted to NTFS (HFS+ for Mac OS X is also available) so can it could be used out of the box. A universal power adapter was included, with power-plug options for the U.S., U.K., Europe and Australia, so you’ll want to be sure to specify the correct one based on your locality. In addition, the RTX100-3SJ includes a free OEM copy of Data Backup PC3 3.0 backup software from Prosoft Engineering, which has a list price of $49. A Mac OS X version of the software is also included on the same CD-ROM disc.

To test the device, I copied 5GB worth of large files to a Dell XPS 14z via USB 3.0, and it clocked at an average speed of 72MB/s; copying the files back to the RTX100-3SJ clocked 62MB/s. When I repeated the test plugged into a USB 2.0 port I got 29MB/s and 28MB/s respectively. Taken together, the results suggest that we are far from saturating USB 3.0 with a 7,200rpm HDD. The anodized aluminum body looks great and also dissipates heat extremely well; the enclosure was barely warmer than room temperature even after a marathon session of file transfers. And the absence of a cooling fan means that the enclosure itself emits no noise.

Once complaint: the slider used for locking and unlocking the bay door isn’t exactly the epitome of intuitiveness. To its credit, CRU-DataPort included some instructions on how to unlock the tray and bundled a simple plastic tool to help toggle the recessed slider. While the latter is helpful, it could be easily misplaced. Finally, I would have liked to see an adapter for a 2.5-inch SATA drive inclued, but perhaps that’s just wishful thinking on my part.

Ultimately, the RTX100-3SJ performed as expected, and was a joy to use. the RTX100-3SJ without any hard disk drive will set you back $99, or $229 for one with a 1TB formatted HDD. 2TB and 3TB options, as well as FireWire models, are also available.