I recently came across this USB 3.0 dock offered on Newegg for around $35, the Syba Connectland CL-ENC50038. It features the ability to connect up two 3.5" harddrives at the same time, or two 2.5" size drives, or a combination of the two. It supports up to 3TB according to the documentation, though a 4TB Western Digital that was tested also worked. In this article I'll show you some of the features and some real world benchmarks of the drive from my own testing.
The design of the docking station allows for two SATA drives to be connected at a time, either two 3.5" or two 2.5" or one of each. The unit also features built-in HDD duplication that does not require a PC, though for the purposes of this article I did not test that feature. The primary function allows it to act as an external HDD via the USB 3.0 connection. When both hard drives are connected you can use both of them at the same time in fact. When you first look at the docking station, it isn't obvious where the second hard drive would plug in. The front of the unit actually pulls out, revealing the second port as below.
In the image below you can see the small circle in the middle right portion of the top of the unit. It is used for PC-less disk cloning if you choose to test out that feature.
A look on the back of the docking station reveals the power connector and USB 3.0 connector. The unit comes with the USB 3.0 connector and the power supply as well as the drive/utility CD. Note that the USB 3.0 connector on the docking station side is a different style than previous USB types. The end that goes into the computer is a standard USB connection though. USB 3.0 type connectors are obvious due to their blue color on the connector as well.
Benchmarks, Performance and Specs
Typical SATA III native speeds on reading and writing tend to range anywhere from 70 to 140 MB/sec for standard magnetic platter hard drives, though in actual practice you mileage may vary (SSD drives are much higher than this). Keep in mind the full rated spec of SATA 3.0 is 6 Gbits/sec or 600 MB/sec, though with encoding the actual data transfer rates actually top out around 300 MB/sec. Depending on the drive, you may see higher numbers or lower ones.
The drive in this test is a Seagate ST1000DM003-1CH1 Sata III 7200RPM 64MB cache, 1 TB hard drive. For this first test, I had the drive connected to the standard SATA III internal interface on the computer (which is, for the record, in this case a Dell Precision T3600).
As you can see this drive performs very well in its native connection to the computer. Reads close to 163 and writes around 143 with an overall Disk Mark of 1125.
For comparison, here are the results using CrystalMark:
Now we see the PerformanceTest results with the hard drive in the USB dock on a USB 3.0 connector:
Read speeds in this test were cut in half as you can see, but still perform well, considering its an externally attached USB device, but maybe not quite as fast as one would think. This speed matches the speeds I obtained in transferring files to the external docking station as well (via the Windows File Transfer dialogue). Those tended to be around 85 MB/sec on average. For reference, USB 2.0 in theory gets up to 480 Mb/sec or 60 MB/sec, while USB 3.0 is up to 5 Gb/sec, closer to 600 MB/sec and that of SATA III, but that isn't real world statistics. I was unable to get good results using the CrystalDiskMark test, so I've decided to not include them here (for the USB connected test portion).
- Brand: Syba
- Model: CL-ENC50038
- HDD supported: 3.5 and 2.5
- Internal Interface: Sata I, II, III
- External Interface: USB 3.0
- Maximum Capacity per bay: 3 TB (I was able to view and use a 4TB Western Digital in my dock)
- Duplication without PC: Yes
- Price: Under $35
The Tech-Stew Take Home
I've been using the docking station now for quite some time and find it to be very useful and performs very well for USB 3.0. Overall the speeds are what you would expect, though a bit less than that of a direct SATA III connection, but plenty fast to go with the convenience of the plug and play of the setup, not to mention the low price. The Syba CL-ENC5038 is definitely worth checking out if you are interested in adding plug and play external hard drive ability to your setup or if you plan on cloning disks frequently. Also, compared to other devices in its classes, most tend to agree its one of the faster external USB 3.0 docking stations.
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