SilverStone SST-RVS02 External HDD Enclosure
A perennial favorite, SilverStone continues to meet the expectations of the PC enthusiast crowd with its innovative and well-crafted products. Since 2003, SilverStone has built a reputation for offering solid product lines and pioneering new PC accessories and peripherals. Catering to enthusiasts and professionals alike, SilverStone continues to grow in the PC industry, dominating the market with their innovative cases, power supplies and other accessories.
Road warriors are a tough crowd to please: they want the best of both worlds - portability and performance. In many instances, the dichotomy of these traits can be extremely tough to incorporate into a single product. Many manufacturers have tried to blend these attributes into the perfect PC accessory, only to fail miserably. Certainly, external hard drive enclosures are not exempt from this, especially those enclosures which harbor 2.5" storage devices.
Small, portable 2.5" external enclosures have always seemed to get a bad rap. While diminutive in size, these enclosures were powered solely by USB 2.0 and data transfer speeds suffered for it. eSATA tried to fix this, which improved data transfer speeds in these devices, but the cost was high as eSATA required two cables (data and power) instead of one. Enthusiasts cried out for a solution to the problem, and thus was borne the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 specification.
Today, SilverStone introduces its first USB 3.0 capable 2.5" external hard drive enclosure, the SST-RVS02. Hailing from the famous Raven product line, the SST-RVS02 puts an end to the USB 2.0 and eSATA debacle. Completely tool-less and sporting a faux-carbon fiber exterior, the SST-RVS02 is hell bent on changing the rules. Attractively priced at $25.99 at Amazon, the SST-RVS02 is backed by SilverStone's 1-year warranty.
SilverStone SST-RVS02 External HDD Enclosure Specifications:
|Enclosure material||In mold decoration Plastic|
|Color||black with carbon fiber styling|
|Power requirement||5Vdc from USB port|
|Operating system support||Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Mac OS and Linux.|
|HDD size support||9.5mm thickness 2.5” hard drive or SSD (compatible with 6Gbit/s)|
|HDD interface support||Serial ATA|
|Minimum System Requirements||Windows XP, Vista and 7
Mac OS 9.x (Apple USB support 1.3.5 and greater) and Mac OS 10.x
Computer with USB 3.0 or USB 2.0/1.1 interface
|Enclosure interface||USB 3.0 (Max. 5Gbit/s) interface.
Compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1.
|Net Weight||62 g|
|Dimension||127.9mm (D) x 75.1mm (W) x 18.5mm (H)|
Will the SilverStone SST-RVS02 make road warriors proud? Can the SST-RVS02 succeed in blending both portability and performance into a single product? We'll soon find out!
Unboxing the SilverStone SST-RVS02 External HDD Enclosure
Like all SilverStone products, the packaging of the SST-RVS02 is both elegant and modest. Emblazoned on the front of the box is blue and white lettering, proclaiming that the 2.5” external enclosure contained within supports SuperSpeed USB 3.0 for both hard drives and SSDs. The SuperSpeed USB 3.0 specification boasts a 5Gb/s transmission rate, however, this is purely theoretical as system overhead and other factors are likely to affect this.
The rear of the box offers a short specification table extolling the more notable features of SilverStone’s first USB 3.0-based 2.5” external hard drive enclosure. Since the SST-RVS02 hails from the vaunted Raven line, we can be sure that the product will be enthusiast-oriented with a solid feature set combined with aggressive styling cues. If the SST-RVS02 is anything like the 2.5” USB 2.0/eSATA-based SST-RVS01 external HDD enclosure, we are in for a treat.
Couched in a protective bag, the SST-RVS02 lays in a cardboard tray with a display window in the lid of the box. Lifting the tray will reveal the accessories that are included with this device.
The accessory bundle for the SilverStone SST-RVS02 is very basic: you will find a black and white manual and a USB 3.0 cable. The manual for the SST-RVS02 is quite good as it contains clear directions and excellent diagrams. Because the SST-RVS02 supports SuperSpeed USB 3.0, it comes with a special “Y” cable with three connectors.
On one end is a mini-USB 3.0 connector, while the other end has two Type-A plugs. The black Type-A plug is for USB 3.0 connectivity, while the red plug is to provide additional power (if needed) when using USB 3.0. The only thing lacking in this bundle is a protective pouch, such as the one included in the SilverStone SST-RVS01 2.5” external hard drive enclosure bundle.
Closer Look at the SilverStone SST-RVS02
Enthusiasts love unique-looking, innovative products and the SST-RVS02 serves up a hearty helping of both. Nothing says “l337” more than carbon fiber and that is exactly what the SST-RVS02 shows off. Gracing the top of the device is an in-mold decoration plastic that features faux-carbon fiber styling and a SilverStone Raven logo that lights up with a blue LED to indicate system power and hard drive activity.
The use of imitation carbon fiber instead of the real thing is a strategic design decision on SilverStone’s part to ensure that the SST-RVS02 is affordable to the greatest number of enthusiasts. The carbon fiber decoration plastic, while very close in appearance to the real thing, is inexpensive to produce. This is in stark contrast to creating a true carbon fiber enclosure, which would likely cost hundreds of dollars.
Looking at the side of the SST-RVS02, we can see that the carbon fiber design is utilized on the top of the device only. Below it, the rest of the external enclosure is made of a matte black plastic. Due to its size and compact nature, the SST-RVS02 does not utilize active cooling. Instead, it leverages on passive cooling via a series of small slits on either side of the enclosure. These openings allow air to circulate in the enclosure, cooling the storage device within.
I found the SST-RVS02 to be a very svelte unit, slim and lightweight, which allows the external enclosure to work well in situations where maximum portability is necessary. This is especially useful for road warriors or those with active lifestyles, as packing away the SST-RVS02 is extremely easy. Weighing in at less than half a pound with a typical 500GB hard drive installed, the SST-RVS02 is a small, lightweight enclosure well suited for extreme mobility.
Data connectivity to the SST-RVS02 is provided through SuperSpeed USB 3.0, a specification that offers a maximum, theoretical throughput of up to 5Gb/s. The mini-USB port at the front of the SST-RVS02 allows USB 3.0 connectivity and is backwards compatible with both USB 2.0 and 1.1. To the right of the USB port is an AC jack. With the requisite AC adapter, enthusiasts can power the SST-RVS02 from a wall outlet instead of the host PC.
One thing I wish was included with the SST-RVS02 was a carrying pouch for the device. Enthusiasts can be hard on their computer gear during their travels, stowing away their external drives where they bang around in a backpack or carry-on. A pouch would have been useful to protect the delicate faux-carbon fiber design, as it is made of plastic and does not have a protective coating to protect its surface from errant scratches or dings.
I found the construction of the SST-RVS02 to be more than adequate. Made entirely of plastic, the device does exhibit a small amount of flexing when force is applied. The tradeoff here, of course, is that because of its plastic construction, the SST-RVS02 is extremely lightweight and has a small footprint. Both of these attributes are serious considerations when it comes time to pack away the SST-RVS02 in a bag or carry-on.
Installation of a Hard Drive in the SilverStone SST-RVS02
One calling card SilverStone has introduced into its external hard drive enclosures as of late is tool-less installation. Similar to the concept behind the SilverStone SST-TS07B (reviewed by LegitReviews HERE), the SST-RVS02 represents SilverStone’s first completely tool-less 2.5” USB 3.0 external enclosure. Pressing in the button on the bottom of the unit and sliding the lid rearwards provides access to the storage bay.
Missing from the bottom of the SST-RVS02 are non-skid rubber pads. Rubber pads solve two problems inherent with any small, portable device. The first is that it prevents the SST-RVS02 from sliding off surfaces. The second is that it prevents the device from scratching the surface they are laying on, such as wood. The addition of self-sticking, non-skid rubber pads to the underside of the SST-RVS02 would not represent a significant increase in cost.
With the bottom cover of the SST-RVS02 removed, we can see that the installation of a hard drive is very simple. Directions inside the device depict a hard drive inserted at an angle and then slid forward, which seems counter-intuitive given that the SATA receptacle lays flat. However, with a practiced hand and mindful of the delicate SATA data and power ports on the storage device, installation is a breeze.
With a hard drive installed in the SST-RVS02, the external enclosure still remains extremely lightweight, less than 8 ounces with a 320GB hard drive installed. Gently, but firmly, shaking the device revealed that there was a degree of hard drive rattling and movement. This could have been eliminated had there been a piece of foam on the inside of the cover to press down on the storage device to keep it in place.
Enthusiasts with large capacity hard drives will find that the SST-RVS02 does not support storage devices that are 12.5mm thick. Standard notebook hard drives, that is, those that are 9.5mm thick, will fit in the SST-RVS02. However, new techniques and methods to pack more data on hard drive platters has evolved to the point where today’s 2.5” hard drives enjoy capacities of up to 1TB while remaining 9.5mm thick.
Windows 7 and Vista will automatically detect the SST-RVS02 once the enclosure is connected to a USB 3.0 capable PC. A dialogue box will appear letting the user know that the device has been detected, configured and is ready to be used. With the SST-RVS02 set up, let’s go ahead and put this external enclosure through some benchmarks.
The Test System
With installation complete, the SST-RVS02 will be benchmarked with a Seagate 7,200RPM 320GB hard drive (ST9320421AS) and used in conjunction with a USB 3.0 PCI Express Card, the SilverStone SST-EC01B. A comprehensive review of this card was done at LegitReviews and can be read HERE. HDTune (v2.55) and CrystalDiskMark (v3.0) will be used with the following test bench set up:
- Intel Core i7-950 Processor
- EVGA E760 Classified motherboard
- Corsair Hydro H70 cooler
- Corsair Dominator GT 6GB DDR3 memory (3 x 2GB)
- EVGA GeForce GTX 480's in SLI
- Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi Titanium
- Western Digital 300GB VelociRaptor (WD3000HLFS)
- Lite-On iHAS424-08 DVD burner
- Lite-On iHDS118-04 optical drive
- SilverStone SST-FT02 enclosure
- SilverStone FP35 media reader
- SilverStone SST-EC01B USB 3.0 PCIe Card
Benchmarks are run on a fresh Windows 7 64-bit install and all programs and applications not necessary to testing are disabled. All tests and benchmarking are conducted in a controlled environment, while ensuring that the ambient air temperature is kept at a consistent 22 degrees Celsius. Testing will consist of the SST-RVS02 being benchmarked using the USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 specifications with a SilverStone SST-EC01B USB 3.0 PCI Express Card.
Benchmarking the SilverStone SST-RVS02CrystalDiskMark
CrystalDiskMark is a program which allows enthusiasts to get a closer look at their sequential and random read/write speeds of their storage devices. We'll do a side-by-side comparison of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 performance using the SST-RVS02 in both tests.
1000MB Files Test - USB 2.0 Benchmark of the SST-RVS02 using a ST9320421AS:
As expected, USB 2.0 really suffers due to the low throughput it offers with today’s performance oriented storage drives. With the SST-RVS02 offering backwards compatibility with USB 2.0, sequential read and write speeds max out at just over 34MB/s, a far cry from the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 specification of 5Gb/s (640MB/s).
1000MB Files Test - USB 3.0 Benchmark of the SST-RVS02 using a ST9320421AS:
With the SST-RVS02 running USB 3.0, the results are significantly improved. Boasting a sequential read and write speed of 87MB/s and 84MB/s respectively, the external enclosure takes advantage of the higher throughput offered by the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 specification. With a difference of about 50MB/s, it’s hard to say no to the SST-RVS02 when using USB 3.0.HD Tune
HD Tune is a program which gives enthusiasts a graphical representation of the minimum, maximum and average transfer speeds of their storage devices. We'll do a side-by-side comparison of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 performance using the SST-RVS02 in both tests.
USB 2.0 Benchmark of the SST-RVS02 using a ST9320421AS:
USB 2.0 simply cannot muster much of a fight against USB 3.0, as the flat line clearly indicates that the SST-RVS02 is saturating the entire bandwidth offered by USB 2.0. With an average transfer rate of just 33MB/s, our benchmark validates the results we received when testing the SST-RVS02 with CrystalDiskMark under USB 2.0. It is now clear that the USB 2.0 specification is the only thing holding the SST-RVS02 back, not the external enclosure.
USB 3.0 Benchmark of the SST-RVS02 using the ST9320421AS:
USB 3.0 comes into its own when paired with storage devices able to take advantage of its higher bandwidth. Achieving an average transfer rate of almost 70MB/s, the SST-RVS02 is clearly capable of giving enthusiasts the performance they demand when it comes to data transferring duties using high capacity storage drives. All metrics across the board improved with USB 3.0, including a 70MB/s increase in burst rate.
While USB 3.0 takes center stage in these benchmarks, it is to be expected. With a theoretical throughput of 5Gb/s, USB 3.0 is the premiere data transferring technology of today’s storage devices and the benchmarks prove it. Corralled by USB 2.0’s slow interface, performance among fast storage drives will suffer as a result as they easily (over)saturate the specifications’ bandwidth. Switch to SuperSpeed USB 3.0 however, and the SST-RVS02 really shines.
With the results in, it is easy to see why the SST-RVS02 performs well during testing. The USB interface allows maximum compatibility for those enthusiasts without the benefit of USB 3.0 capable systems, while giving enthusiasts who want to squeeze every last MB/s out of their external enclosure the opportunity to do so. Combining USB 3.0 capability with a tool-less design, the SST-RVS02 offers a rare combination of form matching function.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions of the SilverStone SST-RVS02
Portability and functionality are the cornerstones of any competent external hard drive enclosure. In the case of 2.5" enclosures, the ante couldn't be higher: road warriors and enthusiasts alike demand the most from their mobile data needs, and the requirements that an external enclosure must meet are far more stringent than, say, a 3.5" enclosure. Relegated to sitting beside a desktop PC, the 3.5" enclosure is forever a slave to its AC adapter plugged into a nearby wall outlet.
So what must be done to make the ideal 2.5" external enclosure? A small form factor is a must, of course, as well as offering lightweight construction. What about the data interface? In an age where enthusiasts are taking more of their music, movies, photos and other media wherever they go, a fast and universally accepted transfer specification is a must. Ever mindful, SilverStone has produced the SST-RVS02, a USB 3.0 capable enclosure that fits the needs of the busy enthusiast.
Besides being portable, lightweight and boasting SuperSpeed USB 3.0 connectivity, the SST-RVS02 also extols tool-less installation and a carbon fiber outer shell. Although imitation, the carbon fiber only serves to heighten the cool factor of the SST-RVS02. And while this enclosure is not nearly large enough for an active cooling solution, the fact that SilverStone allowed cutouts for passive cooling duties in the body of the enclosure is a major plus.
I did encounter a few issues with the SST-RVS02, however. I'd like to see padding inside the storage area to prevent hard drives from rattling around, and non-skid rubber pads on the bottom of the unit would go a long way in preventing the enclosure from sliding off surfaces. I also felt that the SST-RVS02 should have included a protective carrying pouch, like the SST-RVS01, and the fact that the SST-RVS02 does not support 12.5mm thick storage drives is a curious omission.
Overall, I found the SST-RVS02 to be a good 2.5" external enclosure. The fact that it incorporates innovative features such as tool-less hard drive installation and carbon fiber decorative molding, one can quickly see the SST-RVS02 becoming a favorite among enthusiasts. It's reasonably priced too, and for $25.99 at Amazon with a 1-year warranty from SilverStone, you really can't go wrong with this USB 3.0 capable 2.5" external enclosure.
Legit Bottom Line: The SilverStone SST-RVS02 is a solid choice for enthusiasts that are always on the move. Lightweight and portable, the SST-RVS02 offers USB 3.0 connectivity and tool-less installation for under $30.00.