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Appeared on: Friday, September 22, 2006
Vantec NST-530U2 External Enclosure


1. Introduction

Vantec is one of the largest and most well known Taiwanese manufacturers of external cases for 2.5", 3.5" or 5.25" storage devices. Recently, Vantec announced a new series of external cases for 5.25" optical drives, the NexStar DX.

With the Vantec NexStar DX External 5.25" Enclosure, you can easily add any 5.25" IDE Device to your existing system.  The NexStar DX connects to your computer through a USB 2.0 port, offering speeds up to 480Mbps and eliminating the need to open your system!  The NexStar DX is also perfect for anyone looking to add any 5.25" device, such as a DVD burner, to a notebook or desktop computer.

Because you don't have to open your computer, you don't have to worry about voiding your PCs warranty or dealing with messy wires.  The integrated fan and aluminum case also keep your device cool and operating at optimum conditions.  The NexStar DX External 5.25" Enclosure is the smart way to upgrade your computer.

- Features

- Specifications


2. Package

Vantec sent us the NST-530U2 retail package, which can be found at the retail price of ~US$40.

This is probably the highest price you will find for this category. The package is very small and includes:

The device is made of aluminum alloy and has a black finish. On the top of the case, you will see the NexStar-DX logo, and towards the back edge, the Power and USB2.0 labels indicating where to plug-in the corresponding cables.

Removing the top black aluminum cover, reveals the case internals which comprises the interface board with the IDE, audio and power cables. The case fits any standard 5.25" optical disc drives (CD-RW/DVD):

On the rear, there are the USB2.0 input port, mains power input, the on/off switch, and lastly the exhaust fan:

We installed a BenQ DW1620 drive in our case, which is a full size 5.25" drive. You have to install the drive from the front opening first, and then connect the IDE, audio and power cables:

Once in place, on the side are the mounting holes for securing the drive.

And finally, replace the cover by sliding on as arrow shows below.

On the rear, you have to screw two black screws to keep the back-plate in position

With the installation finished, the case is now ready for action!

Our new external case looks very sleek. It has a nice design and goes best a total black coloured drive.

The main light on the front right, is blue and shines impressively in total dark. Modders will love this.


3. Performance

After installation, we used Sisoft Sandra 2007 to gather more information about the device. According to Sisoft Sandra, the device uses a Cypress Semiconductor chip and the connected drive was operating at 480MB/s, USB2.0.

Our test PC was:

We used Nero CD/DVD Speed v4.51 and v4.60 for all tests. With Single layer discs, we expected to see a maximum of 12X. However, the speed never passed 5.67x.

That troubled us, especially since the device was operating at USB2.0. We installed another optical drive, a Plextor PX-716, which showed similar behaviour:

We had the luck to have another 5.25" case, from Spire-cooler, the GigaPod III. This time, connected to the same PC, the Plextor PX-716A reached a top 12x CAV speed.

Again we were troubled, since according to Sisoft Sandra, both external 5.25" cases had exactly the same chipset from Cypress Semiconductor. For that reason, we tested both external cases on a different PC, this time with an Intel 3.0Ghz+Asus P5ND2SLI Deluxe (nForce4). We saw exactly the same performance, where the Vantec NexStar-DX NST-530U2 couldn't pass 5.67x, while the Spire-cooler GigapodIII reached 12x, with the same drive, same tested disc.


4. Conclusion

Vantec's NexStar-DX is an external case for 5.25" optical storage devices. It is a good solution IT professionals who need a portable ODD to carry from location to location or PC to PC.

The design is very good, the black aluminum finish is quite impressive and at the same time provides good heat dissipation, while the integrated fan, further helps keep the drive cool. The drive uses mains power and there is an on/off switch at the rear of the case. Unfortunately, the case only comes in black, so it would mostly suit a black coloured drive.

The retail package includes all that you need to get started, and installation is very easy, even for the average and inexperienced PC user.

On the performance side, we were disappointed to say the least. The device could not climb above a speed of 5.67x when we tested it with Nero CD-DVD Speed. We tested it on two different PC systems, both with USB 2.0 support and based on the nForce4 & nForce 590 chipsets, respectively. We cannot imagine that the problem lies with Nvidia's chipsets, since we also tried another enclosure which uses the same chipset from Cypress Semiconductor, which is used in Vantec's enclosure, and were able to reach 12X speed. This is a major drawback and one that leads us to discourage users from buying this device until this problem is fixed.



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