While they call this unit a RAID box, don’t get it confused, there is no internal RAID controller hidden inside. Luckily for us, there are some affordable solutions out there to complete the package. I found a SIL3132 RAID controller at MicroCenter for $25.00 USD. The drawback? software RAID, however, still good enough for most purposes. There is no direct configuration here, just slap some drives in it and rely on your controller card for the rest.
Ok, let’s talk about that poorly placed power button now. Being that this type of unit is made for storage, the last thing you want to happen is to have it lose data. With the front facing power button, there is no insurance that the unit will stay powered on while transferring data. Unlike other systems, like the StarTech S354UFER, you can just press the power button to turn it off instead of having to hold it down. Either move the power switch to the back or make it harder to lose data.
Outside of the power button, I have yet to find any other major fault with the iStarUSA offering. The design is solid and it does as it should. The doors are durable enough to withstand the 3 months of abuse I have been putting it through. The 60mm fans in the back do a good job of keeping everything cool and the fact that I don’t need a special power connector is a welcomed bonus. The eSATA connection means that I get fast transfer speeds. It is not worth benchmarking though as I am limited to more of the performance of the controller card than the RAID box. The hard drive activity LEDs could have used a more defined purple to represent activity as they are barely discernible from the normal blue state. If you choose to spend more money than I did, you can get yourself a better RAID controller card and end up with a fairly robust solution that is still cheaper than many other offerings out there. The drawback here is that if your system fries you may lose your controller card too… There are other flavors that utilize an internal RAID controller and if money is not a problem I would recommend going for one of those instead. If you are looking for storage on a budget, look no further. If a robust RAID solution is what you need, look at one of their other offerings instead. Bottom line… would I buy one? Meh… I would probably go for the v7AGE420-SAUF which sells for about $100.00 USD more instead.