With USB 3.0 now becoming mainstream there's a flood of high-speed USB 3.0 devices out there to store your data on, from flash drives to docking stations. HDD Docks are convenient in the fact that you can use a spare hard drive as a removable drive without needing hot-swap bays in your case. Today we'll be looking at one of these docking stations, specifically the latest offering from Ineo. Read more....
The Ineo USB 3.0 hard drive docking station provides high-speed data transfer speeds utilizing the USB 3.0 standard. The dock will accept any 2.5" or 3.5" SATA hard drive or SSD. Docks can be especially useful for cloning drives, backing up or transferring large amounts of data from one computer to another. Let's take a closer look at the Ineo USB 3.0 unit.
The Ineo unit comes in a nice full-color box that shows a picture of the unit as well as all the technical specifications you would need when looking at it on a store shelf.
The back of the box shows more in-depth specifications as well as more detailed pictures of the product.
The left side of the box shows some specifications as well as the product model number and bar codes.
The right side of the box shows a chart that outlines the speed increase with USB 3.0 as well as a diagram that shows it's compatibility with both Windows and Mac.
Once you've opened the box you will slide out a clear plastic tray that holds the docking station, a USB 3.0 cable, a power adapter and a manual. One thing I noticed is that the docking station sits into the case while everything else is underneath it. This means that when you slide the tray out you may drop something depending on which way it's oriented when you open it, so make note of that.
A Closer Look
The first thing I noticed about the docking station is it's protective sheet of plastic. This covers a glossy black plastic door and the trim around it from scratches during shipping. The unit also has a non-slip rubber pad on the bottom and has a nice weight to it without being overly heavy. The outer casing of the unit is brushed aluminum for a clean look.
The film peels off easily and leaves no residue on the unit. One thing I noticed is that the door opens for 3.5" drives, but there's nothing covering the 2.5" opening. This I assume would allow dust to enter the connectors. It'd be nice to see a small flap covering the 2.5" opening as well. The small hole you see lights up with a blue LED as a power and activity indicator. When the unit is on it stays lit, then blinks during read/write activity.
The rear of the unit has an on/off power button, a 2.5mm jack for the power adapter and a USB 3.0 type "B" jack for the cable. While the "A" end of the USB 3.0 cable is backwards-compatible with USB 2.0, this "B" end is not.
Installing a drive is effortless. The door is sturdy yet springs out of the way with the weight of the drive. The connectors are also well made, as there's no real pressure needed to seat the drive. The weight of the unit aids in removing the drive single-handedly as well.
A Closer Look: HDD Case
Ineo also sent me one of their 3.5" hard drive cases. These cases are designed to hold your drive(s) when they're not in the docking station.
The rear of the package shows the specs and info for the case. It's dust-proof, splash-proof, anti-shock and stackable. There are indentations on either side of the case that will allow you to stack more than one together.
The case comes with 2 labels for contents and other info and a glossy black Ineo sticker that fits into the top of the lid.
A 3.5" drive slides in easily and is held snug. There are tracks inside that keep the drive centered as well as a thick rubber bumper at the bottom and on the lid that keep the drive from moving and help to absorb impacts should the unit get knocked off a desk.
Tests were run using a Gigabyte G1.Guerrilla motherboard using it's rear USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports. Testing was done with Crystal Diskmark on a fresh install of Windows 7 Home 64-bit. The drive used was 3.5" Seagate 1TB 7200 RPM drive. Each test was run once and the results were recorded. The most noticeable speed improvements came with the sequential read and sequential write tests, with up to a 400% increase in transfer speeds and faster in some tests. The 512k also showed marginal improvement, while the 4k and 4k QD32 tests did not change too much.
There was no software to install, simply plug in the unit and Windows takes care of the rest. The drive can be ejected in the same manner you would eject any USB thumb drive.
While doing the testing I noticed a huge decrease in the time to perform the tests when moving from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0. click on any image below for a full-size version.
A funny thing I noticed when plugging the unit into a USB 2.0 port was the long-forgotten "This device can perform faster" message. I haven't seen this since USB 2.0 was new, and chances are there are some younger readers here who have never seen this message.
If your new motherboard has USB 3.0 ports and you're looking for a good docking station to transfer your data, take a serious look at the Ineo USB 3.0 Docking Station. The docking station is available at NewEgg for $43.99 with free shipping and a free HDD case at the time of this writing. The cases are available separately in both 3.5" and 2.5" versions as well, for $6.99 and $7.99, respectively.
All in all the Ineo USB 3.0 Docking Station is a well-built and easy-to-use unit. It's sturdy construction will ensure years of trouble-free use and it's brushed aluminum finish will look good on any desk.
This product was provided free of charge by the manufacturer for purpose of review.