As high-performance hard drives move to the 2.5” form factor, a form factor that has been common in the SSD and notebook space, mounting these drives in traditional cases can be somewhat difficult. Purchasing 2.5” to 3.5” adapters allow system builders to mount a single drive to a space meant for a 3.5” drive, but that can be a serious waste of space.
When building the super-cheap 800+ MB/s SAS array, I used 8x Savvio 15k.1 drives which are 2.5” 15,000rpm SAS drives. With 8 drives, purchasing 8x 3.5” adapters seemed nonsensical as finding that many open 3.5” drive bays can be difficult. Instead, I decided to try out two Athena Power BP-SATA1842C, 4x 2.5” to 1x 5.25” hotswap enclosures. Since purchasing these enclosures, I have tried using both notebook 2.5” drives and SSD’s in them. Both the Seagate Momentus 7200.3 drive and the OCZ Vertex SSD worked flawlessly in the enclosure.
These enclosures have four drive caddies which are inserted into the backplane chasis and lock via front doors. Although the doors and latching mechanisms were not the sturdiest, one probably needs to just use reasonable care when manipulating them in order to prevent breakage. Fit and finish was great and the caddies fit the drives well and slid/ locked into place easily.
On the rear panel, each drive had a primary and secondary SATA/ SAS connectors. The second connectors may throw desktop users off, but most good SAS capable backplanes will have second connectors for dual channel capable SAS drives. If you are using the enclosure for SATA or for single channel SAS purposes, just use the primary connectors.
Another nice feature of the back panel is the two 4cm fans that whisk away hot air from the enclosed drives. The fans could easily keep the 15,000 rpm drives cool, and were probably overkill for the SSD’s and the notebook drives. There is a small jumper that allows one to select either a high or low fan setting. The 15k rpm drives have been fine even at the low fan settings, even when the enclosures were flanked by 5x 15k rpm 3.5” SAS drives in an enclosure below, and a 7200 rpm drive immediately above. The fans are small, and at the high speed fan setting are loud. If you are using this enclosure with lower power drives than the 15k SAS drives (e.g. SSD’s or notebook drives) then the low speed setting is what you will most likely want to use. Make sure to make this selection BEFORE installation as the jumper is recessed and small. Once installed, and with cables in the way, it is extremely difficult to change jumper settings without removing the enclosure. The low speed fan setting seems to provide adequate cooling for most uses and generates significantly less noise.
Also included on the backside is a single 4 pin power connector. This is absolutely awesome because one needs a single 4-pin power connector to power four drives, instead of four SAS/ SATA power cables. Using this backplane (or several of them) allows for less power cabling in the case and therefore adds to the air volume within a case and lowers potential airflow restriction. Also of note, the two 4cm fans are powered from that same single 4-pin power connector, so in many cases that is yet another power cable not required if one were to chose another solution.
Overall the Athena Power BP-SATA1842C 4x 2.5″ to 1x 5.25” SAS/SATA backplane is a great way to securely mount and cool four 2.5” drives including SSD’s, 2.5” SAS drives, and 2.5” notebook SATA drives.