Most everyone who has ever built a PC, has dealt with Antec in some way or shape. Antec is the General Motors of the pc builder community. They make reliable, well-manufactured and affordable computer enclosures, power supplies, fans and more. In fact, my first PC build was housed in an Antec case with an Antec Power Supply. Now, Antec has decided to try their hand in the external hard drive enclosure market. Their first foray is the Antec MX-1 EC, which is released under their Veris line of products. The Veris line typically features stylish HTPC cases.
Antec MX-1 EC HDD Enclosure
Reviewed by: Tomas Ratas
Edited by: Kristofer Brozio
Enclosures run the gamut from cheap plastic coffins which relegate the hard drive they house to early deaths to the gaudy with enough neon lights to make Vegas at night look pitch black. Antec eschewed poor design and useless eye candy to come out with a quality external hard drive enclosure.
The Antec MX-1 EC uses an SATA hard drive (not included) and features both USB and eSATA interfaces. A fan sitting underneath the hard drive actively cools the enclosure. None of these features are unique by themselves, but how Antec melds them together is the exciting part of the equation.
Lets get the box open and take a look a whats inside.
Tech Specs,Features or the Basic Info:
MX-1 Actively Cooled Hard Drive Enclosure
Get the performance of an internal hard drive with portability and active cooling
Keep your data safe and cool in Antec’s MX-1 portable Hard Drive enclosure. Features a blower fan to keep your drive running cool, and allowing you to operate the enclosure continuously. Simply install your drive, connect it to your computer and start transferring your data at blazing speeds over USB2.0 or eSATA. There’s not even any need to install drivers. The MX-1 is made with a special dual-layer design that reduces noise and is lightweight for easy transporting.
-Dual output interface – USB2.0 and eSATA (external Serial ATA) allows you to transfer data up to
480Mbps or 3Gbps respectively Support up to 750G SATA hard disk drive
-Unique HDD cooler brings fresh air in and around the HDD for maximum cooling to protect your
-Two layer (plastic with aluminum) structure upper and lower covers to absorb HDD and fan noise
-Carbon-glass filled frame to reinforce the strength of the whole enclosure
-Built-in silicone pad to absorb HDD noise
-Included USB cable, eSATA cable, and eSATA bracket to convert internal SATA to eSATA
-Very quiet fan operation – under 22 dBA
-Noise Level: 20 dbA with the blower on inside the enclosure
-Supports Windows 2000 / XP / ME / VISTA
-14.6 x 5.7 cm
A Better Look at Things
The Antec MX-1 EC comes in a black box with a picture of the enclosure silhouetted against a neon purple and blue light.
Prominently featured on the box are the logos for SATA hard drives and eSATA and USB compatibility. The back of the box lists the features of the enclosure in several different languages.
Parlez vous, Francais? Since there is a nice plastic white handle at the top, the box doubles as a carrying case.
Upon opening the box, the enclosure is packed in a styrene bag and secured with some foam packing.
Inside the box, besides the enclosure, one will find four screws, instruction booklet, a USB cable, an eSATA cable, an internal eSATA plate and adapter, a stand and the power supply and plug.
A Better Look at Things
The top of the enclosure is composed of a black brush metal finish that really is much nicer than any picture will reveal.
The middle section is a lighter colored black carbon glass material with Antec displayed in white letters in the front of the enclosure.
Underneath the Antec logo, under the front lower lip, there is a blue led light that turns on when the enclosure is powered on. There are vents located at the rear of the enclosure on the top and bottom portions
The back panel features an on/of switch, a power jack and the USB and eSATA inputs. The bottom is the same brushed finish as the top and has four feet to keep the Antec MX-1 EC from getting scratched.
If you wish to keep the stand in the vertical position, a black plastic stand is included. There are two strips of felt material on the inner sides of he stand to keep the drive securely in place.
The plastic is a shiny black and contrasts nicely with the brushed black metal of the enclosure. Four rubber feet are located on the bottom of the stand to provide traction.
The instruction sheet takes a cue from Ikea. There are no written instructions, just pictures. After dealing with many poorly written English instructions, it is refreshing to see something so simple and straightforward for a PC product.
The MX-1 EC is covered under the three year AQ3 (Antec Quality) plan.
Installation, Testing and Comparison
It is fairly simple to install a hard drive into most enclosures and the Antec MX-1 EC is no different.
The process involves removing the single screw at the front bottom of the enclosure. Flip the enclosure back over and with the back panel towards you, slide the top forward and lift up.
This will reveal the housing where the hard drive sits; the fan is situated below this and the circuit board that houses the brains of the enclosure.
Along the side of the hard drive housing are silicon grommets with surrounding silicon material that has become ubiquitous in most of Antecs recent offerings. This material is used to absorb hard drive noise.
At the lower part of the circuit board is an attached plug for the SATA drive and SATA power connector. The circuit board has two connectors attached on one side.
One is for the fan and the other is for the LED. The LED connector needs to be unplugged before removing the drive housing.
The housing comes up after the two screws along the sides of the silicon are removed. Sliding forward and then upward removes the bay.
Next place the SATA drive in position, gently line up the SATA connectors and slide the drive until a click is felt and the connectors are attached to the circuit board. Then carefully flip the housing over and insert the four screws to secure the SATA drive in place.
Reverse the above steps to seal the enclosure. This whole process takes under two minutes. So simple, a Caveman can do it. Now the drive is ready to use. If you have a case with eSATA port built in like the Antec Sonata III, then you can use either connection right away. Dont worry if you do not have an eSATA connector built into your case because Antec has your back. They include an eSATA motherboard connector and bracket.
Simply plug the standard SATA plug into a free SATA connector on your motherboard and attach the bracket to an unused bracket slot on the back of your case. eSATA goodness is two easy steps!
Installation, Testing and Comparison Continued:
For testing, I used SimpliSoftwares HDTach 126.96.36.199 for benchmarking. The drive I used in the Antec MX-1 is a Western Digital SATA G5 320GB 7200rpm 8MB Hard Drive with the following specs:
Rotational Speed: 7,200 RPM (nominal)
Buffer Size: 8 MB
Average Latency: 4.20 ms (nominal)
Contact Start/Stop Cycles 50,000 minimum
– Read Seek Time: 8.9 ms:
– Write Seek Time: 10.9 ms (average):
– Track-To-Track Seek Time: 2.0 ms (average):
– Full Stroke Seek: 21.0 ms (average):
– Buffer To Host (Serial ATA): 150 MB/s (Max):
– Buffer To Disk: 748 Mbits/s (Max)
I used both the 8MB and 32MB Burst tests on the MX-1 EC using both the eSATA port and the USB port. As the graphs show, the burst speed using the USB was about 35 MB/s, while the eSATA connection had a burst speed of 117 MB/s. The USB had read speeds for 10 MB/s to 35 MB/s, while the eSATA had read speeds from 40 to 65 MB/s. Obviously the eSATA input is the optimal one, since it is attached right into the motherboard via the eSATA bracket connector.
There is really no comparison in terms of speed between the two types of connections. Optimally, the eSATA maxes out at 2400 Mbit/s while the USB 2.0 performs at 480 Mbit/S. If your motherboard features SATA connections, there is really no excuse not to hook up the included bracket and use it with the Antec MX-1 EC.
The external enclosure and hard drive are near silent and to hear the fan, one needs to put their ear right up against the device. This is truly an impressive piece of hardware.
The only negative I have to list and this is probably because of my motherboard setup, is that the eSATA does not seem to be hot swappable. I know that the eSATA standard allows for hot swappableability, but I think I did not have the proper drivers to run it that way. So basically to use eSATA, I had to have the drive plugged in and then boot into my PC before I was able to use it. Be aware this probably has nothing to do with the Antec MX-1 EC and is probably a configuration issue on my PC. The USB connection worked as all other USB devices.
I really do not have anything bad to say about this product. As an owner of over half a dozen external hard drives, I say that this is the best one by far. Starting with its aesthetic appearance to it silent and lightning fast functioning, this is the perfect housing for an external drive that needs to be running on a consistent basis.
You get the portability of an external drive with the speed of an internal one when using the eSATA connection. With Antecs first foray into the external enclosure market, they have hit a home run. This is a product that I will recommend to all my friends and family who want a reliable, quiet and dependable external hard drive enclosure.
DragonSteelMods gives the Antec MX-1 EC a 5/5 and Highly Recommended!!
-Whisper Quiet Operation
-Cooler performance than most enclosures.
-Three year Antec warranty
-External hard drive with internal hard drive speeds when using eSATA