FirmTek SeriTek/2eEN4 full review

For all the weighty construction, the loaded SeriTek is something of a speed demon, promising a burst transfer rate of up to 3Gbps per drive when used with a Mac fitted with PCI Express SATA II adaptors, which cost extra. That makes it faster than FireWire 800, although if you opt to span all the installed drives for a mirrored RAID 1 array, capacity takes a hit – the maximum storage capacity will be that of the least capacious drive. That said, if you configure them as a RAID 1 array via Disk Utility, individual drives can be replaced without data loss and the flexibility is there to set up two twin-disk performance RAID 0s and mirror them. Alternatively, multiple enclosures can be used if you have the budget.

Inside, the drives screw into sturdy trays that are lockable to keep prying fingers at bay (there’s also a Kensington security slot), and the absence of internal wiring makes for increased reliability, as does a heat-management system to keep things cool. Should heat become an issue, LEDs will glow and an alarm will sound, mutable via a button on the front of the case.

The enclosure is near inaudible in use, drawing power from the internal, switching PSU and shuffling data around as quickly as your SATA adaptor will allow. It seems odd having four shielded eSATA L-shape connected wires hanging off the back of the workstation, but the fast data transfer rate and assurance of data integrity is good to have.

At present, FirmTek does not offer four-port ExpressCard/34 adaptors for the MacBook Pro, nor does its 32-bit Cardbus adaptor have enough ports to cope with the 2eEN4, but this is not the kind of device you’d use with a laptop. Small businesses, or domestic power users, will find the SeriTek’s robustness and performance a boon, along with the option to use whichever brand of 3.5in SATA drive they prefer, rather than a type decided by the manufacturer.

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