Review: EnhanceBOX E10 PM eSATA Storage Enclosure

by Alex Kuretz on July 12, 2010 · 3 comments

in Reviews

Windows Home Server makes it easy to expand your storage as your needs grow, and when you have filled all the internal drive bays of your server an eSATA storage enclosure is the highest performance and most reliable way to gain more storage. The HP MediaSmart Server EX4xx and DataVault models all have a single eSATA port that allows you to connect a multi-drive storage enclosure, with the exception of the EX485 and EX487 which do not have a port multiplier aware eSATA connector and can see only a single drive. However eSATA enclosures come in different sizes and configurations, and I’ve recently had the opportunity to spend some time with the EnhanceBOX E10 PM, which is a dual-eSATA enclosure that supports up to 10 SATA drives.

The EnhanceBOX E10 PM is developed and produced by Enhance Technology, Inc, a company that designs and manufactures high performance RAID, JBOD and NAS storage systems and solutions. Enhance Technology is headquartered in California and offers a wide range of options including multi-drive desktop storage enclosures, rackmount storage enclosures, and Linux based NAS storage servers.

Here are the manufacturers specifications for the EnhanceBOX E10 PM.

  • 2 x 3Gbit eSATA interface (dual cables)
  • Up to 15 TB disk capacity
  • Ten removable HDD drive trays with individual keylocks
  • Hot swappable cooling fan
  • 115-230V ~6/3A 60/50Hz, 300 watt power supply
  • Aluminum construction
  • 3-year manufacture warranty
  • Windows and Mac OS X compatible
  • 13.5″ x 6.0″ x 17.5″ (H x W x D) dimensions, 29lbs weight with no drives
  • $560 MSRP with no drives (configurations with drives are available)

I would like to note that the manufacturers validated drive compatibility list is relatively small, however I had no issues with any drives in my collection, ranging from 160GB up to 2TB. This would indicate a max storage capacity of 20TB, however I do not possess 10 2TB drives to test with so cannot verify.

Hardware and Packaging
The E10 PM is packaged very securely with double cardboard boxes and thick foam inserts to ensure the safe arrival of the storage enclosure. The top foam insert contains the 10 drive trays, each in its own individual slot.

Along with the enclosure are included a power cable, two 1 meter eSATA cable, 20 keys (!) for the drive locks, and a large bag of screws for mounting your drives to the 10 hard drive trays. The eSATA cable is not the locking variety but they worked well during my testing and I had no issues with connectivity to my PC or MediaSmart Servers. Surprisingly there was no manual included with the enclosure, and I did not find one on the Enhance-Tech.com website. Fortunately the enclosure is fairly straight forward to use and I had no issues getting it set up without any technical assistance, and the Enhance Technology staff has been very responsive to any questions I had.

I wasn’t sure how big the enclosure was going to be until I removed it from the protective packaging, at which point I realized this enclosure is fairly large. The height is to be expected due to the requirement of housing 10 hard drives, but it was the depth of the unit that surprised me. At nearly 18″ in depth the E10PM has a fairly large footprint, which I attribute mostly to what appears to be a full-size ATX power supply that resides behind the drive trays and backplane. Mounting the power supply below the drive trays would have reduced the depth of the enclosure at the expense of significant additional height. Here is an image of the enclosure next to the HP StorageWorks X310 DataVault for a size comparison.

One notable point of this design is that once loaded with hard drives the enclosure is extremely front-heavy since the rear of the enclosure only contains the power supply, which made moving the loaded enclosure slightly awkward. However I wouldn’t expect to move the enclosure once it is set up in your home or office environment.

The front door is held closed with two thumbscrews that once loosened reveal the ten hard drive slots. Each drive slot is individually numbered, has its own key lock, and two LEDs. One LED is blue to indicate that the enclosure has power, and another is labeled “Status” that illuminates green when a drive is installed in the slot and flashes orange when the drive is being accessed. At the bottom of the server is a red LED that illuminates in the case of an error such as a failed case fan, plus a “Mute” button that disables the audible alarm that sounds when a failure occurs. The LEDs are fairly bright, though most are hidden behind the aluminum front door. Here you can see the unit with 8 drives installed and the door open in a dark room.

In order to test the audible alarm and error LED, I removed the hot-swap cooling fan while the enclosure was running to simulate a fan failure. The error LED immediately went red and the enclosure began emitting an audible alarm that while loud and obvious wasn’t painful to listen to. The Mute button also worked well to stop the audible alarm while I reinserted the cooling fan.

The rear of the server has a power switch, power connector, thumbscrews to remove the hot-swappable cooling fan, two eSATA connectors, and six LEDs for each connector to indicate connectivity status. The LED directly under the connector illuminates when a connection is established between the eSATA port and the host computer, and the five other LEDs illuminate when a drive is installed in the enclosure. These all illuminate blue and flash with disk activity.

I was surprised to see that while there are key locks for each drive, the enclosure does not provide any ability to secure the enclosure itself such as with a Kensington Lock.

The hot-swappable cooling fan is very easily removed from the rear of the enclosure by releasing two thumbscrews and gently pulling on the housing. The fan is protected by a metal grill and is attached to the housing, including the fan’s 3-wire power connector, and the housing has a small PCB board that plugs into a socket on the server. This is a nice feature that makes it simple and easy to replace a failed or failing fan.

I have previously mentioned that 20 keys are included with the enclosure, two for each drive slot. The surprising part is that all the key locks utilize the same key, so you have plenty of spares in the event that you lose a key.

The drive trays themselves utilize four screws per drive that are attached to the bottom of the drive. While I prefer the ease of use that screwless drive trays provide in the MediaSmart Server, I’ve become accustomed to the storage enclosures I’ve reviewed all requiring screws to attach drives to the trays. The EnhanceBOX drive trays are of solid construction and work well with the enclosure. The lock and eject mechanisms are both sturdy and provide a secure feel when the drive is installed and removed.

Home Server Storage Expansion

I don’t have a Home Server with more than one eSATA connector so was unable to test all 10 drives with a single Home Server, so I only tested 5 external drives connected via a single port. I spent the majority of my testing time with the EnhanceBOX connected to the HP Data Vault X510 and HP Data Vault X310, and I’m pleased to report that the enclosure worked well with both systems. There were no issues with hot-swapping drives or booting the systems with the enclosure connected, though I did notice that the slower X310 took longer to recognize drives than the dual-core X510. The following screenshot from the Disk Management Add-In shows two internal drives and five drives in the EnhanceBOX E10 PM enclosure.

Throughout my time using the EnhanceBOX enclosure, I performed a few backups of my Client Computer Backup Database using my WHS BDBB Add-In, as well as the built-in Shared Folder Backup feature of Windows Home Server to copy large amounts of data to backup drives stored in the enclosure. I also performed some large network file copies to the enclosure and experienced very good file copy speeds with no discernible drop in performance when compared to file copies to internal drives stored in the server.

Computer Storage Expansion

Since the MediaSmart Servers all have only a single eSATA port, I spent some time with the EnhanceBOX connected to my desktop PC via a Silicon Images SiL 3132 powered PCIe card to utilize all 10 drives of the enclosure at once. This scenario would also work very well with a homebuilt or DIY Windows Home Server that would be expandable with the eSATA card. The EnhanceBOX worked well with my PC, including hotswapping drives. I also performed the usual IOZone disk tests to compare performance both directly connected to my PC and when connected via the EnhanceBOX. As you can see both read and write performance were comparable between the drive in my PC and in the enclosure.

Sound and Power Consumption

The hot-swap cooling fan of the EnhanceBOX E10 PM is fairly loud, resulting in the enclosure being the loudest piece of equipment currently running in my test lab. I wouldn’t want to have the enclosure sitting on the desk in my office, but if it is located with my server in the electronics storage closet it would not be an issue. The loudness is due to the high-powered Everflow Model F 128025BH brushless fan, with it’s specifications reporting that it spins at 3000rpm and pushes nearly 43CFM of airflow. When I removed the hot-swap fan the enclosure was nearly silent, so the power supply is not the issue. This means that the cooling fan could likely be replaced with a quieter unit should noise be a concern for you.

I compared the drive temperatures both inside the enclosure and inside the MediaSmart Server, as reported by the excellent Disk Management Add-In from Tentacle Software. The drives I tested stayed 2-3 degrees Celsius cooler in the EnhanceBOX E10 PM than they did inside the MediaSmart Server enclosure, most likely due to the higher rate of airflow provided by the high-power cooling fan.

I used the Kill-A-Watt P3 to measure the power consumption of the EnhanceBOX E10 PM enclosure, utilizing a variety of hard drives ranging from 160GB up to 2TB, with a mix of “Green” drives and standard 7200rpm drives. The below measurements are all with the drives idle, initialized but not being accessed by the host computer.

  • 0 drives: 19 watts
  • 1 drives: 22 watts
  • 2 drives: 28 watts
  • 3 drives: 34 watts
  • 4 drives: 40 watts
  • 5 drives: 45 watts
  • 6 drives: 50 watts
  • 7 drives: 54 watts
  • 8 drives: 58 watts
  • 9 drives: 62 watts
  • 10 drives: 66 watts

When all 10 drives were powered up at once I saw spikes of up to 160 watts as the drives were spun up for initial interaction with the connected server.

Summary

The EnhanceBOX E10PM eSATA is an attractive, solidly built storage enclosure that offers good performance. It worked very well with the several MediaSmart Servers that I tested it with, as well as my desktop PC. While the two eSATA connections won’t be usable with the MediaSmart Server, the EnhanceBOX E10 PM should work well with DIY Windows Home Servers that can be expanded with an eSATA PCI card to substantially expand your storage capabilities.

Pros

  • 10 drive bays for huge storage expansion options
  • Nice design features such as locking drives, hot-swap cooling fan, audible alarm
  • 3 year warranty

Cons

  • No “Kensington Lock” to deter theft of the enclosure
  • Cooling fan is fairly noisy, fortunately it is replaceable

To find Enhance Technology products, visit their Find a Reseller page. You can also find them on many popular online shopping sites such as Newegg.com, Amazon.com, and NCIX.com.

I’d like to thank Enhance Technology, Inc for providing me with the EnhanceBOX E10PM storage enclosure for the purposes of this review.





Article by

I'm Alex Kuretz, and I'm the founder of MediaSmartServer.net. I was the Lead Test and Integration Engineer at HP for the MediaSmart Server until April 2008 when I moved on to other opportunities outside HP. I've kept active in the Windows Home Server community, creating several add-ins and helping users make the most of their Home Servers.


{ 3 comments }

Comp1962 July 12, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Nice write up Alex as always. Did you happen to have that unit connected to two MSS servers at the same time. More and more people seem to have more then one server so why not split the unit between two servers.

When I first say the picture it reminded me of one of those older IBM servers we use to have at work so its very attractive looking.

I like the fact it has 10 buys. Often you see 8 bay or 9 bay enclosures with 2 eSATA connections although there are some that are 10.

As a note about the fan being loud and I am not sure what the size is but it looks no smaller then an 80mm fan. I have been playing with a fan made by Citynet thats 80mm P/NL CFBL-80-ST that has a CFM Rating of 64.6 that I find to be very quiet. Its got those Blue LEDs which I personaly do not care for but its the fans I have been using in my Port Multiplier Projects.

Alex Kuretz July 12, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Good questions, Stephen. I did in fact have the enclosure connected to two MediaSmart Servers at the same time, one port going to the X510 and the other port going to the X310. This configuration worked fine.

The fan is indeed 80mm, and I’m sure that a quieter fan could be located that would make a real difference to the noise. Here’s the link to the fan you’ve been using, I believe.
http://www.frys.com/product/6173879

Comp1962 July 12, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Yes thats the fan. You can not hear them at all even with the 30.0db(A) noise rating. They run at 2000 RPM. I forget how long they have been in that PM but it has to be 2 months now maybe longer & running 24-7.

Alex I would throw one in and see how it works out for you.

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