September 27, 2010
Stardom 2.5" Pro Drive 2520
When Form Meets Function
PD2520 Model (RAID 0) (SATA Internal; FW 800/USB2 External)
By David A. Saraceno
Introduction. One unique engineering feature of Apple’s Mac Pro desktops are four easily accessible internal removable drive sleds. One drive sled holds the boot drive, and remaining three drive sleds can be populated with single 3.5-inch SATA drives. Or you can go a different way. Stardom’s Pro Drive 2520 provides an ingenuous two-drive 2.5-inch RAID 0 enclosure that easily installs in each of the three remaining drive bays, or can be used as a boot drive. The solution is unique in three ways: the PD 2520 automatically creates a striped RAID using an embedded hardware RAID controller when the drives are installed; it uses the existing SATA data and power connection in the Mac Pro drive bay; and it includes USB2/FW 800 connectors to allow the drive to be used externally. Not bad for $149.00.
What’s In The Box. The package ships with printed manual in multiple languages, PD2520 drive enclosure, and additional screws to attach the internal drives to the enclosure. FW 800 and USB2 cables are not included. An optional power supply ($24.95) is required to power the enclosure as an external USB2 device. However, the drive will run as a bus powered external FW 800 device. Ports for USB2 and FW 800 are located on the back side of the enclosure. The packaging is minimal, but adequate, and the manual is instructive.
Installing The Drives. I used two 500 GB 5400 Momentous SATA 2.5-inch drives for my testing. Installation consisted of removing the bottom housing of enclosure by unscrewing four small screws. Insert two 2.5-inch SATA drives in the unit, and secure them using the supplied screws. Reattach the bottom housing, and then insert the unit into an available drive bay on any Intel Mac Pro.
Note, however, that any existing data on the drives will be lost because the embedded hardware controller automatically reformats the drives. The drive carrier is not hot swappable, so power off your Mac Pro before installing.
Note: Apple lengthened the Mac Pro drive bays in 2009. The PD2520 can be configured to work with the shorter 2008 Mac Pros, or the longer 2009/2010 Mac Pros by repositioning four screws on the unit’s exterior. It takes about two minutes.
Build Quality. The PD 2520 is well-constructed of lightweight aluminum. Without the drives, it weighs less than .5 pounds, and measures 5.75”x4.25”x1.25”. There are external USB2 and FW 800 ports, and two drive lights that indicate drive access or failure. The embedded hardware RAID controller automatically configures the drives when powered up, and doesn’t require the Disk Utility.
Testing. I tested the PD2520 using the Kona System Test both internally and as a bus powered FW 800 drive. The PD 2520 was configured as a single 1TB drive using the two 500 GB Seagates. Write/read speeds were a remarkable 124 MB/s for the 5400 2.5-inch drives. I suspect the 7200 SATA drives would bench faster. Unfortunately, I didn’t have two SSDs to test with the PD 2520.
To test FW 800 external performance, the Mac Pro was powered off, and the enclosure removed. Once connected, the drive immediately powered up, showed a green access drive light, and mounted on the desktop as a single FW 800 drive. Write/read speeds were a solid 66/85 MB/s. Again, good performance for FW 800.
Thoughts. The PD250 is unique, innovative, and versatile RAID 0 2.5-inch SATA/FW 800/USB2 solution for Mac Pro users. Install two 2.5-inch drives, and it operates internally in a Mac Pro drive bay (SATA) and externally (FW 800/USB2) as a striped RAID enclosure.
The enclosure is well engineered, easy to assemble and configure, is compatible with all Intel Mac Pros, and is attractively priced. This enclosure represents an innovative, useful, and versatile 3rd party implementation of the Mac Pro’s drive sled/carrier engineering. Stardom also sells the PD2510 which configures as RAID 1, but doesn’t have external connectivity. It is priced at $109. Both the PD2520 and PD 2510 are available from many Macintosh 3rd party accessory merchants such as Other World Computing and PowerMax.
Copyright ©2010 David A. Saraceno.[Top]
copyright © David A. Saraceno 2010
This article first appeared on lafcpug and is reprinted here with permission.
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