Norco DS-500

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Norco DS-500

If every other external enclosure we’ve reviewed has been a Chevy Nova, then Norco’s DS-500 external SATA storage, um, block is easily a Humvee. For this device not only performs solidly but also weighs as much as everyone’s favorite urban assault vehicle. And that’s before we stuffed five hard drives into it.

Setting up the DS-500 couldn’t be easier. Although we encountered some sharp edges on the five hot-swappable drive trays as we went to extract them from the hulking chassis, this is a nitpicky complaint; you literally just pull out a tray, slap a hard drive onto it, and stuff it back into the DS-500. By default, Windows immediately recognizes each drive as its own separate entity.

If you want to get a fancy RAID configuration up and running, Norco makes the process painless. Using the included CD, you just flash the device’s onboard BIOS to a RAID configuration, and voila!—the included SataRAID5 software takes care of the rest. And if BIOS-flashing isn’t your thing, Windows’ default disk-management utility will do the same job.

We raise a frosty mug in the air to Norco’s inclusion of an eSATA PCI/PCI-X controller card with the DS-500. While a number of “next-gen” cases are arriving with eSATA ports built right into the front I/O panels, it’s good to see that those without such electronic accoutrements won’t get left in the dark. And since the controller has four ports, it should surely fit the external-storage needs of even the biggest power users.

One concern we have with the DS-500 is that it’s strangely quiet for an enclosure—normally, that’s a good thing. In this case, however, it means not a lot of internal cooling is going on. Sure, the device comes with a 9.2cm fan, but we’re not entirely convinced that it’s big enough to chill five hard drives at once.

If money’s no object, the DS-500 should suit your storage needs perfectly. Stick five drives in there, and it could even double as a wheel stop for your jet.

it's hot

Setting this enclosure up is ridiculously simple--and the included software makes it even easier to use.

but is it cool enough?

Five hard-drives in one enclosure--it's hard to believe that the built-in fan is fully cooling them. Oh, it's a bit on the pricy side too.

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