iStarUSA BPU-230 Drive Enclosure Review

When you want to put three hard drives in the space of two, a drive cage like iStarUSA’s BPU-230 can make it possible. And, since this model has a tray for each drive, you can install either 3.5- or 2.5-inch drives in the unit. By James E. Gaskin

When you want to put three hard drives in the space of two, a drive cage like iStarUSA's BPU-230 can make it possible. Even better, since this model has a tray for each drive (their BPN-DE family of drive enclosures has guide rails to slide in raw 3.5 inch hard drives), you can install either 3.5 or 2.5 inch drives in the unit.

Officially the BPU-230 Military Grade Hot-Swappable Drive Enclosure, the package includes the drive enclosure, three SATA cables, mounting hardware, and a short but clear manual. Our review unit came with black faceplates on the drive trays, but iStarUSA also makes them with front colors of red, blue, and silver.

Drives mount to the tray from the bottom, using four screw holes. 2.5 inch drives only use two screws (plenty of screws are included).

When attached to a RAID controller on the motherboard, the BDU-230 supports RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 1+0, and RAID 5 (but not in this unit with only three disks). Other models in the BPU family hold four or five disks, giving more RAID options. You can see there is a bit more intelligence in this box than in the BPN-DE units (BPU-230-interior), although the price is almost identical ($75 street up to the $109.99 retail). Multiple online retailers and distributors now carry iStarUSA products (they have multiple other drive enclosure hardware lines).

Perhaps because of the extra chips inside the box for RAID support, the BPU-230 has a slightly larger fan than the BPN-DE at 80mm rather than 70mm. Add in the aluminum trays and chassis, along with the two speed fan and thermal warning light, and your disks will be cool and monitored with this enclosure. The four different power supply connection options guarantee your drives (up to 3TB drives with full SATA 2.0 throughput of 6.0 Gb/s) will have plenty of juice to spin.

While it may seem odd to spend extra bucks on a drive enclosure when you can just bolt your hard disks to the frame of your case, the added sheckels provide hot-swappable drives with color options to turn a white-label workstation or server into a custom, data protecting workstation or server. Use some of the money saved as drives become less expensive every week and add some visual flair to your system, and data protection with swappable drives that can be taken offsite for an inexpensive backup and disaster recovery procedure. Drives get cheaper, but recreating terabytes after a drive failure gets more expensive every day. Plan ahead, with the help of the BPU-230, and save yourself and your customers the grief of data loss.

Besides, the colorful trays make your workstation or server look more professional. Good looks and better data safety is a winning combination.

About the Author