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Savvy Duck Reviews
The Diablotek EN4433A and Vantec NexStar CB-SATAU3 Compared


One of the most useful devices for people who deal with large numbers of hard drives, or for people like me who repair them frequently, is an adapter that allows the drives to be plugged into a computer's external ports. The current standard in hard drives is the SATA (or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) interface, and almost all computers have USB drives, so USB to SATA adapters are particularly useful. Furthermore, the faster USB 3.0 is beginning to become standard, allowing for data transfer speeds that make these adapters very useful for high-capacity hard drives with large amounts of data. USB 3.0 to SATA adapters are not yet commonplace (as of the writing of this article), but I will compare two that have made it to the consumer market: the Diablotek EN4433A and the Vantec NexStar CB-SATAU3.


 

Appearance and Form

These two devices are similar in many ways. They both come with an instruction manual, a black adapter with a built-in USB 3.0 cord, and a bulky black AC adapter to power the devices and the attached drives. The AC adapters on both devices are almost identical in size, both the bulky wall-wart style that are inconvenient for attachment to a power strip. However, the adapters themselves are different in size. The Diablotek EN4433A is much smaller in size than the Vantec NexStar CB-SATAU3, but the Diablotek adapter protrudes on one side so that a drive that it is plugged into cannot lay flat. That slight design flaw along with the fact that the Vantec NexStar's cord is almost twice as long (4 feet as opposed to the just over 2 foot Diablotek cord) lead me to recommend the Vantec NexStar adapter over the Diablotek in general form.


Operation and Ease-of-Use


Diablotek Working (left)
Not working (right)
In theory, both adapters are very simple devices. You plug them into the wall, plug them into hard drives, and plug them into a computer, and the hard drives appear on the computer's drive list, functioning like any other USB drive. However, when I first plugged the Diablotek EN4433A into a computer (in this case, an ASUS eeePC 1018p), it did not work. I wiggled the cord to no effect, and then I started plugging it into different ports. It was then that I discovered that it worked in USB 2.0 ports, but not the USB 3.0 ports that I originally tried. The cord on the Diablotek adapter is clearly the blue USB 3.0 variety, so what gives? After searching forums online, I discovered the answer: the USB plug for the Diablotek adapter had been designed incorrectly. To make it function properly with a USB 3.0 port, you need to pull it one or two millimeters out instead of plugging it in fully. Under these conditions, it does work properly, but it is difficult to get a proper connection that way and it is prone to slipping off. This is not an ideal situation, and the Vantec NexStar CB-SATAU3 is a breath of fresh air in comparison. It worked flawlessly from the first time I plugged it in, and it even includes a switch that allows direct control of power to the device. The Vantec NexStar adapter is hands-down the best in this category.

  
The Diablotek EN4433A (left) and the Vantec NexStar CB-SATAU3 (right)

Speed

The packaging for both of these devices make different claims about their speed. The Vantec NexStar CB-SATAU3 claims "Up to 5 Gbps w/USB 3.0". The number it cites is the theoretical maximum speed for USB 3.0, but is unrealistic considering the adapter is only compatable with SATA II drives, which have a theoretical maximum data rate of 3 Gbps. The Diablotek makes the much more realistic claim of "210 MBYTES/SEC W/A Fast SSD". This is equivelant to 1.68 Gbps. But how well do they perform in real-world conditions? I ran the tests to find out.

I loaded up a hard drive with a large amount of typical data: a Windows installation, several large programs and games, and a collection of media files. The amount of files came to 573,578 and constituted over 400GB of data. I then ran a virus scan on this hard drive through first one, then the other adapter. The Diablotek EN4433A allowed the scan to run in two hours, two minutes. The Vantec NexStar CB-SATAU3 allowed the scan to complete in one hour, eighteen minutes, over a third less. I then ran a checkdisk on the drive through both adapters which only confirmed the difference. It ran through the Diablotek in four minutes, eighteen seconds, and through the Vantec NexStar in three minutes, thirteen seconds, about a fifth less. In both tests, the Vantec NexStar was unquestionably the winner, and by a surprising margin.

  
The Diablotek EN4433A (left) and the Vantec NexStar CB-SATAU3 (right)

Conclusion

In every category in which I evaluated these two adapters, the Vantec NexStar CB-SATAU3 completely trounced the Diablotek EN4433A. And as of the writing of this article, their pricing is very similar. So if you're looking for a quick and easy way to connect or swap out hard drives, the Vantec NexStar is the way to go.

Diablotek EN4433A
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Vantec NexStar
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Features:
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Overall:


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