Cooler Master X Craft 250 (eSATA and USB)

Cooler Master X Craft 250 RearCooler Master X Craft 250 Hard Drive TrayCooler Master X Craft 250 Hard Drive In TrayCooler Master X Craft 250 SetupCooler Master X Craft 250 In Action

I got the Cooler Master X Craft 250 (eSATA and USB) when I was planning the hard drive transplant for my Macbook Pro, and after my excellent experience with the Cooler Master X Craft 350 Lite, I was quite happy to get the baby brother, the 250 Lite and give it a try.

The 250 shares the simplicity of the bigger 350, however a single screw needs to be undone rather than a push button in order to open it. This isn’t really a problem though, and in case you don’t have a Phillips head screwdriver small enough for it, it comes with one!

Once you have the screw undone, the rear of the case slides out bringing with it the hard drive tray which allows you to easily slot the hard drive in. The power and data connections for the hard drive are built into the tray, so basically once you slot it into the tray, it’s connected, it’s just a matter of checking to make sure it is completely on.

By this point, if you are like me, you are getting very excited to get it back together and get started on mirroring your Macbook hard drive onto it. Putting it back together is as quick as taking it apart, just slot the tray back into the enclosure and do the single screw back up. You don’t need to screw the hard drive itself onto anything as the enclosure and tray hold it in place so that it doesn’t wobble around or anything.

Now, you plug it in via USB and discover it doesn’t work, regardless of what computer you try it on.

I was very disappointed about this, but the enclosure will not draw enough power via a single USB connector like other 2.5″ enclosures will. You have to use an additional power USB cable that plugs into the DC input on the enclosure. I assume that this is because it also supports eSATA, so it requires the DC input to power it when using eSATA. Now, while eSATA is significantly faster than USB 2.0, this does not help me at all as I don’t have eSATA on my laptop and I don’t have the eSATA on my desktop set up as all 8 of my SATA ports are in use by internal hard drives.

I haven’t been able to find any way around it, I just have to use two USB cables whenever I want to use it, which means I have to carry two cables around, which simply means, I don’t use it anywhere near as much as I used my old IDE 2.5″ enclusure which was powered off a single USB cable.

As you can see from the photos, this case is a very schmick case, just like it’s big brother, the 350 and shares many similar design elements, but requiring two USB cables is a really big nuisance.

It should also be noted that this works on OS X, XP and Vista without needing to install any special drivers, it is recognised straight away. It also comes with a nice little carry case that fits the drive and a single USB cable perfectly, but will not hold the second cable without stretching it to a point where the drive just slides out. So what is otherwise a great little package is really let down by the need for the second USB cable. If you are looking at getting a 2.5″ hard drive external case, I would still suggest going with the X Craft 250, but get the plain USB version, my understanding is that it is powered off a single USB cable. I only got the eSATA because it was the only one in stock and was only marginally more expensive.

If you don’t mind the second USB cable than it is a great little enclosure that is very simple to setup and use.

Cooler Master X Craft 350 Lite (USB)

Cooler Master X Craft 350 Lite
Cooler Master X Craft 350 Lite
Cooler Master X Craft 350 Lite Opening The Case
Cooler Master X Craft 350 Lite Base
Cooler Master X Craft 350 Lite Circuit Board and Hard Drive
Cooler Master X Craft 350 Lite Back Panel

The Cooler Master X Craft 350 Lite is an external USB (there is an e-SATA version as well) enclosure for 3.5″ hard drives. It has a fairly schmick design and comes with an upright stand, however, if you have more than one, they are designed to be stackable as well.

I picked one up about a month ago along with a 750gb Samsung 3.5″ hard drive to setup as a basic back up system for my Macbook Pro using Time Machine. Since it’s just for back ups, I’m not really worried about the aesthetics of the case, it just needs to do the job, and what attracted me to the X Craft is that it was the cheapest in stock at Umart that was not a generic brand. However, as luck may have it, it’s also one of the nicest looking external enclosures and the design is very reminiscent of many of the Cooler Master computer cases.

The design is excellent and setting it up is extremely easy. The bottom and front of the enclosure are mesh, so the hard drive is well ventilated. The top and sides of the case are aluminium, making it a reasonably good heat conductor. This means the heat from the hard drive is fairly effectively transferred, and the circuitry is well ventilated. If you use the upright stand that puts the enclosure on its side, the vents on the bottom of the case are much more effective. In general it doesn’t get very hot at all.

As I mentioned earlier, they are stackable if you have more then one of them and they look like they should fit together very nicely and the rubber feet on the bottom of them should hold them together well (it sticks to the table nicely too). The stand was a little bit confusing at first since it doesn’t click into place, however once I figured it out, it’s a great idea. It is solid aluminium with rubber feet, so it is very slip-resistent, and both sides of the enclosure have runners along them that the stand slides onto. There are a couple of rivets that hold it in place on the stand once it is on, however, if you need to take it off, its as easy as tilting it slightly to one side and sliding it forward and its straight off. While I don’t have a need to remove it from the stand, I think this is a great idea since you don’t have to touch any screws or even any clips to take it on or off the stand, but nor can you easily bump it out or off of the stand.

Speaking of screws, you don’t even need to use a screwdriver to set it up. On the back of the case there is a button, pushing this will allow you to slide the back panel backwards slightly. Once it is back, you simply lift the aluminium cover off of the top and you are in.You don’t have to screw the hard drive in either, there are four suspension stands that line up with the four screw holes on the bottom of standard 3.5″ hard drives. First off, you plug in the SATA connector and power cable, then you just stick the hard drive on top of these stands, making sure that each one fits inside the appropriate screw hole. If you look at the inside of the aluminium cover, you will see a thermal strip and some rails. Take the covering off the thermal strip to help the heat transfer from the hard drive, and then stick the cover back on. You will notice that the rails sit perfectly around the hard drive and thus hold it in place on the stands. Slide the back panel back in and it will automatically clip on.There you have it, very quick and easy installation.

My Macbook Pro recognised the external drive immediately and allowed me to format the drive and then straight up let me use it as a “Time Capsule” with Time Machine. I’ve been running it like that since.

It has been very stable and very reliable, I haven’t had any problems with the connection, which is particularly important since it gets unplugged and plugged back in on a regular basis as my laptop is regularly coming and going with me. It in general keeps the hard drive quite cool, which is something I was a little worried about since it doesn’t have any active cooling.

Overall, it’s a nice little box and well worth the $38 I paid for it. I highly recommend it if you are in need of a cheap, external case that looks good and runs cool. It is available in black or silver.