If you have an older 3.5” drive to hand and need some valuable data from it or just need some simple external storage, would this enclosure from Inateck be a good one to pick up?
In the box
With the enclosure you get
- The housing
- A set of screws
- A set of rubber feet
- The instructions
- A power adapter
- A USB data cable
- A mini screw driver
Design and Build
The Inateck is in my opinion one of the nicer looking external HDD enclosures on the market, it features a brushed Aluminium outer casing that looks and feels fairly premium. It does mark and damage quite easily though, so keep that in mind.
The top of the Inateck features some branding and this is pretty much it. The branding is a touch large and I think some smaller branding in one of the corners would have made it that more classy.
On the front side are the main ports and power switch. You have a port for your USB data cable, the mains power port and the on/off switch. There is also a few cutouts for ventilation which is a nice touch. This is also made from metal and feels decently solid.
On the outer most side of the front is a set of indicator lights, this will let you know when the HDD is active. It flashes Blue when in use. The other glows Green to show the unit is receiving power.
Round the opposite side is the rear section of the housing. This is fixed in place with two screws and also made from metal. There is also some more inateck branding here too.
Underneath are some pre-installed rubber isolation feet, these do a great job of preventing unwanted noise from the HDD inside and they do work well.
The included cables are good quality too. The main USB cable is one of the thickest I’ve ever seen and features plenty of strain relief. So there should be no concern there. The only issue is that the USB cable is a touch short, so managing in can be a bit tricky. It also uses a USB Type B, so if you lose it, you will likely have to buy a replacement as most of us don’t have an excess of these lying around.
The power cable is also pretty well made too and has some good strain relief. Its not as robust as the USB cable, but once you’ve installed it, you’re not likely to be moving it all that often.
Finally to the inside and here is where I am finding some design flaws. There are only two screws holding the drive in place and the tray is too short. There really should have been a full length tray as well as an extra two points of connection for the drive. This would increase drive security and made it safer to move after the first install. There is a bit of padding, but its not really that sufficient for the size of the drive.
Another design issue is the front facia is loose and would easily come off, there seems to be no real solid method of securing it to the tray and I have read cases of this part falling off completely. This is a real oversight.
One final issue are the connectors. Now this would only be an issue if you are constantly swapping out drives, but if you aren’t it shouldn’t be a problem. The connectors are plastic and feel a little flimsy, so caution is advised.
As a whole its a very nice looking enclosure that is extremely well made (on the outside) but no so much on the inside. In theory it should last a decent amount time, if you leave it place after initial setup.
Installing a drive is a easy process. When the drive comes you use the supplied screwdriver to remove the two screws at the front. The inner tray section will then slide out and allow you to access the part where you connect the drive.
You then want to connect your HDD to the adapter and then to the tray using the smaller of the included screws. Make sure you do this carefully so not to damage the data connection.
Once installed you can slide the tray back into the housing and re-install the two larger screws. You are then ready to power on the HDD and enclosure. First plug in the USB data cable and power, keep the power off until it is connected up. Then you can power on and the drive should show up straight away. If not you have to initialize it.
If at any point you get stuck with any part of the process the included manual is really straight forward and easy to understand.
Using the enclosure daily has been a trouble free experience, I simply keep it powered on and I am free to backup my data any time that I want. I personally am using the Inateck with an old 5400rpm WD 1TB Green but it will work with more modern 7200rpm and also Hybrid style 3.5” drives too.
Actually transferring files is essentially the same as a USB stick or SD card, just drag and drop. If you wanted to you could always setup a backup schedule and do that, but I’m kinda oldschool like to do things manually.
Speed wise, I didn’t notice that much of a difference between when it was installed inside my PC and it being external. Yes maybe there is a few MB/s drop on average but nothing massive. This is not really a deal breaker and actually has cleaned up the inside of my build which is what I wanted.
To do a little comparison I did a Crystaldisk speed test against a Seagate external drive with a faster 7200rpm drive and here is what I got.
From the images above you can see that the Seagate is faster, but not by that much and given its using a faster drive I was expecting a much bigger difference. Now imagine the drive was 7200rpm in the Inateck and you would probably see little to possibly no difference.
Also its much quieter than the Seagate by a lot. The Seagate fires up and it emits a very noticeable sound as well as vibration, the Inateck is much quieter in comparison and does not vibrate at all. So there is that.
I also dabbled in some gaming of the drive and as long as you plug the drive into a USB 3.0 port, you’ll be fine. Loading times do take a touch longer, but I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary when actually in the middle of a game. Frame rates were just as good as if the drive were plugged into my PC internally.
Now to wrap up the review, if you really need an external storage solution then here is what I can gather.
If for example you already have a HDD handy and want some extra storage then its a good product. Its easy to use, nicely designed, well made and quiet in operation. Its does have some design flaws on the inside though and although not great, they shouldn’t be a deal breaker, well in some cases. If you are constantly swapping out drives then it maybe an issue, if you just install and leave it alone then it will be fine.
Here is another point to consider when looking at a setup like this. Now if you don’t have a HDD to hand and want external storage would it still make sense. Well a 2TB Seagate external costs £80, whereas a 2TB internal costs £58 and then plus the £24 and that brings the total to £82. So not that much difference really and if you buy them separately you have an easier way to add it back into your system if needs be. So there is added versatility there, something you don’t get as easily with an external drive.
Back to the Inateck now and from the outside it ticks all the right boxes, from the inside not so much and there are too many flaws with it. So should you buy one, well maybe. If you are just going to plug a HDD in and leave it, then, yes. If you are needing to swap out drives a lot, I would say no.
Pick one up here: www.amazon.co.uk/inateck-enclosure