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Patriot Convoy 425XL SAS/SATA RAID Enclosure E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage
Written by Bruce Normann   
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
Patriot Convoy 425XL SAS/SATA RAID Enclosure
Features and Specifications
Closer Look: Patriot Convoy 425XL
Patriot Convoy 425XL Detailed Features
JMicron JMB393
Testing and Results
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Benchmark
EVEREST Disk Benchmark
Final Thoughts
Patriot Convoy 425XL Conclusion

Closer Look: Patriot Convoy 425XL

SSDs are seemingly everywhere. I have about ten of them in the house now, and it's not because I reviewed any of them either. I let our Executive Editor do all the hard work....... The Patriot Convoy 425XL manages to easily fit four of the standard 2.5" drives into the 5.25" form factor faceplate. There isn't any extra room left over, but no special tricks were required to accommodate them either. There is a full length, physical divider between the left and right set of drive bays, and smaller guide rails to separate the upper and lower drives.

Patriot_Convoy_425XL_All_Trays_Out.jpg

On the front of each drive tray is a small yellow lever for firmly latching the tray into position. In the middle of the tray fascia, at the bottom, is a rectangular lens which pipes light from the status LEDs inside the unit out to the front where it can be seen easily. The indicator was plenty bright during use, giving no indication of the somewhat tortured path the light has to take.

Patriot_Convoy_425XL_Front_Full_01.jpg

The drive trays slide in and out easily and there is no binding or scraping as they move. The larger outer housing is partitioned into four bays, and I never had any problems putting a drive tray in the wrong bay or between bays. One of my test rigs has awkward access to the front of the chassis, since I mostly need to work on the back panel of that unit, and I was able to manage the swapping of drive trays backhanded if you will, without issue. The mechanics of the device seem well designed and manufactured, as if they were designed by someone who was actually going to use it. Once slid home and locked into place, there was no motion or play between the trays and the enclosure.

Patriot_Convoy_425XL_Fr_Drawers_out_01.jpg

Standard 2.5" drive bay mounting holes are provided on the bottom of the drive tray, and they fit perfectly with all of the 2.5" drives I had in the house, including one HDD. The mounting screws are provided by Patriot, so you don't have to worry about whether the drive manufacturer provided any. The tray is fabricated from a combination of steel and rigid plastic and is quite sturdy, even before the drive is screwed into place. The maximum drive height that can be accommodated is 12.5mm, which means you can fit the monster-sized 1 TB drives in here without a problem. There is no provision for 1.8" drives, but I wouldn't consider that a negative. The light pipe for the individual status indicator is visible here, running from the front to the back, where the actual LED is located on a PCB holding the drive electronics.

Tray_Full_01.jpg

The most interesting parts of the Patriot Convoy 425XL are at the rear of the unit. The layout is very clean and uncluttered, mainly because there is only one power and one signal connection required for the four drives. The old tried-and-true Molex connection is used for power, since it has the current carrying capacity to feed all four of the 2.5" drives from one connection point. The single SATA II signal connection is facilitated by the use of a Port Replicator chip which also provides all the RAID management functions. The DIP switches are for setting the RAID modes from a hardware perspective: the included software from JMicron is still required to set up the RAID volumes.

Patriot_Convoy_425XL_R_Rear_34_01.jpg

The last thing to point out is the small push button for performing a hardware reset and for changing the drive mode, after the DIP switch settings are changed. Since more than one of the DIP switches may need to be changed to go from one mode to another, you want to be able to wait until all the switched have been set to the new configuration before you "accept" the changes with the pushbutton. The silkscreened text spells it out, but to do a basic hardware reset, push the switch and hold for less than 2 seconds. To change the drive mode, after all the DIP switches are set correctly, press the button and hold it down for more than two seconds.

Now that you've seen the basic exterior features of this unique device, it's time to peek inside the metal enclosure and inspect the internal components. Access is obtained after removing four small counter-sunk Phillips-head screws located at the rear of the unit. One of these screws is covered with the Serial Number label, and by removing it your consumer protection may be at risk. Benchmark Reviews will reveal all of the internal components in our next section anyway, so let us take the bum rap and save your product warranty.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: Patriot Convoy 425XL SAS/SATA RAID EnclosureStupido 2010-11-26 02:23
I'm not very familiar with RAID stuff, but is this device usable with mechanical HDDs? I mean can one get better performance (& reliability) with such a device populated with mechanical 2.5 HDDs?
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# yupyXLfun 2011-04-10 20:06
yes, it's usable with mechanical HDDs.

since 4 months, I'm using it with tree WD5000BEKT in raid5.
one HDD alone on intel chipset: random write is 70Mo/s with avgseek 6.7ms
tree in raid5 on intel chipset: random write is 85Mo/s with avgseek 9.0ms
four in raid5 is slower than with tree HDDs
and raid10 (four HDD) is similar in speed thant raid5 w/3HDD

there is too many numbers in this review. In daily usage 85% of the time windows is doing random access.
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# YesBruceBruce 2010-11-26 12:00
Yes, it is. It is actually a better choice to use HDDs, since you WILL get speed increases when comparing multiple mechanical drives in the Patriot Convoy 425XL to the same drive used on its own. If you want better performance AND reliability at the same time, you need to set it up with RAID 5, and use at least three HDDs (all the same model, preferably).
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# 4 SATA ports are far superiorPaul A. Mitchell 2010-11-26 19:44
Imho, this Icy Dock unit is a better solution,
chiefly because it has 4 x independent SATA ports:

##newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817994095&Tpk=N82E16817994095


This X14 unit from Enhance Technology is even better,
because each drive tray can be locked:

##enhance-tech.com/press/press-082509-quadrapack-x14.html


There are inferior units like the Icy Dock e.g. Athena,
but the SATA ports were known to "rip out" completely
when the SATA cable was removed: this happened to me,
so I speak from direct experience:

##newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816119025&Tpk=N82E16816119025


MRFS
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# For Speed, I agree...BruceBruce 2010-11-26 20:18
In a SFF or HTPC chassis, there may not be enough SATA ports on the mobo to handle the four drives in that unit, a boot drive and an optical drive. That's six, and a typical mini-ITX won't support that.

Also, if you're running the drives in CLONE mode, then one SAT connection will handle the whole bandwidth.

Like I said in the review, this unit fills one or two niches that no other unit can. FYI also, Patriot does offer the Convoy 425S, which has the four separate SATA connections on th back of the units; simple pass-throughs to the drives inside.
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# RE: For Speed, I agree...Stupido 2010-11-29 03:42
Bruce,

Thanks for the reply!
Indeed I was interested because I'm interested in build based on mini-ITX factor.
Also interesting point is to check what is more beneficial price-wise (performance/capacity for certain price range): 1 SSD or this box populated with 2.5 HHDs...
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# Why 1GB/s speeds aren't possibleNick 2010-11-29 12:53
There is a reason why you can't get 1GB/s with this unit, it's because of the single sata port which can only do 3Gb/s which is only around 280MB/s with no over head, so really you probably hit a bottle next on the SATA2 spec, if it supported SATA3 it may have done better, not saying it would have but it may have done better in the RAID0 tests.
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# Quite True....BruceBruce 2010-11-29 15:35
I admitted exactly that in the Final Thoughts and Conclusion. "I must have been dreaming up a storm to think that all this functionality and performance could be jammed into the rear 20% of a 5.25" drive housing, pass everything through a single SATA 3Gb/s connection, and cost less than $100."
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# Untapped PotentialBruceBruce 2010-11-29 15:42
Imagine this item with a beefier controller chip and SATA 3. Now, it can compete with the base model Revo from OCZ.....
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# RE: Patriot Convoy 425XL SAS/SATA RAID EnclosureDoug 2010-12-01 23:10
It looks like we're finally getting to a place where we should have been 20 years ago--mainstream drive installation from the front of the case. I know it's more than a front load drive bay, but I'm glad we're finally seeing this stuff become more mainstream. A couple of years ago I replaced my internal drive bays with front load hot swap bays and it's just the way to go.
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# good anyway,....RealNeil 2010-12-02 07:16
So this didn't perform as expected, but I still like the idea of keeping four little drives put away like it does. I think that they'll figure out the bandwidth situation too, in time. Technology is like Army Ants,.... nothing stops it for long and it's always moving along. It's all good.
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# What about fan noise?DionV 2010-12-05 08:51
What was the fan noise like?

If, as you suggested, one uses this in a SFF case for desktop or media centre purposes, the fan noise would be critical.

Thanks for the review. This is the first one I've read on this site, and I'm impressed with the level of detail.
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# FAN Noise OK, but not silent...BruceBruce 2010-12-05 14:58
In my normal PC, I ca,'t hear it over the noise of the case fans and the CPU Cooler fan and the GPU Cooler Fan.... you get the picture. But I understand your concern for the HTPC situation. I plugged it in, out in the open air and what I hear is a low frequency type of noise, which surprises me. I guess since the fan has so few blades, the frequency is lower.

Anyways, the noise is lower than a typical 1500-2000 RPM 120mm case fan, and it is MUCH lower than a typical 120mm CPU cooler fan. They are designed to produce higher pressures, and "bite" the air a little harder. I know there is a range of noise performance among brands and models....

I'm listening it to it now, 2 meters away in the open, and it is noticeable. Once it is inside a proper case, I suspect it will be down 10-15dB and hardly worth worrying about.
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# Thanks!DionV 2010-12-06 02:40
Bruce, thanks for the swift reply!
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# Any chance of HDD test?Brandy 2011-03-25 15:11
Nice test and interesting writeup. It was interesting to see what the max thru put is.

But I never dreamed of putting SSD into this carrier as it seemed a waste. What I am really interested in is a more real world test. For example there are number of 12.5mm 2.5" 1TB disk drives available. The Samsung Spinpoint 5400rpm 1TB seems to have good write ups.

So what would be the performance of 4 1TB drives in JBOD, raid 5 and raid 10, I would expect those to be the most used modes. I personally have a well stuffed desktop with an unused CDROM slot and the sata port that goes with it. Mobo sata is 3Gbs sata II, cpu is i7-X980, 18gbytes mem, 160GB SSD OS disk, 4TB data storage and a DVD/BD writer. BUT I am having a problem finding compact nearline protected storage.

To me this system with 4-1TB drives in raid 10 with my DVD/BD writer might actually work.

I would love to see a representative test run on a configuration I would actually use.

Thank you.
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