|Patriot Convoy 425XL SAS/SATA RAID Enclosure|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Wednesday, 24 November 2010|
Page 3 of 12
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.