Rosewill Armer RX308 Product Review

Just as I was deep in the middle of juggling disks, large image backups, and tearing out what little hair I have left in order to get my computer to boot properly, what shows up at my doorstep but a disk enclosure for testing?

And it couldn’t have come at a better time, because I was working with an odd eSATA dock and was desperately in need of a reliable place to attach another medium-sized hard drive semi-permanently, but with a good fast interface. So with little ado and no time for fancy unboxing videos or even reading directions, I ripped the package open in the hopes that this thing wouldn’t have lots of tiny pieces that fell out.

Luckily, there was nothing to it. I initially thought the enclosure was completely toolless, but then I spotted two tiny screws in back. I grabbed my handy 4-in-1 screwdriver off my desk and went at it. Opening the case revealed a circuit board and a plastic tray that easily lifted out, and in about 5 seconds I had the disk installed. There’s also a wall-wart adapter that supplies the necessary 12V/2A power.

Putting it back together and hearing something rattle around showed me that it wasn’t quite that simple, so I rooted around a bit more and found that Rosewill had supplied a little baggie with a miniature screwdriver and mounting screws (including spares for both screw types). When I put it all back together I noted one potential problem…the cable running the length of the enclosure that goes to the switch and LED on the front panel might easily be dislodged and kinked or broken, so Rosewill might consider taping it down in the future.

As things should, this enclosure works well

As far as performance and reliability, there’s not much to say. As things should, this enclosure works well, and its USB 3.0 interface generally shows a real-world 80 to 110 MB/second with my Xeon-based computer. The enclosure itself is a fairly hefty hunk of aluminum for heat dissipation, but the fact that the disk sits in a plastic tray worried me. However, again real-world testing came to the rescue, because my SMART disk monitor showed that the drive never went over 45°C, despite many hours of sustained usage.

armer3There’s a blue LED mounted by the power button that glows when the unit is on and blinks during data transfer. This LED is too damn bright. That’s pretty much my main and only complaint, and it’s easily remedied with adhesive tape.

The Rosewill Armer RX308 disk enclosure is available from Newegg and is a very solid deal for the current price of $21.99.

Disclaimer: I received this unit at no charge in consideration and anticipation of an honest product review. That’s the way I’ve been doing things for 35 years.

The Windows That Wouldn’t Boot

Earlier this year, I bought a refurbished computer from Woot. Fortunately, it had all the disk space, RAM, and features I wanted. Unfortunately, the disk was failing when I got it and some of the RAM was bad. Fortunately, the company who refurbished it is very good at support, customer, and warranty service, so they provided me with replacement new-to-me hardware.

Unfortunately, even after I spent oodles of time re-setting up the newish disk and attempting to clone the boot stuff, it wouldn’t boot from the disk. Fortunately, I had the ultimate goal of booting off an SSD drive anyway, so I was able to install an older “rotating” disk I had around as a boot drive before the deadline passed to ship the old hardware back.

Unfortunately, a few months later that boot drive started failing too, so it was time for me to drop everything and really get that SSD cloned before it was too late. But I had one hell of a time getting Windows 7 (no, I am not going to privacy hell with Win 10, thank you, GWX FTW!) to build and recognize the correct combination of BIOS settings, disk and partition types, and file systems in order to properly boot from the SSD. In fact, I had to boot into Linux, DOS, and a few other things before I was done. And I learned more than I ever wanted to know about all the intricate details of Windows booting up. But I finally succeeded, because I don’t give up!

The best part: at one point, I needed to install Windows onto an external disk. Every reference I could find on the web said that was impossible…Windows 7 cannot be installed onto an external disk. When you try, you get this lovely popup message that tells you

Windows cannot be installed to this disk. Setup does not support configuration of or installation to disks connected through a USB or IEEE 1394 (Firewire) port.

Yet, following Hannibal’s motivational creed, I did it by finding an old, unused SATA drive dock in my world-infamous collection of wacky electronic devices…a dock that supports eSATA, which I just happened to have installed a header for in back of the computer in case it might come in handy. eSATA: not USB, and not Firewire…but fast as hell, and the kind of loophole I was looking for!

And that’s why I never throw anything out that might prove useful.