When I ditched my Windows box I lost my centralized location for sharing music and photos with the
computersMacs in my house. I was going to convert my PC’s hard drive (250 GB) for use with an external Firewire drive enclosure and share it via my PowerBook but I discovered the old ADS Technology enclosure can’t use hard disks over 132 GB in size.
This gave me an opportunity to find a new enclosure with USB 2.0 support, more ports for FireWire and USB, and small form factor. I was also hoping to find a quiet unit as the power supply on my old enclosure sounds like a jet ready for take-off.
I remembered seeing Mac mini-style enclosures that might do the trick and could lead the way to a small form factor for a future media center. A quick Google search and later I ordered the miniStack v2 made by Newer Technology. You can find other reviews all over the web so I’ll just describe my main observations.
The miniStack v2 looks just a like Mac mini device should. Build quality is good although the case is all plastic with aluminum colored sides and white top.
Gone is the jet engine-like roar in my home office. The miniStack v2 enclosure is quiet and the fan has yet to kick in. I barely hear the whir of the 7,200 RPM drive which eventually spins down when not in use. With that is a device which throws off very little heat. I should probably mention the enclosure isn’t stacked so heat/noise may arise when a Mac mini or another enclosure is added.
My Western Digital 250 GB drive installed easily and included taping a heat sensor to its top. The USB 2.0 and FireWire 400 hub also works, giving me the means to stack FireWire drives, use my iSight, and an array of USB devices such as keyboard, mouse, and flash drives without adding another gadget to my (now shrinking) tangle of wires. The power supply included with the miniStack v2 is power-strip friendly, using a small power brick with two-prong A/C cord.
All of my media content has been moved onto the miniStack v2 and hooked to my PowerBook and served across the network. Works as it should: quiet and unobtrusive. The enclosure, sans drive, is $75 from Other World Computing and a 500 GB version can be had for super cheap at $259.