OWC NewerTech Voyager S3 Dock Review

Newer Technology has brought to the table a hot-swappable, plug-and-play, data-access-made-simple dock for home and professional use. The Voyager S3 aims to allow users to swap in 2.5” and 3.5” drives instantly without rebooting. Mirroring a bunch of drives? Why not just pop one in and then when it’s done, just eject and throw in the next! We took the Voyager S3 and ran it through some tests with our equipment to see if this hard drive-juggling gadget lives up to the name.

 

Design

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The Voyager S3 comes in a sleek black, non-shiny ABS plastic housing. The base of the unit is nicely weighted and includes rubber feat to keep the dock from running around the desk when swapping drives. The top features a swivel door that covers the 3.5” area, meanwhile the 2.5” area is open. This nicely closes up the top while there is a smaller drive in it, and moves out of the way when you need to throw a big 3.5” drive into it. The front features a top-centered eject button and blue/purple LED to display power and activity.

_MG_3048On the rear you will find a power switch, power supply connection, and USB 3.0 (also 2.0 and 1.1 compatible) port. The dock features an ASMedia 1051e bridge chipset inside, allowing for silent operation (no fan needed) and data transfer speeds of up to 500MB/s. This also allows for support of all 2.5” and 3.5” SATA  6Gb/s, 3Gb/s & 1.5Gb/s drives and SSD drives up to 4.0TB in size.

Function

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The obvious thing to do with this item is not only observe how the daily interaction with the dock is, but also it’s performance and speed ratings. Once the dock had been plugged into it’s power source and placed on the desk, I found it was not as obtrusive as I thought it might be to the “environment” I had placed it in. It was not an eyesore, and quite oppositely, looked great when an SSD was docked in it. Ejecting was somewhat firm, but had a satisfying feel which also indicated that the SATA connection was tight and brand new allowing for a reliable connection. With that in mind, let’s look at how it performed when hooked up!

Here’s the test equipment I used to clock the speed on the Voyager S3:

  • Macbook Pro 2012 Retina with 2.5 GHz i5 processor and 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 RAM
  • 240GB OCZ Vertex Agility 3 Series
  • NewerTech Voyager S3 (of course)
  • SIIG SuperSpeed USB 3.0 to SATA 2.5″ Enclosure (for comparison speeds)
  • X-Bench 1.3

X-Bench was used to test sequential and random reads/writes for both the SIIG external and the S3. I also ran the X-Bench test on the Macbook Retina Pro’s internal storage as well. Here are the results:

Macbook Pro 2012 Retina 13″
Results 466.44
System Info
Xbench Version 1.3
System Version 10.8.2 (12C2034)
Physical RAM 8192 MB
Model MacBookPro10,2
Drive Type APPLE SSD SM128E
Disk Test 466.44
Sequential 310.18
Uncached Write 568.81 349.24 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 487.84 276.02 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 132.26 38.71 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 654.71 329.05 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Random 940.02
Uncached Write 657.53 69.61 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 774.29 247.88 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 2286.98 16.21 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 994.41 184.52 MB/sec [256K blocks]

SIIG External with Agility SSD
Results 200.83
System Info
Xbench Version 1.3
System Version 10.8.2 (12C2034)
Physical RAM 8192 MB
Model MacBookPro10,2
Drive Type OCZ-AGIL ITY3
Disk Test 200.83
Sequential 129.01
Uncached Write 199.01 122.19 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 172.33 97.50 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 65.33 19.12 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 205.38 103.22 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Random 452.99
Uncached Write 291.14 30.82 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 326.71 104.59 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 1983.54 14.06 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 546.33 101.38 MB/sec [256K blocks]

Voyager S3 with Agility SSD
Results 304.27
System Info
Xbench Version 1.3
System Version 10.8.2 (12C2034)
Physical RAM 8192 MB
Model MacBookPro10,2
Drive Type OCZ-AGIL ITY3
Disk Test 304.27
Sequential 197.87
Uncached Write 492.35 302.29 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 417.60 236.28 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 75.32 22.04 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 397.94 200.00 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Random 658.16
Uncached Write 294.36 31.16 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 820.36 262.63 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 2246.78 15.92 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 983.93 182.58 MB/sec [256K blocks]

As you can see, there is a definite speed increase when the drive is connected via the S3 over the SIIG enclosure. Top that with the fact that the S3 can swap drives infinitely faster than the SIIG external (I wouldn’t swap drives from the SIIG repeatedly, but more on that in another review). Obviously the Macbook is fastest with an integrated chip. It’s there for comparison and to show what kind of speeds the macbook is working with in case there is any disagreement.

 

Wrap Up

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If you frequently find yourself swapping drives, or work on multiple PC’s and want to be able to use drives with a dock, grab a Voyager S3. At a price close to what external drive enclosures cost at Micro Center, you can afford to! At the time of writing, you can purchase this over at OWC for a mere $35. If you’re looking to migrate some disks, or just keep a standalone backup or Time Machine drive and want something cheaper and more versatile than an external drive then we here at t3chniq suggest you seriously consider this drive!

Pros:

  • Fast Docking and Undocking of drives
  • No power concerns with included power supply
  • USB 3.0 cable included good length
  • Overall appearance doesn’t distract too much from work area
  • Silent
  • Faster than portable enclosures

Cons:

  • Not as portable as a “portable enclosure”
  • Requires external power (although it IS provided)
  • Blue LED can be a little bright at night

t3chniq verdict: Buy if you’re looking for a fast and easy harddrive docking solution

Comments(4)
  1. Rishi Sanyal October 27, 2013
    • Rishi Sanyal October 27, 2013
      • Mike October 28, 2013
        • Rishi Sanyal October 28, 2013

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