As a system builder and gamer, console or otherwise, there never seems to be enough hard drive space. There’s also never enough physical space to store the drives themselves. One elegant solution to that problem may be the use of an external hard drive enclosure. After all, if you can’t or don’t want to build inside your machines, why not build outward instead? And so today we’ll be looking at the ORICO NS200U3, a hard drive enclosure that boasts expansive storage options in a wonderfully built frame.
The ORICO NS200U3 is a large enclosure designed to power up to two hot-swappable, 3.5-inch SATA hard drives. Single and dual bay models are available for purchase, but for this review we’ll be discussing the latter. Both support 10TB of capacity in a single disk. That’s 20TB of potential space in our review sample. Four different RAID modes – 0, 1, Combined, and Clear – can be configured, as well.
Measuring 8.8 x 2.8 x 4.28 inches, the NS200U3 is about the same size as a 1,000-page paperback novel. Most of the chassis is made of matte black (or silver) aluminum with smooth, rounded corners. It’s heavy but sturdy, and I quite like its minimal, industrial look. Aside from the white ORICO logo and name etched on the sides, there’s little else in the way of graphics.
The front of the enclosure features a reflective, plastic magnetic door that hides installed hard drives and the bay doors. Power/activity LED indicators are visible through its bottom. It’s easily removed and re-attached. Venting runs along all four sides for cooling. The rear of the enclosure houses a power button, single USB3.0 and AC power ports, and a cooling fan can be seen beside them.
Setup and installation couldn’t be more straightforward. No tools are required. All I had to do was remove the magnetic door, slide in a 3.5-inch hard drive in a free slot, and power it on. Windows detected the drive immediately. Mine had been formatted prior to placing it into the enclosure; but if you’re installing a fresh drive, the user’s manual details the simple steps necessary for setting volume sizes and formatting. You’ll be ready to go in minutes regardless. My only consideration was placement. The included USB3.0 cable is on the short side at around three and a half feet. Thankfully, cables can always be replaced.
Benchmark results were consistent with typical USB3.0 read/write speeds. Tests included moving 10GB single files and then folders full of data to and from the Western Digital Black drive inside the enclosure. The most common transfer speeds hovered between 110 MB/s to 130 MB/s.
It would be easy to recommend the NS200U3 based on its build quality and convenience, but it’s held back by one significant mechanical issue: its cooling fan. It screams loudly with the high pitch of a vacuum cleaner. It is by far the loudest thing in my office. Some owners of other ORICO enclosures have reported success replacing the fan, but most end users probably aren’t going to want to deal with that.
Additionally, the NS200U3 is expensive. The one and two bay models are currently retailing for $42.00 and $99.99 on Amazon respectively. A lot of competing models are priced much lower. That said, ORICO’s physical design, minus the cooling fan, is one of the best I’ve had my hands on. It looks and feels like a premium device, especially thanks to its smooth aluminum body compared to the cheap plastic you see on other enclosures.
I wanted to like ORICO’s NS200U3 hard drive enclosure. It’s convenient, sturdy, and elegant. But its high price point and terribly noisy cooling fan make it a heart-breaking disappointment for my personal use.
Disclosure: A unit was provided for review.