We've spoken about the convenience of drive docks in the past. If a user has any significant quantity of data to back up, optical media just won't do -- magnetic high-density media, like hard drives, are the way to go. Docks are a logical and flexible device to procure to eliminate the need for costly cases for multiple drives. We reviewed the SATA-3 version of the 5122B SATA-3 dual-channel drive dock, but is the ubiquity of the USB 3.0 version a benefit, or a hindrance to the device?
We reproduced every test we tried with the previous review of the RocketRaid 642L PCI-E SATA/eSATA card with this dock plugged into USB 3.0 ports and USB 2.0 ports. A pair of SATA-3 120GB SSDs were used for testing, capable of saturating the USB 3.0 connection. Both USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports had individual controllers per port. For comparison's sake, the pair of drives on USB 2.0 ports pulled down 56MB per second, very near the max capacity of the USB 2.0 protocol.
The USB 3.0 protocol on this adapter makes the format shine. At peak, the drive pair transferred 612MB per second, much faster than the USB 2.0 version and close enough to the 400MB per second that the protocol claims it should be able to push. With the dual-channel USB 3.0 dock and hard drives, the speed of the transfer will generally be limited to the media, and not the bridge board as is common with lesser devices. While a bit slower than the SATA-3 version of the dock, the speed is fantastic for a USB 3.0 dock.
We've said it before, but it bears repeating -- the need for overwhelming speed in a dual-drive dock is not for everyone. This is an excellent tool for system managers, who need to clone disks for uniform operability between machines, or who need a very quick way to archive or secure large amounts of data using high-capacity hard drives as the backup target, rather than glacially slow tape or other high-density removable media. Alternatively, like the SATA-3 version of it, the 5122B allows for outside possibilities such as completely securing a computer, with the boot drive stored in a central location and installed by the user in the dock when needed.
Just like Highpoint's SATA-3 version, we liked the USB 3.0 version of the dock. Our normal complaints with docks: cheap plastic, flimsy connectors, weak power supplies, slower than expected data transfer -- are just not an issue with this dock. If you're just looking for a dock for rudimentary home operations and periodic backup, this is probably not it. The RocketStor 5122B in many ways is a more flexible device than the 5322 SATA-3 dock, and is an essential tool for technicians or those who move a lot of data around routinely.