In testing SSD’s(of which more are coming following our OWC Accelsior and Mushkin Reactor coverage) one thing that quickly jumped out to me was the need for a hotswap bay of some sort. I use them regularly in my day job(as an IT admin) in various capacities. They are a staple of rackmount server design but they’re unfortunately much less common with regular desktop chassis and something my Corsair case for the testbench lacked.
After some searching, and one false start on a dual 2.5 that ended up too small I settled on one from Syba offering a 2.5 and 3.5 inch bay with a pair of usb 3 type-a ports. This is a good selection for a front panel although I’d have traded the 3.5 bay for a second 2.5 and some 2.0 ports and/or a card reader. The packaging indicates all the primary features one of the key of which are stated compatibility with SATA 6 and the bay’s tray free nature.
Physical overview of Syba Bay
Taking a look around the drive includes everything you could ask for including a 4pin molex to SATA power adapter, a welcome addition for older systems in addition to it’s pair of SATA cables. The USB 3.0 cable is quite long and folded up quite neatly inside the case for shipping although a detachable cable may be preferable for some. everything and there’s no indication of any manufacturing flaws although the design leaves some exposed edges which could become dangerous if mishandled.
Both drive bays use a trayless design so I took the time to demonstrate the 2.5 inch bay using the Reactor. Although a bit tricky with one hand unmounted and while holding the camera steady the mechanism works well and should hold up for the 50k cycles that Syba targeted in the design.
Installing the bay was quick and easy although I did have to remove the toolless clip from the case which was an easy affair installing the 4 included screws quickly(no burs something I’ve seen on cheap units before). The USB3 cable was more than sufficient to reach the bottom edge of the board and would have reached a USB3 PCIe card in the bottom slot of an ATX board as well for people with add in cards.
The sign of any good bay is consistent performance, occasionally low quality hotswap trays can cause signal degradation with low quality boards. We have a new SSD in for testing that’s going to be used for this examination.
Using anvil we’re actually in for a surprise that the test SSD(review coming soon I promise) actually posts higher performance numbers when installed in the hotswap bay as opposed to directly attached to the SATA port. This is an unexpected result but is within the margin of error, without delving into any of the subtests just using anvil’s overall score puts the variance at 1% well within what would normally be considered a margin of error and production variance for individual drives.
The bay performs without any interference on the SATA ports showing no negative impact on performance and excellent quality by syba. The trayless design works well allowing quick swapping of 3.5 and 2.5 inch drives alike and I’m pleased overall with the design. Anyone needing a flexible front panel without the requirement of a card reader or audio should consider this a welcome addition to their desktop. It is available here for 33.99 with prime shipping on amazon.