I decided that I needed a real backup solution, even though I have a RAID 5 for file storage in my workstation; maintaining a backup of a 2TB array is a pain in the ass if all you have is blank DVDs.
It seems the only shipping USB host controllers the moment all use NEC’s USB 3.0 chip, and almost all the PCI-E boards look alike. They all seem to run in the $25-45 range. The great part is Linux supports NEC’s controller as of 2.6.31. The controller worked with no configuration soon as I put the card in.
I chose that specific Samsung drive because it seems to be the only sane 5400 rpm 2TB drive out there. The only other choices were Seagate’s new 5900 rpm drives (which, according to independent reviews on Newegg and enthusiast forums have an unacceptably high failure rate, very unusual of Seagate), and Western Digital’s Caviar Greens (which are 5400 rpm, but suffer from obsessive head parking which is apparently leading to premature drive failure).
mkfs.ext4 took 7:44 minutes to create the file system (while iotop confirmed it was doing in excess of 100mb/sec writes for much of the process), and
hdparm -t /dev/sdx also indicates the drive in this enclosure can push 100mb/sec.
After writing to the drive for an hour straight, the enclosure is warm but not hot, and after removing the drive from the enclosure, the drive itself is warm; this is compared to the Seagate 7200.12s in my RAID 5 array which could burn you at this point.
Many drives fail in enclosures because they overheat; I don’t think this will happen due to Vantec’s thick aluminum design in the NexStar series enclosures, and the fact that the HW203WI has low power usage.
After formatting with ext4, the file system uses 29GB out of 1.82TB total. Its kind of funny when I’ve owned drives smaller than the space consumed by an empty file system.
I’m rather happy with my purchases overall.