Reviews Storage

Quick Look: SilverStone’s EXB01 – Even Moar Storage

Wasted space is the most hated aspect of design to our community.  Empty RAM slots, disregarded drive bays, and one that the SilverStone EXB01 hopes to use up, empty expansion slots. Popping an extra 2.5″ drive in that unused expansion slot is something I’ve wanted to see for years, even back when I, shamefully, ran ATX systems.

SilverStone has a huge range of devices to make use of spare slots, bays, space and the like, with some interesting concepts and products to use up that spare air. Let’s have a deeper look at the EXB01.

The Specs

Model SST-EXB01
Colour Black
Material Metal
HDD Drive Support SATA III/SATA II/SATA I
2.5” SATA HDD/SSD up to 9.5mm
Transfer Rate Up to 6 Gbit/s (dependent on drive speed)
Host interface 7-Pin SATA connector x 1
Power connector SATA 15-Pin x 1
Drive Door Security Triangle key lock design
LED indicator Power On: Blue
HDD Access: Red blinking.
SATA Cable length 500mm±10mm
Number of key 2
Environment Operating temperature : 0℃~65℃ (32℉~149℉)
Storage temperature : -10℃~70℃ (-50℉~158℉)
Operating humidity: 10%~90% non-condensing
Storage humidity : 5%~90% non-condensing
Net weight 118g
Dimension 120.5mm (W) x 21.5mm (H) x 148mm (D)

The SilverStone EXB01 retails for US$17.99 on Amazon.com at time of writing.

The Unboxing

A more modern product compared to the recently reviewed FS204, if only in packaging aesthetic. Again, what you see is what you get.

To the rear, and a spec table that we’ve reproduced above!

Opening up the small package reveals documentation. Good to see the physical manual is still alive and well, even in simpler products.

Included in the package is the EXB01, a SATA cable, screws (2 sets) and a manual. There should be a locking key here, but for some reason it wasn’t included with our review unit. Points off for QC, SilverStone.

Check out the manual below.

The Experience

The SilverStone EXB01 is an interesting piece of hardware, built from a combination of metal and black plastic, it feels solid, much like the SilverStone FS204 we mentioned above. However, as we’ll see, there are a couple of design decisions that robs the EXB01 of matching its peers on actual build quality.

Powdercoated steel makes up the PCI bracket, with a black plastic outer shell holding the unit together. The inner body appears to be a shinier corrosion resistant coating on steel.

The assembly is screwed together, so it could be taken apart for painting or modification if one desires. Mounting to a spare, full height, expansion slot, this unit makes use of what is other a wasted area of a system.

The PCB in the EXB01 is a pass through affair, with no additional componentry or tricks – excepting a pair of LEDs for drive activity, and a couple of small components to drive them, hidden on the inside of the device.

The main body of the EXB01 is made from steel, compared to the plastic I see far too often on such accessory products. Unfortunately, the mounting of this body to the PCI bracket is via the plastic cover on the other side, with very short screws (5mm long self tapping screws). With the force needed to install and remove a drive (see the video below), I forsee a few early failures in this area on high utilisation systems – with the EXB01’s main body likely popping back into the system chassis.

Time to install a drive in the EXB01! I’ve chosen this 10TB 2.5″ drive from an unknown supplier… sorry… this is a 320GB Toshiba Drive measuring in at 7mm thick. I removed the sticker years ago for a custom case build I was doing.

Video! Audio! Loud breathing! Pre-existing injuries! We cover it all here at SFF Network!

The lever and drive sled is metal, however, the remainder of the drive mounting unit is plastic. Also to note – due to the non-guided setup of the drive sled (it doesn’t slide in using rails), it is possible to have alignment issues with thinner drives such as this. In certain orientations of the unit, I found it harder to get an easy alignment between the drive and the rear hotswap assembly.

The Conclusion

Whilst the SilverStone EXB01 is a mid range product by price, some aspects of the build has let it down in the final fit, finish and feel. Firm, robust drive mounting appears to have been gained at the expense of higher forces than expected installing and removing drives, which causes strain on what I see as undersized screws attaching plastic to steel.

There is great design intent in the EXB01, with subtle aesthetics, intent in using otherwise wasted space, and compatibility with drives up to 9.5mm thick. I commend SilverStone for having a product to fill this market segment, and can see why cost cuts were made.

However, at various e-tailers I can see cost comparable products with more robust (albeit, drive sled-less) designs available. This makes it difficult for me to recommend the SilverStone EXB01 over the contemporary products.

Pros

  • Solid feel belies the use of plastics
  • Subtle aesthetics
  • Uses an oft ignored waste of space – expansion slots

Cons

  • Plastic shell being the main mounting point with super short screws
  • Substantial force needed to install and remove a drive
  • Security “key” missing from our unit

Niggles

  • A header to pass drive activity LEDs to the front panel could be an interesting addition.

 

Thoughts? Discuss them in the forum.

This review sample was provided by SilverStone.

Here at SmallFormFactor.net we give manufacturers the ability to be part of the community. We offer a right to reply to our hardware reviews. If a manufacturer responds with any feedback or corrections, their comments will be posted here.