The X Craft 350 comes in three versions – a USB 2.0, Firewire 400 and an eSATA version (the latter two include USB 2.0 for use with computers that do not have a Firewire/eSATA port). It also includes a 2 port USB 2.0 hub (one can never have enough USB ports within arm’s reach) and a honeycomb-design cooling mechanism.
Among the more unique features are the one-push backup feature (provided you install the associated software) and a completely tool-free installation, which I’ll describe later. The one-push backup only works with the USB connection, which is a bit of the downer, considering a big feature of the enclosure is the eSATA capability. The backup utility only enables when it detects an ‘Initio’ (the chipset I presume) drive, which is completely bypassed when using eSATA.
The 2 port USB 2.0 hub also only works when the enclosure is connected through USB. This may seem logical since the USB chipset on board isn’t being used when in eSATA mode, but is still disappointing as the enclosure will be used with eSATA for most of the time. On the other hand, I will be connecting it to my laptop through USB and USB ports are typically more scarce on a laptop than with a desktop.
Cooler Master touts the tool-free install of the X Craft 350. In practice, the system actually works pretty well and should make for painless swapping of hard drives. To open the casing, just push in the lock button and slide back. Once fully slid open, just remove the top of the casing. Instead of screwing in the hard drive, the X Craft features 4 spring-loaded pegs that you line up with the mounting holes and rest your hard drive on. I presume these springy pegs serve to 1) absorb some vibration and 2) force the drive up against the thermal pad that is found on the inside of the top of the casing.
One peculiarity is that Cooler Master seems to have mixed up the ordering of the power and SATA connectors on the PCB. When placed in the enclosure, a SATA drive will have its power connector lined up with the enclosure’s SATA connector and vice versa. This could very well be due to the placement and routing of components on the PCB, but whatever the reason, makes for some interesting twisting of the cables.
Once the drive is properly installed, it’s just a matter of putting the casing back on and sliding the whole thing shut. It should lock in place and you’re all set to go. Overall, the installation went smoothly – much more so than the Vantec (model number here) who’s mounting holes didn’t line up with the hard drive ones.