WiebeTech RTX 220-QR
Price: Dependent on drive configuration – $499 with no drives

PCI Card Info: TeraCard PCI – 30310-0500-0002 (TCESO-2e)
Price: Provantage $81.50 – Available from many sources so shop around

Company: WiebeTech  – A Brand of CRU-Dataport

The WiebeTech brand has been around since the year 2000 making data storage products and offering forensic services to premier companies and governments across the globe.

Today we’ll be looking at one of Wiebetech’s many desktop RAID storage systems in their RTX line, the RTX 220-QR. This is a two bay RAID solution for your desktop that offers RAID 0 (Stripe) or RAID 1 (Mirror) options.

PCI Card – TCESO-2e
The good folks at WiebeTech also included a PCI eSATA card for my Mac Pro enabling me to use the RTX unit with an eSATA connection.  This particular PCI card has two eSATA ports. Installing the eSATA card was very easy and required me to install drivers that came on the included CD.

I rarely install drivers that come with a product because you never know if they have been updated so I went up to the WiebeTech site to locate the latest drivers and installed those. Finding those drivers was a bit daunting since WiebeTech uses an elaborate product numbering system and has quite a large portfolio of products and part numbers.

Once I found the correct driver it was easy enough to install it. The card was recognized by the Mac OS immediately after installation and worked smoothly with no system hiccups, a problem I have had from time to time with some PCI cards.

RTX 220-QR
The RTX unit is a two bay enclosure manufactured from aircraft grade aluminum and it is built to be very rugged. The RTX has a built in handle at the top that makes it very easy to move the unit around;  you carry it like a piece of luggage. Built in shock absorption helps to protect your drives in transit.

The front of the RTX has an LED screen that works with the navigation buttons to the right. The menu and navigation buttons provide an easy method for changing the formatting of the drives from RAID 0 to RAID 1 and back again. These are the only RAID configurations this unit supports. The LED menu also supplies information about the drives such as the temperature of the top and bottom drives, the temperature of the RTX unit, and can even tell you the RPM of the fan. When the unit warms up and the fan begins to blow the sound is noticeable. There are three LED lights below the LCD screen that signify “Power,” “System,” and “RAID.” These lights flash off and on as the RTX performs its various activities. These lights also glow amber, red, or green to signify normal operations or problems with the drives.

Below the LEDs are the drive doors. Each door has its own lock and key. These units are designed for professionals or others who do not want easy access to their hard drives. Slip the key into the lock and you can keep the drive bays in a locked or unlocked status. The drive bays themselves are unique.

The rails are made from hardened steel and there are no screws or latches to mess with. You simply open the door, slide the drive in, and close the door. It is that easy. In fact, this is the easiest drive insertion mechanism I’ve ever used.

Ports:
The back of the RTX has all of the interfaces you need for your modern Mac: eSATA, two FireWire 800 ports, FireWire 400 (via included converter cable), and USB 2. There is no Thunderbolt Port. Also located on the back is the On/Off switch (Why do they put these switches on the back? They all do it.), the A/C power inlet, and the 6 cm fan. When you first start the unit the fan is quiet but as the unit warms up the fan comes on and it is quite noticeable and it did run at various intensity the entire time I had the unit powered on.

Using the RTX:
After you power on the RTX the drive mounts on your desktop very quickly. Reading and writing files, even large files, is very fast using either the eSATA or FireWire 800 interfaces. The RAID function performed flawlessly and with no manual intervention at all. Switching between RAID 0 and RAID 1 was very easy but required a restart of the unit and/or an unplug of the eSATA cable. You can use the RTX as a boot up drive by cloning your existing configuration and using Carbon Copy Cloner or Super Duper.

Alarms: The RTX has many alarm settings. You can set system, RAID, or temperature warnings. These are VERY audible and you would be able to hear them from just about anywhere in your home or office.  Pulling a drive out of the drive bay while the unit is mounted sets off an audible warning alarm.  Using the configurator program allows you set drive temperature and other alarms using a simple slider. The downside of the configurator program is having to disconnect all other drives before using it. It seems the program can not differentiate between the RTX drives and other drives connected to your Mac. This is a large problem for us Mac Pro users who have four internal drives installed.

The LCD will display a warning message if a drive is failing. It is a simple task to replace a failing drive. Simply open the door, remove the old drive, and insert a new drive. The RTX will detect the new drive and ask if you want to add it to the RAID. Select yes and the RAID will rebuild itself. It can’t get any easier than that.

Features:

  • Quadruple connectivity
  • All metal hardened drive bays that are easy to use
  • Two RAID settings
  • Hot swappable
  • Auto rebuild of data
  • Bays are lockable for added security
  • Sturdy aluminum case with built in shock absorption
  • Easily transportable

Final Thoughts:
The WiebeTech RTX 220-QR is a pro system for those that need to be absolutely sure that their data is safe and secure. When I think about my last sentence, I imagine we would all want our data safe and secure, pro or not. The unit is so easy to use that anyone who is looking for an enclosure that allows super-easy drive changes, and safe, secure storage, can certainly operate the RTX. Finding updated drivers was harder than it should have been and the fan can be loud at times.

The WiebeTech PCI eSata card (30310-0500-0002 (TCESO-2e)) worked flawlessly and continued to work flawlessly even after I upgraded the Mac OS on my Pro to the Lion operating system.

MyMac Review Rating: 8 out of 10

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