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Review: WiebeTech Maxelerate for Mac mini
Monday October 17, 2005 12:55 AM EST

The WiebeTech Maxelerate is a great addition to any Mac mini enthusiast's setup. Its solid aluminum case, internal die-cast heat sink and snappy performance make this external hard drive with integrated USB and FireWire Hub stand out from the crowd. Our Maxelerate MAX-160 came packaged neatly in an orange and white box. In the box you will find the Maxelerate enclosure, 41" black FireWire cable, 41" black USB cable, AC Adapter with Cord, and Product Information & Manuals CD. The CD provides ample information for the setup of the enclosure.

The Maxelerate enclosure has an all aluminum body and stands 6.5" wide X 6.5" deep X 1.5" tall. The color of the enclosure perfectly matches the Mac mini. Our enclosure didn't have one mark or blemish on it. On the front of the enclosure you will find a clear plastic WiebeTech logo. The logo lights up blue when the enclosure is turned on and flashes when the drive is being accessed. The bottom of the enclosure is made out of aluminum. There are four non-skid rubber pads on each corner of the bottom. You will need to remove the screws found in the center of these pads to access the inside of the enclosure.

On the back of the enclosure you will find a power switch, 3 USB 2.0 ports, and 3 FireWire 400 ports that are daisy chainable. The ports and power switch feel very solid. We really liked the size and feel of the power switch compared to some of the other models we have tested. It was easy to access and manipulate when reaching around from the front of the enclosure.

Maxelerate supports Hi-Speed USB data transfer speeds of up to 480Mbps, and IEEE 1394a data transfer speeds of up to 400Mbps. It uses an Initio 1530 chipset for USB connectivity and a Cypress CY7C65640A chipset for FireWire 400 connections. A nice feature is that the ports will remain functional when the enclosure is turned off as long as a FireWire connection is present. Our only gripe is the front light will turn to purple and stay lit.

The sides of the enclosure are slightly tapered and have rounded top edges. This allows for better air circulation between the top of the enclosure and bottom vents around the Mac mini. There are vents on each side of the enclosure. The vent on the left is open, while the vent on the right has a small 12VDC T&T 1.125 inch fan behind it. The fan pushes air into the enclosure to help with cooling. It should be noted that there is some noise associated with the fan running and that it keeps running when the drive goes into sleep mode.

We cloned our 1.42GHz Mac mini's hard drive onto the Maxelerate using SuperDuper. The process took around 41 minutes to complete. Our Maxelerate MAX-160 came with a Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 drive. We saw our overall Xbench 1.2 score increase from 41.30 to 44.60. Opening programs and transferring files felt much faster when booting from the Maxelerate. We posted some more scores and tests at the bottom of the page.

Overall, we can recommend the WiebeTech Maxelerate and give it a score of 3.5 out of 4 stars. We are very impressed with the Maxelerate's build quality, design, finish, and snappy performance. It's clear that WiebeTech prides itself on making quality products. WiebeTech offers the Maxelerate in 160GB, 250GB, 400GB, and 500GB models. They also offer a model without a hard drive. Prices range from $119.95 up to $689.95.

Pros:

  Build quality and finish
  Solid aluminum case
  Excellent performance
  Power switch is easy to manipulate
  Perfect color match with Mac mini
  Includes a FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 Hub
  Hub still functions when Maxelerate is turned off
  Includes cables

Cons:

  Fan does not turn off while in sleep mode
  Front light stays on when powered down
  41" cables are a little too long when stacking

More Pictures:  Click to enlarge

  

  

  

  

1.42GHz Mac mini Boot Drive Test Internal 2.5" 80GB Maxelerate Max-160
Startup 44 seconds 41 seconds
Duplicate 100MB 13 seconds 11 seconds
Duplicate 7.38GB 15:17 minutes 11:51 minutes
Repair Disk Permissions 43 seconds 39 seconds
Launch Safari (1st time after restart) 7 seconds 5 seconds
Launch iTunes (1st time after restart) 8 seconds 6 seconds
Launch iPhoto (1st time after restart) 7 seconds 6 seconds
Xbench 1.2 Drive Score 25.94 44.16
Xbench 1.2 Overall Score 41.30 44.60



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