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Review: NewerTech miniStack V2
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skoone
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2006 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It appears that I too have suffered the same results on my older v1 'Stack as desrod has on his new v2 models. My 'Stack suddenly stopped powering up last week. I turned the power switch on, and just like desrod, I had the brief blue flicker from the LED and that was it. I assumed something on one of the chips had died and the enclosure was toast. Weird thing is, mine was hooked up to a hot USB port and was being used as a bootable external firewire drive.. To my knowledge, nothing had changed from the night before! After spending about an hour with my ohmmeter checking for shorted smt transistors and IC chips, and obviously turning up nothing, I resorted to send it to the trash. I had it ready to go out the door, when I decided to take a break from the house chores and do some lurking here on the forum to see what would be a suitable replacement. That's when I saw the comment from desrod about this business of the flaky USB ports.. So, I decided to pull my "junker" out of the trash can, plugged it up to another USB port, and presto! It works again... I plugged it back into it's original USB port, and it works fine. What the heck is up with this?? It's almost like there some sort of weird open ground loop going on inside. It obviously is not correct, perhaps some sort of design flaw. I'm still pursuing an alternative enclosure, because now I don't trust this Ministack thing at all. Lacie would have sold me on theirs but I don't like the side ports nor their recent attitude reflected towards other users on the forums. The Rosewill housing looks kinda nice, I might go for that one. Anyway, thought I would throw in my two cents worth while the subject is open because I can confirm that desrod's case is certainly not the only one, and this is with a v1 model, not just confined to the v2 one.

Regards,
Steve
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sp468732
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seeing as I don't care about the side ports would it be better to go with the orginal mini stack? After looking at the specs on OWC, the v1 says it has powered ports and the fan can be either manual or automatic. After hearing about this incident with the powered ports on the v2, I am kinda thinking it would be better to go with the orginal since it is cheaper and does everything I need.

Are there any other differences besides the location of the ports and the fan speed selector switch?
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Bandit Bill
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sp468732 wrote:
Seeing as I don't care about the side ports would it be better to go with the orginal mini stack? After looking at the specs on OWC, the v1 says it has powered ports and the fan can be either manual or automatic. After hearing about this incident with the powered ports on the v2, I am kinda thinking it would be better to go with the orginal since it is cheaper and does everything I need.

Are there any other differences besides the location of the ports and the fan speed selector switch?


If you don't need anything larger than a 250GB drive or extra ports. The original fanless LaCie Mini may be worth looking at. It got a 160GB version for $135 at my local Apple dealer.
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sp468732
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, maybe I wasn't clear. I do want the extra ports, I just want to make sure they are powered!

The Lacie looks nice, but I found a very good looking drive to put into the MiniStack.
250 Gb
16Mb Cache***
7200RPM
$99

What more could you want? Very Happy
The 16 Mb cache should really give the mini a nice speed boost in the benchmark score.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E16822144236


Edit: Forgot the link, incase anyone else wants to check out the drive.
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Fox
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2006 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

May not matter to you, but Maxtors aren't the quietest drives around.
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Also a Cube, 13" MacBook Air, 20" 2.66 ghz iMac & 11.6" Acer 1810TZ running Ubuntu & Crunchbang
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sp468732
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2006 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always got my stereo on, so that shouldn't be a problem as long as it isn't TOO loud.
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mproud
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:34 am    Post subject: MiniStack trouble Reply with quote

(Just so you know, it won't turn on unless you have a USB or Firewire connected.)

I had quite erratic firewire connections (USB worked fine) and complained the fan noise was unbearable. Sounded like maybe something was vibrating? It was baaaaad.

Well, I e-mailed OWC, and they were so nice, bless their souls they said I could send it back for another one and even handled the shipping.

Still waiting for the new unit. I'm going to see if I notice any difference in the new one. If it's still quite noisy, I'm not sure what to do. Are the LaCie's much quieter, do you guys know?
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boatj
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:51 am    Post subject: Re: MiniStack trouble Reply with quote

mproud wrote:
...and complained the fan noise was unbearable. Sounded like maybe something was vibrating? It was baaaaad.

Worse than this?
boatj wrote:

I remember someone else saying their fans buzzed....something must be wrong.
With a cheap mic about a half inch over the middle of the MiniStack, I made this QT recording with the input levels all the way up.
You can hear the HD resonating within the Stack, hear some seek clicks, and the fan come on, then off.


(removed)


Last edited by boatj on Tue Apr 18, 2006 1:54 am; edited 3 times in total
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Fox
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 6:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't have any personal experience with the Maxtors; I'm only noting what I've read in HD reviews on sites like SilentPC. However, I'm glad you made that recording. In it, I hear two distinct sounds, the fan noise, which seems to be on high all the time, and a seek noise, which I have tried to describe in earlier posts as a sound like either aluminum foil crumpling or a chain clanking. Unfortunately for me, I didn't take my own advice and bought a Western Digital for my miniStack. Many others had been advising me that these drives were considerably more quiet than they had been in the past. So I bought one, and while it is reasonably quiet most of the time, it make the same seek noise as the drive you recorded. I don't think it is as loud as your recording, but it is noticeable and in contrast to the Samsung Spinpoint in my Cube. I don't want to throw away $100, so I've kept it, but my very strong advice to anyone who cares about noise is to buy a Samsung.

By the way, what brand of drive did you record that noise from?
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Mini 1 (2011): 2.3 ghz Core i5; 8 gb RAM, Corsair 240gb SSD, 500 gb Seagate XT
Mini 2 (2009): 2.26 ghz Core 2 duo, 8 gb RAM, 500 gb Seagate used as HTPC
Also a Cube, 13" MacBook Air, 20" 2.66 ghz iMac & 11.6" Acer 1810TZ running Ubuntu & Crunchbang
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boatj
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fox wrote:
I hear two distinct sounds, the fan noise, which seems to be on high all the time, and a seek noise...

As I said originally:
boatj wrote:

You can hear the HD resonating within the Stack, hear some seek clicks, and the fan come on, then off.

The fan is not running at the start/end of the recording....that's the HD resonating amplified by the enclosure, and I suppose ambient room noise picked up by having the gain turned all the way up.
The fan only comes on low, never high. I suppose I should have manually turned the fan on high and record that too.

Fox wrote:
By the way, what brand of drive did you record that noise from?

Same Hitachi they shipped with........I also wished I'd got a Samsung judging from reviews.
BTW, with my Beige G3 running about 6 feet away from me, I can't even hear my Mini & Stack which I can touch right on the desk in front of me.


Last edited by boatj on Mon May 08, 2006 1:11 am; edited 1 time in total
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mproud
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 11:24 pm    Post subject: Re: MiniStack trouble Reply with quote

boatj wrote:
mproud wrote:
...and complained the fan noise was unbearable. Sounded like maybe something was vibrating? It was baaaaad.

Worse than this?
boatj wrote:

I remember someone else saying their fans buzzed....something must be wrong.
With a cheap mic about a half inch over the middle of the MiniStack, I made this QT recording with the input levels all the way up.
You can hear the HD resonating within the Stack, hear some seek clicks, and the fan come on, then off.

Oh it was much worse. It was as loud as an electric razor! I couldn't believe it at first. The noise, though, was definitely the fan (only happened after the drive got hot — if I took off the lid and let it cool, then it would stop).

…And good news! Within hours of posting here, I got the replacement and have tried it out for about 2 hours now! The fan is extremely quiet! So, now I can say this is a great product. Firewire works beautifully, too.


So thank you OWC! They were very quick to send me a unit the first time (1-2 days) and this time (sent my old one to them and their new one to me, total 6 days — over a weekend, no less) and they paid for the shipping with the return. (And they gave me like 4 weeks to send it in, which is nice, because I'm habitually lazy!)

If you're thinking of buying one, go through them. They actually support the products they sell.
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brt3
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PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2006 4:57 pm    Post subject: Just got miniStack V2/750GB... Reply with quote

Here's a quick mini-review. Please don't flame me if I bring up something that's already posted in the 5 pages of this thread; I haven't had the chance to read it all and just wanted to post my findings.

I was looking for a drive to complement my MacMini/Intel and want it to be quiet enough to use as a media center in my living room.

I tried the LaCie/MiniHub -- the 500GB model -- and found it incredibly loud. Back to LaCie it went...

UPS just dropped off the miniStack v2; I hooked it up immediately and have it running Intego Personal Backup X4. I'm using it to clone my primary boot drive.

The fan kicked on after 4-5 minutes, but seems to be far quieter than the one on the LaCie. I was hoping that NewerTech's use of heat sinks + passive ventilation + fan would make it quieter than the LaCie product, and this seems to be the case.

I'm an hour into the clone at this point -- an activity that is very drive-intensive -- and the ONLY annoying thing seems to be the quality of the fan noise. Though much lower in volume (than the LaCie), it has an annoying "electric razor" kind of pitch. This seems to vary when you lift the MacMini; taking the MacMini off of the miniStack lowers the pitch of the fan noise and makes it seem far louder.

It seems to me that the fan in this unit must sit directly against the top of the enclosure, which leads to this type of resonance. I've contacted OWC's tech support, and am waiting for a response. If I can solve this one issue I'd have to guess that this is close to a perfect MacMini companion.

The ONLY other aspect that needs improvement is the case itself; though the design is OK it would be nice if they made it from metal to make it match the Mini exactly. The plastic is a different shade of silver from the one on the MacMini case. It would also be nice to either have a small LED exactly like the one on the MacMini, or somehow make the gigantic blue HAL5000 LED defeatable. It is far too bright and large for use as a HTPC...
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Fox
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PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2006 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After that review, I'm beginning to think I didn't do badly by buying v1, although I would have liked the usb side ports.
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Mini 1 (2011): 2.3 ghz Core i5; 8 gb RAM, Corsair 240gb SSD, 500 gb Seagate XT
Mini 2 (2009): 2.26 ghz Core 2 duo, 8 gb RAM, 500 gb Seagate used as HTPC
Also a Cube, 13" MacBook Air, 20" 2.66 ghz iMac & 11.6" Acer 1810TZ running Ubuntu & Crunchbang
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boatj
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PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2006 11:26 pm    Post subject: Re: Just got miniStack V2/750GB... Reply with quote

brt3 wrote:
[the fan] has an annoying "electric razor" kind of pitch.


Mine just sounds like a "fan" - but this razor sound has come up several times, someone mentioned the wires under the fan being the cause.

brt3 wrote:
It would also be nice to either have a small LED exactly like the one on the MacMini, or somehow make the gigantic blue HAL5000 LED defeatable.


Anyone know if it is a blue LED or is that a blue lens on the front? I assumed it is a blue lens since the bright LED is obviously in the center of the "window".
Regardless, shouldn't be too difficult to tone it down.
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mchang5
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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 12:23 am    Post subject: Spent the weekend with MiniStack v2 Reply with quote

After reading the reviews and comments here (thanks to everyone), I originally thought I wanted to order the LaCie Mini. I really wanted the drive to be silent (if not very quiet). However, I wasn't willing to wait until June (or whenever) to get the fanless 250GB drive. The user reviews of the fanned LaCies made switch my consideration back to the NewerTech.

So I ordered the 320GB from OWC. My Mini arrives tommorow, but I had my work Aluminum 15" PowerBook. Setup was easy and everything came up at boot. Hooked in both FW and USB. Switched to 1394 toggle.

For the first 5-7 minutes the NewerTech MiniStack's fan was silent. Soon the fan kicked on and never stopped. Honestly, it wasn't loud or screeching or unpleasant. Just about the same tone and volume as the PowerBook fan. But I was disappointed that the fan never went off -- even after the drive was idle for 30+ minutes.

Upon heavier use, the fan seems to kick up a notch. Even the higher speed wasn't unbearable.

Pros: Not as loud as I was fearing. No shrill sound or unpleasantness. Just light fan.

Cons: Wish the fan would go completely off when not needed.
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