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Review: NewerTech miniStack V2
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 12:04 am    Post subject: Review: NewerTech miniStack V2 Reply with quote

Review: NewerTech miniStack V2
Thursday March 16, 2006

If you're looking for a nice external hard drive with an integrated USB 2.0 and FireWire Hub for the Mac mini, look no further than the NewerTech miniStack V2. Simply put, it's the best accessory we have seen for the Mac mini so far. Its balance of features, performance, and value definitely make it stand out from the crowd.

NewerTech offers the miniStack V2 in an "add your own hard drive" kit or pre-configured models that already have the hard drive installed. The kit comes packaged neatly in a small burgundy box from Other World Computing. In the box, you will find the miniStack V2 enclosure itself, 17" Type A to B USB 2.0 cable, 17" 6-pin to 6-pin FireWire cable, screw kit, Power Adapter, and User Manual. The pre-configured models with hard drives also include Dantz Retrospect Backup and Intech HD Speedtools software.

The dimensions of the miniStack V2 are the same as the original miniStack. It measures 6.5" wide x 6.5" deep x 1.5" tall. Like the original, the miniStack V2 is made out of aluminum colored plastic. The aluminum coloring is a dead on match with the Mac mini. In fact, we think the color match is even better than the original miniStack.

The front of the miniStack V2 remains clean looking. Just like the original miniStack, there are no logos or buttons on the front. The front only includes a single blue LED. The LED lights up blue when the unit is turned on, and flashes when the hard drive is being accessed.

The top and bottom of the miniStack V2 are virtually unchanged from the original miniStack. The removable white plastic top still includes a raised lip around the edge. This edge holds the Mac mini in place and keeps it aligned when it's stacked on top of the miniStack V2. The top also features a red, black, and silver Newer Technology logo. The bottom of the unit still includes the same oversized rubber pads to keep it firmly planted on your desk.

On the back of the miniStack V2, you will find the on/off switch, fan exhaust port, power receptacle, two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 2.0 uplink port, two FireWire 400 ports, security slot, and connection switch. The connection switch has two settings: Auto and 1394a. We suggest that you keep the switch on 1394a if you plan to have your Mac mini hooked to the miniStack V2 all the time. The miniStack V2 will perform better when you use the FireWire/1394A connection to interface with its hard drive.

The miniStack V2 features a specially designed passive cooling system, and no longer includes the high and low fan switches that were found on the rear panel of the original miniStack. The cooling fan will monitor thermal temperatures inside the drive enclosure and only turn on when needed. While the fan doesn't seem to come on as often as it did with the original miniStack, it still can be somewhat noisy while running. That being said, the combination of the fan and heatsink do an excellent job of keeping the enclosure cool.

The miniStack V2 also features a smart power switch that allows the unit to power up and down in tandem with your Mac Mini. This feature seems to work better than it did with our original miniStack when using the enclosure as a boot drive. But like the original, the LED on the front will still stay lit blue when the Mac mini is turned off.

The most exciting new feature of the miniStack V2 has to be the inclusion of USB 2.0 and FireWire ports on the left side. These side ports come in really handy for making temporary connections. They allow you to connect devices like your iPod, Digital Camera, and DV Camera without digging around the back of the Mac mini.

On the inside, things have pretty much stayed the same. The miniStack V2 still uses the rock solid Prolific 2507 and Oxford 911+ chipsets. The only major change is that the hard drive now sits right side up inside the enclosure. This is because the sides of the heatsink have been removed. The heatsink is now screwed onto the bottom of the hard drive instead of the sides. Therefore, the miniStack V2 can now accept all Seagate 7200.7, 7200.8, and 7200.9 3.5" IDE hard drives.

What about performance and operation? We can report that the miniStack V2 does everything as advertised. The smart power switch, cooling fan, and all aspects of the integrated USB 2.0/FireWire Hub worked perfectly. Hard drive performance is consistent and fast. We ran an Xbench 1.2 disk test on our 160GB model and compared the scores with the internal drives in the new Intel-based Mac minis and 1.42GHz G4 Mac mini. You can see the results here.

Overall, we can recommend this product to our readers and give it a score of 4 out of 4 stars. The NewerTech miniStack V2 retails for less than $139.99 for an 80GB version and is available in capacities up to 500GB. The "add your own hard drive" kit is available for $79.99. All models are shipping now.

Pros:
- Clean looking design compliments Mac mini
- Excellent performance
- Perfect color match with Mac mini
- Side USB 2.0 and FireWire ports are great for temporary connections
- Two year repair/replacement warranty

Cons:
- The fan is somewhat noisy when it comes on



http://www.123macmini.com/accessories/reviews/120.html


Last edited by admin on Thu Mar 16, 2006 3:14 am; edited 1 time in total
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Paul Stamatiou
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 12:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great review! Seems like the perfect mate for my intel mini. I'd just have to justify spending that much when I already have an external 300GB FW maxtor, albeit connected via a long FW cable and hidden under my bed due to whine. Razz
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was just looking at that yesterday and am leaning towards picking one up.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 8:51 am    Post subject: nice but... Reply with quote

The V2 is very nice if you absolutely need easier access to a couple of ports but don't forget about the old model. You can save $20 (on just the enclosure itself) by getting the original model. [I happened to have had several generic gray 4ft USB extension cables that I had picked up for a couple bucks each from Newegg a couple weeks ago. So I plugged three of the cables into the MiniStack and routed the cords around the back of the desk. I use the ports on the Mini itself for the Apple keyboard and my HP printer. I have a Mighty Mouse and a Microsoft S+arck mouse (blue) plugged into the keyboard.] I ordered the original several days ago when I had first recieved my Core Duo Mini and I put a 400GB Seagate 7200.8 7200rpm 8MB cache hard disk (from Newegg of course) inside it. I use it as my boot drive now and I love it. Very fast access times. With this thing and a 2GB ram upgrade the Mini just flies. Amazing that so much power can fit in such a tiny package. I still think that that Apple should have ditched the 2.5 hard drives and just made the Mini a tad taller to accomodate a real hard drive. The mini would still have retained a smaller form factor than almost every SFF PC out there. In fact they could have made the Mini more cube shaped to start with and have had more room for extra ports and even maybe a pci express slot for a real graphics card and have had a little more space inside for cooling purposes. But then people would have been reminded of the old Cube and maybe that is not a good thing for some people's tastes. Honestly now, the Mini is really just the Cube reborn in a newer and better life. The only negative about the Cube (as I recall and I admit I am a new convert to the Mac) was its price. How the Mini solved that problem while gaining all around better hardware specs and also using far more expensive parts than was honestly necessary, was a miracle. I sure would not have minded a return to the cube shaped proportions especially if it meant a cheaper price and larger capacity and faster hard drives, and I don't think that it would have detracted from using the Mini as a digital hub in the living room. Then a product like the Ministack and others copycats would only be necessary if you were ripping all of your dvd's to your hard drive and if you were recording tons and tons of tv shows with an external tuner. (which by the way I don't understand why people whine about Apple not building one into the mini. I'd much rather that be an external component anyway. If only Apple would have built FrontRow with support for a third party tuner... Sorry, I'm digressing here.) The market for a device like this would still exist, but you wouldn't NEED one just to get better performance right off the bat. I ordered my Core Duo Mini the day it came out so I thought I was getting a 7200rpm drive in the first place. I'd been wanting a Mac and iLife for a long time but this is what I was waiting for. I'm glad I waited too. A shame about the drive though. I think that someone will find a way to hack the mini so that you can connect an external SATA drive through the SATA bus inside. That would be a very simple challenge although it could require a bit of case modification depending on how someone routed the cable out the back. Anyway, sorry for being a tad longwinded. The MiniStack v1 and v2 are very nice indeed and are practically must have items, especially if you need space for movies and music.
Cheers
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have both models of the miniStack under my Mac mini (one will soon have a Western Digital 250GB I ordered at a local store) and the other currently has the old 2.5" 80GB 4200RPM from the Mac mini (which now runs on a 2.5" 80GB 5400RPM drive I bought and installed myself).

Both miniStack work fine, though the added fan noise is somewhat annoying. I'm still looking for temperature monitoring solutions (for the Mac mini CPU, the Mac mini GPU and the drives inside each miniStack). Yes the fans turn on/off automatically, but I'd like to know the temperatures...
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aquaman
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 1:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Review: NewerTech miniStack V2 Reply with quote

admin wrote:
You can see the results here.


I'm really surprised at the disk scores for the 1.5Ghz Core Solo.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yvan256 wrote:
I have both models of the miniStack under my Mac mini (one will soon have a Western Digital 250GB I ordered at a local store) and the other currently has the old 2.5" 80GB 4200RPM from the Mac mini (which now runs on a 2.5" 80GB 5400RPM drive I bought and installed myself).

Both miniStack work fine, though the added fan noise is somewhat annoying. I'm still looking for temperature monitoring solutions (for the Mac mini CPU, the Mac mini GPU and the drives inside each miniStack). Yes the fans turn on/off automatically, but I'd like to know the temperatures...


I'm still waiting for a nice plexiglas or even aluminium plate model with shelves, so there will be an inch or so room between the separate drives and the mini. I just don't understand I haven't seen any yet, though I've seen someone's set up, with something like that, like here:

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 5:43 pm    Post subject: Re: nice but... Reply with quote

dakota650r wrote:
I still think that that Apple should have ditched the 2.5 hard drives and just made the Mini a tad taller to accomodate a real hard drive. The mini would still have retained a smaller form factor than almost every SFF PC out there. In fact they could have made the Mini more cube shaped to start with and have had more room for extra ports and even maybe a pci express slot for a real graphics card and have had a little more space inside for cooling purposes. But then people would have been reminded of the old Cube and maybe that is not a good thing for some people's tastes. Honestly now, the Mini is really just the Cube reborn in a newer and better life.


I could have lived with another 1-2 inches in height to accommodate a 3.5" drive. I'm thinking about getting a larger 7200rpm 2.5" drive down the road after I upgrade the memory to 2GB. That should make this little critter even better.

As for the miniStack V2. I would like to pick up another one down the road for storage. Sure there are cheaper enclosures out there, but I think they look great stacked with the mini. I was also thinking about picking up one or two of these instead of the miniStack. Another member here recommended them a while back. A few of them would look cool lined up too.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 5:56 pm    Post subject: Re: nice but... Reply with quote

devo wrote:

Snip

As for the miniStack V2. I would like to pick up another one down the road for storage. Sure there are cheaper enclosures out there, but I think they look great stacked with the mini. I was also thinking about picking up one or two of these instead of the miniStack. Another member here recommended them a while back. A few of them would look cool lined up too.


These are even more expensive, but will you really need USB2.0 + FW400+ FW800?

I like the ones from GTech in particular!
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 6:10 pm    Post subject: Re: nice but... Reply with quote

James T Kirk wrote:

These are even more expensive, but will you really need USB2.0 + FW400+ FW800?

I like the ones from GTech in particular!


I posted the wrong one. I really don't need Firewire 800.

http://www.rosewill.com/product/product.aspx?productId=80

Those GTech ones look pretty sweet. That is why I like this model from Rosewill. It sort of has that same PowerMac flavor. I'll probably just end up getting the new miniStack. My first one is just about full with movies and pictures.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a 80GB 2.5" drive from an old Dell laptop that has died. Would the drive work in the miniStack v2 kit with an adapter like the one below? I realize that 80GB isn't going to give me a lot of extra storage, but I figure there will be less heat and noise associated with using the smaller drive.

Would this one work?
http://sewelldirect.com/25to35ideconverter.asp
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

eric79 wrote:
I have a 80GB 2.5" drive from an old Dell laptop that has died. Would the drive work in the miniStack v2 kit with an adapter like the one below? I realize that 80GB isn't going to give me a lot of extra storage, but I figure there will be less heat and noise associated with using the smaller drive.

Would this one work?
http://sewelldirect.com/25to35ideconverter.asp


That's more or less what I've got in my first miniStack. And yes, it works fine.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yvan256 wrote:
That's more or less what I've got in my first miniStack. And yes, it works fine.

Cool! I'm going to go ahead and order the adapter. If you don't mind me asking, how did you mount the smaller drive inside the miniStack? I was thinking about using some double sided foam tape, and taping it to the heatsink. I guess you could even put a piece of tape across the top of the drive. That way the bottom of the drive would actually make contact with the heatsink itself.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2006 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

eric79 wrote:
Yvan256 wrote:
That's more or less what I've got in my first miniStack. And yes, it works fine.

Cool! I'm going to go ahead and order the adapter. If you don't mind me asking, how did you mount the smaller drive inside the miniStack? I was thinking about using some double sided foam tape, and taping it to the heatsink. I guess you could even put a piece of tape across the top of the drive. That way the bottom of the drive would actually make contact with the heatsink itself.


The 2.5" drive is currently just sitting at the bottom, on the heatsink. There's 2.5" -> 3.5" kits that include rails to "convert" a 2.5" drive into a 3.5" one such as these.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2006 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yvan256 wrote:
The 2.5" drive is currently just sitting at the bottom, on the heatsink. There's 2.5" -> 3.5" kits that include rails to "convert" a 2.5" drive into a 3.5" one such as these.


Cool, I didn't notice any that included rails. I just ordered the one from CensusPC for $4.50 . It was a few bucks cheaper than the one I was looking at. Very Happy Now I need to get one of these miniStacks ordered.

Thanks man!
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