The Akitio Neutrino U3+ is designed to provide a combination of cutting-edge technology, durability, flexibility and portability into a slim, compact and simple to use aluminum HDD enclosure. The Neutrino U3+ supports the latest 2.5" SATA hard drives including SATA-I or SATA-II (1.5Gb/s or 3.0Gb/s). High-speed interfaces include a USB 3.0 SuperSpeed port (backwards compatible with USB 2.0) along with two 9-pin FireWire 800 ports. The blue LED on the top of the chassis provides visual feedback to the user for both power and data transfers.
The Neutrino U3+ has a compact chassis measuring only 4.9" x 3.1" x 0.9" and can easily fit into your shirt pocket. The chassis has a passive heatsink (no fan) for cooling and is well built with no flimsy metal panels. Four screws hold the enclosure cover on the main body with two additional screws provided for securing the 2.5 HDD. The stackable drive design comes with a set of rubber feet that provide a non-slip footing.
High Speed Interfaces
The Neutrino U3+ may look timid, but it packs high speed interfaces that include USB 3.0 with speeds of up to 5Gbps (625MB/s). This same interface is fully backwards compatible with USB 2.0 just in case your machine does not support USB 3.0. The FireWire 800 (1394b) interfaces can run at speeds of 100MB/s and is backwards compatible with FireWire 400. The power adapter provides 5V at 2 amps. A convenient, yet small power switch resides next to the input power jack.
The Neutrino U3+ package includes the enclosure, universal switching power supply (with four outlet adapters for international use), a short USB 3.0 cable, a FireWire 800 cable, mounting screws, rubber feet and a user's manual. The user must supply their own 2.5" hard drive. In our case, we tested the unit using a 640GB Western Digital Scorpio drive that we had on hand. Unlike some of the 7200 rpm drives, this 5400 rpm drive ran fairly cool.
Installation is easy, so any tech-savvy user will have no problem getting the system up and running. Simply slide the top cover off, insert the drive into the SATA connector and hold it in place with the two drive screws. Once complete, replace the cover with the four enclosure screws and add the rubber feet over the four screw holes. This keeps the unit from sliding around since it is rather small and light.
The Neutrino U3+ enclosure was tested mainly on our HP dv7 notebook computer running 64-bit Windows 7. High-speed tests were performed on our Core 2 Quad Q9300 desktop fitted with a USB 3.0 PCI-Express card with an NEC chipset. The performance of USB 3.0 interface was significantly faster than the standard USB 2.0. Even with our rather slow 5400 rpm HDD installed in the Neutrino U3+ enclosure, the transfer times were more than twice as fast with peaks rate much higher as expected. Even though the physical interface of USB 3.0 is capable of transferring data 10 times faster than USB 2.0, other factors play into the overall performance and the difference is usually significantly less than 10x. While Akitio provides a power adapter for the unit, it was not needed for the tests that we ran. However, you will have it just in case your computer cannot supply enough current.
The Neutrino U3+ HDD enclosure provides users with state-of-the-art USB 3.0 and dual FireWire 800 ports. The unit retails for $100, but can be found on Amazon for under $80. While this may seem high for a 2.5-inch enclosure, this drive offers performance and build quality not found on many of the cheaper enclosures. For me, what makes this drive so nice is the size and performance wrapped into a single package. Highly recommended!