The Akitio Taurus Mini Super-S comes equipped with an extremely versatile interface, featuring eSATA, FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 High Speed. This myriad of interfaces makes it an easy choice for those looking for maximum flexibility with a variety of products needing a storage solution. The Taurus Mini Super-S offers high performance RAID 0 striping and fully redundant RAID 1 mirroring for the ultimate in secure data protection. RAID 1 automatically creates a copy of all the data in case one of the drives fails. The small form factor measures a mere 5.25" x 3.5" x 2.25" (LxWxH) and runs fairly cool with 5400 rpm drives. There is no fan in the all-metal unit, so it completely relies on conventional cooling with a bottom heatsink to keep the drives from overheating. The 2.5" SATA hard drives can be replaced easily due to the removable tray system and the drives are kept cool by the extra large heat sink.
The Taurus Mini Super-S case is just big enough to accommodate two 2.5" drives. For testing purposes, we installed two 640GB Western Digital Scorpio drives. The Taurus Mini Super-S package includes two HDD rails and eight screws for mounting the drives onto them. A small handle in the front of each rail makes it easy to insert and pull the drives from the storage bays. Once the drives are installed, a cover plate is held in place with two thumb screws.
The back of the Taurus Mini Super-S case has the cover for the drives along with all the interface connections. The input power jack mates to the universal AC power adapter (100-240VAC, 50/60 Hz) that provides 12V at 2 amps. A mini USB 2.0 jack, dual IEEE1394 (FireWire 800) ports, and an eSATA port are available. This is an impressive set of interfaces on such a compact storage unit. A small switch that can lock the RAID mode and prevent the user from changing the operation through the front user panel is also provided.
The Taurus Mini Super-S includes an attractive and easy to read blue backlit LCD display for easy device configuration, event messages and access to detailed information about the internal hard drives. There are only two buttons (Select and OK) on the front panel that are used to navigate through the menu tree. The HDD models and serial numbers can be displayed as well as the unit's serial number and firmware version. The unit utilizes Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology also known as S.M.A.R.T. to obtain data directly from the HDD and reports critical parameters such as temperature (in degrees C) from each of them. Our Western Digital 5400 RPM drives ran about 40 degrees Celsius, which is about 104 degrees Fahrenheit. This is not bad for a storage unit that does not have an internal fan. There is an option to enable/disable support for a 2TB drives for systems that do not support large volumes.
The RAID mode is adjusted through the user interface and requires a restart each time the mode is changed. When we first configured the unit, we were required to re-initialize the drives through the storage utility program in the Control Panel. All data is lost when the unit is reconfigured and the menu warns of this. In addition, a re-format is also required.
The Taurus Mini Super-S offers many interface options, but we focused on the eSATA and USB 2.0 interfaces primarily because the laptop running the test lacked a FireWire port. Our benchmark tests relied on an HP Pavilion dv7 (Vista 64-bit) running an AMD Turion X2 Dual Core Mobile RM-72 2.10GHz processor with 4GB of RAM.
Our test file was about 4.5GB and we timed the transfer time and logged it in the table. The USB 2.0 interface was considerably slower than the eSATA interface using our laptop. We expected the RAID 1 speed to be significantly slower than the RAID 0, but they were actually similar in performance.
The Taurus Mini Super-S is a nifty little storage unit that offers both RAID 0 and RAID 1 options in compact design with USB 2.0, eSATA, and FireWire 800 ports. Now days, external storage is cheap, but virtually all mainstream drives have USB 2.0 with no other interface options. In addition, storage units that do offer RAID 1 capability are usually too large to keep on the counter, since they typically use the larger 3.5-inch drives. We like the compact design and the flexible interface options. The Taurus Mini Super-S is a solid design that worked well and with a street price of about $100, it comes recommended.