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OWC Dual-drive Ergonomics

Last updated January 31, 2011 - Send Feedback
Mercury Elite-AL Pro Dual Mini
Guardian MAXimus Mini

Form factor

My initial thought was that I would prefer the flat form factor of the Elite-AL Pro Dual Mini, as fitting into my travel bag without a bulge. The Elite AL-Pro Dual Mini is also better suited for stacking multiple units, due to its low profile design.

However, after using both units, I’ve concluded that in general I prefer the more compact form factor of the Guardian MAXimus Mini, as well as its LED panel for both status and options.

Drive status

The Mercury Elite-AL Pro Dual Mini has red and blue LEDs for status. Should a drive fail, the red LED for it will light up.

The Guardian MAXimus Mini has a front panel status panel readout showing drive status, as well as blue and red LEDs, and an optional alarm (sound) that can be enabled or disabled. The status panel backlighting is not so great; I found that a flashlight with direct lighting made it a lot easier to read.

The front panel of the GMax Mini is also used for the menu system. This is very nice for controlling behavior, like RAID mode, or alarm status.

Noise

The only noise you’ll hear is the drives themselves, which is quite noticeable with an otherwise silent MacBook Pro, but the enclosures themselves make no noise (no fan). With solid state drives, the Dual Minis are completely silent.

OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro mini external hard drive
Stacking is neat and tidy

Both units have four soft rubber feet, which means they stay put on your desk, won’t scratch, and units can be stacked with an adequate air gap.

Aluminum case

The solid aluminum case looks like it could take some abuse (impact). The case looks to be far more robust than a delicate hard drive; consider a solid state drive is a great choice for travel.

Drives are mounted in miniature sleds in the Guardian MAXimus Mini, which can be pulled out at will with no tools, a superior design than the Elite-AL Pro Dual Mini, which requires four screws for each drive. But few users will care about this, since the reason to swap drives is generally failure of a drive and so it’s an infrequent-or-never issue.

Port layout

Ports are arranged for easy access on either unit.

There are two Firewire 800 ports, so you can connect to your computer, yet still attach another device, such as a Firewire 800 flash card reader. That’s important on the iMac and Macbook Pro and MacMini, which have a single Firewire 800 port. But if you are using bus power, beware of overloading the port with devices that draw too much power (like a second drive).

Pictures below are to scale with each other (but not actual size), showing the relatively footprint of each unit. Both units have the same ports, and the same input power.

Mercury Elite-AL Pro Dual Mini
Business end of Mercury Elite-AL Pro Dual Mini
OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro mini external hard drive
Business end of the Guardian Maximus Mini

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