By July 31, 2006

Kingwin Night Hawk SATA Enclosure Review

My friend The Accountant™ asked me to build him an external hard drive. He lives up in Northern Virginia and comes down here to visit his fiancee. At any rate, I’ve cut him a DVD or two of data when he visits, and we were looking for an easier way to move data back and forth. The goal was to put a drive and an enclosure together for less than $150. I settled on a 320GB Seagate SATA drive and the Kingwin Night Hawk USB2 enclosure.

This was the fourth external drive I’ve built, and the Night Hawk is the third enclosure. I have to say I like it the best so far.

The Night Hawk comes in a nice retail box, with everything you need to build an external drive. Minus the drive, of course. The USB cable is a little on the short side, and off-white. I would have preferred black to match the rest of the case and cabling. The external power supply is a standard, two-prong plug and not a “hump” style that would block more than one outlet. Instructions are printed on the back of the box. I found them to be simple, the “Engrish” was minimal. The directions are great for first-time builders.

The components are protected inside precision-cut foam and the sturdy box. Particularly paranoid users may want to transport their drive this way after construction is complete.

One thing I didn’t like about the Night Hawk was that the power connector is some sort of weird ass design. It reminded me a lot of an S-Video port. If the power supply blows up, is lost, or eaten by a killer bunny, I’m not sure what you could do about finding a replacement.

As a reviewer on NewEgg put it, the exterior of the Night Hawk looks a bit 1980s-ish. I agree, the slanted front gives it a very Apple II feel. Since the drive is under my desk right now, I don’t give much thought about how the drive looks.

An aluminum chassis and a small fan on the bottom cool the enclosure. I’m not sure how loud the fan is, as the enclosure is sitting atop my file server and another external enclosure. Given the small size of the fan, I’m guessing that noise is minimal. At normal operation, the drive is warm to the touch (probably ~80F), but not hot.

The inside of the Night Hawk speaks to its ease of installation and genius. Instead of screwing the drive down, there are two spikes on the bottom of the enclosure. The spikes fit into the screw holes that are standard on the bottom of any hard drive. The enclosure is tight enough that the drive doesn’t move around. The chassis is held together by two well-made thumbscrews with rubber on the bottom.

I was a little nervous when I saw the power wires and the SATA cable sticking up so high from the enclosure. I wasn’t too happy that I had to cross the power wires over the SATA cable, either. However, the top of the enclosure went on just fine and the drive worked without a hitch.

I don’t have pictures of it, but the enclosure has a bright as fuck blue light on the front to proclaim ALL IS RIGHT IN KINGWIN NIGHT HAWK ENCLOSURE LAND. If the fan dies, the light turns red. A status light in the opposite corner flashes when the drive is operating.

So far the Kingwin enclosure has been trucking along for 10 days without major incident. I did have a problem with my file server’s old USB 1.1 ports formatting the drive; switching the drive to my newer machine’s USB 2.0 ports seemed to do the trick. I don’t know if this is a problem with 1.1 ports in general, or my older file server’s ports in specific. I guess we’ll find out when The Accountant™ returns home with the drive.

It’s a hard drive in a box

  • Super easy to install.
  • Quality components.
  • Easily discernible status lights.
  • Inexpensive SATA enclosure, especially given that it has an active fan.

The 80s called, they want their industrial design back.

  • Kinda ugly.
  • Lights are super bright, but hopefully you no longer sleep in the same room as your computers anyway.
  • Funky power connector might leave you sunk if something happens to the original power supply.

It’s nice to get something that works as advertised for a reasonable price. The Night Hawk can be had for $38 from NewEgg (direct product link), or similar prices from other reputable vendors online.

Kingwin Night Hawk SATA Enclosure, I daisy-chain out
Four and a half out of five STFU mugs!

Posted in: review, technology

1 Comment on "Kingwin Night Hawk SATA Enclosure Review"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Bond says:

    So when the plane goes down, does that ugly thing record all the audio and instrument readings?

    JK- Neat device, very useful.