Review: MacAlly PHR-100ACB

by on September 22, 2005

A few months ago, we tested MacAlly’s PHR-100AF hard drive enclosure. While good, it only worked with FireWire-equipped computers. For those with FireWire 800 or USB 2, and would rather connect to their hard drive that way, or for anyone who wants a more universal drive, MacAlly offers the fanless PHR-100ACB.

The PHR-100ACB looks just like its siblings, but features two FireWire 800 ports and one USB 2.0 port on the back. There’s also a small power switch, an omission from our PHR-100AF (but currently shipping ones do include it). The case itself is aluminum and plastic (the ends are plastic), with a giant blue LED to indicate power, which blinks red to indicate activity (the real result is more of a purple color).

PHR-100ACB
PHR-100ACB without vertical stand

PHR-100ACB
PHR-100ACB Side (or Top) View

PHR-100ACB
PHR-100ACB Ports

Also included in the box is a FireWire 800 cable, a FireWire 800-to-FireWire 400 cable, and a USB 2.0 cable. The AC adapter is smaller than the one that came with our PHR-100AF, and uses a two-pronged plug, allowing for a bit more flexibility. The case features rubber strips on the top and bottom that act like feet when it is used horizontally, or lock into the stand when used vertically. The case can be stacked with other PHR-100 models, and the aluminum does a good job of dissipating heat.

On the connection front, the PHR-100ACB can be plugged into most newer Macs and PCs through USB 2.0. The two FireWire 800 ports allow connection to the newest Power Macs and PowerBooks, but also older machines, thanks to the FireWire 800-to-FireWire 400 cable. Unfortunately, you’ll need another adapter cable if you want to connect the PHR-100ABC in the middle of a FireWire 400 chain. We really would have liked to see MacAlly include at least one FireWire 400 port, like how Other World Computing and many other FireWire 800 vendors do.

In our informal tests, the enclosure performed flawlessly. Running at speeds very close to that of our PHR-100AF for FireWire 400 usage, this enclosure was noticeably faster on a Power Mac G5 equipped with FireWire 800.

The instructions for installing a drive are the same as its siblings, with the exception of an extra screw on the back panel. Once the screws are removed, the top of the case slides off. Four screws attach to anti-shock mounts and the hard drive, and line up with notches in the case. The hard drive must be set to “master” mode, and the ATA and power connectors can then be attached. After fitting the case back together, it is ready to use. Since this was mostly review, it took less than 5 minutes to install. This enclosure uses an Oxford 922 chipset.

Although this enclosure is quite expensive compared to FireWire 400 or USB models, it does offer the widest connectivity and is great for anyone with a FireWire 800-equipped Mac wanting that extra speed boost. Although the future of FireWire is uncertain (at least with Apple’s latest announcements), why not take advantage of it now?

The One-Sentence Verdict™

Not only does this enclosure look good, it’s also quite solid and will connect to almost anything.

Pros: Good value, plenty of shock protection, good performance, nice design, smaller AC adapter

Cons: A tad expensive compared to other enclosures, lacks a plain FireWire 400 port (you must use the included adapter)

The Facts

4/5Product: PHR-100ACB
Company: MacAlly
Platform: Mac/Win
Price: $159 (list)

This post has been filed in Reviews and Storage