Review of the StarTech S354UFER External SATA RAID Enclosure

With hard drives becoming cheaper, you may find yourself in need of an external storage enclosure. And why not take advantage of all the RAID has to offer at the same time? We take a look at the S354UFER External SATA Raid Enclosure from StarTech.

Here is how the StarTech website describes the RAID enclosure:’s S354UFER External SATA RAID Enclosure is a high-performance external RAID storage solution, supporting up to 4 high capacity 3.5″ SATA hard drives (supports SATA, SATA II and SATA III-6Gbps).

The 4-bay RAID enclosure can be connected to the host/source computer through USB, eSATA or FireWire and automatically builds your SATA RAID array based on your selection (Spanning, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 1+0, RAID 3, and RAID 5 supported), delivering a simple, yet flexible external storage solution.

Designed for convenience, the enclosure features front panel LED indicators that provide RAID information and simple hard drive status and activity monitoring. The enclosure also features a built-in 3-speed 80mm fan with automatic or manual controls that allow you to customize the speed of the fan as necessary, ensuring suitable operating temperatures for optimized drive performance.

The Advantage:

  • Support for up to 4 drives provide large amounts of storage with a choice of high speed interfaces from USB 2.0, FireWire400/800 or eSATA
  • The removable front cover and accessible drive bays allows drives to be replaced easily in case of failure or upgraded
  • Built-in support for numerous RAID modes for most personal/business needs and an 80mm controllable cooling fan to keep drives from overheating

Who Are StarTech?

According to their website: is your one-stop source for every connectivity part you need. From the latest technology to legacy products — and all the parts that bridge the old and new — we can help you find the parts that connect your solutions.

We make it easy to locate the parts, and we quickly deliver them wherever they need to go. Just talk to one of our tech advisors or visit our website. You’ll be connected to the products you need in no time.


Warranty : 1 Year

Carton Quantity: 4

Color : Black

Drive Connectors : 4 – 15 pin SATA Power Female

Drive Connectors : 4 – 7 pin SATA DATA Female

Enclosure Type : Aluminum

Fan Bearing Type : Ball Bearing

Fans : 1 – 80 mm

Host Connectors : 1 – 7 pin eSATA DATA Female

Host Connectors : 1 – USB B Female

Humidity : 90%RH

Input Voltage : 115 ~ 230 AC

LED Indicators : 1 – HDD error indicator

LED Indicators : 1 – Power indicator

LED Indicators : 1 – RAID rebuild indicator

LED Indicators : 2 – Connection indicators

LED Indicators : 2 – Fan mode indicators

LED Indicators : 3 – Fan speed indicators

LED Indicators : 6 – RAID Mode indicators

Max Drive Capacity : Tested up to 2.0 TB

Operating Temperature : -20°C to 60°C (-4°F to 140°F)

Output Current : 5000mA

Output Voltage : 12 DC

Power Adapter Included : Yes

Product Height : 170

Product Length : 215

Product Weight : 1.8 kg [3.98 lb]

Product Width : 126

RPM : Low – 1200rpm, Med – 1800rpm, High – 2500rpm

Shipping (Package) Weight: 3.31 kg [7.32 lb]

Storage Temperature : -25°C to 70°C (-13°F to 158°F)

Number of Drives : 4

Compatible Drives  : 3.5″ SATA

Chipset ID : PLX – OXUFS936QSE

Supported RAID Modes : BIG (Spanning or Concatenation)

Supported RAID Modes : RAID 0 (Striped Disks)

Supported RAID Modes : RAID 1 (Mirrored Disks)

Supported RAID Modes : RAID 10 (1+0; Striped set of Mirrored Subset)

Supported RAID Modes : RAID 3 (Striped set with Dedicated Parity)

Supported RAID Modes : RAID 5 (Striped Disks with Parity)

Host Connectors : 1 – 6 pin FireWire Female

Host Connectors : 2 – 9 pin FireWire 800 Female

Type and Rate : FireWire 400 IEEE-1394a – 400 Mbit/s

Type and Rate : FireWire 800 IEEE-1394b – 800 Mbit/s

Type and Rate : SATA 3 Gbit/s (SATA II)

Type and Rate : USB 2.0 – 480 Mbit/s

The maximum supported partition size for some 32-bit Windows systems is 2 TB. These versions of Windows cannot detect multiple drives in any RAID mode if the total size exceeds 2 TB.

Some operating modes of the enclosure require an eSATA host port to provide Port Multiplier (PM) support. Without PM support, only one of the drives will be accessible.

What’s in the Box?

The box contains the enclosure, a screwdriver and screw set, hard drive handles, a power supply with 3 different power cords, eSATA cable, USB cable, 6-pin and 9-pin Firewire cables and a manual and CD.

A Closer Look

Adding Drives

In order to add a drive, or several drives you first have to fit the drive handles to the front of each drive.

Then you have to open the front panel and then remove the inner panel to gain access to the drive bays.

Then just slide the drives into the drive bays and refit the inner panel and then the front panel.

One thing to note, if you are only installing two drives, you are advised to fit one of them in the bottom slot.

Using the Enclosure

Once you have added the drives, you need to set the hard drive dip switch (which is located on the back of the unit under a little cover) to reflect what you want (and also depending on the number of the drives). In my case I wanted to use RAID0 (Spanning) so I flicked both switches down.

Powering up the enclosure is simple and the various status lights on the front tell you what’s going on.

My Windows 7 machine quickly found the enclosure and installed the relevant drivers.

The drives were showing as “not initialized” though, but that was to be expected.

A couple of clicks later and the drives are ready to be used.

931 GB free on a two x 500 GB span.

The CD contains the User Guide if you want to review it.

Speed Test

I decided that I would see how fast the enclosure would operate. I had the enclosure connected to my computer via eSATA and I had two 500GB hard drives operating in SPAN mode (which provided no performance or redundancy benefits).

A read test:

A write test:

Overall I was quite happy with the read and write speeds, and I am sure I could get more out of it depending on which RAID mode I selected.

Final Thoughts

It was relatively easy to add drives to the enclosure, although there were certainly enough steps in order to do it. But it wasn’t too time consuming and once it’s done it’s done.

My only negative comment about the enclosure is that it felt a little “cheap”. What do I mean by that? Well, it’s very plasticy, the front panel falls off every time you open it (not that this is a problem because you won’t be opening it very often) and I really didn’t like the hard drive handles very much.

That said, it does exactly what it says on the tin and it works well, so don’t let what I just said put you off at all.

Just make sure you read the instructions as I decided to skip the dip switch step in favour of using the menu options on the unit itself, only it didn’t work as expected, but that was my fault, not the enclosure’s fault! Simple a case of RTFM!

As for the price, it retails for £294.99 plus VAT.

I would have liked to see the price a little bit less than this as you can pick up a Synology box for the same price which has a lot more features built-in. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore this enclosure, far from it!

You can learn more about the enclosure from the StarTech website


  1. John

    Thanks for this review, there are not many reviews of these products available. It would have been good to see the benchmarks between the different RAID modes and if it really makes a difference, but nice to see the stats in there anyway.

    • Andrew Edney

      Thanks John – unfortunately I dont have them anymore as they had to go back, but if I get some more in the future I will try to do something.

  2. matt

    this wasnt a review. all the information is from the manufactures website.

    is there software that comes with it? how easy is it to use? are there instructions? if so are they in english? compared to other units youve used how does this compare from a user stand-point?

  3. tonye

    I’m trying to get one of these working… I’m on the second one. First off, what it does it to build all the drives into one big one, unlike an internal PCI RAID card which allows you run the BIOS and other software to configure it into multiple drives.

    The end result is that if you have more than 2TB exposed then it won’t work with XP. Forget what they tell you… I spend three sessions on line with them and looked at their online documentation and they told me it would work. Then when I got it, it had additional information… well you got it, Win7 saw it but XP did not.

    To top if off, they say not to build multiple partitions off a single drive in disk manager. Huh? So, bye bye using a Win7 to mount it into several 2TB partitions that can be exported via SMB. ( I don;t believe them on this yet… still trying).

    So, right now I’ve wasted a whole week on this brick. Unless you are fully into Linux and Win7 you might well forget it. After all, who’s going to buy a RAID box and not loaded with 6 or 8 TB at the very least?

    I’m still trying… and, yes, BTW, i did read this lousy “review” before I bought it. I say LOUSY because it was not a review at all.

    • Andrew Edney

      You say it’s a lousy review – what do you consider a good review to be then? I’m sorry you are having problems with the product but that’s got nothing to so with the review! This review covered everything so I don’t see what your issue is?

      • tonye

        Because the review sounds like a reading through of the documentation not a sit down and trying with realistic sizes and at a few OS. And, did you even read the included manuals in the CD? They present additional information that their online support doesn’t have! I emailed to them. I mean they are good, but they can only be as good as the information their company gives them.

        Update… I finally got it working with Windows 7 Pro 64 bit. It does not work with XP at all with volume sizes of more than 2TB because it presents a single volume to the PC and it can not be loaded at all.

        This is not a problem with the datalink, as eSATA, Firewire and USB all connect and are detected by the RAID.

        So it’s an issue with the OS. I guess Ubuntu will work fine too but I did not hook it up to that box. I have no clue about Apples.

        It would be nice if they offered a BIOS program -or some other means- to program the RAID chip to present different volumes to the OS… as I do with SATARaid5 in my other desktops. For example, with SATARaid5 I take a 3 disk, 6TB RAID5 and mount two 2TB volumes. Then the OS sees each volume as a separate disk and it can be formatted with MBR. This box, as hard configured, will present very large volumes that will easily exceed 2TB and hence require GPT -which is not available in XP.

        On top of that they warn you not to create multiple partitions on such a disk. Which sucks since I figure on using a Win7 box to mount the GPT disk, create multiple 2TB partitions and then sharing them over the network as 2TB drives. The technician and I were still not quite sure why that went into the HFR-SU252 user manual included in the disk. That’s my next project. I need to make that work so that XP boxes in the network can use this RAID enclosure.

        Bottom line… pretty much useless with XP unless you are going to use very small drives.

        Also, it is VERY picky on how to configure it. You must disconnect it from the PC and cycle power at least twice every time you make a configuration change: (1) disconnect, (2) power down, (3) power up. (4) change mode, (5) click on rear button (6) power down, (7) power up, (8) connect to PC…. and this assumes that you did not change the number of drives, if so you have to add that step between (2) and (3) above.

        BTW- I hope my ‘review’ stays up so people can google it. I really saw nothing of the kind on the Internet.

        • tonye

          OK… So I finally got it working but I had to go out and buy a used WIndows 7 Pro 64 bit machine.

          I got it configured as a RAID5 with four 1.5TB drives, hence it looks like a 4.5TB disk to Windows. I initialized as GPT using Windows disk manager and then partitioned it into three chunks: 2TB 2TB and 500GB and exported them to the workgroup so that the XP ,machines can all read and write to it ( taking into account the added complication of NTFS access permissions under Win 7).

          I don’t know why they say not to do that, but it works fine so far. It’s actually a nice unit because is shuts down the discs when not being used, so that ought to save some money and wear and tear.

      • tonye

        Here’s the additional info that does not appear in their on line info… only in the included CD:

        1. Changing the RAID mode will cause data lost.

        2. Please refer to the instructions when switching the RAID mode, otherwise the execution might fail.

        3. Interface of USB / eSATA can not be used at the same time.

        4. When using RAID function, HDDs with the same brand, model and capacity is strongly recommended.

        5. When using RAID function, more than one HDD partition is not recommended.

        6. Under Windows Vista / 7, users can enable GPT when initializing HDD with a total capacity of more than 2TB.

        7. Older OS may not recognize the device if you use a different operation system than Windows Vista / 7. For more detailed information about GTP, please visit:

        8. If users enable MBR by mistake, in order to clean the partition table, you have to switch to another RAID mode and do the RAID mode switch all over again referring to Setup. Then go back to the RAID mode you want, repeat the previous actions and enable GPT when initializing HDD.

        9. For Macintosh users: the total capacity of more than 2TB could be recognized only for the operation system is 10.4.11 Tiger or later.

        10. Do not connect the device to the SATA on board port of the motherboard. Either use SATA to eSATA PCI-Express or SATA to eSATA PCI add-on card, otherwise the PC (Windows / Macintosh) may not recognize the device.

        11. In RAID 1, HDD1 and HDD2 must be installed, otherwise the PC (Windows / Macintosh) can not recognize the device.

        12. Rebuild time is based on the capacity, e.g. it takes about 1 hour for 200GB.