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Greggball

IOmega MiniMax 320Gb Hard Disk with Firewire / USB Hub

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This is a review of an IOMega MiniMax 320Gb Hard disk with Firewire / USB Hub.

 

I got this drive with my recently purchased Mac Mini (1.66Mhz Core Duo, 1Gb RAM) from the Apple store UK website for £119 (special offer). Ordering and delivery were to Apple's high standard, as it originally said 2-3 weeks for the drive to be delivered, but everything turned up in less than a week.

 

First impressions. It looks nice and stacks well with the Mac Mini.

 

It comes with 320GB Hard Disk, three firewire ports which I believe to run at 400 as posed to 800. It also comes with three USB 2.0 ports plus USB B type port. All the ports are on the rear of the drive.

 

It has external power brick which connects using a PS/2 type power cable. The power brick is fairly small compared with the mac mini power brick.

 

So I connected the drive to the Mac Mini via the firewire port, switch it on with the Mac mini. Once the Mac mini had booted there it was on the desktop. Easy.

 

On the front of the IOmega drive a blue is on when the drive is switched on. I think this is ok, but others may find this annoying. The light appears to flash when the hard disk is active.

 

I checked out the CD that came with the hard disk but it was backup software, which I was not interested in as this is going to be a media drive and not for backup. Besides I have heard reports that there are better back software applications.

 

The use of the drive is easy enough and speed of the drive was very good, as non of the video podcasts (Cranky Geeks, dl.TV) never jerked when played from the drive.

 

The extra USB ports is always useful especially for old PowerPC Mac Mini because of the lack of ports.

 

So it looks nice and the performance is good.

 

Now I am using the Mac Mini and the IOMega MiniMax as media center because it's connected to my TV, therefore my next point is very important!

 

After copying about 60GB from a Linkstation (my old solution) which took about 45 mins. Then the IOMega fan kicked in to cool the drive. However this is a high pitch noise which can be heard over normal TV volume or heard from another room if the TV is not on.

 

So as you can image this is a problem. There are dip switches for the fan on the rear of the drive, however it is recommended that the these are not change, apart from the speed low / high. But neither makes any difference really.

 

The drive has a heat sink underneath, so I did put the drive on stilts to see if the drive would stay cool with extra airflow, but this had no effect.

 

I have noticed the fan stays on for approximately 15 mins then switches off for about 15 mins and then back on. But I suppose it depends on how much use the hard drive is going through. If the drive is not being used then no / little fan activity (noise) occurs.

 

I have reported this to IOMega tech support (by email, recently) and as such I have not sold on my Linkstation (which slower because its a NAS, ugly and fairly noisey) yet because of this problem.

 

Therefore if you want a backup drive then I would recommend this as backup drives are generally not used constantly.

As for a media center drive I will say not yet, as I would like to see if this a problem with this unit or if it acceptable limit.

 

Cost of the drive was reasonable: £119 (Apple Store UK)

 

Value for money: 4/5

Looks: 4/5

Usability: 5/5

Performance: 2/5 (if the noise issue is solved, then this would be rise to 4/5)

 

Anyway I will update this post with news of the tech support query.

 

I hope this helps any one out there if they need a external drive.

 

Gregg

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Hi Everyone,

 

Well I received a replacement drive from Iomega drive support and moved all my data on to that drive and then the fan kicked in on this unit. I reported this to Iomega support and they said it was a normal, so the support response was prompt and reasonably helpful, but unfortunately did not solve the problem.

 

So my advice is that not to buy this drive if you wish for silent drive.

I think getting a refund from Apple store is unlikely as everything is working according to manufacturer specs, plus the purchase is over 30 days now.

 

So I 'll probably buy a LaCie drive in the future and flog the iomega on ebay or use it as a backup drive.

 

So you now know about a possible fan noise, hope this review helps anyone out there.

 

Gregg

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I would give exchanging it a try. Explain that you have been working with Iomega but they were unable to solve the problem for you. You might find that they are willing to do an exchange. Amazon took back a drive after a couple of months when I had been going back and forth with the manufacturer but couldn't get the issue resolved.

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I Bought the 500GB version and and had lots of fan noise so took it back to the apple store and got another one. It had the same problem. So I opened it up (the top just unclips any screwdriver will work just stick it in each of the 2 holes on the bottom). The noise was caused by the fan pressing on the wires that run underneath it. So I unscrewed the fan unplugged all the wires and re-routed the thick wires over the top of the fan. That solved the problem for about a week. Then the noise came back (It got worse the more weight there was on the top of the unit) I opened it up again and took the fan out, this time I changed the switch on the back of the unit from "A" to "M" (Automatic to Manual) so the fan run continuously while I was fixing it. The problem was the little star shaped grid that covers the fan was catching on the fan blades, so I got my cutters out and removed it. Been running fine ever since.

 

Basically IMHO the case has some design flaws for what is supposed to be a stackable device. The top of the case is flexible and the fan is mounted with so little room beneath it that it gets squashed, I suspect that they all suffer from this problem as soon as a mac mini is put on top of them especially if the mac mini has a heavy monitor cable plugged into it.

 

If yours is noisy try it along side your mac mini instead of underneath it, if its a lot quieter then you have the same problem I did, and if it's less than a year old go get your money back, or get the cutters and screwdriver out.

 

Remember if you want to demonstrate the problem in a shop switch the fan to "M" before you get there or you will be waiting for ever for it to warm up, and you will also have to plug it into a mac or PC for it to start up.

 

Alan

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In the end I have given up! I went and puchased two seagate freeagent drives (500Gb a piece) and this is perfect, quiet, more storage but stands next to the mini. Also no usb / firewire hub.

 

So who would like to buy a iomega minimax 320Gb Hard disk with Firewire / USB hub. I can leave a ton of movies and tunes on it if you wish.

 

Any offers.

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