There’s no shortage of external hard drives and SSDs on the market, but there’s little to differentiate them, enter the Dockcase smart hard drive enclosure. While you need to bring your own SSD or hard drive, Dockcase takes that basic drive and supercharges it.
The most notable addition is power loss protection, which helps to prevent data loss and can extend the life of your hard drive or SSD. The built-in display is another handy upgrade that gives you a quick look at your drive’s status, detailed disk information and even control over some drive settings directly through the enclosure. All of this and a dual USB-C design with a 10Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2 port and auxiliary 15W port that allows for safe direct use on a phone.
I spent a week with a prototype Dockcase smart hard drive enclosure and came away thoroughly impressed with its features and performance.
Price and availability
The Dockcase 2.5-inch Smart Hard Drive Enclosure is currently available on Kickstarter starting at $69. The base model features 5 seconds of power loss protection, while the Dockcase Pro boosts that to 10 seconds and is currently $89 on Kickstarter.
This is strictly for the enclosure, so keep in mind that you’ll need to supply your own 2.5-inch SSD or HDD.
While the typical caveats for Kickstarter or any crowdfunding project exist, this is the 6th Kickstarter from Dockcase and the team has delivered on every previous product, including the Dockcase M.2 NVMe Smart SSD enclosure, which is simply a smaller version of the enclosure sized for M.2 NVMe SSDs.
As of this writing, the project has already surpassed its funding goal, and the projected shipping date for the enclosures is in November.
The Kickstarter closes on October 19 at 9 a.m. EDT and ordering now saves you roughly 30% off the projected retail price for each model.
|Power loss protection duration||5 seconds||10 seconds|
|Max storage capacity (2.5-inch)||8TB SSD or 2TB HDD||8TB SSD or 5TB HDD|
|Max HDD height||7-9.5mm||7-15mm|
|Display||1.54 x 1.54 inch LCD||1.54 x 1.54 inch LCD|
|Ports||USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C; 15W auxiliary USB-C||USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C; 15W auxiliary USB-C|
|Max transfer speed||6Gbps||6Gbps|
|Size||5 x 3.1 x 0.65 inches||5 x 3.1 x 0.89 inches|
|Weight (Enclosure only)||5.29 ounces||6.14 ounces|
The Dockcase has an industrial look that gives you the sense of durability that you want from an external drive that is going to be jostled around the inside of your laptop bag. The dark grey aluminum casing that rings the enclosure matches the modern design aesthetic of many laptops, while the black tempered glass front of the unit makes it look like the world’s thickest smartphone when it is powered off.
The removable cover is that same dark grey but features a ribbed design that is also meant to help dissipate heat and four exposed screws at the edges that contribute to that overall industrial vibe. While you shouldn’t be swapping hard drives or SSDs regularly, it’s worth considering that you do need a screwdriver (included) to get that job done.
Removing the cover there’s not a lot to see inside, you just have the PCB board to plug your HDD or SDD into on one side, and on the opposite side you have the purple battery which provides power loss protection and the USB-C ports are uncovered. Dockcase provides you with a foam block to hold your SSD or HDD in place and additional foam with a sticky back for the top of your drive.
Returning to the outside you have a pair of USB-C ports at the bottom, one is the full USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port for data transfer and the other is a 15W auxiliary power port if needed to power your drive. The latter is relevant if you are using the Dockcase to transfer files to or from a phone over USB-C as the phone may not be able to sufficiently power the drive by itself.
Turning finally to the built-in display, which is one of the more unique features of the Dockcase, it’s a 1.5-inch squareLCDy with a 240 x 240-pixel resolution. It gives you glanceable info on your drive status in real-time including the SSD/HDD model, capacity, partitions, disk health, power loss protection status, and more. The display is controlled using three capacitive buttons on the front of the Dockcase and a single physical button on top of the enclosure.
Dockcase included the optional silicone case with my review unit, which gives you some shock, scratch, and drop protection if you are going to be taking your external drive with you everywhere. It’s a $15 add-on for the Dockcase or $19 for the Dockcase Pro. It adds some bulk, but I wish it were included in the box as the security of this drive is one of its big selling points and it also protects the rest of the contents of my bag from the bare aluminum frame of the Dockcase.
The added cost of the Dockcase or Dockcase Pro over a barebones enclosure mostly comes down to the power loss protection and that built-in display, but particularly if you are a content creator or anyone moving large files around you also want to see fast transfers.
Dockcase boasts that the 10Gbps Type-C port combined with UASP and TRIM protocols delivers up to 70% faster speeds than a typical 5Gbps enclosure with a micro-B USB 3.0 port.
I conducted my testing with an older Samsung 840 Evo SSD, which offers a maximum of 540Mbps, and the Dockcase stayed close to the limits of my SSD at 480Mbps when transferring a 25GB collection of mixed media files back and forth between the drive and my laptop. That’s not as fast as the top speeds we are saying from the latest internal M.2 NVMe SSD drives, but it should be more than enough speed for the vast majority of tasks.
Moving to the power loss protection, this is the biggest differentiator between the Dockcase and Dockase Pro with the latter offering double the time at a maximum of 10 seconds versus 5. This is crucial if power is interrupted during a transfer as it gives the drive time to write the data in the cache to the drive. This should improve the long-term health of your SSD or HDD.
The Dockcase also supports firmware upgrades to improve functionality over time.
The Dockcase smart hard drive enclosure delivers on the basics that you want from a hard drive enclosure with a durable build, solid thermal performance, and fast transfer speeds. It then goes on to earn its slightly elevated price tag with excellent drive support, power loss protection, and its unique built-in display.
Now if you are someone that rarely uses an external drive and is going to toss it in your bag and forget about it then you can probably pass on the Dockcase for either an external SSD or a cheaper generic drive enclosure. However, for the data-hungry or drive security conscious, the Dockcase smart hard drive enclosure may be a perfect fit with glanceable info at your fingertips and peace of mind that your data is safe.