VisionTek’s DriveXpander & Wallet Drive Review

DSCN0433VisionTek announced the VisionTek DriveXpander and Wallet Drive back in late February, and we are going to evaluate these two drive accessories that can make ones life a little easier.

The VisionTek Wallet Drive is a portable USB 3.0 hot swappable 2.5″ drive enclosure that allows you to put 1TB or more of SSD storage into your shirt pocket for about $17.99 from Dell.com. We will test its performance in this review, including timing the transferring of 50GB game files.

The DriveXpander is designed to fit a PCI or PCIe expansion slot and it allows one to almost instantly change out SSDs or 2.5″ HDDs by accessing the back of the PC without opening the case.

Each of these drive accessories cost just under $20 and could be very useful in giving an old drive new life, or in making a SSD accessible and swappable instantly from the back of your PC. We will first take a look at the DriveXpander which can be found at Dell.com for $18.95.

The VisionTek DriveXpander

The DriveXpander needs no performance review. It uses a SATA cable from the PC’s motherboard to connect directly to the back of the drive, and its function is to hold the drive firmly until it is easily ejected from the back of the case. It is a pass-through device and it is solidly made of metal and plastic. For those concerned with longevity and ejecting a drive or drives daily, the DriveXpander uses an exclusive VisionTek NSS drive connector that allows for over 50,000 drive insertions.

We are using three identical 240GB Kingston HyperX SSDs for our testing. We will compare performance of the SSD on SATA held in place by the DriveXpander with an identical HyperX SSD inside of the Drive Wallet connected by USB 3.0.


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VisionTek suggests that the DriveXpander increases the functionality of a PC (or Mac Pro) by:

  • adding additional storage capacity when internal bays are filled or are not accessible.
  • offering quick and easy bare drive status verification.
  • providing individual drive access from a storage array with minimal or no system down time.
  • enabling removable storage to be added to the rear of a system – especially handy for HTPCs

Unboxing the DriveXpander

The box is small but it explains what it does.  It mentions “up to 600MB/s data transfers”, but it is more of a pass-through device that uses your own SATA connection and power to connect to the DriveXpander instead of directly to the drive for ease of repeated insertion and removal.

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This is the other side of the box:

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The reverse of the box emphasizes the DriveXpander’s ease of use.  Install it and then just slide the drive in.DSCN0402Here are the pass through connectors.

DSCN0446There are several accessories included in the box – a PCI/e lockdown screw, a red SATA cable, a molex to SATA power connector if you are lacking one; and a key to lock the drive firmly in place.  There is also a decal attachment (bottom) for your drive to allow the drive to slide in and out with less friction. Finally, there is a PCIe slot stability adapter for a snug fit whether a PCIe or PCI slot is chosen.DSCN0449

We found that the non scratch cover can be applied only once to a single SSD because it a stick-on decal.  If one is planning to eject multiple drives many times, one might instead consider affixing the non-scratch film to the DriveXpander’s cage floor instead.  To prevent theft, the DriveXpander features a special shaped key lock for long-term drive installation.  Included also is a useful printed user guide that is refreshingly helpful and written in plain English, which has become very rare.

To Add A New Drive 

First, you open the case on the PC and install the DriveXpander into the slot so that it is supported by the PCI/e slot.  Screw down the tab so it is held securely to the case and install a SATA cable and power connector into the back of the Drive Xpander.  In the photo below, the HyperX SSD is inside the DriveXpander which is turned over to show the connectors.DSCN0407

The installation is as simple as adding a PCIe expansion card.DSCN0472

The DriveXpander eliminates the need for any external enclosure or power adapter for tool-free and screw-less drive use. After an quick installation, users can read and write to a 2.5″ SATA I/II/III hard drive or SSD (7mm to 9.5mm).DSCN0477

  1. Pull the drive access lever on the DriveXpander.
  2. Insert a drive until resistance is felt.
  3. Close the DriveXpander’s drive access lever to fully insert and connect drive.

DSCN0479Since the DriveXpander only perfectly fits PCI slots, the box includes a custom PCIe slot stability adapter (below on PCIe slot immediately above “5X Protection”) for a snug, secure fit on either expansion slot type.  DSCN0482Without the adapter, there is a little bit of play on PCIe slots.DSCN0402

The DriveXpander features a patented non-scratch SATA (NSS) connector that makes a direct connection with a drive’s connector leads so users can install and eject a drive or drives over 50,000 times with confidence.

A perforated backplate and open cage design also ensures trouble-free drive use by providing effective passive drive cooling.  We tested temperatures comparing all three SSDs under load and over time, and found that the SSD in the DriveXpander was just as cool as the SSD in the Thermaltake drive bay while the SSD in the Wallet Drive had reached +5F higher temperatures since it is fully enclosed.

DriveXpander receives BTR’s Editor’s Choice Award!

We love it!  Instead of opening our case panel, or working from USB 3.0, we now have instant direct physical access to our SSD which can be changed out instantly, one for another.  DriveXpander will remain in our own benchmarking PC and we feel that it deserves BTR’s Editor’s Choice Award.

The $19.99 MSRP DriveXpander includes all data and power cables required for Plug and Play operation and is available directly from VisionTek as well as from select e-tailers such as Amazon, Tiger Direct, and Dell.

On the next page, let’s look at VisionTek’s Wallet Drive and compare its performance over USB 3.0 to an identical drive using SATA