The hardware setup for the DS-500 is straightforward. The PCI-X card installs in either a PCI-X or a PCI slot. The test computer I used contained only a PCI slot so all test results were generated by the controller in PCI mode. Once you install the controller card, hard drives into the trays and then trays into the external drive cage, you connect the SATA cable from any port on the controller card to the single eSATA port on the back of the DS-500 (Figure 4).
Figure 4: DS-500 Rear View
One concern I have with eSATA II is how fragile the connectors are. Figure 5 shows what the eSATA II connectors look like when new.
Figure 5: "Normal" eSATA II connector
Figure 6 shows an eSATA II connector that I used approximately 10 times. Note on Figure 6 the wear marks around the corners and contact points of the connector. Note also in Figure 6 that the outside contact plate of the connector is peeling away from the body of the connector. It is only a matter of time before this plate will bend into an L when inserted. eSATA II connectors wear out? When was the last time you wore out a firewire or USB connector?
Figure 6: Worn eSATA II connector
If you are going to use an eSATA II device to move data among computers, you will need spare cables and cable management strategy. That is, buy backup cables for each location where you will use the DS-500. And then buy one cable for each computer you use the DS-500 on. This will spread the wear of connecting eSATA cables over as many cables as is practical, to postpone the day you will plug the cable in and bend that face plate back.
The 20 inch eSATA II cable included with the DS-500 costs about $9 shipped from Cables Direct. So, for about $60 you can build up an inventory of cables to manage the wear and tear of moving data back and forth.