Storage bridges come in many varieties within the internal and external market segments. On the external side, they usually have one or more downstream SATA ports. The most popular uplink port is some sort of USB connection. USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C supports up to 10 Gbps of bandwidth, and also allows for higher power delivery compared to previous USB versions. This has enabled some unique products such as bus-powered RAID enclosures. Today's review is that of one such product from CRU - the ToughTech Duo C.

Introduction and Product Impressions

The CRU ToughTech Duo C sports two 2.5" SATA drive bays and has a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C host interface. It can operate the two internal drives in RAID 0, RAID 1, JBOD, or SPAN configurations. The device can operate on bus power when used with the appropriate host, but, for wider compatibility, it also supports external power.

The ToughTech Duo C is a follow-up product to the ToughTech Duo QR and ToughTech Duo 3SR RAID enclosures from CRU. This product family targets content creators looking to keep two copies of their data simultaneously, and automatically generating backup copies - either for archival purposes, or, to transfer a copy to another location.

The ToughTech Duo C package includes the main unit, Type-C to Type-C and Type-C to Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 2 cables, screws for installation of 2.5" drives in the bays, a 15W AC adapter, a quick start guide, and warranty information.

The unit can be laid flat on its back, or oriented vertically with the help of the attached stand. The drive bays can be taken out by sliding out the front tab and pushing in the corner. Inserting a drive in a bay involves pushing the tab marked 'Push' and drawing open one side arm. The pegs on the two side arms slide into the side holes of the 2.5" drive. This makes the bays essentially tool-free. For hard drives, it is suggested that the supplied screws be used to minimize vibration effects.

The gallery above takes us around the external design of the unit. Thanks to its medal body, the unit feels solid in hand. There are LEDs on top of the drive bays to indicate drive access status. The rear side has all the controls and ports. The DC-In can take external power from the 15W (5V @ 3A) adapter. This input is mandatory if the USB-C POWER LED adjacent to the the Type-C host interface lights up red after connecting to the host. A green light comes on if the internal circuit determines that the host is able to supply 3A. In that case, the device can power on without any input to DC-In. The unit also has an explicit ON-OFF switch. On the rear panel, we also have LEDs indicating the current configuration of the internal drives. RAID 1 indicates a 'safe / mirror' mode in which both drives in the unit maintain the same data. RAID 0 is the 'fast' mode in which the data is striped across the two drives. SPAN indicates that the drives are presented to the host as one, but the second drive starts getting filled with data only after the first one is full. JBOD is the mode in which the drives appear as standalone drives to the host. A screwdriver can be used to rotate the mode selection dial that is placed a bit deep to avoid accidental alteration. Rotation causes the selected mode LED to start blinking. Pressing the 'HOLD TO SET' button permanently lights up that selected mode

Moving on to the internals, we see significant protection for the internal drives. They appear to help in drawing away the heat from the internal drives and on to the chassis. On the main board, we find the ASMedia ASM1352R bridge chip that has RAID functionality with two downstream SATA III ports and a USB 3.1 Gen 2 upstream port. The Type-C port is enabled by the ASMedia ASM1542 passive switch.

Our evaluation of the CRU ToughTech Duo C is from the viewpoint of a storage bridge. The table below summarizes the specifications of the unit and also compares them against the other storage bridges that have been reviewed earlier by us.

Comparative Storage Bridges Configurations
Downstream Port 2x SATA III 1x SATA III
Upstream Port USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C
Bridge Chip ASMedia ASM1352R VIA Labs VL716
Power Bus Powered
15W (5V @ 3A) Wall Wart with 150 cm Cable
Bus Powered
Use Case Tool-free 2-bay 2.5" HDD/SSD Enclosure (up to 9.5 mm height)
Supports RAID 0, RAID 1, JBOD, and SPAN configuration for the two drives
Supports auto-rebuild in RAID 1 mode when connected to a PC (can be used to make backups)
2.5" HDD/SSD Enclosure (up to 9.5 mm height) with Female Type-C Interface
Physical Dimensions 159 mm x 89 mm x 34 mm 127 mm x 81 mm x 13 mm
Weight (diskless) 770 grams (with cable) 118 grams (with cable)
Cable 100 cm USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C to Type-C
100 cm USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C to Type-A
29 cm USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C (Male to Male)
S.M.A.R.T Passthrough Yes Yes
UASP Support Yes Yes
TRIM Passthrough No Yes
Price USD 179 USD 30
Review Link CRU ToughTech Duo C Review Satechi B01FWT2N3K Review
Performance Benchmarks
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  • jb14 - Friday, November 18, 2016 - link

    Jog on iranterres
  • iranterres - Friday, November 18, 2016 - link

    Too bad if you like to insult people with opposite opinions.
  • Tony Merryfield - Friday, November 18, 2016 - link

    Too bad you think everything has to revolve around your needs and interests.
  • iranterres - Friday, November 18, 2016 - link

    Even worse when you have assumptions you're not aware of.
  • close - Saturday, November 19, 2016 - link

    Then what exactly are you basing your statement that "Anandtech is in a wave of uninteresting reviews...sadly."?

    Have you conducted a survey among some or most readers? Have you found some markers that objectively prove that the reviews are "uninteresting"? Or were you just basing that solely on your personal opinions and preferences that you then generalized in your misplaced belief that they are relevant and matter to others?

    I actually don't expect an *good* answer. Reader quality has also gone down around here ;).
  • irusun - Saturday, November 19, 2016 - link

    I think it's an interesting article and this seemed like a really weird article to unleash the "Anandtech is going downhill" comment (I'm paraphrasing).

    However, that aside, I've been visiting this site weekly for over 15 years, and its obviously changed a great deal over that time. An argument could be made that the quality has plummeted in recent years, which in turn drove away much of the long-time audience (or they at least became much less active readers/commenters), and in turn, they're left with a very, ahem, specific audience. In other words, audiences change based on the content, so maybe there's a correlation between reader quality and the quality of the site.

    I've been reading Ars for just as long, and that site has completely remade itself into a tech version of the Huffington Post... they've attracted a huge audience, but it's largely an unrecognizable audience to the way it was 10 years ago.

    p.s. no ill feelings towards the staff of Anandtech, and for certain technical areas, Anandtech still can't be beat. Keep up the good work as best you can!
  • iranterres - Monday, November 21, 2016 - link

    People are getting used to be so sensitive about facing opposite opinions, oh geez.

    I have never questioned the usefulness of the article, but the quality of the recent ones is bad. Looks rushed and some copy and paste galore. That's MY opinion like it or not as I do respect others and don't go bitching around about it.

    Maybe next time we need some thermal paste reviews...
  • Tony Merryfield - Friday, November 18, 2016 - link

    Interestingly, all the revcontent content is about revcontent. Laughable, and in itself a terrible advert for the company.
  • irusun - Saturday, November 19, 2016 - link

    I can't get over the utter stupidity of the USB forum creating completely unnecessary confusion with USB 3.1 Gen 1 and USB 3.1 Gen 2 naming conventions. Was USB 3.2 already taken? USB 4? Really, you know that they're were a bunch of guys at that meeting who were just laughing their asses off at the anticipated consumer confusion it was going to cause - I guarantee you they thought it was hilarious.
  • close - Saturday, November 19, 2016 - link

    Initially there was no confusion. You had USB 3.0 since 2008 and USB 3.1 since 2013. Then someone decided it's a good idea to lend a hand to manufacturers that really had to market their sagging old products as having brand new features... by just changing a few characters on a specsheet.

    Manufacturers just "convinced" USB-IF that they should just be allowed to use the same USB 3.0 controllers but call them USB 3.1 thus tricking most users, increasing sales and cutting costs based on what could only be called a lie.

    The specs for 3.0 and 3.1 are pretty similar, certainly nothing on the difference between 2.0 and 3.0 so calling them 3.0 and 3.1 made perfect sense - tiny version increment.

    Don't forget that the USB-IF is a non profit organisation so money must be made somehow... You can thank the following people/companies for this:
    HP Inc. - Alan Berkema
    Intel Corporation - Brad Saunders
    Microsoft Corporation - Toby Nixon
    Renesas Electronics - Philip Leung
    STMicroelectronics - Joel Huloux

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