Three storage accessories from Icy Dock distinguish themselves from the cheap generic devices flooding the market.
April 4, 2012 by Lawrence Lee
|MB082SP EZ-Fit Pro Dual 2.5" to 3.5" Drive Bracket||MB882SP-1S-1B 2.5" to 3.5" SATA Drive Converter||MB981U3-1SA 2.5"/3.5" USB 3.0 SATA Docking Station/IDE Adapter|
Icy Dock is a company with a singular obsession for storage accessories. It seems that anything that can be done with a hard drive or solid state drive can be with one of Icy Dock’s many products. Their catalogue consists of a myriad of single and multi-bay interface adapters, conversion brackets, and enclosures for 3.5" and 2.5" drives with a variety of interfaces (IDE/SATA/SAS). As accessories often have high profit margins, there are numerous cheap, generic alternatives to the Icy Dock products we’re examining. While Icy Dock’s products perform the same basic functions, they are easier to use, better featured and backed by a more solid brand name.
EZ-Fit Pro Dual 2.5" to 3.5" Drive Bracket (MB082SP)
Like all the products in our roundup, the EZ-Fit Pro Dual ships in fairly plain packaging. It’s a simple metal frame that facilitates the mounting of a pair of 2.5" notebook drives, one atop the other, in a 3.5" bay. Drives are installed directly from the front without any tools thanks to a neat spring-loaded mounting scheme. Though it can be secured to an external drive bay, it’s not well-suited for hotswapping as the lack of a SATA backplane means the cables at the back have to be attached/detached every time you change a drive.
Icy Dock EZ-Fit Pro Dual 2.5" to 3.5" Drive Bracket: Specifications (from the product
|Compatible Drive Type||2.5" SATA/IDE HDD & SSD|
HDD up to 9.5mm thickness in height
|Device Fit||Internal 3.5" device bay|
|Support HDD Capacity||No Limitation|
|Dimension (L x W x H)||146 x 102 x 25mm|
2.5" to 3.5" SATA Drive Converter (MB882SP-1S-1B)
Icy Dock’s 2.5" to 3.5" SATA Drive Converter offers more limited functionality. Rather than an open mounting bracket, it’s a plastic enclosure. The casing may make the drive quieter even though it lacks dampening material, but it doesn’t offer any other practical benefit over the EZ Fit Pro Dual. It’s not as versatile a product as it only takes a single drive and can’t be used with IDE drives.
Icy Dock 2.5" to 3.5" SATA Drive Converter: Specifications (from the product
|Item Number – White||MB882SP-1S-1|
|Item Number – Black||MB882SP-1S-1B|
|Compatible Drive Type||2.5" SATA I, II & III HDD & SSD (9.5mm)|
|Device Fit||3.5" SATA hard drive bay|
|Transfer Rate||Up to 6Gb/sec.|
|Support HDD Capacity||No Limitation|
|Dimension (L x W x H)||145 x 101 x 25 mm|
2.5"/3.5" USB 3.0 SATA Docking Station / IDE Adapter (MB981U3-1SA)
Icy Dock’s docking station is likely to be the most useful of these devices. It allows users to connect single drives, 2.5" or 3.5", to their system via USB 3.0 (or 2.0). Being an external solution, it is incredibly convenient for users who need to access data from bare drives on a routine basis. This particular model is actually two products in one as the interface adapter built into the bottom of the dock can be detached for IDE connectivity and/or to make it easier to transport. The USB cable is approximately 3′ long while the power cable length is about 5′.
Icy Dock 2.5"/3.5" USB 3.0 SATA Docking Station/
IDE Adapter: Specifications (from the product
|Drive Fit||2.5" / 3.5" SATA 1.5 / 3 / 6 Gbps hard drive or SSD|
2.5" / 3.5" IDE hard drive
|Connection Interface||SuperSpeed USB 3.0|
|Transfer Rate||Up to 5 Gbps (depending on hard drive speed)|
|LED Indication||Device Power & Drive Activity|
|LED Display Color||Power: Amber; Drive Activity: Amber flashing|
|Power ON / Off||Power Button|
|Dimension (L x W x H)||150 x 79.7 x 92mm|
EZ-Fit Pro Dual 2.5" to 3.5" Drive Bracket
The EZ-Fit Pro Dual allows two 2.5" drives to be mounted in a standard 3.5" bay. To be truly functional, the user must have a shortage of open 3.5" bays and require at least two 2.5" drives. Desktop users rarely use notebook drives, and when they do, it’s often just one SSD for the operating system.
2.5" to 3.5" SATA Drive Converter
Icy Dock’s SATA Drive Converter is a 3.5" internal enclosure for a 2.5" SATA drive. The question is, why does it need to be enclosed? The 3.5" form factor makes it easy to connect the SATA cables (you don’t have to reach in to find the back of the 2.5" drive), but it seems like a waste of materials considering it doesn’t have any acoustic or vibration damping inside.
As this device is made of plastic and covers up the drive completely, it has some impact on acoustics. We performed a quick test with the Icy Dock converter using our standard hard drive testing methodology for noise and vibration to see what effect it had on one of our louder 2.5" hard drives, the WD Scorpio Black 750GB.
(WD Scorpio Black 750GB WD7500BPKT)
(10 = no vibration)
Icy Dock Drive Converter
We were hoping it could double as a silencing enclosure but there was no real improvement. In fact, the airborne noise actually increased while the Scorpio Black’s vibration level dropped somewhat. Some of the vibration is softened by the plastic casing, but the interior rattles from the metal-on-metal contact creates more noise.
2.5"/3.5" USB 3.0 SATA Docking Station / IDE Adapter
A SATA to USB docking station is an incredibly useful tool for any tech geek, particularly for backing up data from systems that are dead or dying. The Icy Dock device has a creative twist: The controller can be detached, making it a mobile adapter with IDE support.
Docking Station Testing
File Transfer Suite:
To test USB 3.0 performance we connected a pair of VelociRaptor 600GB drives in the same system, one internally via SATA, the other through USB 3.0, and timed a series a file transfers between them.
The Icy Dock performs similarly to the last USB 3.0 docking station we reviewed, the MUKii TransImp. Both units produce speeds close to that of internal operation when copying files from USB 3.0. The average transfer speed from the internal drive to USB 3.0 is noticeably slower, but only for batches of smaller, more numerous files.
The EZ-Fit Pro Dual 2.5" to 3.5" Drive Bracket works well for what it is, a device allowing the mounting of two 2.5" drives in a single 3.5" bay. The mounting design is incredibly simple and effective, allowing users to insert and eject drives with ease, but this feature is a bit of a waste for an internal adapter. Add a flap to cover the drives and a SATA backplane so the cables inside only have to be hooked up once and it becomes a convenient hotswap tray for use in an external 3.5" bay. For internal use, the convenience factor is obviously mitigated by having to open up the chassis. Priced at US$15~$20, it’s a reasonable value.
Icy Dock’s 2.5" to 3.5" SATA Drive Converter is a bit on the fancy side considering it basically does the same thing as the EZ-Fit Pro Dual, only with just one drive instead of two and without IDE support. It has a nifty drive mounting design, using a top cover that pushes the drive into a SATA pass-through adapter, but it’s overly complex. Encapsulating the drive in plastic doesn’t give it any advantage over an open bracket adapter. It’s actually less versatile than the EZ-Fit as the cover opens up from the top, requiring the entire converter to be removed to get the drive out. This device also sells for US$15~$20, but given its limited functionality, we can’t recommend it. If you don’t care about looks, a generic single drive bracket is much cheaper. (Setting up a DIY elastic suspension system is cheaper still, with the added benefit of reducing vibration-generated noise. For solid state drives, even duct tape would do as they have no moving parts and run so cool.)
Of the three devices covered here, the USB 3.0 SATA Docking Station / IDE Adapter is easily our favorite. It provides easy external access for bare SATA drives, features a nice release mechanism, and its controller can be popped off for IDE functionality and to make it more portable. The modular adapter is convenient if you’re in tech support and constantly on the move. Separate 3.5" and 2.5" IDE slots on the dock would have made it perfect. We can however understand the omission — adding two additional slots that would be rarely used doesn’t make a lot of sense; we can’t remember the last time we had to deal with an IDE drive. While you can get a generic SATA USB 3.0 dock for a substantially lower price, if you need it, the IDE compatibility and detachable controller makes Icy Dock’s version worth the US$45 asking price
Our thanks to Icy Dock for the various 2.5"/3.5" drive accessories provided for this review.
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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2TB Hard Drive
Tiché PC HDD Vibration Killer
Seagate Barracuda 3TB: 1TB Platter Behemoth
WD Scorpio Black 750GB & Scorpio Blue 1TB
Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 2TB 5940RPM Hard Drive
Icy Dock MB973SP-B SATA Backplane Module
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