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Icy Dock 2.5″/3.5″ Drive Accessories

Three storage accessories from Icy Dock distinguish themselves from the cheap generic devices flooding the market.

Icy Dock 2.5"/3.5" Drive Accessories

April 4, 2012 by Lawrence Lee

Product
MB082SP EZ-Fit Pro Dual 2.5" to 3.5" Drive BracketMB882SP-1S-1B 2.5" to 3.5" SATA Drive ConverterMB981U3-1SA 2.5"/3.5" USB 3.0 SATA Docking Station/IDE Adapter
Manufacturer
Street Price
US$15~$20US$15~$20US$45

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)


Package contents.

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
web page
)
Model NumberMB082SP
ColorBlack
Compatible Drive Type2.5" SATA/IDE HDD & SSD
HDD up to 9.5mm thickness in height
Device Fit Internal 3.5" device bay
Support HDD CapacityNo Limitation
StructureMetal
Dimension (L x W x H)146 x 102 x 25mm
Weight244g

2.5" to 3.5" SATA Drive Converter (MB882SP-1S-1B)


Package contents.

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
web page
)
Item Number – WhiteMB882SP-1S-1
Item Number – BlackMB882SP-1S-1B
External InterfaceSATA
Compatible Drive Type2.5" SATA I, II & III HDD & SSD (9.5mm)
Device Fit3.5" SATA hard drive bay
Transfer RateUp to 6Gb/sec.
Support HDD CapacityNo Limitation
StructurePlastic
Dimension (L x W x H)145 x 101 x 25 mm
Weight195.3 g

2.5"/3.5" USB 3.0 SATA Docking Station / IDE Adapter (MB981U3-1SA)


Package contents.

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
web page
)
Model NumberMB981U3-1SA
ColorBlack
Drive Fit2.5" / 3.5" SATA 1.5 / 3 / 6 Gbps hard drive or SSD
2.5" / 3.5" IDE hard drive
Connection InterfaceSuperSpeed USB 3.0
Transfer RateUp to 5 Gbps (depending on hard drive speed)
StructurePlastic
LED IndicationDevice Power & Drive Activity
LED Display ColorPower: Amber; Drive Activity: Amber flashing
Power ON / OffPower Button
Dimension (L x W x H) 150 x 79.7 x 92mm
Weight412g

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.


At the front of the bracket is a release mechanism that needs to be pushed to the outside when inserting a drive. Once the drive is in completely, the lock latches back into place, securing the drive.


Springs at the back eject the drive when the release is engaged.

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.


The drive converter is composed of plastic with some holes for ventilation cut out at the back near the SATA power and data ports.


Pressing on the top and sliding toward the rear opens the top cover.


The drive is placed on a metal tray attached to an axle that moves diagonally downward when the cover is closed, forcing the drive’s connectors to lock into those on the circuit board.

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.

ACOUSTIC COMPARISON
(WD Scorpio Black 750GB WD7500BPKT)
Enclosure
Vibration
1-10
(10 = no vibration)
Activity State
Airborne Acoustics
(dBA@1m)
Bare
7
Idle
16
Seek
16~17
Icy Dock Drive Converter
8
Idle
16~17
Seek
17~18

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.


Like most docking stations, Icy Dock’s version is a rectangular plastic box with a pair of flaps for 3.5" and 2.5" drives. The power button is at the front while the ejection mechanism, which resembles a piano key, is on the side.


Though the device supports IDE drives, only SATA models can be connected when used as an upright dock.


The AC power jack, and USB port are built into a removable module in the base. The rest of the dock simply acts as a stand.


Pulling the adapter reveals the IDE portions of the device.


Detached from the housing, it is smaller and more versatile, though you still have to lug around an AC adapter.

Docking Station Testing

Test Platform:

File Transfer Suite:

  • Small Files:
    1,250 small HTML, JPEG, and MP3 files totaling 871MB.
  • Large Files: Four large AVI files totaling 4194MB.
  • Huge File: One MKV file, 3799MB in size (not really "huge" but generates similar MB/s results as single 10GB+ sized files)

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.

FINAL THOUGHTS

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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