SO MANY DRIVES, SO LITTLE SPACE
The quality of the devices from ICY DOCK’s ToughArmor line of products has yet to fail to impress me. They are practically designed, tough as nails, and straightforward to use. However, the ToughArmor line is targeted more towards enterprise customers and therefore they come with an enterprise grade price tag attached. The ICY DOCK MB993SK-B 3.5” SAS / SATA Mobile Rack is no exception. The MB993SK-B can be bought off Amazon for $65, the link will be at the end of this article. If you want a similar solution at a consumer friendly price then check out their ExpressCage line of products.
This drive bay can accommodate 3x 2.5” HDD’s/SDD’s up to 7mm in thickness and is able to fit into a single 3.5” bay. It supports SATA 6Gb/s, SAS, hot swapping, and features a full steel body. Inside the package I found the drive bay itself, 2 bags of screws, plastic labels, and a user manual. As expected first impressions regarding the outer casing of the bay were outstanding. In my hands, the enclosure felt indestructible and later testing proved that it nearly was.
I really wanted to put the integrity of this ToughArmor product to the test during this review so I backed out my Prius, put the bay under the front left tire, and proceeded to run it over. As I felt the bay go under my tire I was sure that the car had triumphed, I expected to open my door and find a flattened piece of steel where the mobile rack once was but thankfully my expectations did not manifest into reality. The drive bay appeared to be 100% intact, there was not a scratch nor visible bend on it. All of the drive caddys were still removable and the lock still turned with ease, the bay appeared the same as when it just came out of the box.
*In hindsight I should have done the “crash test” following the review, not before it.
Feature wise ICY DOCK kept the design of this bay simple while still including everything you need and expect from a hard drive bay. All three caddys can be quickly removed by pressing down on the release button and pulling it out by its metal arm. I found that at times I did need to have two hands free to remove the caddys, every once in awhile the caddy arm would not pop out and I would have to use my other hand to pull on it (it is possible that this might have been a result of the “crash test” because before that test I did not notice this small inconvenience). A lock, which can be used to prevent the accidental removal of a drive, can also be found on the front of the bay.
To the rear of the enclosure you will find three SATA ports (each drive gets its own) and a 4 pin floppy connector which provides power to the bay. The rack is equipped with ventilation on its top, bottom, rear, front, and sides resulting in low internal and external temperatures. During my testing the drive inside never exceeded 45C and the outside casing of the bay was barely warm to the touch.
Installation and general use was super straightforward. The mobile rack can be installed into your system just like any other 3.5” device (floppy drive, media card reader, ect..). Just slide it into a bay, secure it using the included device screws, and connect the SATA and power cables. Installing a 2.5” drive into a caddy is also very simple. Just pull the caddy out, remove the plastic support bracket, and secure your drive in the caddy using the included drive screws.
Benchmarking my SSD while directly connected to my PC and then running the same test while it was in the drive enclosure revealed that the SATA pass-through interface within the MB993SK-B caused no reduction in overall transfer speeds. During this section of the review I also ran into an interesting issue with the bay’s LED access indication lights. While using my ADATA SP550 SSD inside the the bay I noticed that the indication light would remain a solid green regardless of whether I was reading or writing data to the drive. While testing the bay with a traditional spinning HDD I did not run into that problem and the access light worked as advertised. This is not a deal breaker but you should keep in mind that the access indication light may not work properly with some SSD’s.
If you have the budget for it this is a great way to consolidate several 2.5” drives into a single 3.5” bay. Its very well built, easy to use, and plug and play.
-EASY TO USE
-SIMPLE YET GETS THE JOB DONE
-PLUG AND PLAY
-DOES EVERYTHING YOU WOULD WANT A 3.5″ ENCLOSURE TO DO
-SCREWS ARE INCLUDED!
-ACCESS INDICATION LIGHT MAY NOT WORK WITH SOME SSD’S
-CADDYS ARE A LITTLE DIFFICULT TO REMOVE AT TIMES (MIGHT HAVE BEEN A RESULT OF THE CRASH TEST)