Figure 1 – Icy Dock ExpressCage MB324SP-B – 4 Bay 2.5” SAS/SATA HDD Hot Swap Cage for 5.25” Bay
In preparation for the HomeServerShow Meetup 2015 I was asked to review the Icy Dock ExpressCage MB324SP-B – 4 Bay 2.5” SAS/SATA HDD Hot Swap Cage for 5.25” Bay (“ExpressCage”). Which I covered in a three part series beginning with The Icy Dock 5.25” ExpressCage MB324SP-B for four 2.5” drives – Part 1 of 3. Parts 2 and Part 3 soon followed.
One of the things I wanted to display at the meetup was how to use the HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer as an external 4 drive bay for an HP ProLiant Gen8 MicroServer AND have Microsoft Server 2016 Technical Preview 3 running on the N40L, using an SSD for the OS drive, and with four 2.5’ HDDs available to experiment with Storage Spaces – all of this in a single N40L MicroServer would be possible because of the ExpressCage MB324SP-B. The MB324SP-B worked flawlessly. During the meetup Schoondoggy had much of his equipment located next to mine and when he did the unboxing of the HP ProLiant ML10v2 the group surrounding the ML10v2 noted how easily the ExpressCage MB324SP-B could be used (along with other Icy Dock gear such as the ToughArmor MB998SP- to easily expand the possibilities of what could be done with the ML10v2.
Figure 2 – Discussing how the HP ProLiant ML10v2 could be expanded using the Icy Dock ExpressCage MB324SP-B and the ToughArmor MB998SP-B
Later, after the meetup, I had an idea to test the ExpressCage in the desktop computer I currently use for video editing. For video editing I use a drive made of four (4) Samsung 840 Pro SSDs in a RAID0. They were already mounted in my Lian-Li PC-K9WX with a clutter of separate SATA Power and Data connectors. The ability to mount 4 SSDs in the ExpressCage powered by only one 15-pin SATA Power connector would help immensely in cable management (i.e. clutter) and the “looks” inside the PC-K9WX. I would test the 4 SSDs in the ExpressCage in a RAID0 configuration to use as my work drive for video editing.
Before looking at installation in the PC-K9WX lets review the Specifications of the ExpressCage MB324SP-B.
Specifications of the ExpressCage
Icy Dock provided a list of specifications and product detail that I found very intriguing including support for four 2.5” HDDs/SSDs up to 12.5mm thick, hot-swap support, and SAS/SATA – 6GB/s support. All in a 5.25” half-height form factor needing only one SATA power port.
Figure 3 – Specifications of the Icy Dock ExpressCage MB324SP-B
Figure 4 – The single 15 Pin SATA Power connector would be a great plus in my mind for cable management – this would be a big help in the N40L as well as my Z77 Desktop
Figure 5 – The ability to control the fan speed settings is a great feature – since I would be using low powered WD 2.5” drives in the N40L and low powered Samsung SSDs in the Z77 desktop I used the low fan speed setting
Figure 6 – The extra thought in the design to allow me to switch out the 40mm cooling fan in the future is a great indicator of good design practice, in my opinion
Figure 7 – I like to use locking clips and appreciate the physical and audio feedback they provide during installation. The Blue LED’s provide me feedback that the drives are powered
Figure 8 – The built-in screws secure the drives well that I was using
Figure 9 – Icy Dock provides screws that could be used to further secure the drives to the caddy but I found no need for them – it is nice that they are available though
Figure 10 – ExpressCage MB324SP-B and box contents laid out on a Static Mat
Figure 11 – ExpressCage with Drive Caddy 1 opened
Figure 12 – Key Features of the Icy Dock ExpressCage MB324SP-B
Installation in the PC-K9WX
Figure 13 – Lian-Li with bottom panel of 5.25” drive-space removed in preparation for ExpressCage MB324SP-B installation. The four SSDs have been removed from the Lian-Li and three have already been mounted inside the MB324SP-B while the fourth SSD sits on the Static Mat ready for installation.
The installation of the Icy Dock ExpressCage MB324SP-B in my Lian-Li PC-K9WX bottom 5.25” drive bay was relatively easy. I used three screws (part of the supplied screws from Icy Dock) to secure it to the PC-K9WX case. In preparation for the installation I identified and marked the four SATA Data cables (SSDs/Drives 1, 2, 3, 4) and removed three of the four SATA Power cables.
Video 1 – Icy Dock ExpressCage in my Lian-Li PC-K9WX
Figure 14 – ExpressCage MB324SP-B installed in Lian-Li PC-K9WX
Figure 15 –ExpressCage MB324SP-B powered up and operating successfully with the four SSDs in RAID0 for video editing
The ExpressCage MB324SP-B performed well in the Lian-Li PC-K9WX. In addition to de-cluttering my cables inside the PC-K9WX the lights for each drive provide an immediate feedback that each drive was active (an unexpected benefit that I’ve grown to appreciate a lot) plus I had the benefit of now being able to access each drive without having to open the case of the PC-K9WX – a big benefit in my opinion since I am almost constantly reconfiguring my machines to fit new projects. The range of drive heights (7mm to 12.5mm) supported gives me more flexibility in the future when I want/need to try different drive configurations.
Bottom line: the ExpressCage MB324SP-B is a very useful and versatile piece of hardware with many possible applications.
Icy Dock ExpressCage MB324SP-B with 4 Samsung 840 Pro’s in RAID0 for Video Editing
Please join us in the HSS Forums with any question or comments.
The Icy Dock 5.25” ExpressCage MB324SP-B for four 2.5” Drives – Part 1 of 3 http://homeservershow.com/the-icy-dock-5-25-expresscage-mb324sp-b-for-four-2-5-drives-part-1-of-3.html
Icy Dock ExpressCage MB324SP-B http://www.icydock.com/goods.php?id=196
Icy Dock Blog postings: http://homeservershow.com/tag/IcyDock
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