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  • Icy Dock MB973SP-B Tray-Less 3 in 2 SATA Backplane Module Review


    Dave
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    IMG_0983IMG_0974

     

    One of the best features of store bought servers is the ability to add and remove drives without having to take a case apart and mess with those tiny screws.  For home builders, that convenience just doesn’t exist.  Last year at CES, we met with the people at Icy Dock and were excited to see their impressive lineup of solutions for this issue.  Since that meeting, Icy Dock has been an active participant in our forums, sent us products to review, and even taken feedback from our users to tailor products to the needs of our community.  Enter the Icy Dock MB973SP-B Tray-Less 3 in 2 SATA Backplane Module.

     

    Features

    1. Fits 3 3.5” hard drives into two 5.25” bays.
    2. Mechanical lever based ejection mechanism (really smooth)
    3. Individual Power Buttons for each hard drive bay
    4. Front facing eSATA and USB 2.0 port with internal connections
    5. Fan speed switch on the front face
    6. High quality aluminum construction (plastic front face)
    7. Smart cooling adjusts fan speed based on drive temperature

    IMG_0971IMG_0972

     

    Installation – Installation was fairly straightforward.  The enclosure is very low profile and should fit well in smaller cases.  You need to connect two 4 pin power cables to power all three hard drives and the fan.  If you want to use the front panel eSATA and USB, you’ll have to plug those into the motherboard as well.  Each slot has its own SATA connecter (you’ll need your own cables).  In my behemoth of a case, the ‘easy load’ pins didn’t line up with the enclosure but I’ve had issues with other devices too and screws work just fine.  The fan is very quiet at low speed but is audible at high speed.  The doors of the enclosure are vented to allow for what feels like fairly good air flow.

     

    IMG_0980IMG_0981IMG_0978

     

    Performance – This enclosure works extremely well in every way we tested.  Drives slide in and out easily and do not catch or scrape.  The individual power switches allow for safe hot swapping of drives in WHS.  This is a big feature.  You just eject the drive in the WHS console, turn off the power to that drive and open the door to remove.  In theory, you can add a drive without turning off the server as well.  By adding the new drive to the enclosure, you connect the SATA cable and then pushing the power button powers on the drive.  A simple but elegant solution.  I suppose a small criticism would be that the power buttons are a bit small.

     

    Bottom Line – If you want an efficient way to cleanly organize drives in your WHS case and have easy access to adding and removing them, this is an excellent solution.

     

    The Home Server Show crew will once again be covering CES live and in person and is planning to meet back up with our old friends from Icy Dock.  Can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next year.

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    I did noticed that the controller board does seem to cover the space between the drives and the fan. There are a few spaces for the air to get through so it 'should' create a bit of a vaccuum to draw out the warm air. I sent the enclosure to Dave for his impressions so we'll see if he can test hard drive heat.
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