The key thing with all three of these ICY DOCK
devices is that they make installing and maintaining your drives very convenient. If you need to perform an upgrade or replace a failed drive, you only have to pop open the appropriate door and swap out the drives. No tools required, and there is no need to open up your PC and move around other components. Being able to perform this kind of work is key in a corporate environment, but it is also very appealing to me since they are being used to power my home's live TV service and DVR recordings. I don't want this system down any longer than it has to be... What if we missed one my kid's recordings of Alvin and the Chipmunks or worse, my wife's Apres Ski? I dare not think of such things!
Also of great interest to me is that the performance of the installed drives is on par with their performance when connected directly to a SATA header on the motherboard. The DVR array still writes at around 100MB/s and the operating system's SSD is still reading at over 500MB/s. The system operates as smoothly as it did before, and despite the addition of a fan to my system, I would say the overall noise level is less than before. The MB973SP-2B's fan is manually set to low speed, and drive temperatures seem just fine, while the overall noise from the fan is minimal. I think the big gain in noise reduction comes from the way the drives are installed and supported... Instead of just being screwed to the case and having a bit of reverberations, the MB973SP-2B seems to hold them better and provide a bit of noise insulation. These drives are active any time someone is watching and/or recording TV somewhere in my house, but they are installed in my basement office. Making it a little quieter is definitely a good thing.
The two 2.5" drives are definitely tougher than the 3.5" device since they are all metal and the 3.5" device has some plastic (including the doors) in the design. I would have really liked to see the MB973SP-2B with an all metal design like the other two devices, but I now wonder what kind of impact that would have on my other negative comment on these devices... price! Shopping around will find the 3-bay MB973SP-2B for about $106, the 2-bay MB492SKL-B for about $58, and the 1-bay MB491SKL-B for about $45. I discovered the prices after completing the review, and I was honestly not expecting them to be so high. Each one is more expensive than I would have estimated, but $106 for the MB973SP-2B is even more of a surprise than the other two.
In the end, I feel the three ICY DOCK devices are well done and could prove to be very useful in a variety of settings. If you can find a good deal on the one that works best for you, I would say you should grab it!
» Makes drive installation and maintenance extremely convenient
» Installation of all three drive bays was straightforward
» Overall these devices are well made
» No impact on drive performance
» Adds lights to front of system for individual drive identification / status
» Fan on MB973SP-2B has speed control built in, and is replaceable
» Wish USB 3.0 cable on the MB973SP-2B was removable
» Could not complete review of ToughArmor EX MB491SKL-B
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