by Doug Crowthers

Icy Dock Blizzard 3.5" Hard Drive Enclosure Review

The Icy Dock MB080U3S-1SB Blizzard is an easy to use tool-less 3.5" external enclosure that is designed for professional media, IT users and computer enthusiast, who require max cooling performance for their external devices. The enclosure supports an 80mm fan that offers three settings of Low, High and Auto, to go along with a direct air flow design, which allows for excellent cooling for your external drive. For added user awareness, the drive provides a LED notification, where the LED color will turn red when the hard drive temperature is over 50°C.

The enclosure is supported by Windows XP, Vista, 7, or 8 and Mac OS 10.22.8 and higher, as long as your external hard drive is formatted to support your operating system of choice. MB080U3S-1SB is available for an MSRP of $80.00 and features USB 3.0 and eSATA connections. The MB080USEB-1SB is available for an MSRP of $119.00 and features eSATA, FirmWire800 and USB 2.0 support.

Icy Dock MB080 Blizzard Specifications:

  • Model Number: MB080U3S-1SB
  • Color: Black
  • Drive Fit: Single 3.5" SATA I / II / III hard drive
  • Host Interface:                
  • 1 x eSATA 3Gb/s port
  • 1 x USB 3.0 port (USB 2.0 compatible)
  • Drive Cooling: 80mm fan
  • Fan Speed Control: High/ Low/ Auto
  • HDD Access Indication: Flashing orange LED
  • Power Indication: Green LED
  • Over Heat Indicatior: Red ambient LED light (when temperature reach 50°C)
  • Power Supply: 12V/2A power adapter
  • Structure: ABS shell with metal frame
  • Dimensions (L x W x H) : 237.5 x 126 x 146 mm
  • Weight: 1.4 pounds

Design and Build

The Blizzard has a uniquely designed front panel with an integrated 80mm fan for a single 3.5” hard drive that is installed into the front of the enclosure. According to Icy Dock, there are two important reasons for the particular fan placement and design. First, the MB080U3S-1SB will be able to cool all sides of the hard drive and create only one direction of airflow from the front to the back, where the air then exits. This extends the life of the cooling fan as it only intakes cool cold air and increases the overall cooling efficiency of the hard drive, in comparison to other enclosure cooling designs. Second, the 80mm fan is integrated into the detachable front panel which allows to easily swap your hard drive without any screws or tools to worry about, a handy feature for those of use that alternate between drives with some regularity. On the sides, the enclosure includes two slightly concealed button ejectors that when pressed, will eject the front panel enabling the user to swap the hard drive as needed, similar to popular hard drive docking stations.

The rear panel comprises of the USB 3.0 and eSATA connectors, along with a on/off button, power connector, fan controller and LED brightness.  The LED brightness dial allows the user to adjust the ambient LED brightness to your preferred liking. To increase the level of functionality, the Blizzard’s LED color will turn red when the hard drive temperature is over 50°C. The built in fan controller allows you to select low, high, and auto to properly cool the hard drive to help, if such a case appears. The auto mode properly adjusts accordingly to your hard drive’s requirements by increasing or decreasing the fan speed as needed.

Installing a hard drive is very simple with the Blizzard's design, as long as you're using a 3.5" drive. You will need an adapter that is sold separate, if you are wanting to install a 2.5" drive into the enclosure. With its tool-less design, all you have to do is apply pressure on each side of the front fan panel until the buttons located on the sides create a "click" sound. At that point, you simply remove the front panel, with fan and install your or swap out your hard drive. Just make sure you have the SATA connector facing the correct direction than re-attach the front panel and you are off and running again.

Performance

The Icy Dock Blizzard is designed for increased cooling of the hard drive. We wanted to test how well the drive cools compared to a typical external enclosure, such as the Toshiba Canvio Desk desktop we recently reviewed. We used an Seagate Constellation ES ST32000644NS 2TB enterprise hard drive for our test hard drive in the Blizzard and compared it against the Canvio Desk after completing 5 complete tests using Cyrstal Disk Mark.

Unit Idle Temp (oC) Tested Temp (oC) Difference
Blizzard - Auto 30°C 31°C 1°C
Blizzard - Low 30°C 33°C 3°C
Blizzard - High 30°C 31°C 1°C
Canvio Desk 30°C 39°C 9°C


As you see with the performance numbers, the Icy Dock Blizzard shows a 6 degree improvement over the standard internal cooling of an external device, such as the Toshiba Canvio Desk destop, which uses no fan at all. You see a bigger improvement when running the 80mm fan at high or the auto setting, though the difference is minimal should acoustics be more important than a few degrees of heat. The result either way is that end-users can run their drives 24/7 under heavy load without concern of the drive overheating.

Conclusion

The Icy Dock Blizzard lives up to its performance expectations by providing at least a 6 degree performance improvement over a standard internal cooling of a fanless external. With its three fan settings, it is really up to the user to determine what setting provides them the best performance to fan noise ratio. It is our recommendation to utilize the Auto setting, as it provides really the best of both worlds. It runs the fan quiet when the drive isn't under much load and easily ramps the fan speed up to prevent the hard drive from overheating under long, heavy workloads.

Not only does the enclosure provide adequate cooling, the LED lights serve a dual function. First (and least important), the LED lights add a little "bling" to your enclosure with its Blue LED lighting coming through the front panel. Second (and more important), the LED lights act like a warning system to the user that their hard drive is reaching dangerous internal temperatures. The blue LED lighting turns to a red LED lighting when the hard drives temperature reaches over 50°C. This gives the user a warning to take any necessary action to decrease the drives temps and prevent long-term heat exposure, along with the potential drive failure from overheating.

Pros

  • Incredibly Easy Tool Free Installation
  • Active Cooling With 80mm Fan
  • Over-Temperature Indication
  • USB 3.0 and eSATA

Cons

  • 2.5" drives require adapters, which are not included

Bottom Line

The Icy Dock Blizzard does what is it designed to do, which is to keep your external hard drive cool under the most aggressive usage or for your everyday backup drive. Very heavy users of their external drives can certainly benefit from the easy to use design and added cooling the Blizzard offers.

ID Blizzard at Amazon.com

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