by Lyle Smith

Icy Dock ToughArmor MB996SP-6SB 6-in-1 Adaptor Review

Icy Dock's ToughArmor MB996SP-6SB 6 x 2.5" SATA HDD Hot Swap Rack is a 6-in-1 adaptor that slots up to 6 9.5mm drives into a single 5.25" desktop computer bay. Creative professionals and high-performance enthusiasts are often looking for the best performance available in local dense storage arrays, with SSDs being a popular option for their superior read/write performance. Most desktop workstation cases however, weren't designed for 2.5" drives, nor were are they generally built with such density goals in mind and the need for multiple 5.25" bays is fading. The new Icy Dock 6-in-1 then is a creative way to give users an option to increase the number of small form factor drives in their systems with an easy to use rack and tray system.

Icy Dock ToughArmor MB996SP-6SB 6-in-1 Adaptor Specifications

  • Model Number: MB996SP-6SB
  • Color: Matt Black
  • Host Interface: 6 x 7 pin SATA
  • Drive Fit: 6 x 2.5" SATA I / II / III SSD or HDD (7mm or 9.5mm thickness)
  • Drive Bay: Single 5.25" half height device bay
  • Transfer Rate: Up to 6 GB/s. (depending on hard drive or SSD speed)
  • Insert& Extract connection Via: Direct SATA hard drive connection
  • Structure: Aluminum & SECC
  • Device Power: Dual 4 pin Molex power
  • Drive Cooling: 40mm rear cooling fan with fan switch (High/ Low/ Off)
  • Metal heat dispersion
  • Power Indicator: Solid Green LED
  • HDD Access Indicator: Flashing Amber LED
  • Dimension (L x W x H): 5.84" x 5.75" x 1.63"
  • Weight: 1.77 lbs
  • You find the following accessories inside the box:
    • Manual and User Guide
    • 2 x SATA to Molex Power Adapter (the Dual 4-pin Molex power connectors help to reduce cable clutter all the while simplifying multiple disk installation)
    • Screws for mounting the Dock into your casing
    • Screws for installing the 2.5” HDD onto the tray of the dock.

Design

The ToughArmor MB996SP-6SB is a resilient, black all-aluminum system. As soon as you grip or lift this piece of hardware, you immediately can tell that its quality is bar-none. Each drive bay has a LED light that indicates when a drive is present or is active; if the light is not on, no drive has been installed. It has the standard 5.25" mounting points, which are located on each side with a sticker that says only use the screws included with the kit. Each group of three drives share a power plug. Additionally, the MB996SP-6SB has two SATA power to 4-pin Molex connectors and each bay has its own SATA data connector.



A 40mm fan is located in the middle to cool the installed SSDs or HDDs. Even though 40mm fans are known to be noisy, surprisingly, this isn't the case this time. The MB996SP-6SB’s drive sleds are also very well designed. Each black cap located at the back of the sled is removed whenever a drive is installed. You can see five silver tabs at the front of the sled, which are used to ground the sled and to help reduce vibration.

One of its best features is its ability to hot swap. You simply have to push the small, black button--located on the left of each tray-- to release the hook from the lock and then easily slide out the tray. After you are done installing the SSD or HDD, push the inside lever and it will lock itself securely in. Simple as that. Another handy feature is that the rear fan automatically shuts off when the tray is out.

Performance

To measure the performance of the Icy Dock ToughArmor MB996SP-6SB we installed it in our high-end consumer testing platform, loaded it up with six 200GB Kingston SSDNow E100 enterprise SSDs, and connected it via a LSI 9207-8i HBA.

Using IOMeter to measure the aggregate performance with each SSD connected as a JBOD device, we measured a total write speed of 1,395MB/s and a read speed of 3,240MB/s. Switching to I/O throughput, we measured random 4K transfers with an oustanding queue depth of 32. In this random 4K test we measured write speeds of 262,628 IOPS and read speeds of 341,114 IOPS. Needless to say, there was no doubt left in our minds that the Icy Dock ToughArmor MB996SP-6SB is able to handle the toughest workloads or fastest SSDs loaded into it.

Conclusion

The MB996SP-6SB’s is a handy product that gives people the ability to use a generous number of 2.5" storage products, making it both a unique and attractive option to enthusiasts. It also gives new life users’ old storage devices, allowing them to be used in places that they weren't initially designed for. As far as performance goes, when pushed into the high-performance space with over 300,000 IOPS 4K random read, the enclosure had no trouble keeping up. We are confident that Icy Dock's MB996SP-6SB has the ability to handle anything thrown into it.

We were also impressed (but not surprised) with the quality of its design. Its full metal build makes the MB996SP-6SB a secure and solid device while providing good protection to the all 2.5” drives that are installed. Overall, we believe that this is an excellent option especially if you are looking for great performance and to maximize space in a small form factor, HTPC computer, or home server.

Icy Dock ToughArmor MB996SP-6SB at Amazon.com

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