by Tucker Mindrum

Icy Dock ToughArmor Series Backplane Cage for 5.25" Bay

The backplane cage from Icy Dock, which is part of their new ToughArmor Series, allows up to eight 2.5” SSD or HDD drives (up to 7mm height) to be consolidated into one 5.25” bay. This product aims to save space, reduce workspace clutter, and provide a reliable means of building a workstation or compact server. It would be best used in a gaming rig, home server, HTPC, or any non-RAID JBOD storage setting. Icy Dock has equipped this device with Medical & Military standard housing, promising to protect drives and maintain function through a wide range of environments.

Installation is easy with Icy Dock’s hot-swappable EZ Slide Nano trays and Eagle Hook locking system. In addition to its durable chassis, this device also features Anti Vibration Technology (AVT) and EMI grounding to maintain stability. LEDs corresponding to each installed drive can be found on the front of the device, and Active Power Technology (APT) keeps things running efficiently, only powering on LEDs or fans if drives are in use. The system is kept cool with the frontal and side ventilation openings as well as the dual 40mm fans.

The MB998SP-B can be purchased for $132.99 and carries a 3-year warranty.

Specifications

  • Model Number: MB998SP-B
  • Color: Matt Black
  • Host Interface: 8x 7pin SATA
  • Drive Fit: 8x 2.5" SATA I/II/III SSD or HDD (7mm drive height)
  • Device Fit: Single 5.25" half height device bay
  • Transfer Rate: Up to 6Gb/s (depending on hard drive speed)
  • Power Input: 2x 15pin SATA power port
  • Insert& Extract connection Via: Direct SATA hard drive connection
  • Structure: Metal
  • Drive Cooling
    • Dual 40mm rear cooling fan
    • Metal heat dispersion
  • Power Indicator: Solid green LED
  • HDD Access Indicator: Flashing amber LED
  • Dimension (LxWxH): 5.75" x 5.6" x 1.63"
  • Weight: 1.93lbs
  • Warranty: 3 years

Design and Build

The ToughArmor MB998SP-B has a fully metal enclosure with eight bays arranged in two columns. It is plainly designed, with no branding and a fully matt black finish. Each bay has an ejection button to the left, a green LED corresponding to drive status, ventilation openings, and numbered drive ID labels. The sides of the chassis have ventilation openings as well.

The trays themselves have a standard latch design (described as an Eagle Hook lock system by Icy Dock) with four screw holes that are used to secure drives.

The back of the device has two fans arranged in series with the power inputs (which support locking latches) and eight SATA ports.

Performance

In order to test the ToughArmor MB998SP-B we populated it with 8 Toshiba HK3R2 120GB SSDs and connected it to our HP Z620 Workstation Testing Platform. Using a LSI 9361-8i RAID card we tested the ToughArmor MB998SP-B with IOMeter in RAID0 configuration. In our 4K random tests we saw throughput performance of 260,060 IOPS write and 498,415 IOPS read. In our 2MB sequential tests we saw speeds of 4,662MB/s write and 4,230MB/s read.

Conclusion

Icy Dock’s latest backplane cage, the ToughArmor MB998SP-B, allows users to combine 8 2.5”, 7mm SSDs or HDDs in one small form factor. The dock is built with Medical & Military standard housing and can withstand a few knocks and various environments. The device features Anti Vibration Technology and is aimed at users that want to use it as a home server, a gaming rig, home theater PC, or as JBOD storage.

As far as performance goes, we saw some incredible numbers come out of the device on our IOMeter tests configured for RAID0. With the 2MB sequential transfer performance we saw a read speed of 4,230MB/s and write speeds of 4,662MB/s. On our larger 4K random test we saw performance of 260,060 IOPS write and 498,415 IOPS read. One should keep in mind that the dock has less to do with the overall performance as the drives used in the test. Since we were using light enterprise drives and a high-performance SAS3 RAID card, performance may vary depending on the hardware selected by the customer.

Pros

  • Lots of capacity in small form factor
  • Tough casing can withstand a beating such as accidently knocking it off a desk
  • Hot-swappable trays

Cons

  • Users need to provide the necessary connectivity

The Bottom Line

The Icy Dock ToughArmor Series Backplane Cage provides a an easy way to combine 8 drives in a small form factor.

ICY DOCK ToughArmor at Amazon

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