Icy Dock FlexCage MB973SP-2B
We're going to breeze though the box shots and get right into the FlexCage. Most of these products are sold over the internet and not in retail stores so the box really just needs to keep the product safe during shipping.
The specification located on the back of the box give enough details to get the point across.
The inner package is what we really care about today and Icy Dock did a good job protecting the meat of the product. There is enough closed cell foam in place and especially at the edges to keep the enclosure safe in transport.
Inside the package we found a paper manual with installation instructions, screws for mounting the enclosure to the case if needed and two SATA power to 4-pin Molex connectors.
We finally get past all of the formalities and can start in with what makes this product significant. The FlexCage takes the place of two near worthless 5.25" optical bay covers that could be used to do something. Since none of us are using optical drives for anything other than pirating Blu-ray movies that we're hoarding on our NAS servers, we don't need two optical drives, if even one.
So, instead of two covers we have a trio of 3.5" HDD bays that are tool-less and hot swappable. You can insert and remove drives without shutting the computer down. Two USB 3.0 ports flank the left side and a three individual power buttons, one for each bay, are close by. The buttons also double as power and status LEDs.
At the very bottom is a three-position switch that controls the fan speed. The settings are high, low and our preferred setting, auto.
The bottom half of the unit has standard mounting points for the 5.25" standard. The slit in the middle isn't to save metal; it's there so your computer cases mounting doesn't keep you from sliding the unit into the case.
A large 80mm fan keeps the internal drive cool and also injects cool air into your computer case. When set on the highest setting the fan is noisy. It's not NVIDIA Dustbuster loud, but it's audible. On the low setting it's inaudible, but then you'll worry about your temperatures as well as not take advantage of the cooling capabilities. The auto setting was perfect when running three Seagate 3TB enterprise SATA drives. The system never exceeded silent operation when set to auto.
The three SATA ports are on the other side of the enclosure. The user replaceable fan plugs into the PCB on this side. An additional two pin fan connector remains unused. You may of noticed the two cables coming out of the back, they are like tentacles that you can't remove and since they come out of two holes, make plugging your SATA cables in a bit of a pain. We would have preferred the two USB 3.0 cables come out of one area and zip tied together.
You get a generous amount of cable, a little more than necessary for motherboards with USB 3.0 headers in the middle of the board, but just enough for motherboards with headers at the bottom of the board.
We did find one design issue and it has to do with the location of the cables. Most computer cases put the CPU at the top of the case, the standard, non-upside down, traditional design. With that in mind, the cables come out of the wrong side to hide the cable easily in your case. The same is true for the SATA ports. Since the USB 3.0 cables are all the way to the right, you have to bend them over the SATA ports and that's why it can be difficult to just toss the FlexCage in an existing bay quickly. You have to plan your installation carefully.
Once installed the system becomes completely tool-less. You don't need to put the drives in a sled; they just slide right into the FlexCage. The front doors push the drive in place, but it doesn't spin up until the front, child safe button is pressed.
To remove the drive you power it down with the front button and then simply open the front door. The door engages a mechanism that slide the drive out of the cage enough to grab. The design is really good from a mechanical port of view. You just need to spend a little time getting the cables tucked away.