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ICYDOCK FlexCage MB974SP SATA Backplane Module Review

ICYDOCK FlexCage MB974SP SATA Backplane Module Review
ICYDOCK adds USB 3.0 to its latest FlexCage storage solution with the MB974SP. Let's dive in and take a close look at it.
By: Tyler Bernath | Enclosures/Externals in Storage | Posted: Aug 22, 2013 2:01 pm
TweakTown Rating: 90%Manufacturer: ICYDOCK



The ICYDOCK brand has been around for quite a few years, and there is no doubt many of you would have heard of the brand at one time or another. Over the years they have increased their reputation by offering useful storage solutions catering to all type of builds and users preferences.


The MB974SP we have in house today for testing is targeted towards a wide audience from professional storage, such as servers to the enthusiast users, looking for a way to manage storage in a simpler fashion. Additionally, the MB974SP allows for front panel connectivity of USB 3.0 devices via the internal header. ICYDOCK warranties the MB974SP for a period of three years.




The front of the FlexCage houses four tool-less drive bays actuated by a switch that's tucked away behind each drive pull. To the left, we found two USB 3.0 ports, along with power switches for each bay. Looking towards the bottom, a fan control switch has been placed conveniently.




The backside of the FlexCage houses the two SATA power connectors that supply power across all four drive bays. Additionally, to the right side, we found the USB 3.0 cables to be thin, allowing for easier cable management when putting your build together.




Here you can see each of the four SATA ports, all compatible with the SATA 6GB/s standard.




On the top of the FlexCage you will find a diagram of the electrical layout.




Internally, each bay of the FlexCage is tool-less and made of aluminium.




To test the capabilities of the ICYDOCK FlexCage, we utilized our Corsair Neutron 256GB SSD on our Intel Z77 chipset based motherboard. Benchmarks of choice were ATTO Disk Benchmark and CrystalDiskMark.




ATTO presented us results on par with what we find if our drive was connected directly to our SATA 6GB/s port - that is to say we found no loss of performance by installing our drive in the FlexCage.




CDM results were similar to what we found with ATTO. We were able to reach speeds of 530 MB/s read and 441 MB/s write.


The ICYDOCK FlexCage has quite a few points where the unit really excels. The overall build quality is quite exceptional, using materials such as aluminium for the frame and durable plastics aiding the aesthetics. Adding to the build quality is automatic temperature control, independent drive power switches and the addition of the front panel USB 3.0 connections.


With all of that there are a few places I feel ICYDOCK could improve the product. The first being the bay doors that seem to misalign themselves, and perhaps the addition of a second hinge on each door would improve on the design. Another place you could find yourself in a conundrum is the space the unit takes up in the build. Don't get me wrong here, the FlexCage does offer the ability to install four 3.5" drives in just three 5.25" bays, but if you're working inside a chassis with space restrictions, the rear mounted fan does tend to force itself into the motherboard area.


Performance of the unit was top notch and offered no loss in performance when compared to connecting our drive directly to our SATA 6GB/s port.


At the time of writing, I was able to find the FlexCage MB974SP available at many online retailers for a price of $109.99.




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