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.

@TylerBernath
Published Thu, Aug 22 2013 9:01 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: ICYDOCK
ICYDOCK FlexCage MB974SP SATA Backplane Module Review 99 | TweakTown.com
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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.

ICYDOCK FlexCage MB974SP SATA Backplane Module Review 02 | TweakTown.com

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.

ICYDOCK FlexCage MB974SP SATA Backplane Module Review 03 | TweakTown.com

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.

ICYDOCK FlexCage MB974SP SATA Backplane Module Review 04 | TweakTown.com

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

ICYDOCK FlexCage MB974SP SATA Backplane Module Review 06 | TweakTown.com

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

ICYDOCK FlexCage MB974SP SATA Backplane Module Review 07 | TweakTown.com

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.

ICYDOCK FlexCage MB974SP SATA Backplane Module Review 20 | TweakTown.com

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.

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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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Growing up in a small farm town, tech wasn't around, unless it was in a tractor. At an early age, Tyler's parents brought home their first PC. Tyler was hooked and learned what it meant to format a HDD, spending many nights reinstalling Windows 95. Tyler's love and enthusiast nature always kept his PC nearby. Eager to get deeper into tech, he started reviewing.

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