Back in August of last year, we had the opportunity to review the Black Vortex drive cage solution. Now ten months later, we have a nearly identical product in house, though this time around ICY DOCK has added eSATA and USB 3.0 to the solution making it a full on external solution.
For those of you that enjoyed the design concept that wrapped around the original Black Vortex drive cage, you will be happy to know that ICY DOCK has went to the drawing board and redesigned that solution to be compatible with today's modern external technologies. This time around we have for the most part the same internal cage design with USB 3.0 and eSATA backing it up.
While typical solutions that would house four drives externally come with some form of RAID, this solution is JBOD only and that of course means for those using eSATA you need a card capable of port multiplying. For those wanting to use to USB 3.0, well you need not to worry, as it will work out of the box. Being that this is an ICY DOCK product their full line of EZConvert solutions are compatible with the Black Vortex.
MSRP of the ICY DOCK Black Vortex USB 3.0 / eSATA Enclosure comes in at $144.99 with a three-year warranty.
Packaging for the ICY DOCK as you can see is quite colorful. We have an image of the enclosure to the right with quite a bit of marketing information to the left.
Scope of delivery includes the power adapter, USB 3.0 cable and reading materials. This unit did not come with an eSATA cable.
The front of the Black Vortex houses a large 120mm cooling fan along with dust filter to keep your drives cooled and clean when in use. We also have four drive mounts that do lock into position at the left.
The front of the enclosure has LEDs to the right for each drives activity, while just below that you will find two switches for fan speed and LED control.
The back of the unit houses the power connection to the far left, while the USB 3.0 and eSATA connections are to the right.
In testing the Black Vortex, we first used our 1TB Toshiba hard drives in all four slots. Read and write came in around 197 MB/s and 194 MB/s, respectively.
We then switched over to our Intel 730 SSD, to see the capabilities of the Black Vortex. As you see above, the enclosure is capable of 271 MB/s read and 258 MB/s write.
To check if there was any performance loss while copying from two drives both mounted in the enclosure, we copied a 5GB file from one drive to another. Seen above, the transfer speed averaged out to 182 MB/s.
While the ICY DOCK Black Vortex doesn't have the typical aesthetics of an external enclosure, there are quite a few unique features with this solution. With it being almost a pure open-air solution, your drives are sure to stay cool and with the front mounted fan that should aide in cooling that much more. While staying true to the original Black Vortex design, the shell of this solution is comprised of metal while the trays and locks are plastic. With that said, this design has been used over two products now and has been proven to be reliable in design and we had no issues with it in our testing.
Performance, while purely not designed with SSDs in mind does do quite well. In testing, we were able to achieve 270 MB/s read and 258 MB/s write, which is more than enough for your standard platter drives, and ample enough if you so choose to install an SSD or two.
In a nutshell, the Black Vortex is a uniquely designed external solution and for those that are looking for something like this, it carries plentiful performance for hard drives with just the right build quality. Now if they could only work on the MSRP.
|Quality including Design and Build||86%|
|Bundle and Packaging||79%|
|Value for Money||72%|
The Bottom Line: While this is surely one of the most unique solutions we have seen in awhile, ICY DOCK's MB174U3S-4SB Black Vortex with all of its performance and connectivity options, does come at a price.
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