Icy Dock MB981U3-1SA 2.5″/3.5″ USB 3.0 SATA & IDE Hard Drive Docking Station Review



/ 2 years ago
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[wpcol_1half id="" class="" style=""]Once upon a time, IDE Hard Disk Drives were all the rage, and if you do still have some of these, soon to be, legacy drives then you will be surprised to see a company creating products that allow you to dock an IDE drive, on top of that, this dock also allows you to use SATA drives too.

While this product in itself is not unique, it is certainly a rarity and something we were very interested to take a look at. Most docks that are readily available on the market currently can usually fit 2.5″ or 3.5″ SATA drives only and sometimes only one or the other of these sizes. This Icy Dock creation takes both IDE and SATA drives of both sizes due to a very cleverly designed adapter.

This product certainly has a bit of style to it, and from the front we can see the Icy Dock branding.

At the bottom of the back we see a power and data connection, but you may notice this section seems to be removable so we will look at this in more detail.

On the top of the device there is a power button, and the two slots for a 2.5″ or a 3.5″ drive, these are both flaps which are spring-loaded but push open very easily. On the right hand side is a push lever to help aid the hard drives out.

This adapter was nicely slotted into the bottom of the device and as you can see there is quite a lot to it. There is the power button, and molex power connector, and a SATA data/power connection on top. At the bottom is the standard 3.5″ IDE connection.

On the one side we have the cut-down 2.5″ IDE connection.

On the top, which we could see from the back of the product is the USB 3.0 connection as well as the power supply for this adapter/product.

After removing the adapter we are left with a fairly large gap in the main product, as you can see the power button pushes through from the top and the hard drives plug directly into the adapter at the bottom.

Of course this device connects via the latest and greatest USB 3.0 interface and as such contains a USB 3.0 cable.

As you might expect this dock needs to be powered and as such there is a fairly hefty power supply which has been split into two parts, very much like a laptop charger.

[/wpcol_1half] [wpcol_1half_end id="" class="" style=""]The cables on both parts of the power supply are plenty long enough for you to position the device wherever you want on your desk.

This is the 4-pin molex adapter which is only used when using the 3.5″ IDE drives, and it is fairly short although just about long enough to do the job – another cm in length would of made it easier to plug in.

We now turn to the performance of this dock:

As you can see we have tested a wide variety of drives and did also test a 3.5″ IDE drive, but did at this point find that it is possible to put the drive in upside down – even though then you can’t actually power it up. This is normally avoided by putting in a ‘key pin’ so that the pins can only go in one way round. Unfortunately Icy Dock did not do this with the 3.5″ side of the adapter which did at first cause some confusion.

You can also see from the results that the Icy Dock is not too compromising on the read/write speeds of the drives and does certainly work as expected. Of course, it is not able to utilise the full USB 3.0 speed but this is all due to the hard drives used and there is clearly plenty more data bandwidth left.

In general we do quite like this device, it looks good, works well and has a few good features up its sleeve. It is certainly quite hard to create an all-in-one dock that can cater with the both drive types and both in 2.5″ and 3.5″ form. Certainly Icy Dock have found a fairly cunning way round this by having the detachable adapter.

However, we do partly wonder whether they should of kept the product to just the adapter and not had the whole dock over the top as this would of made more sense. That said, it does give you the best of both worlds, if you only want it for SATA drives you have a lovely docking station and if you are using IDE then you will just use the adapter on its own.

As already mentioned, there is a slightly design flaw with the 3.5″ IDE section which means you do have to be careful to make sure you are putting the drive in the right way up, and also the molex cable being a bit on the short side, at the very least we expect its life expectancy would be higher if it was slightly longer as it would be under such stress to twist round in a short space.

We now turn to price, and we were certainly unsure as to the price we would expect this product to retail at. It is certainly pretty unique, and currently it can be purchased for around £42. While this is a slightly higher when compared to other docking stations on the market it does have a lot more features and is certainly very well built and the dual-functionality makes it very useful in lots of applications as well as using the latest USB 3.0.

This is a brilliantly designed product that will look good and be extremely useful to lots of computer users.

 

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