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Icy Dock FatCage MB155SP-B SATA Backplane Module Review

Final Thoughts


As I mentioned at the start of this review, Icy Dock produce a huge number of hard drive enclosures, both internal and external with concepts that many of us would think were that useful. The FatCage for some people is going to be another one of those “why did I not think of that?” items and whilst it does a very simple task – taking three optical drive bay slots and converting them to hold five 3.5″ hard disks, there are a couple of things that I would prefer to see tweaked and changed.

The first of the changes that I would like to see is in reference to the two small holes on the upper edge of the front bezel. The holes are for LEDs to be fitted behind to warn of high temperature and fan speeds on other Icy Dock models, but not including this one. I’d rather see instead that these were either filled in and removed or instead to have LED’s put in there as they were intended for, leaving these as-is seems a bit lazy to me rather then having a plain bezel made for this product.

The other item that I would like to address and one that puts a huge stopper on this product for me is the compatibility with a huge number of cases on the market. As you may or may not know, most cases have two small rails that run underneath optical drive bays to support them during installation and these consequently make the overall width over multiple bays a fraction narrower. Most two or more drive bay sized products on the market overcome this width issue buy placing a small gap along the sides of the product for these rails to slide along.

The little downers aside and looking at the performance of the FatCage, our Western Digital Se drives saw only a fractional drop in performance which is what we would expect to see from a device such as this. Backplanes are very handy devices as you’ve seen me mention throughout this review and for systems such as servers, they can make swapping out drives very quick and simple, especially for the likes of backup drives where you want hot-swap access to your data.

Icy Dock’s FatCage comes in with a retail price of around £80 (~€94 EUR / $120 USD), which for this type of product is a fair price to pay. I have to admit though that due to the problem with the drive rails, to which Icy Dock explain is to be expected and all that the user has to do is bend these out of the way, I can’t see why they should damage their system to do so. When buying a product that is close to the £100 mark, I wouldn’t expect any user to have to bend parts of the chassis in order to make it fit properly. As mentioned there are one or two similar products out there that do offer gaps for the rails to pass along and looking at the FatCage I do estimate that there is sufficient space available on this product to do the same.

Putting the Drive rail issue aside, the rest of the FatCages design and use is spot on, simple drive trays and a user swappable fan keep things nice and simple and if you don’t mind bending bits of your case then its not a bad product.

Pros:

  • Hot-swap capability
  • Easy access to five 3.5″ drive bays
  • Known manufacturer
  • Solid build quality
  • Well priced

Cons:

  • Limited out of the box compatibility with many chassis on the market

eTeknix Says: “Icy Dock’s backplanes and drive cages are some of the best on the market, offering up many options that we would never have thought of ourselves, however the MB155SP-B does need a little refinement to be an award winning product”

 

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Chris Hadley

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