If you’re like me you like to back up files, install every game in your Steam library just because and record your favorite TV shows to your hard drive to enjoy them on your own time. This unfortunately takes up a lot of space and more often than not means you need more and more hard drives to sate your unhealthy obsession with storage but what happens when you run out of space to put your drives or even worse, your media PC is in a small mATX case? Icy Dock looks to come to the data hogs rescue with their ToughArmor 6x2.5" SATA HDD Hot Swap Mobile Rack which promises to give us a place to put 6 2.5” drives in a single 5.25” external bay. We’ll find out if this increase in storage is worth your time.

Product Name: ToughArmor 6x2.5" SATA HDD Hot Swap Mobile Rack

Review Sample provided by: Icy Dock

Review by: Debo

Pictures by: Debo

Specifications

Model

MB996SP-6SB

Host Interface

SATA 6Gbps

Device Interface

7-pin SATA x6

Device Power

15-pin SATA Power x2 (4-pin Molex)

Data Transfer Rate

Up to 6Gbps

HDD Support

2.5” SATA I/II/III SSD or HDD (95.mm thickness)

Hot Swap

Yes

Cooling

40mm fan x1 w/ three speed switch

Dimensions

146 x 41.3 x 148.4mm

Weight

800g


Packaging and Overview

We get our first look at the ToughArmor bay on the front of the box. This preview is important because with the six dock bay will be taking up a 5.25” bay slot on the front of your case, you are surely going to know what it looks like. Also found here are some small little feature icons. There isn't much more real information here beyond the picture though.

6Bay 1

The rear of the box is where we get the specifications and another view of the bay, this time with the trays pulled out.

6Bay 2

Included in with the bay is a pair of 15-pin SATA power to 4-pin Molex adapters to provide the power, a small, simple user's guide and bags of screw for both the bays case and the individual trays.

6Bay 3

Finally we get to the ToughArmor bay. The design looks nice enough and has a very nice metal construction under its black coat of paint befitting the name. The overall product feels solid and weighs less than the optical drives that usually occupy the 5.25” bay slots when empty.

6Bay 4

Looking at the front we see the HDD grills. Each individual tray has a pair of LED indicator lights for power and operation unique to the drive install in that tray. Each of these trays is easily removable by pressing in a tab on the left side that unlocks a hinge that releases the drive from its connection and allows for removal.

6Bay 5

6Bay 7

 

Taking a look at the tray we see the simple design. By default each tray has a stand in guard to protect the internal hot swap connections and these guards have to be removed before installing your drive. Inside we can see the hot-swap connections for each drive.

6Bay 8

6Bay 9

The rear of the ToughArmor is where we find the 40mm fan, its control switch and all of the connections of data and power. The SATA connections are simple pass-through connections compatible with SATA versions up to 6Gbps SATA III. The fan switch has three settings for hi, low, and off. This fan pulls air through the front grates, over the drives and out into your case, acting as another small intake.

6Bay 6


Installation and Performance

The three things you need to install the ToughArmor bay are power and SATA connections, and open 5.25” bay slot and the bay itself. The process is equally as simple, if you’ve ever installed an optical drive you should know the drill by now. We ran our own 4-pin Molex connections to the bay dock from out test benches power supply but you can use the included adapters if you wish. We then simply plug in the power.

6Bay 10

6Bay 11

6Bay 12

Next, it is time to install our drive onto a tray. We start by removing the connection guard and fastening our drive to the tray with the supplied screws. With that we are done and ready to go. The drive slides right into place without much fanfare and is ready to use. All in all the promise of a plug & play setup is true as there is probably more time spent with cable management than on the actual installation.

6Bay 13

6Bay 15

6Bay 16

6Bay 14

A few things to note on performance, the bay will only accept 9.5mm thickness drives, so be aware of that if you are rolling with larger SSDs or even laptop HDDs. With the fan set to high it does produce a mildly noticeable whine as you would expect from such a small size but on low setting it is almost noticeable and the fan will not operate at all without any drives connected. There is no sticking or hanging problems with the bays sliding mechanisms as long as the correct screws are used.


Overall and Final Verdict

If you need more storage but space it at a premium, the ToughArmor 6x2.5" SATA HDD rack from Icy Dock is certainly a good alternative. I can’t really see a use for it in most home systems with mid and full towers already coming stacked with more HDD support than the average motherboard has but in server and some mATX builds I can certainly see the usefulness. Not being limited to just SSD usage also allows you to get that extra usage out of any old laptop drives you may have lying around.

Luckily most 2.5” HDDs and SSDs are standardized at the 9.5mm thickness but for those few that aren’t, you are out of luck with the Icy Dock bays space at a premium design. The whining of the fan may also be a downside to some as the whine is noticeable in quieter systems.

The Icy Dock ToughArmor 6x2.5" SATA HDD rack is a niche product for sure but for those that need and can utilize its uses it serves admirably and provides quick access to up to six hot swappable 2.5” drives. The design shies away from being to flashy which most users can appreciate. The installation is painless and the latching mechanism feels secure enough to feel comfortable putting platter drives into it. If you have a use for it, the 6 Bay is certainly a solution worth a look.

fv3

Author Bio
William
Author: William
Review and Event Staff
William is the newest addition to both the Review and Event staff. Being in charge of power, hopefully you have to see very little of him during our lans. Outside of lans he can be found engaging in his unhealthy obsession with all things gaming in between writing the odd review and bothering Wes at all hours of the day. An avid gamer nearly all his life, it is common for the latest MMO release to cause him to drop off the face of the Earth for a week or two.

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Deb0's Avatar
Deb0 replied the topic: #33890 04 Feb 2014 05:32
With the LAN a month away start planning on where to put your STORAGE!

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