Icy Dock MB973SP-B SATA Backplane Module

Storage
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TESTING

System Configuration:

Measurement and Analysis Tools

Our test is rather simple, a comparison of the cooling and noise of the Icy Dock when filled with three WD Caviar Green hard drives and the same drives mounted internally in a LanCool PC-K59 case with a single 14 cm intake fan. The other noise generating components are a Nexus 12 cm fan on the CPU cooler running at 7V, and a Silent Pro M700W modular power supply, all running idle so it's a fairly quiet base environment.


The competition: same drives mounted in a PC-K59 ATX tower. Note, foam was added to mitigate the vibration-prone hard drive cages. Subjectively it sounds like most cases with semi-soft mounted drives.

Test Results

Test Results: Icy Dock MB973
Fan Speed
Temperature
System SPL@1m
HDD #1
HDD #2
HDD #3
Off (unplugged)
>45°C
>45°C
>45°C
18~19 dBA
Auto
35°C
35°C
34°C
18~19 dBA
Low
34°C
34°C
34°C
28 dBA
High
33°C
32°C
32°C
35 dBA
Test Results: Case Mounted
Off
42°C
41°C
42°C
17 dBA
5V
37°C
34°C
35°C
18 dBA
Ambient temperature: 23°C.

With the unit's stock fan unplugged (it can't be turned off manually) the system noise level was 1~2 dB higher than the same drives mounted internally. This isn't a surprise as there is a great deal of metal-on-metal contact that increases transmission of vibration from the drives via conduction. The LanCool case, on the other hand, uses rubber grommets on rails to mount drives. As a result, the drives in the MB973 generated a stronger, more audible humming noise. Without active cooling, the hard drive temperatures were high, slowly creeping up past 45°C before we ended the test (it probably would have risen even more but we didn't have patience to wait any longer). Mounted in the native drive cage of the case, the drives settled in at just above 40°C thanks to the greater spacing between them and the large intake vent at the front of the case.

Though there is limited airflow in each of the MB973's three drive bays, running the unit's 80 mm fan on automatic (which adjusts the speed based on temperature) made a big difference, allowing the drives to stabilize at about 35°C without adding any measurable noise to the system (at least not with three drives running). The results were similar to the internally mounted drives with the front fan at 5V blowing over them. The drives require very little airflow to stay cool. Increasing the MB973's fan to low and high speed only produced minor thermal improvements at the cost of much higher noise levels. At these manual speeds, the fan had an annoying droning quality along with the high volume levels.


The MB973 was very quiet with the fans set to Auto. Our system measured just 18~19 dBA@1m, 1~2 dB higher than the same configuration without any hard drives.



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