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Docking Station Testing
File Transfer Suite:
- Small Files:
1,250 small HTML, JPEG, and MP3 files totaling 871MB.
- Large Files: Four large AVI files totaling 4194MB.
- Huge File: One MKV file, 3799MB in size (not really "huge" but generates similar MB/s results as single 10GB+ sized files)
To test USB 3.0 performance we connected a pair of VelociRaptor 600GB drives in the same system, one internally via SATA, the other through USB 3.0, and timed a series a file transfers between them.
The Icy Dock performs similarly to the last USB 3.0 docking station we reviewed, the MUKii TransImp. Both units produce speeds close to that of internal operation when copying files from USB 3.0. The average transfer speed from the internal drive to USB 3.0 is noticeably slower, but only for batches of smaller, more numerous files.
The EZ-Fit Pro Dual 2.5" to 3.5" Drive Bracket works well for what it is, a device allowing the mounting of two 2.5" drives in a single 3.5" bay. The mounting design is incredibly simple and effective, allowing users to insert and eject drives with ease, but this feature is a bit of a waste for an internal adapter. Add a flap to cover the drives and a SATA backplane so the cables inside only have to be hooked up once and it becomes a convenient hotswap tray for use in an external 3.5" bay. For internal use, the convenience factor is obviously mitigated by having to open up the chassis. Priced at US$15~$20, it's a reasonable value.
Icy Dock's 2.5" to 3.5" SATA Drive Converter is a bit on the fancy side considering it basically does the same thing as the EZ-Fit Pro Dual, only with just one drive instead of two and without IDE support. It has a nifty drive mounting design, using a top cover that pushes the drive into a SATA pass-through adapter, but it's overly complex. Encapsulating the drive in plastic doesn't give it any advantage over an open bracket adapter. It's actually less versatile than the EZ-Fit as the cover opens up from the top, requiring the entire converter to be removed to get the drive out. This device also sells for US$15~$20, but given its limited functionality, we can't recommend it. If you don't care about looks, a generic single drive bracket is much cheaper. (Setting up a DIY elastic suspension system is cheaper still, with the added benefit of reducing vibration-generated noise. For solid state drives, even duct tape would do as they have no moving parts and run so cool.)
Of the three devices covered here, the USB 3.0 SATA Docking Station / IDE Adapter is easily our favorite. It provides easy external access for bare SATA drives, features a nice release mechanism, and its controller can be popped off for IDE functionality and to make it more portable. The modular adapter is convenient if you're in tech support and constantly on the move. Separate 3.5" and 2.5" IDE slots on the dock would have made it perfect. We can however understand the omission adding two additional slots that would be rarely used doesn't make a lot of sense; we can't remember the last time we had to deal with an IDE drive. While you can get a generic SATA USB 3.0 dock for a substantially lower price, if you need it, the IDE compatibility and detachable controller makes Icy Dock's version worth the US$45 asking price
Our thanks to Icy Dock for the various 2.5"/3.5" drive accessories provided for this review.
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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2TB Hard Drive
Tiché PC HDD Vibration Killer
Seagate Barracuda 3TB: 1TB Platter Behemoth
WD Scorpio Black 750GB & Scorpio Blue 1TB
Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 2TB 5940RPM Hard Drive
Icy Dock MB973SP-B SATA Backplane Module
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this article in the SPCR forums.
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