Icy Dock Blizzard HDD Enclosure & EZ-Dock Docking Station

Storage
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USB 3.0 Performance

To coax maximum performance out of each device we tested them with a Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB solid state drive using CrystalDiskMark's 1000 MB setting using 0x00 fill test data to take advantage of the SandForce controller's proficiency with compressed data.

Connected to an Intel-based USB 3.0 controller, both Icy Dock devices scored within the same range as the MUKii TransImp Dock which had been our temporary storage work horse for the better part of two years. USB 3.0 is limited to 5 Gbps but the results are far worse than that of a standard 6 Gbps SATA controller. This is apparently an issue with interface standard itself; we have yet to encounter a USB 3.0 controller that comes close to taking advantage of all the speed benefits of modern SSDs.

With eSATA, there is no need for any testing. The interface is identical in performance to internal SATA, and the only significant potential bottleneck is the extra length of the cable. For all intents and purpose, the eSATA interface is the same as connecting the drive directly to the SATA connectors on the motherboard.

MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds in actual user. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recording starts with 5~10 second segments of room ambiance, then the device/fan at various states/levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In a market filled to the brim with basic drive enclosures, the Icy Dock Blizzard is a top of the line model with all the extras. It's got a controllable fan that blows across almost the entire drive, LEDs that connote power, activity, and temperature, and assembly is completely tool-free. It seems like a bit of waste to have all these fancy features for just a single drive, though. The fan is more than capable at the low speed setting; the high and automatic settings aren't really necessary. In addition, the fan makes enclosure as wide as a dual drive model — the extra width feels squandered. It's also very unlikely a hard drive will heat up past 50°C, making the secondary lighting superfluous for most users. All these extra doodads add up, to the tune of US$60, about double the price of basic models in the marketplace. Adding a second drive bay wouldn't cost that much more and would better make use of the space that the Blizzard occupies. In its current from, it's a bit like an awkward candlelit dinner for one.

The EZ-Dock is the Blizzard's antithesis. There are multitudes of similar products and the EZ-Dock could easily be lost just another iteration. It offers no bonus functionality, unless you consider that many cheaper docking stations don't even have a release mechanism. This is really a necessary feature in our view, so rather than praising Icy Dock for including one, it's more appropriate to chastise the devices that are lacking one. The EZ-Dock is well-built and more attractive than most; that counts for something. Like the Blizzard, its pricing (US$45) is a bit higher than some of its competitors but the difference is small.

Many thanks to Icy Dock for the Blizzard and EZ-Dock samples.

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Icy Dock Blizzard is Recommended by SPCR


Icy Dock EZ-Dock is Recommended by SPCR

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

ADATA XPG SX300 128GB & Intel 525 Series 180GB mSATA SSDs
Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB SSD Review
Intel 520 Series 120GB SandForce SSD
Crucial M4 64GB: Solid-State on a Budget
Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB vs. Samsung 830 Series 128GB
Icy Dock 2.5"/3.5" Drive Accessories

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