Icy Dock MB973SP-B SATA Backplane Module

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Icy Dock MB973SP-B 3-in-2 SATA Backplane Module

June 12, 2011 by Lawrence Lee

Icy Dock MB973SP-B SATA Backplane Module
Street Price

Icy Dock is an American company (with manufacturing in China like so many others) with a vast catalogue of storage devices, both external and internal. They carry pretty much every configuration of hard drive caddy, enclosure, docking station, and other hard drive accessory you can think of. Today we're looking at the MB973SP-B, a device that converts two 5.25" bays into an external backplane module for up to three 3.5" SATA hard drives.

The box.

For those not familiar with these devices, they allow you to conveniently access data stored on bare hard drives not installed your system. Drives are slipped into bays from the outside. They lock into SATA data/power connectors on a backplane in the bay, which in turn are connected to data and power cables on the inside of the system so that they can be accessed on the fly (hotswapped). This can be done using eSATA, USB, or FireWire docking stations but they take up space, require a power adapter, and can add to the rat's nest of cables many PC users already have trouble contending with. If you have a couple of empty optical drive bays, the MB973 does the same job using what you already have without taking up any extra room. It is equipped with a fan, so it should work fine as permanent storage as well, though this is probably only worthwhile if all your internal hard drive bays are already occupied.

Note that to take full advantage of the MB973 and similar devices (and eSATA connected peripherals as well), your system must be setup to support SATA hotswapping. The SATA controller used must be set to the AHCI or RAID in the BIOS/UEFI and the operating system installed has to have the proper drivers installed. If you are using Windows 7, chances are your AHCI/RAID drivers were pre-loaded during installation. If Windows was installed in IDE mode however, it may not boot when changed to AHCI/RAID mode; editing the registry will allow you to make the switch without going through the pain of reinstalling.

Package contents.

The contents of the package are sparse, consisting of the backplane module itself, mounting screws and a simple manual wrapped up in plastic. The MB973 also gives you an extra front-accessible eSATA and USB port so there is a SATA cable and set of USB pins sticking out on the side.

Icy Dock MB973SP-B: Specifications
(from the product page)
Model Number MB973SP-B
Color Black
Drive Fit 3.5 “ SATA 1.5 / 3 Gbit/s hard drive x 3
Host Connection 7 pin SATA port x 3 for HDD
7 pin SATA connector x 1 for front Panel eSATA port
5 pin USB 2.0 connector x 1 for front Panel USB port
Device Space 5.25" half height device bay x 2
Transfer Rate Up to 3 Gbit/s. (depending on hard drive speed)
Insert& Extract connection Via Direct SATA hard drive connection
Front Panel Contents eSATA Port x 1 & USB 2.0 Port x1
Adjustable fan speed control (High/Low/Auto)
Structure Aluminum body w/ partial plastic
Drive Cooling Removable rear outtake fan w/ aluminum heat dispersion
Cooling Fan Type 80mm ball bearing fan with 2 or 3 pin connector
Power Indicator Blue LED
HDD Access Indicator Flashing blue LED
Dimension (L x W x H) 8.27" x 5.83" x 3.35"
Weight 1.97 lbs

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