We cover Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices extensively here at We Got Served, but sometimes it can be far simpler to add more disks to an existing system. In that case, a Direct Attached Storage (DAS) device provides a convenient solution. IcyDock provides one possible DAS option with their 4-bay IcyCube MB561U3S-4SB, which adds up to 4 SATA drives to a system via either eSATA 6.0Gbps or USB 3.0.
The IcyDock IcyCube MB561U3S-4SB is an updated release of the MB561US-4S-1 that Jim reviewed way back in 2010. The new edition is equipped with support for all three generations of SATA and adds USB 3.0 support as well. I will be doing a full review soon but for now let’s check out what’s in the box.
The IcyDock IcyCube is packaged in a white, matte finish retail box with glossy feature photos of the IcyCube on the front and both sides. IcyDock makes two versions of the IcyCube: the black MB561U3S-4SB version that I am reviewing, along with a white version (MB561U3S-4S) which is shown in most of the photos on the box. I really like the fact that the colour versions are listed just below the primary logos on the front of the box instead of tucked away on a side panel as it makes it very clear which colour is in the box.
On the left, below the feature image on the front, there are a series of icons representing the features of the IcyCube, all of which I found very easy to understand despite a typo in one where the “b” was omitted from the Anti-Vibration icon text. On the right side of the front there are logos for the USB 3.0 and eSATA connection options which include the maximum speed for each type.
On the right side panel, the main focus is a prominent shot of the front of the unit, which highlights the individual drive activity indicator LEDs. In the area below the feature shot, there are two photos which show how 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives are supported in the same removable tray. The left side panel focuses on the rear of the unit with a feature photo commanding our attention in the upper portion. In the lower section, one photos shows that the fan on the rear of the unit can be controlled with a 3 level fan control switch, while the other photo shows that it can be removed for even quieter operation.
The rear of the box contains the model description in English and 9 other common languages located above the detailed specifications list. There is one small photo on the rear of the box which is nestled under the IcyDock logo and website in the top right corner. The photo, despite its small size, shows how the drives are inserted into the unit which can be a fairly important piece of information for small storage devices as some use creative methods to insert the drives.
The box measures 30cm wide by 21cm deep with a height of 27cm (12″x8.25″x10.75″) and weighs in at 3.7kg (8.2lbs). The weight of the box alone is enough to give an impression that what’s inside will be well made. The specifications on the rear panel listed the unit at 2.8kg (6.2lbs) so most of the weight comes from the IcyCube itself.
Upon opening the box’s white flaps, there is more white to see with a small white box containing the cables which is held securely between two ends of foam (also white). Next we find the user manual in a plastic sleeve perched on top of the IcyCube, which is wrapped in its own form-fitting plastic bag as well. The foam on the ends of the IcyCube is so perfectly fit to the unit that neither foam piece moved as it was lifted out of the box. The bags with the mounting screws for the drive trays were neatly taped in place to the end of the bag that wraps the IcyCube. The only critique I have of the packaging is that the LDPE (low density polyethylene) foam inserts are acceptable for recycling in municipalities that accept plastics with a #4 recycling symbol and it would have been nice to see them marked that way.
The packaging did a wonderful job of protecting the IcyCube as the anodized finish did not even have a fingerprint on it, much less any damage. IcyDock has made the shell of the IcyCube out of a single piece of anodized aluminum with gently curved corners. The front panel loses a few marks in the looks department with its high-gloss finish mainly because it is not as impressive as the shell and it does attract fingerprints. The silver finish on the drive tray insertion levers breaks up all the black and prevents the IcyCube from looking dull.
Around the rear of the IcyDock IcyCube, the removable 80mm fan is the most prominent component, encased in a cowling that is mostly aesthetic in nature. Compressing a tab at the bottom of the cowling allows the fan to swing upwards and unhook from the chassis, revealing a hex pattern grill underneath. There is no power cord to disconnect when removing the fan as it connects via a pair of spring tabs, though that does mean that swapping the fan for a different brand will likely involve some soldering and will void the warranty. A 3-position slide switch in the middle below the fan does allow for high, low, or temperature-controlled auto speeds if the fan is left installed. The eSATA and USB 3.0 connectors are located to the right of the fan controller and are in a slightly recessed section. To the left of the fan speed switch is the socket for the power cord with an integrated power switch.
The last component of the IcyDock IcyCube are the EZ-Trays which are standard across a range of IcyDock enclosures. The front of the trays are primarily plastic though they have a solid, quality feel to them. The back part of the tray where the drives mount is made of a sturdy metal design that will definitely hold up to being swapped often. The EZ-Trays lock into place via a sliding plastic clip which holds the silver levers in the closed position. Hiding the levers as design accents is a nice touch but the plastic clips are tricky to release at times. The EZ-Trays allow the IcyCube to support 2.5″ drives through the 4 holes in underside of the tray’s frame, as well as 3.5″ drives through holes in the sides.
The IcyDock IcyCube is a well put together external storage enclosure and hopefully it performs as well as it looks. The IcyDock IcyCube MB561U3S-4SB is available from Newegg.com for $179.99. Check back soon for a full review.