IcyDock has a reputation for making quality storage enclosures and we have tested a number of them here at We Got Served over the years. In this review, I’ll be taking a look at the IcyDock FlexCage which adds 3 hot-swap 3.5″ hard drive bays to a computer by using a pair of 5.25″ bays. The FlexCage also features two USB 3.0 ports on the left side of the front and an 80mm speed-controlled fan in the rear to keep things cool.
What’s in the Box?
Opening the box, the FlexCage comes wrapped in a plastic bag and encased in LDPE foam supports. Also included are a pair of 15-pin (SATA) to 4-pin (Molex) adapters, the product manual, and bag of 8 screws for mounting the FlexCage in the computer. The USB 3.0 header cable is built into the FlexCage however, there are no SATA data cables included, so you’ll need to provide those.
Getting Up and Running
On the top of the FlexCage, IcyDock has provided a wonderfully clear diagram of all the rear panel connections with labels to help make connecting the device a breeze. Both power plugs need to be connected and in my case, it was a good thing IcyDock includes SATA to Molex (4-pin) power adapters as I only had one available Molex plug.
I ran into some minor difficulties with the size of the FlexCage when I went to install it in my case. It is noticeably longer than my DVD drives and would hit the edge of my motherboard when inserted in the bottom two 5.25″ bays. I had to move my DVD drive to the bottom bay and install the FlexCage above it. Once screwed into the case, the FlexCage sat flush to the front on my HP Z400 workstation’s bezel though I didn’t have the same luck on a Cooler Master CM690 case.
Once the FlexCage is mounted in the case, the rest of the installation is as simple as attaching the cables. Both 4-pin power connections need to be connected in order to supply the FlexCage with enough power. The top two drives are powered by one plug, while the bottom drive and fan are powered by the other. The two USB 3.0 ports are hard-wired to a 19-pin plug that plugs into the corresponding socket on a motherboard. Lastly, three SATA connections need to be made, one for each drive bay.
The FlexCage has no discernible impact on drive performance which is understandable given that the drives are essentially connected internally with no additional logic added. I did test a couple of drives and found the results were in fact the same whether directly connected to the motherboard or in the FlexCage.
The only disappointing aspect of the performance of the FlexCage was the noise the fan produced. The fan, on low, was easily as loud as one of the 500GB Hitachi Deskstar drives I was using. On high it was overwhelmingly loud and would drown out all three drives entirely. Thankfully, the fan can be swapped for a quieter model as it is a standard 80mm 3-pin computer fan.
The drive bay covers latch securely into place, however they can’t be locked. They do have a bit of play in the hinge when the covers are open but no more than expected for plastic covers. IcyDock did include a spring flap on the inside of the covers that smoothly inserts the drive into the SATA connector just before the door latches. Through repeated openings and closings, I had no issues with drives not seating correctly despite using drives of varying thickness.
A feature I would have liked to see included would have been the ability to adjust the status LED brightness. Even if it was a simple high/low toggle switch on the back of the FlexCage, the ability to tone down the brightness would have been nice. The blue LEDs which also serve as individual power buttons for each drive were bright enough to be distracting in my peripheral vision, even when viewed at an angle.
The IcyDock FlexCage is a great way to add the ability to quickly swap 3.5″ hard drives to any desktop with a spare pair of 5.25″ bays. Insertion and removal of drives is simple, drives can be powered up individually, and even hot-swapped. The lack of the ability to lock the drives means that the FlexCage isn’t suitable for tamper-proof deployments but is a great way to manage extra hard drives around the home. Slight fitment issues may exist depending on the chassis the FlexCage is installed in, so be sure to check the return policy of the retailer particularly for gaming chassis. It fit beautifully into my workstation chassis, doesn’t require additional trays or tools, and adds an additional two USB 3.0 ports, all of which help make the FlexCage a great value pick in my book.