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ICYBOX IB350 USB2.0/SATA External Hard Drive Enclosure

ICYBOX IB350 USB2.0/SATA External Hard Drive Enclosure

Supplied by Nanopoint


The ICY BOX
promises to change the way we look at personal external storage. The ICY BOX is
an external hard drive enclosure designed to be driverless*, portable and
provide fast connectivity. External hard drives are very convenient but aren’t
as fast as the same hard drive that is connected internally and directly to a
PATA or SATA header, however, the ICY BOX may just change that.


*Windows2000 or XP only.


Overview


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External hard drive enclosures are quite common in this modern computing age. External enclosures
containing a hard drive can often be found sitting on the side of the PC desk next
to the monitor. It is an infinitely useful device for transferring large files where an intranet doesn’t exist and data transfer is required. External hard
drives can be removed from and connected to another PC quickly and easily. They
are not recommended for hauling around in a backpack but are a useful way to
transport information from PC to PC without the need for networking. Convenience
is the key.


External hard drive enclosures traditionally have been connected via Firewire
or USB. These interfaces are quick (50MB/s for 1394 and 60 MB/s for USB 2.0) but
never quite match the speed of connecting directly to the IDE bus on the
motherboard itself (100 MB/s for ATA100 and 150 MB/s for SATA 150). It’s small
price to pay when considering that normal hard drive installation requires
removing the side of the PC case and installing the drive in a 3.5 inch drive
bay if a bay is even available.


The creators of the ICY BOX took a different route. They added the latest
standard of IDE interface; Serial ATA as well as USB 2.0. Serial ATA and USB 2.0 are
fast and hot-swappable. Most current motherboards now support Serial ATA with
onboard chipset controllers from Silicon Image, HighPoint or Promise. Therefore
one might assume connecting an external enclosure directly to the motherboard’s
Serial ATA or USB 2.0 port should bring a speed increase compared to a bridging
technology like USB 1.0.


The premise of the ICY BOX connectivity is very simple; drop a parallel ATA
hard drive of choice into the unit, affix lid, place in docking tray, connect to
either an USB 2.0 or Serial ATA cable, turn on and boot computer. The result is
an instant connection to the contents of the drive.


The ICY BOX is also designed to be silent. It has no fans inside. The only
noise emitting from the enclosure is the sound of the hard drive itself. The
designers have borrowed a simple techniques from CPU cooling to keep the drive
inside cool during usage. These techniques will be examined later in this
article.


The ICY BOX
when used in conjunction with Windows 2000 or XP is also designed to be
completely driverless. Drivers for older versions of Windows are provided.

Packaging


The ICY BOX retail packaging has transparent window to show part
of the enclosure.


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Contained within the box are:



  • The ICY BOX enclosure
  • Stand for the unit
  • Driver CD for pre-Windows 2000/XP users
  • Simple manual and instructions for loading pre-Windows 2000/XP USB 2.0
    drivers
  • Power Adapter to power the unit
  • Long Serial ATA cable
  • Long USB 2.0 cable

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The enclosed cables for USB 2.0 or Serial ATA connectivity are of
a good length which gives plenty of reach from PC to where the ICY BOX will be
located (eg: desk)


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The clear plastic stand is used to mount the ICY BOX on edge or
the ICY BOX can be left flat on the rubber feet. On-edge is recommended to aid
the natural air flow (rising heat) through the box and thus keep the hard drive
cooler.


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The Enclosure



The enclosure is made of brushed aluminum which is very appealing
to the eyes. It’s simple but striking. An ICY BOX logo on one side finish’s off
the clean look.


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At the back of the unit power and I/O ports. From left to right:
Power on/off, DC power in (for provided adapter), USB 2.0 and Serial ATA cable
interfaces. All are clearly marked.


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On the opposite side to the ICY BOX logo are two screw holes.
These holes are provided to screw in and support the hard drive. Initially it
would appear that only two screw holes would hamper stability inside the
enclosure but in fact the fit inside the unit is very snug.


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The four sides of the enclosure are a mesh aluminum material.
This mesh allows heat build up during usage to escape. The thermal capabilities
of the aluminum casing effectively turn the ICY BOX into one giant heatsink for
a hard drive. A simple combination of the natural ambient air through the mesh and the snug fit to the aluminum casing mean heat from the drive is not circulating inside the enclosure but instead out of the enclosure.


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Four thumbscrews hold the side onto the main body of the unit.
Access to the inner workings is gained by removing these thumbscrews.


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Inside the target=_blank>ICY BOX is a small PCB for the IDE to USB 2.0, IDE to Serial
ATA converter, IDE connector and ATX power connector. The unit is completely
self-sufficient for power as it draws the necessary power from the included power supply. Using an external power allows the ICY BOX to be
connected to any USB 2.0 capable PC eg. a suitably equipped laptop.


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At the heart of the Serial ATA conversion is a Silicon Image href="http://www.siliconimage.com/products/sii3611.asp" target=_blank>Sil
3611 1.5 Gbps Serial ATA-to-Parallel device bridge. This chip acts as a
bridge between a drive’s native PATA IDE interface and the Serial ATA interface
that the enclosure terminates into. Theoretically the Serial ATA interface
should prove to be more efficient when connected directly to a motherboard’s
Serial ATA header.


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A 40 GB 7200rpm 8mb cache Maxtor DiamondMax hard drive was used as
a sample hard drive for testing. Installing the drive was painless. A snug fit
against the mesh sides but no force was required to fit the drive into place. The mesh sides hold the drive in place well. It becomes a very smooth fit when the lid reattached


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The ICY BOX mounted into it’s sturdy stand, connected and ready to
go. It was a smooth and easy installation overall.


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Testing


Is the performance of the ICY BOX through either an USB or SATA
interface as good as the target=_blank>ICY BOX looks? SiSoft Sandra was used to test the performance
by:



  1. Connecting the drive to the motherboards native parallel ATA/IDE
    interface.
  2. Connecting the drive enclosed in the ICY BOX via USB 2.0 to motherboards
    USB 2.0.
  3. Connecting the drive enclosed in the ICY BOX via Serial ATA to
    motherboards VIA onboard Serial ATA.

Parallel ATA/IDE mode.


The ICY BOX produced a respectable score of 25983kB/s with the drive connected to a standard motherboard IDE connector.


icybox14

USB 2.0


The ICY BOX produced a respectable score of 19618kB/s with the drive connected via the USB2 interface. Just a little over 20% slower than when the drive was connected natively to the parallel IDE interface. Not bad performance at all..


icybox16

Serial ATA


The ICY BOX produced an outstanding score of 25962kB/s with the drive connected to the Onboard Serial ATA interface. This score was just under what the native ATA connection produced. This is where the ICY BOX really shines.

icybox15

Conclusion

icybox05

The ICY BOX is a great external enclosure. It’s elegant looks and simplistic design should not deter an end user from considering a purchase. The ICY BOX has perfectly exceptable performance when by connected by USB 2.0. The ability to just connect the unit, power on and access those key files at a reasonable transfer speed certainly is excellent. Using USB 2.0 connectivity with an external power supply allows the user to practically connect it at a moment’s notice to any modern PC. Very flexible usage.


Connecting the unit via Serial ATA is a different animal altogether. The ICY BOX shows a clean pair of performance heels when connected via SATA. Cutting through with a performance on par with a native parallel IDE/ATA interface. Utterly brilliant. Any fears about poor hard drive performance are wiped clean away.


The ICY BOX does get warm after several hours of being in constant use. Initially the concept of no internal cooling was a concern but the mesh and aluminum design does a tremendous job in dissipating heat produced from the drive. The enclosure may not stay ice cool but it was certainly never hot enough to warrant any concern. The drive itself was only warm to the touch after 5 hours constant usage.


In conclusion, the ICY BOX is a fabulous enclosure with clean looks, good USB 2.0 performance, blistering SATA performance, rock solid driverless installation and won’t cook the drive contained within.


It really is a great product. This reviewer loved it!


Short-Media thank Nanopoint for their continued support.

Highs

  • Great looking unit
  • SATA connectivity is as fast as PATA connection
  • Good price

Lows

  • Can only use PATA hard drives

Scores Breakdown
Attribute Score Comments
Design & layout 9 Looks stunning.
Documentation 8 While the ICYBOX is so easy to use, the enclosed manual is clear and concise.
Features & options 8 USB 2.0 or Serial ATA, you choose.
Performance & stability 9 Blistering SATA performance sets this apart from any other enclosure.
Presentation 8 Clean and tidy packaging.
Price / value 9 At a snip over £34, the ICY BOX is great value
Total score 51/60 85%

Comments

  1. Unregistered
    Unregistered My only problem is, I cant find where to buy one from!! Any one help? dan@citrusdesigns.co.uk
  2. Shorty
    Shorty My apologies, I shall add that to the review as the edit was lost in digital hyperspace :(

    www.thecoolingshop.co.uk
    www.micro-logic.com

    Both will have stocks shortly :)
  3. Unregistered
    Unregistered [quote] The enclosure may not stay ice cool but it was certainly never hot enough to warrant any concern. The drive itself was only warm to the touch after 5 hours constant usage.

    Did you by any chance monitor the SMART temperature setting? I have a Maxtor HDD which registers 5C above ambient when in use.
  4. Gargoyle
    Gargoyle Looks JUST like my Speeze "Metal Gear Box Substance," except mine is USB/1394. Runs great too. Whoever is actually making these has a good, affordable product.
  5. Unregistered
    Unregistered My icy box does not work with my computer. I have windows2000 and xp.
  6. Shorty
    Shorty Which interface do you use?? USB2 or Serial ATA :)
  7. Gargoyle
    Gargoyle
    Gargoyle said:
    Looks JUST like my Speeze "Metal Gear Box Substance," except mine is USB/1394. Runs great too. Whoever is actually making these has a good, affordable product.
    I take it back. My Speeze enclosure crapped out. Doesn't work anymore. :banghead:
  8. Unregistered
    Unregistered i'm using the same drive as in this review but a 2mb cache version. i am connecting through usb. the drive seems to disconnect and reconnect itself for no reason sometimes. has anyone else had this problem? REALLY annoying!

    oh... and mesh sides for cooling?! mine has lights, hence reflective panels that cover up the mesh sides on the inside... :\
  9. Unregistered
    Unregistered I have exactly the same problem, it keeps disconnecting me. I keep all my documents on there, so when i'm listening to some music or watching a movie, it f***s up in the middle of it.

    Really gets on my tits..
  10. Unregistered
    Unregistered Hi all,
    I have problems with both of my HDD using these Icy Box enclosures (model IB-350_IL USB2 + FW400). They seem to run good until all of my backups dissapear from the HDD. I experienced this phenomenon on Win XP as well as on Linux with kernel 2.6.8.
    All the datas are simply whiped out when using FW400 or USB ports.
    I've seen that the drivers are from Prolific (!?!?!?!) and had some problems with a Prolific driver for a USB to serial adaptor.
    I will not recommand buying these Prolific bullshit to anyone! You get less than you pay for...

  11. Unregistered
    Unregistered Be very careful using the icybox as your data backup. I bought one with USB2 and FW400 PATA box. It regularly corrupts the data, or it disappears completely. Only the folders can be seen. After copying the data, when you want to access it WinXP tells you that the drive is not formatted (which of course it was, when the data was copied). This is a terrible product, and I am sending mine back to where I bought it from. Hope this helps those who were thinking of getting one.
  12. Gargoyle
    Gargoyle There you have it folks - the ICYBOX and its rebaged bretheren are not to be relied on.
  13. redemption
    redemption hello
    I have had no problems with the ICYBOX at all, under multiple XP machines and in 2 different linux distros (RH and FC3)
    I have even accidentally pulled the power out and the data was fine.
    I therefore recommend the IcyBox (USB) !
  14. Unregistered
    Unregistered Hi all

    Would you Please anybody give me any alternative product, which is working perfect.
    Kamal
  15. Jimborae
    Jimborae My Iceybox (PATA, USB 2.0) works great, never had a any issues with it what so ever.
  16. bugmenot
    bugmenot guys if your want a really nice enclosure case you need to buy this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817145369 BYTECC ME-740U2SI Aluminum 3.5" USB + SATA External Enclosure this baby sure is a good product I benched marked her at 115MBps using the sata connection and she has yet to give me any problems.. she also has an aluminum casing keeping the hard drive nice and cool.. the only time she really gets hot is when I am running games off of her... but in the process of hooking up some external water cooling to her... hands down really good product....oh yea I am using a maxtor 7200rpm 15mb cache 200g hard drive........
  17. Barbs05
    Barbs05 I would appreciate some advice about my new IcyBox which I received today. I have an Apple Mac machine, I connected my external hard drive to the Icybox and then to my Apple Mac. I then got a message saying that my computer was unable to read the disk and it gave me the option to 'initialize', 'ignore' or 'eject the disk. I do not want to lose the data on the disk so I chose to ignore. Previously the disk was in a Lacie enclose and a few months ago all four partitions (icons) of the disk just suddenly disappeared from my desk top. I then decided to buy a new enclosure yesterday. Can you give me some help, as in the manual which came with the Icybox, it says to make sure that the HDD jumper is set to 'Master', and I am not sure how to do this.

    If anyone can help me to get my disk to work or offer any advice I would be more than grateful.

    Regards

    Barbs05
  18. CB
    CB To jumper a drive into Master mode.

    Look on the rear of the drive, near the power connection:

    You should see a series of jumpers labeled Master, Slave, and Cable-select Like this:

    M S C
    : : :

    You should move the jumper tab to the ones labeled M, if it isn't already:

    -M S C
    [:]: :
  19. Leonardo
    Leonardo Shorty, one positive you missed - maybe you didn't have a long enough testing period - is the case on the IcyBox has excellent cooling properties. I've got a very similar unit based on the very same case. You can torture that drive for hours on end, and if it's deployed standing up, the heat radiates into the aluminum walls and into the air very efficiently. It's a winning, attractive design. The one I have, purchased about six years ago, is branded "Metal Gear Solid." I use at work with an old laptop to run a slide show of my photo collection.
  20. fatcat
    fatcat 2004 was a good year.
  21. Barbs05
    Barbs05 Thanks, however, not sure what your message is in response to my query.
  22. legweak
    legweak I have an icy box ib-mp302. can anyone tell me how to set it to master? the instruction booklet was written by the chinese and it looks like it. they are as clear as mud.
  23. BuddyJ
  24. Your-Amish-Daddy
    Your-Amish-Daddy It means the hard drive set to master, you use the jumpers in the back. Check the label for your drive for more information on jumper positions.
  25. legweak
    legweak
    Buddy J said:
    I have hitachi deskstar 500gb HDP725050gla360 hd. there is nothing on the label about "master" and there was no instructions in the box. Any suggestions about the cables?
  26. legweak
    legweak
    legweak said:
    Thats the one. I have hitachi deskstar 500gb HDP725050gla360 hd. there is nothing on the label about "master" and there was no instructions in the box. Any suggestions about the cables?
  27. Your-Amish-Daddy
    Your-Amish-Daddy Quoting yourself doesn't get you faster results. If you look at the back of the drive on ALL hitachi's, there's white sticker above the I/O ports. If you read it, you'll know everything you need.

    EDIT:// In case you didn't figure out already, it's talking about the hard disk itself, not the actual enclosure.
  28. BuddyJ
    BuddyJ That's a SATA drive. SATA drives don't need jumpers. Is your Icybox the SATA or IDE model? You aren't trying to put an SATA drive in an IDE Icybox, are you?
  29. Kwitko
    Kwitko With IDE enclosures, many times you need to remove the jumpers from the drive to get it to work.
  30. Your-Amish-Daddy
    Your-Amish-Daddy So wait, he's trying to put a SATA drive in an IDE enclosure? Because he said the one that was linked was the one he had, and it's IDE.
  31. BuddyJ
    BuddyJ There are two versions of what he linked YAD. One is IDE and one is SATA. He didn't give us the full product code to differentiate between the two. I'm only guessing that that's what our hero is trying to do.
  32. legweak
    legweak It says 3.5" sata hdd on the box. I have been in touch with hitachi and they say that it does not need to be set to master or slave (these new hdd do not need it). They suggest that i install it through bios. Now how the hell does that work? I am not very technical when it comes to the workings of a computer, I just know how to use the programmes. Any help (and diagrams) would be very much appreciated.
  33. Gargoyle
    Gargoyle "Installing through BIOS" doesn't mean anything to me; the Hitachi rep could have been confused and thought you weren't using an enclosure. Exactly what problem are you having? I'm not sure setting the drive to Master (which, if it's an SATA drive, there is no setting to be changed) is what you need to be doing.

    When the drive is installed in the enclosure and you plug it in to your running computer, what happens? Are you running Windows or Mac OSX?
  34. legweak
    legweak Wheni attached the icy box thru usb my laptop (windows xp pro) it loaded drivers. My hdd dows not show on My Computer but does show in Control Panel (Devices). No matter what I do it will not come up and I need to partition and format the drive for it to work. This for for running all formats of movies thru my tv. I told hitachi that their hdd was in an Icy Box enclosure. I am beginning to think that I have spent over £100 on something that is never going to work. If it is to work thru BIOS then I need to know how to do it.
  35. Thrax
    Thrax
    legweak said:
    Wheni attached the icy box thru usb my laptop (windows xp pro) it loaded drivers. My hdd dows not show on My Computer but does show in Control Panel (Devices). No matter what I do it will not come up and I need to partition and format the drive for it to work. This for for running all formats of movies thru my tv. I told hitachi that their hdd was in an Icy Box enclosure. I am beginning to think that I have spent over £100 on something that is never going to work. If it is to work thru BIOS then I need to know how to do it.
    What hitachi told you is wrong. There's nothing you need to do in the BIOS. Disregard all their comments on that. You said the HDD shows up in device manager... Have you initialized the disk?
  36. legweak
    legweak
    Thrax said:
    What hitachi told you is wrong. There's nothing you need to do in the BIOS. Disregard all their comments on that. You said the HDD shows up in device manager... Have you initialized the disk?

    Thank you for your advice, it WORKED. My Icy Box is now up and running. I cant wait to transfer my movies. Again many thanks.
  37. Thrax
    Thrax Glad I could help. Thanks for coming to Icrontic, Legweak. :) Stick around.
  38. xpolar
    xpolar Hi, I just bought an Icy box 351 SATA drive case with a seagate Barracuda drive and Win XP can't find it. I've tried it on another PC and exactly the same. I have an older Icy box IDE that works fine. There's no drivers on raidsonic site that are for this case. Do I need to update the motherboard drivers to get this working? Thanks.
  39. Leonardo
    Leonardo You should not need to manually load drivers. The drivers already native to Windows. Look at posts 36 and 37 above.
  40. Soup
    Soup Hey, I've had the same problem with My Computer not showing the hard drive but it shows up in devices, Disk Management says its healthy and it works in my old ibook but not a g4 or my pc. I've followed all advice from troubleshooters and i followed the advice from here to initialize it (really helpful by the way, thanks :) ) but it doesnt give me any options other than help. Is there anything i can do further to this? Thanks.
  41. Tinkerbell
    Tinkerbell The same thing happened to me. You have to insert the hard disk in a computer and format it from there and then insert it back in the icy box and it should work
  42. Catman
    Catman I am using the icy box ib318stus2b with a Seagate barracuda 7200.10 500GB disk and a usb connection. When I connect it to the pc (2 x Vista, 1 x XP) and it will not even be recognised (no "found new hardware" dialog appearing"). Any ideas what could be wrong?
  43. Mike
    Mike My Icybox IB-351 has been working fine on my XP box with a variety of hard drives, but my Vista lap top just refuses to recognise it. Maybe I'll just dump Vista. Does anyone have any ideas please?
  44. john
    john I have an icybox 351UE with usb firewire for 3.5 " non-SATA ide disks. I want a board to convert it to take SATA disks. I shouldn't need to throw the case away. Is that available?
  45. Bernhard Ackermann
    Bernhard Ackermann hallo together,

    mine asks is:? if there is also driver to windows Vista.
    please short antwort.

    gruss
    bernhard
  46. Tushon
    Tushon Outlook is not good, given that their website returns nothing for the IB350 and Mike, two posts up, stated that it did not work with his Vista machine. I think it might be time to pick up a new enclosure, friend.

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