Icy Dock is a company that builds high-quality and mostly high-priced computer components, most of which have to do with storage media, i.e. hard drives and SSDs. Removable frames, for example, used to be a normal thing in 5.25″ slots back in the day, not to have data permanently installed in the computer, but to switch storage media between different computers or not to keep one’s data in a shared computer for security reasons. With modern cases, there are less and less 5.25″ slots and the space for hard drives is also decreasing. However, Icy Dock responds to the current developments and provides new possibilities. This is where the Icy Dock ToughArmor MB839SP-B removable frame comes into play, for example.
Specifications of the Icy Dock ToughArmor MB839SP-B
|Compatible drives||1x 2.5″ HDD / SSD with thickness up to 9.5 mm|
|Motherboard interface||PCIe 2.0 x1 or higher|
|Transfer rate||Up to 500 MB/s depending on the drive|
|Maximum supported capacity||unlimited|
|Cooling||Passive via metal frame|
|Operating temperature||0°C to 60°C|
|Compliance||CE, RoHS, REACH|
|Price||€ 94.77 *|
Packaging and scope of delivery
The packaging of the Icy Dock ToughArmor MB839SP-B (not a very descriptive name, unfortunately) is kept simple. A brown packaging, about the size of a case fan. The removable frame is padded and as accessories, the box contains a manual, screws for mounting a 2.5″ drive including some spare screws and a screw to mount the removable frame. The screws come in a classic metal look and thus don’t match the black design of the MB839SP-B. The caddy of the MB839SP-B has a black protective cap attached at the factory, which you have to unscrew first to install a hard drive or an SSD.
The build quality of the Icy Dock ToughArmor MB839SP-B is very high, and both the frame and the caddy to hold the drive are made of torsionally rigid processed metal. Together with the scratch-resistant paint, the workmanship makes a really solid impression. However, this is to be expected for the rather high price range.
Installation and control
The ToughArmor MB839SP-B connects via a PCIe slot, from which it receives sufficient power – no SATA power cable is required. The removable frame also fits easily into larger PCIe slots or those with a newer PCIe standard. However, a faster standard doesn’t really bring any advantages, because the full speed of SATA III can already be used with PCIe 2.0 – both with HDDs and SSDs. But don’t misunderstand: You don’t turn a SATA SSD into a PCIe SSD, because ultimately there is a SATA controller in the electronics part of the removable frame. This addresses the drives at full SATA III speed and then forwards the data via PCIe; just as if you had connected a drive to a SATA port on the motherboard – only without cables. Mounting a drive without cables is one of the advantages; for example, you could also place a hard drive behind a vertically mounted graphics card if it sits far enough in front of the expansion slots. The Icy Dock ToughArmor MB839SP-B does not overhang the PCI slots. 2.5″ SSDs and hard drives with a height of up to 9.5 mm can be installed. 2.5″ SSDs usually have a height of 7 mm and can be installed without any problems. This height becomes relevant for hard drives, because the usual laptop-compatible models are in the range of 7 – 9.5 mm, but if you are looking for a new drive with the highest possible capacity, you will quickly come across models up to a height of 15 mm, which of course would not fit. We tested the frame with an HP Workstation Z240, which didn’t have enough SATA ports for enough drives, plus it’s easier to transfer data if the drive can be easily connected to other computers by simply removing it.
The drive is screwed into the caddy for operation – unfortunately, there is no tool-less solution here. Thus, you either have to buy additional caddies for changing several hard disks, which unfortunately isn’t exactly cheap either, or you have to screw it every time you change it. If you don’t change, but remove your data from the computer for security reasons, you can be satisfied with the one caddy. After mounting, the drive is now pushed into the computer from behind and clicked firmly into place. As long as you don’t have your operating system installed on the removable disk, you can even change it while the computer is running. If necessary, the HDD LED of the case can also be connected to a corresponding header on the Icy Dock ToughArmor MB839SP-B. There is also an LED on the removable frame itself, but it is located on the back of the case due to its placement in the expansion slot.
Installation is only possible in systems with regular expansion card size. The card does not physically fit into low-profile systems. Compatibility is also given with Apple computers; for example, Macs from around 2010 can be upgraded with faster storage media.
The Icy Dock ToughArmor MB839SP-B is very easy to use: no separate drivers or cables are needed: Simply plugged in, this device runs. Due to the fact that the removable frame combines power supply, data cable and SATA controller, it can be used at any time on a free PCIe slot of any size, and in the operating system simply shows the new drive and can be used. Ergo very simple. Removing the drive works via the expansion card slots on the back – for this, of course, the computer has to be in a proper position to easily access the back. The button to release the caddy isn’t very easy to feel, so it’s optimal if you can even take a look at the back. Depending on the cable management and location, this can be a bit difficult – this was a bit easier in the days of 5.25″ slots with removable frames at the front. Depending on the location and accessibility of the rear of the case, frequent replacement is not really easy.
The Icy Dock ToughArmor MB839SP-B can be used sensibly, for example, for a clean cable-free relocation of a classic 2.5″ drive, to take one’s data with them from the work computer – be it to be able to continue working at home or on the road, or for backup so that no one else has access to the data. If you use a USB-SATA adapter on the road, you don’t even have to unscrew the drive from the caddy. If you have several of these removable frames in use, you can also simply switch a hard drive in the caddy between different computers, which also works for gamers and their game collection, for example. Alternatively, it is also possible to simply expand the storage space with the MB839SP-B if there is no more room for additional drives in the case or the mainboard doesn’t offer enough additional ports. Even those who want to speed up older computers with SATA II support with an SSD can use the full speed of the SSD with the SATA III controller, as long as the motherboard supports at least PCIe 2.0.
Summary of the Icy Dock ToughArmor MB839SP-B Review
The Icy Dock ToughArmor MB839SP-B removable frame is really very well made and looks sturdy and durable, it is also simple to use. Somewhat problematic is the access via the back of the computer and that the drive mount is not tool-free. The only problem is the high price. Of course, the workmanship is high quality, but the price is in the range of a cheaper complete computer case. To justify the price, possibly for additional caddies, you have to be sure of the benefits already.